To get up to date, this is their clicker training journey so far.
We have worked in protective contact, which was me the other side of the fence to their paddock, so if things got a bit excitable, I was not in danger of being trodden on or ran into! Then we moved training to their stables where Charlie and Star could wander at will.
They have learnt step back, step forwards, turn around, this side, wait, targeting, look left, right, head down, head up and ready. We’ve done this standing still, not when they are wandering about.
Now we are at the stage where I’m working with them at liberty in their exercise yard, putting all these exercises into practice when walking around.
This morning was cool and misty. Despite the lack of sunshine we have been used to seeing this last week, there is no reduction in midges. They are everywhere!
I open the gate to the yard and both horses come up to me for a piece of apple or carrot. They know this is training and games time, but alas, I have no food. There’s a little grass in here, and I like them to go in and settle a bit before I start so they are not too excited about what we are going to do. Charlie, bless him, can be somewhat enthusiastic, and he’s quite a big horse, who doesn’t realise his size! So, sorry guys, no food yet.
I leave them to it and come back a few minutes later with the all important apple and carrot pieces.
I’m working with both of them at liberty, in the yard at the same time, so space management is important. Part of training is teaching them to be close to me and each other and not compete over the food, along with not getting over excited. Being with mum means being calm and balanced. Whoever comes up to me first gets to do something. Today it was Star. She is the kind of horse who likes to stand where she is, and all attempts to entice her to move are met with failure. She needs to feel comfortable and in control, not be manipulated. The more you try to get her to move, the more she is an immovable object. So, it’s great to see that her feet actually do work! Up to today, she has pretty much remained standing still whilst I’m teaching her, only moving to graze. But, this morning we have a breakthrough. She is following me around really happily.
Keeping an eye out for Charlie, I finish with Star when he shows interest in coming over, and move to working with him. He goes steady to start with then gets a little more enthusiastic. Calm and balanced he is not! Time to put some slow exercises in to offset this. I might change who I’m working with a few times, depending on who is more actively asking to do something. Back to Charlie, and we are working on voice cues to turn left and right, wait and off we go again. He’s doing really well, and likes this so much I get a good head rub halfway along our walk.