Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 19th July 2015

As you can see by the date, I’m a bit behind with this diary.

I’ve been working on the final edit of my book, A Tale of Two Horses, writing articles for magazines, and we’ve recently bought a new puppy, who seems to be taking up all my time!

Following on from our short outing beyond the safety of the yard, I went through the usual routine in the exercise yard. Then I put Charlie’s lead collar on attached a lead rope and walked around. As expected Charlie was perfectly comfortable with this.

We walked over to the gate, Star watching us. A touch of anxiety in her body language I think. Charlie and I walked to the gate, turned around and I took his headcollar off. I did a couple of exercises with Star, then fetched her headcollar. Put it on no problem, she’s quite happy with that. Her problem comes when you ask something of her when she is not familiar with it. She simply cannot cope with that. So, I attached the lead rope and just asked for some left and right targeting. She did that fine. Then I asked if she could do a right turn. She looked anxious, and put her head up in the air. That’s her way of telling me she can’t cope, so I followed her lead and raised my arm so there was no tension on the lead rope. Tension would ensure she got even more anxious. Without any pressure on the lead rope, or from me trying to get her to do something, her head came back down, and she started to take a step for the right turn. Click and reward. More than I expected, and a great result. At that point I finished things. Always good to stop on a high, and I want to make sure that she has no negative emotional reaction to this work, ensuring that this is normal, routine, and eventually, when we do go out, a pleasurable experience.

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Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 5th July 2015

Well, what an exciting week it has been. I’ve done theExercise Yard usual training sessions, but that is not what was exciting. I decided it was the right time to leave the yard, and go for a walk down the lane.

For those of you who don’t know, Charlie and Star arrived as very reactive and unhappy horses. It has taken a substantial amount of rehabilitation to get them to the point where they are happy, balanced and content. They are not reactive any more, are predictable and soppy!!! Although that might just be my interpretation – I can hear them saying, ‘ aw, mum, do you have to say that, it’s so embarrassing!’

Anyway, back to The Walk…

Head collars and lead ropes on. Check. Bag of apples and carrots at the ready. Check.

I walked with Charlie, and hubby walked with Star. Charlie in the lead (he’s older and wiser), and off we went out of the gate and onto the lane, with Star and hubby following. So far so good. Charlie was great, happily bopping along beside me.

We got part way along the lane, when the realisation that she was no longer in her safe, and familiar field caused Star to panic a little. True to form, she planted her feet and refused to move. On seeing this, hubby started talking to her to help her through. Charlie and I were a little ahead, so we turned around to come back to Star. Charlie, clever boy, executed a perfect turn around as soon as I said it. He was so calm and collected. Back we went to Star, who still was not at all compos mentis (being able to think clearly and be in control of and responsible for your actions)! No, Star was in emotional/ instinct mode and not at all able to think or listen.

The best thing to do in this situation is not push things, but diffuse. So, Charlie and I walked back to her, hubby continued talking and not reacting, but also not asking anything of Star. We walked past, with the cue, ‘this way’ to let Star know we were going back to the yard. Charlie was brilliant, waited when I asked so he wasn’t to far away, and walked on when Star started to respond. Star made it back into the yard, and had settled down in a few minutes.

A good first walk. Star was interested in going out, but got scared when she found herself outside of her comfort zone. She did panic a bit, but crucially, she was not manic and reactive. It was easy to get her to re-engage her thinking brain, it just took a few minutes. Considering she is still a baby, and has only had very limited experience, she did amazingly well. Charlie showed how reliable and clever his was. This now gives me my next area to work on and develop Star’s confidence, so, back to yard work, gradually progressing to the gate being open, allowing Star to be comfortable going up to it, out and back in, without going too far away.

Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 14th June 2015

Following on from last weeks diary post, the upshot of all that galloping around after moving to the summer field is to lie down and relax. Charlie and Star have been intensely studying relaxation, and I can report that they do not seem to have moved for several days!

I expect to get back to some training next week, hopeful that they will have finished their research into relaxation, which is the best part of the field, and the best position to lie in!

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Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 8th June 2015

Well, there has not been much training going on recently, other commitments have kept me busy these last few weeks. Also, we have just picked up a 9 week old puppy, so I don’t expect to have much spare time for the next few weeks.

It’s a good time to take a break from training anyway, as we have just moved Charlie and Star from their winter paddock to their summer paddock. This results in great excitement, and no motivation to come down to the exercise yard for several days! So, instead of a training diary, here’s a short video of Charlie and Star enjoying themselves galloping around the summer paddock.