I’ve stepped up our clicker training schedule(s). I work with the herd whenever I’m out and about and then ‘cram’ with Alexandra Kurland’s books when I’m inside. My main motivation is still Paco’s feet. This afternoon I peeled myself out of an afternoon snooze by thinking, “You’ve got to work on Paco’s feet.” I am NO WHERE NEAR getting him to lift his hooves for me, let alone let me ‘work’ on them. I read a great analogy today that asked me whether I’d let someone come near my feet with an electric drill if I didn’t know what they were doing … NO! So … we’ll work in teeny tiny steps to develop an understanding. (Note – I will not be working on his hooves using an electric drill!) 😉
In the morning when I’m raking up the paddock and the front pasture I stop periodically for short little learning bursts. Over the last couple of days this is when I’ve had the most success with Paco and his legs. He has always come for ear scratches and hugs at this time of day. I have just added in an occasional reach for his knees. When he lets me stroke his legs and hold his knee I reward him with a small handful of grain. Eventually we’ll work our way down to his hooves. However, this easily leads to both Darby and Rosie noticing there is grain ‘about’ … and we get into a whole lot of mugging for treats. Back I go to Kurland’s books – and find that having the herd note that I can have grain in my pockets at any time and it won’t necessarily mean they’ll get to eat it is not a bad thing … I can choose to: punish them; use negative reinforcement; ignore them; or train a distracting behaviour. Well – I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to try ignoring it today … and it worked!
I just keep reminding myself to ‘maintain the aim’. I got into clicker training in order to hopefully save Paco (any myself) from having him go through another stressful sedation in order to have vet and foot care. So I am focusing on him. The girls have shorter training sessions that are mostly reinforcing behaviours they already accept – like letting me check their hooves. We’ll leave learning to play basketball and soccer until later in the year! 😉
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