Friday, February 11, 2011

Aim for the Target

First off, I just wanted to say, congratulations to the Egyptian citizens and their military.  Now onto horse matters...

I took achieve1dream's suggestion of sticking a tennis ball onto the end of a dowel and use that as a clicker training target. Then I separated the horses and stuck out the target over or through the fence, and once the horse touched the tennis ball with its nose, I clicked my clicker and gave them a treat. Gabbrielle immediately caught on.  Arabian horses are so smart.

I couldn't get her to stop poking the target even after I pulled it away, so I moved on to Bombay. Here he comes...

See, Mom, I can touch the target with my nose this way...

...and this way...

...and this way...

I'm so awesome.

Since Bombay was showing off and doing so well, I dared him to follow the target into the horse trailer and touch it with his nose for a click and a treat. No, no, Bombay. The tennis ball. Not the padding.

That's more like it...

I only asked him to get his front feet in today, and let him back out as soon as he felt uncomfortable. My husband came home from work and I said, "Look what Bombay can do."

He watched him step right into the trailer to touch the target and said, "That's better and easier than I've ever seen him get into the trailer. That's a smart method of training."

Since I already had his boots on, I saddled up and rode. He was a good boy.

No spooks. No attitude. Just a nice ride.

I ended on a good note and put the horses in their stalls to feed and blanket them. All was good until the neighbors across the street let their grandchild drive his electric toy car behind my barn. I was in the middle of leaning under Bombay's belly to attach his belly straps, and he exploded. I had to scramble out of the stall to avoid getting kicked. Bombay was trying to throw himself through his stall window, and then began full on trying to kick a hole in the wall. He was absolutely terrified.

Because his kicking was shaking the entire barn, Gabbrielle started trying to jump through her window, then spun in circles in her stall. I ran back behind the barn and yelled out to the woman, "MY HORSES ARE FREAKING OUT!"

She couldn't even hear all the kicking and screaming over the noise of that toy car engine. She grabbed her grandchild and dragged him in his car back to her property where he rode around on the grass far enough away that the horses settled down and I was able to finish attaching their blankets. I swear, if I had any idea how popular that strip of road behind my barn was going to become, I would have never built my barn there.

16 comments:

Carol said...

Adorable pictures. They are so smart! I think I'll try the target training next with my horse.

achieve1dream said...

Oh my gosh! Stupid kid! Stupid woman!! I can't believe people can be so dumb! You should tell her that if her kid is on your property and causes one of your horses to injure itself or you that she is liable for all expenses, even if it isn't true. She probably would have no clue how to find out if it is or isn't anyway. Grr!

Oh the other hand, now that I'm breathing and not wanting to scream at your neighbor, way to go Bombay!!!!!!! I just knew he would love clicker training! I can't believe he caught on to the target so quickly. Chrome caught on to touching it in the first session, but it took two or three before he was following it into tight or scary places. :) Arabians are so friggin smart! I knew you'd love it. I'm glad they are doing so well.

The pictures are absolutely darling! How did Lostine do? Does she enjoy it too?

I'm glad your ride went well. I miss riding so much. Anyway congrats on a good job done today. I think targeting is going to be your new best friend. You can also teach them a continual target where they touch something with their nose and don't move until you release them. It's great for things like clipping, braiding, etc. Have fun with it!!

Chloe said...

Adorable horse! And very clever idea.

achieve1dream said...

Good point! I posted those videos so my followers could keep track of our progress, but you're right, they are how to videos. :D I hope people are finding them on YouTube and that they help because I know I've gotten sooooo much from watching videos. It would be nice to know I'm returning the favor. :) I like to help people.

That's one reason I love clicker training. There's no pressure and it's so much fun. Horses learn so much better and faster when they aren't being scared, hurt or pushed. :)

Rising Rainbow said...

Sounds like you had a great day with the horses except for the kicking part. You have more trouble with your neighbors. I'd be bald with neighbors like that.

You're right about Arabs being smart. I love how fast they learn.

fernvalley01 said...

Sh*tty end to a good days work. I like the idea of retraining Bombay into the trailer in a new way .Been a bit fuddled lately so I have to go down and read your last post about the clicker training to catch up

Leah Fry said...

Good to hear of your success with clicker training. I've been bumbling my way through a bit of it as well with a Jollyball, and Jaz picked it up pretty quickly. Although I wasn't doing it with Poco, he was watching. He figured it out and started pushing the ball all over the place, expecting a treat.

achieve1dream said...

Hehe about Jackal's weight, that's what my husband said. He says he needs extra weight because he gets cold so easily and is always shivering. I'm actually starting to see his point. Since he got the extra fat he stays outside longer and doesn't shiver as much. :) I'll just have to get him thin again for summer so that he won't get too hot. :) He doesn't look horrible, he's just a bit fatter than I like.

I thought teaching shy was going to be very difficult. I'm relieved it's turned into an easy trick. :D Since it is going so well I can concentrate on crawl some too because we've been working on it for two months and it's still slow going. :) I knew it would be difficult though.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I discovered this morning that Bombay managed to break one of his leg straps in half during his scramble to escape the monster behind the barn. Sigh. I am so tired of having extra sewing projects, vet bills and doctor bills as a result of my neighbors' actions. All is cool as long as people stay out from behind my barn, but otherwise I'm screwed.

I need to come up with some kind of sign that is clear regarding the consequences of loitering behind my barn. I can't catch everyone in the act like I did last night. I need a sign that says something like, "Frightened horses. No loitering, idling, parking, playing, or walking behind the barn."

My next door neighbors are notorious for driving out of their driveway behind my barn, and then just idling there while they talk on their cell phones. Other people take walks back there. Other people come to the fence behind my barn looking for my horses so they can pet them. Kids play back there. Two neighbors burn their weeds back there and smoke my horses out while they are in their stalls. It's really getting to be obnoxious.

I don't mind desensitizing the horses, but not if it results in me losing money and time or someone getting hurt. If these horses get more leg injuries before I even get a chance to ride them on the trails this year, I am going to be pissed, and I may have to get myself a lawyer to see how I can hold my neighbors responsible for all the problems they've caused me when trespassing on my property.

Maia said...

I loved your pictures, I may have to try that. Isn't it just too bad that a tractor trailer couldn't careen itself into their house or a satelite fall on it. I don't know how you stand it.

Linda said...

That could have been a catastrophe. I like your idea of putting a large sign back there. Maybe they just don't know. Most people who don't have horses, don't understand them. They think they're like big dogs.

Very cool about the tennis ball on a stick idea. Sounds like your horses responded very well to it, and you're having fun.

Ms Martyr said...

I think you may have addressed this already but what is the reason you can't put up a "No Trespassing" sign? Was it some kind of right of way issue? This is so annoying and hazardous.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ms Martyr - I do have NO TRESPASSING signs up. I have PRIVATE DRIVE - PLEASE STAY OUT signs up. Everyone ignores them. I need some kind of sign that educates people on how to behave around horses. The problem is that if people live off to the side of my road, they feel like it is their road, even though it runs through my property. The whole setup is screwy, because city people think that all roads are public.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh my! That is probably the scariest thing to happen to a horse owner: being in a stall or small space when your horse blows up! You're so lucky. I'm sure if it had been me in there, I'd have gotten trampled!

I'm glad you enjoyed a nice ride on Bombay, though.

~Lisa

Ruffles said...

Clicker training is great, i should try it with my new horse and see how he reacts. My target is not nearly so fancy though. It's just some bamboo with a fluffy part at the end :)

Ed said...

Great shots, smarts and beautiful., As for the kid...leashes and maybe one of those electric dog fences perhaps..;-)