Finally I was able to sit down and look at my package of books and DVDs – it was all so exciting!! I started on the first two DVDs – an Introduction to Clicker Training and Getting Started…..
The first thing I noticed was that they were ‘home made’ videos… and what I mean by that is that they were produced by Alexandra Kurland on the equipment available at the time (I think early 2000s but someone please correct me if I’m wrong).
I really liked that…. but what I REALLY liked was that they showed true beginners at their very first attempts at clicker training…. there were no slick words or video. It truly showed the real world struggle in learning a new skill. Of course there was also some lovely footage of what clicker trained horses could do… and I knew it was something to aim for – but the learning would have some highs and lows.
It was not only learning a new skill, but learning a new ‘language’, creating a different mindset to what I had previously been taught about horses….
Alex was right – there was a lot of information – and I would need to plod through it slowly – taking in all I could – and constantly returning to various videos.
At this time it required me to put my ‘animal communicator’s hat’ to one side so I could focus on all I needed to learn.
Some of my horses had learnt about the clicker several years earlier…. they hadn’t forgotten! I went out with my 20 treats and clicker. I decided to start with Ducati – he was the most willing horse and always up for a game!
I started with targeting. I held up an old Parelli carrot stick with a juice bottle on the end. As Ducati sniffed it – it was click and treat. He was delighted to get a treat. It only took one or two repetitions for him to ‘get’ the game. I finished with my 20 treats – gave him some extras in his tub, then walked away to ponder my success and to fill up again.
Before too long he was a targeting expert – and the others were keen to have a go. Saadi and Danny were a little slower to understand the game — but soon they were targeting well – and very excited when the clicker showed up!
Magnum was too suspicious of the target. I clicked if he let me touch him. The touches became longer – but the clicks were making him tense…. his whole body was still tense. He was playing the game under pressure – certainly not in a relaxed way…..
Hmmmm…… I needed to think about that…. everything would need to be modified for Magnum. There was no point continuing like this if he had that tension – ready to run away…. he so badly wanted the treat – but – he was working so hard at it -trying to learn and earn the treat while being so very anxious.
At that point Magnum went in the ‘too hard basket’. I continued to give him a few treats but as I was so new to clicker training, I needed to learn about food delivery, timing….. and the six foundation lessons Alex teaches…
COMING UP – FOCUSSING ON DUCATI
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