I realised if I was going to learn good skills, I needed to focus on the one horse. The others all got their turn – but Ducati became my training partner! Together we would sort through the finer details.
It was now almost mid 2012 – about 7 months since the end of the Kert saga. It all seemed very far away now. I was enjoying the ‘solidness’ of clicker training…. It’s interesting I use that word. It’s the first word that came into my head on how to describe what I was feeling compared to the Kert teachings.
I could feel there would be progress – I wouldn’t just go around in a circle. Already there was steady improvement for both of us. That’s not to say the learning was all smooth. There was so much I needed to work through.
I seemed to have food delivery sorted – or so I thought – but my timing of the click was a little slow. Also my rate of reinforcement wasn’t really high enough. These are all very common things when learning…. Probably now my rate of reinforcement is too high – but the horses aren’t complaining!
Ducati was very forgiving during this time. In fact he couldn’t believe his luck that this was happening! We worked through some of the foundation lessons – first – standing still without mugging me. Alexandra Kurland calls this lesson The Grown Ups are Talking – referring to a child asked to stand still while their mother is occupied….
Ducati caught onto this game so quickly, I turned this into what Alex describes as the Pilates Pose – but perhaps I wasn’t skilled enough to really know what I was doing. Soon he was bending his neck whenever he saw me. While it was cute, I could see he was doing it with tension, rather than in a relaxed way. I had taught him to bend the neck – but nothing else in the body was shifting into position.
Ducati would have stood on his head for a treat – my struggle would be to slow him down. He is so anxious to please!
But he was enjoying the sessions. We moved onto backing, head lowering, standing on a mat, and ears forward. The ears forward proved difficult – he would often have his ears back a little, particularly near his arch enemy Saadi!!!
I made many mistakes during this time…. One mistake was trying to do some of these sessions near Saadi. At the time I wasn’t really aware that I was putting extra stress on Ducati by having him in the stable next to Saadi.
This became clear to me when one day I was practising targeting with Ducati over the entry way to the stable. I had just put up a rope as a barrier.. as I turned away to prepare myself Saadi hung his head over the fence – Ducati lunged at him and knocked me to the ground. I was so angry with him – I yelled at him and waved the target. I was shocked and hurt, He looked absolutely bewildered and went to the back of the stable.
That was the end of the session for the day. I hobbled back to the house to nurse my aching back which had taken the full force of his head.
It wasn’t my proudest moment. I was ashamed at how I had reacted….but I had to learn the hard way….. From then on I made sure they were separated. The only reason that they both got a stable was because they both needed attention with rugging etc.
Despite all of this…. I noticed something changing…….
COMING UP – NOW I CAN UNDERSTAND YOU!!!
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