I’ve had a holiday break from my blog. In my last post I had finished my wonderful trip away on the Five Go To Sea cruise in April 2014. When I arrived home – and recovered – it was time to embrace the training with enthusiasm!! But first, there was some building to be done!
I had the stable area extended, so I had an undercover area for all the horses. I was able to make two more pens so each horse had a ‘spot’. This process took a few months – as we had some earthworks done. During that time I had the horses set up at the top of the paddock. They quickly learnt where they should go – I fed them all in makeshift pens and Magnum had a spot outside.
As well as having a decent feeding area, the extended stable area would give me a safe place to work with Magnum in particular. I had learnt about setting the animal up for success. For Magnum, this meant reducing as many stressors in the environment as I could. If I could create more protection from the south (where our winds come from) it would help him to relax. I would also be able to stand relatively safely on the inside, giving him plenty of space to run if he needed to – without running over me. The two photos below show a before and after!
This all took several months – and finally it was ready for them in the August/September of 2014. I was ready to introduce Magnum to a pen. I would first get the other horses to go to their spots – then I would take Magnum to his. At first I would get him to follow me into the pen with lots of clicking and treats – then I would get him to turn around to face the opening. This was all done very slowly. He would have his bucket of feed with the gate open – so he could leave at any time he needed to.
Eventually I closed the gate – but left it unlatched so he could still move quickly if he needed to. The next step was to latch the gate and build some duration in the pen after his feed.
It was all going well – even though Magnum was still a bit tense… I realised he would be better off in one of the original stables – which maybe felt more secure with a solid wall behind – and then he could look out to the trees….
But that was going to have to wait. I was encouraged by my new found clicker pals to head back to USA in October to attend two clinics given by Alexandra Kurland….
I found a cheap flight, packed my bags – and left Doug in charge. Little did I know as I flew off for two weeks, that drama was to unfold on the very day I left……. but first…. my trip!!
COMING UP – CLICKER TRAINING AT HALF MOON BAY!
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