Part 130 – Anxiety Builds… Undoing the Mistakes….

Cindy’s comments were like a bombshell….  I was really just scratching the surface – of my clicker knowledge – and of my knowledge of Ducati as a horse.

Training a horse is  a bit like playing pass the parcel.  Each layer reveals something and it seems to keep on going!

The stress I had caused Ducati with the bitless bridle handling extended to other behaviour.  He would regularly pull away to lick and bite on the rail – like a version of windsucking.  He would go into his own world.  Here is a video.

He also became more anxious in second guessing the next behaviour I was going to ask him to do.

I needed to stop everything.  I put the bitless bridle away for a while.  Some days I took him into the arena to do almost nothing!!  We would wander around – wherever he wanted to go and I’d just sit and hang out.

We spent a lot of time on the mat –   I improved the head lowering exercise.  This truly did calm him – I built longer and longer duration.  I went back and studied Alexandra Kurland’s ‘Head Lowering’ DVD again.

Head lowering became one of his favourite things!  He would almost have a little snooze while down there.  When I felt him getting uptight we would go back to head lowering.  Even now he likes to lower his head when he waits for me while I move his feed bucket!  Here is a short video… you will hear the sigh at about 0.16.

I then started on something different.  I wanted him to trot on cue – but how on earth do I start him trotting?   I didn’t want to ‘drive’ him with a whip or rope.  With some great ideas from the clicker community, I started by holding up a target.  I ran along with the target – finally he trotted – I clicked and treated.

And so we went on…..  my own trotting improved as well!!!  I was clicking for the transition from walk to trot.  It didn’t matter how long he trotted for – I just wanted to get him to understand the transition.  Here is another video.

We worked on the trot transition around a large cone circle.  I no longer needed the target.  I used a hand and voice cue.  Because of the focus on the transition – rather than the trot – Ducati learnt this cue well.  If you listen to this Equiosity Podcast you will hear Alexandra Kurland talk about this.

Ducati was enjoying all of this – he was relaxing.  I was observant of any signs of tension.

All of this let me see this horse for who he really was…  and as my awareness grew,  I realised how much I expected of him.

I will talk about this in the next post.

COMING UP – DUCATI – CHANGING MY PERCEPTION…

IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS STORY, PLEASE START AT THE BEGINNING HERE – Part 1 – An Introduction

PLEASE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS

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