Teeth? Yes – Monty’s teeth!
Monty takes treats in the weirdest way. It’s like another set of teeth come out of his mouth – a bit like the alien teeth! If you need reminding of Alien teeth, here is a video clip from the 1979 original Alien. It was a brilliant movie, a real classic – one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve ever watched – but if you don’t like those things, don’t watch it!
Luckily Monty doesn’t bleed acid! But what was it about those teeth? I didn’t feel muzzle – only the open mouth. It made the click and treat game a bit difficult – but I did get used to it!
The next time we teamed up was at a club gathering in February. Once again we practised all we had learnt the previous time. Monty was still very busy looking around, but he soon got into the swing of it We kept refining standing on the mat – and I added the ‘Grown Ups’ game – which is ‘can you stand next to me while I talk to others?’. And I’d add ‘We are having a break now and you can eat grass while I have a break, while still holding the lead rope.’
There is a lot of talking to others in the club! That’s what it’s about!
I have to admit that I’ve never spent enough time on this lesson. When I’m with my horses, it’s just me – I’m only talking to them! Monty was really showing me the holes in my own learning! I hadn’t been in this environment while clicker training before – now I had to adapt and learn as I went along.
The mountain was already proving to have interesting terrain!
Once again, it was an enjoyable day – and it was the last day for quite a long time.
We had several trips to Sydney, sadly, for a family funeral, then of course, COVID 19 hit. Like many other countries, Australia closed down – not only internally, but from the rest of the world.
Australia managed to get the virus cases under control – and gradually we opened up again. By May/June, we were allowed to meet outside if our group was under ten people. Finally I could spend time with others. It was the nicest way to get together – sitting socially distanced – out in the fresh air – enjoying the winter sunshine.
And finally I could spend some time with Monty again! What would he remember? Vicki told me he was almost running onto the float in anticipation! Now that was a good sign!
Sure enough – he remembered that I was ‘the treat lady’! We reviewed all we had done four months earlier. He hadn’t forgotten… but in his excitement he was rushing ahead. I needed to work on slowing him down.
A little bit about Monty. He was hand reared after his mother died when he was three months old. He lives in a herd of five horses – and is the leader of the group. Vicki describes him as forever looking out for the others. I can see this in the way he watches Beau while he’s out at the club days. In human terms, it’s like he is responsible for the others – and that this responsibility creates anxiety. He has also behaved aggressively in the past and his taking of the treats tends to feel aggressive – like his jaw is set in a certain way.
If he was a human – I would describe him as a busy body – someone who doesn’t want to miss out. He would be a control freak with a tendency to create argument, and whose anxiety is obvious in the way they hold their body. But I would also describe him as someone who has a sharp mind and was very quick at picking up something new.
I know in behaviour terms that this isn’t the way to ‘collect data’ on a horse! The focus would be on describing what he actually does to give him those labels, but for the purpose of story telling, let’s leave it like that!
By the end of that first day back from isolation – he was walking next to me – feeling so much lighter than when we had started. By this time, Monty and I had had about three sessions together – that was all. Once again, I was amazed by the power of this. I was looking forward to where it would lead.
We were all so fortunate to be out and about again in a very safe way!
Stay tuned for more – and for an event I describe as a small miracle!
PLEASE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS