Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Confidence in the driving horse

With Mesa lame and Xena's hives not quite gone, I've been using the time to play with the minis. I got Ghost back in the cart for the first time since before winter - so much fun! The indoor arena was footed soooo deep though I didn't make her pull me, she was struggling enough to drag the cart lol!! Also been playing with some liberty with her and teaching her more patterns, she's so smart! I want soooo desperately to submit a video to this month's Savvytube contest, but my video camera and I just have a personality clash! But if we can settle our differences before the end of the month to the point where I can edit some things, I will definitely send one in!

Fancy is the RBI mini that was trained to drive by a professional predator who really messed her up, and it's taken me all winter to get her confidence. This 32" tall mini just about took me sand skiing the first time I played friendly with the stick and string. She was really nervous about things touching her hind end, so before, she had been driven without breeching - the piece of harness that is the cart's brakes. So she was really anxious in the cart, and I had no clue how to teach her that things touching her butt were okay... especially since if she's ever going to be a safe driving horse, she needs to be able to push into the breeching and stop the cart. And then....... it came to me!!!

Upon watching David Litchman's video on how he helped a student to develope his horse's confidence in zone 3 by making a touch-it game from zone 3... I transfered the idea to Fancy's zone 5.

First I got her yo-yo working realllly well. Then I got her to back up this little dirt hill. For a RBI she's pretty food motivated, so I added treats when she did in confidently, and that really sped up the progress.

Then I got her to back up into something until her tail touched it; I started with this mounting block. First she was crooked and all over the place, thinking that I was asking her to navigate around it. Imagine her surprise when she got a cookie for accidentally bumping into it!!

Principles before purpose, purpose before goals.... I finally get what that means now!!!!!!! Principle - getting Fancy to push her hind end into something. Purpose - the horse understanding there is a reason behind doing what she's doing... in this case I gave her a purpose of pushing the round corral gate open so she could go roll and play in there. Goals - eventually getting her confident in the cart's breeching.

Then I got her confident enough to push through this people door to get into the big barn - confidently!

And then she also has issues (like introverted J in the tail every time issues) of people standing behind her withers and trying to ask her to do anything. She even clamps her tail and flinches if you brush her tail. The good thing is that she's pretty much a pattern-aholic. She's a pretty extreme RBI, and a total wallflower, so once she gets the pattern and knows that what she's doing is a right answer, it very quickly becomes a default behavior. So then what I started doing was put a voice cue "back" to it, and then asking her to back into stuff from zone 2. Then I tried it from zone three... calm tail!!! Then yesterday when I was brushing her, I turned around to clean out the brush, and she backed into her stall door, then looked at me like "cookie??" YES YES YES!!!! It's a default behavior!!

Next step, zone 4, then 5, then breeching!!

Life is good.

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