Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So far with Cole

There is one word that most describes Cole—friendly. Mingo loved people, and that was one of the nicest things about him. Well, Cole took over where Mingo left off. He loves everyone and wants all the attention we can give him and more. He is gentle and polite. I’m sure he will test me as he gets more confidence in his new situation, but so far, so good. Ranger adores him—I mean really adores him. He was so lonely after we lost Mingo.

Lets see, I have had him since Thursday. Friday, I turned him out into to large outdoor arena to run, and he really showed his stuff. When I went to see him at the breeder, he was in a round pen. In our arena, he was a far more gorgeous mover than I imagined him to be. Wow, what a beautiful trot and canter.

We then did some walking around, and he showed me that not much scares him. I did some targetting with clicker, and he caught on very fast.

Saturday held a few surprises. After his run, I walked him down the drive and to see traffic. He was indifferent to the cars. I asked him to step onto the street, and he refused. He said he has never been on pavement before, so how does he know it is safe. Sigh, I finally gave up and brought him back to the barn. I took him back to the barn and practiced leading in the indoor arena. I discovered he didn’t understand leading on the off side. We took Cruiser and Ranger out for their ride. When we got back, we tried the street—this time with Ranger—hoping he would follow. Nope. We gradually coaxed him closer. When I got to the edge, I turned him onto the street to see if he would approach at an angle. He reluctantly put all 4 feet on the pavement. It was time to quit while ahead. I tried clicker, but he decided he didn’t like carrots, again.

New problem—he didn’t want to go in his stall.

Sunday, we took him down the neighbors drive. He refused about 10 feet from the edge. We coaxed him one step at a time. When he reached the edge, I turned him sideways again. He stepped out on the pavement, and we walked along the street, heading for home. We got to our drive and went back to the barn. Talk about a nice reward. I did more leading. With the help of the rope halter, he started to understand leading from the off side. I was very careful to time my release precisely when he stepped forward. We were able to do target with clicker. this time, I had trouble getting him in the barn. When we did, it was still tough to get him in his stall. When he got inside, I gave him a handful of grass. I was wishing that we were ready to use the clicker.

Monday was a better day. we took him to the end of the neighbor’s drive, and he readily stepped into the street, we walked down it to our home, went to the barn and repeated. We went to the barn and back down the drive. This time, I turned him away from home and went about 10 feet, turned him back, went down the neighbor’s drive, flipped over to ours, went to the end, turned him away from home, went to the neighbor’s drive and headed home. Success.

Later, after our trail ride, I worked some more with clicker targetting and took him out into the arena to practice leading. He led well with stop and go on both sides. I then tackled the barn. I have figured out I can bring him through the outside door and walk him to the stall, go in, go back out and back into the arena. He didn’t want to go in the door by the arena. After a few times, he didn’t want to go out the arena door to the outside, either. All this has me stymied. I did click him when he went into his stall or stepped in the direction I wanted when he stalled out, but it may be too early for him to really understand what the clicker means.

I’m sure we will work it out. I do believe that since he live outside, that barns and doors may bother him. if he equated it with losing his freedom, I don’t think I could get him in the one direction, but not the other. It is very odd.

I am really enjoying working with Cole. He’s just a sweet horse.


achieve1dream said...

My mare growing up wasn't phased by any traffic, but she HATED the stripes on the paved roads. I don't think it was the pavement because we road down paved roads all the time without stripes, but when we'd go to the highway with the stripes she refused to walk on it.

It sounds like Cole is settling in well. I understand your impatience with him understanding the clicker. I felt the same way with Chrome. Just keep working on the targeting and maybe try having him follow it. He doesn't actually have to touch it to get the click/treat (I learned this later), but it's a great way to get sticky feet moving.

I'm having trouble visualizing how your barn is laid out but if it's only one door he's having trouble going through is there something there that could be different that's making him nervous? Have you squatted down to his eye level and just looked? At everything? I hope that's what it is because dealing with barn sour horses (or the opposite as is your case) sure is no fun. I'm sure with clicker you can overcome it though.

Can't wait to hear more about your fun with Cole. :)

achieve1dream said...

Nope I haven't ever read any of her books. I'll have to check in to them.

Let us know how it goes with Cole. I'm really curious to see if clicker can help him past his fear (reluctance, whatever you want to call it). :)