Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bus Stop Revisited

Bus Stop Revisited

Traffic is Dante’s Achilles heel, and one bad behavior moment ended up with Ellen breaking her ankle—causing her a lot of anxiety whenever she has to lead him on the street.  The following spring, I spent a lot of time getting him accustomed to traffic.  After doing it in the driveway with Kevin in his car, we ventured out towards the real world.  I would lead him to the end of the driveway and stand there to watch traffic.  I called it Bus Stop.

Dante learned to enjoy the game.  In fact, it became his very favorite game, ever.  When a car would come by, I would ask him to lower his head, and I would then click him for standing still with his head lowered and his eyes on me.  He could play this game all day, and I would end up getting bored and bring him back to the barn.

Now that we are reintroducing him to the great outdoors after a winter in the indoor arena, it was time to review his favorite game.

Last Saturday, after Ellen rode him in the arena, I led Dante down the driveway with Ellen at our side.  She was so nervous!  The only thing I was nervous about was the possibility that Dante would disappoint her.

We walked halfway down, stopped and waited for a car.  Car, click, carrot and continue.  We went about 10 steps further down the driveway.  Finally, we were close to, but not quite to the end.  The very end is under a tree, so the sun hadn’t melted the ice that covered the whole driveway, just the day before.  I didn’t want any horses dancing around on ice, so I thought it would be best to stay where we were. 

Our street doesn’t have a whole lot of traffic, so there was more waiting than clicking.  Ellen was still nervous.  I was getting bored.  Dante was perfect.

Ellen was worried he might misbehave when I turned him to go back to the barn, so she explained to me how I should point to the ground to ask him to lower his head on the turn.  It worked like a dream.  He dropped his head and followed my hand as we turned to home.  Of course, he got clicked for that.

He walked back to the barn like a gentleman.

Ellen was so happy that he was so perfect.  She was just beaming.  Day one of traffic training = A plus.

Day two was the next day.  This time, the driveway was completely thawed and I was able to lead him down to the end of it.  Once again, he got an A plus.  Once again, Ellen was elated.  I don’t think he will be any trouble leading on the street this spring.  I will review bus stop as much as I can until then.

It never hurts to review old lessons like this.  It reassures the horses because we aren’t rushing them into scary situations, and it reassures humans that our horses will be able to handle those situation.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Awww such a good boy!