Saturday, February 26, 2022

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Monday, February 7, 2022

Thursday, February 3, 2022

What Can You do with Clicker Training

What Can You do with Clicker Training


This isn't horse related--but cat related.

My sister got a kitten, and she decided to clicker train her.  I clicker train my cat, Thunder, but Ellen is taking it to a whole new level.  She is training her to be a dog.

The best thing she has done--and I plan to do with all my future cats, is to teach her to load into her cat carrier. Why didn't I ever think of that?  That is the hardest part about getting Thunder to the vet--all the cats we ever had, for that matter.

Ellen's cat loves to load into her carrier.  She loads her and carries her about the house--and even outside.  

She sits on command better than my clicker-trained dog.  She is teaching her to "come" and to heel without a leash.

Ellen is also harness training her.  

Lately, they have been working on paw handling.

Wait a minute, she isn't teaching her to be a dog--she is teaching her to be a horse!

I like how she is teaching her practical things that will make their lives happier.  She'll be able to clip her claws, take her to the vet and hopefully, she will be brushing her teeth, too.

Arena Adventures

Arena Adventures

I have ridden more in the arena this year than I have since I retired.  The weather just hasn't been that cooperative for us to go on trail rides.  After a number of rather mild winters, we had a normal January, and it has been trying.
The arena at our new barn is very well built, so it stays rather cozy.  We have ridden when the outside temperature is in the low single digits, but we are still comfortable. It is hard to motivate ourselves to do it, but once we are in the saddle, we are happy we did.
Ellen is doing better than she ever has with Dante.  She keeps finding one little piece after the next to add to her riding, and the horse who never wanted to go seems like he is enjoying moving.  Both of their attitudes have changed, and it is a delight to watch them.  Dante is striding longer, rounding up and even getting a little suspension--which is saying a lot for a low moving horse like him.  Where Ellen used to feel constant frustration, she now is enjoying her rides.
I haven't had it as easy.  I decided I was tired of Cole's fancy arena trot.  It was too exhausting.  Since he only does it when I do a sitting trot, that means that I need to post.  I always post on the trail, but it is so much harder for me in the arena--it's the corners!  I would be fine on the straight away and fall apart once I got to the corner.  Circles were a disaster.
I have been re-teaching myself to post, and I was starting to improve--and then I twisted my ankle.  (It wasn't horse related.)  It didn't keep me from riding, but it hurts.  In the beginning, it hurt a lot, but now it is tolerable, but it is causing some crookedness that I have been fighting--and if I'm not careful, I'll move it the wrong way--and it throws my balance way off.
Still, we are improving.  Cole is trying to find himself, too.  I don't want the kind of trot I get on the trail, but I don't want his extreme arena trot, either.  That is where clicker training comes in.  When he gets it just the way I want, he gets a click and treat.  It is happening often enough now that I am clicking him for duration.
The same goes for our corners.  At first, due to my bad posting and his lack of schooling, his bends were atrocious.  As I have gained control of my body, I am able in influence him better.  When he does a great corner, he gets a click.  Now, we are working on multiple corners and turning them into perfect circles.  Honestly, we don't have that many perfect circles, but they have happened.
I have been doing a little bit of cantering.  Cole is picking up the hard lead about half of the time. I haven't been doing much on the easy lead at all because I don't want to confuse him.  I have been using the "non-canter" technique that I wrote about last month. When Cole picks it up immediately, that is when it is correct. If he waits a few strides, he is able to pull himself together and give me the wrong lead.  He is so incredibly coordinated on that lead, that it feels better than the harder lead--even on a small circle.
Most days, I am riding with Ellen.  Cole loves following Dante, and that has been our biggest behavior problem.  He is getting better, though.  When I do get to ride by myself, so many things are easier--but I have much more fun when I ride with Ellen.  Cole is just going to have to get used to it.
On the nicer days, when we are done working in the arena, we go outside and ride about for a while.  We really like when we can do that.  Sometimes, Kevin even joins us on Starry.  When Ellen isn't there, I will go ride down the hill with Kevin to see the still-frozen river.
We all so much prefer trail riding, but at least we are enjoying our arena rides.
It was cloudy on Groundhog Day, so maybe we will have an early spring.

The Boys Playing

  The Boys Playing

Tuesday, February 1, 2022