I was sitting in class today, day dreaming (as usual) about endurance, blogs, puppies.
I've been toying with the idea of doing some clicker training with Farley. Specifically, the stand.
The one issue that continues to frusterate the hell out of me is that she won't consistently stand. MOST of the time she does, but when it counts - likely she'll keep moving her feet. Getting frusterated doesn't help. Jerking on the halter doesn't help. Me yelling, whispering, pleading, doesn't help. Being consistent kinda helps.....but she ignores the cue as often as she obeys it, and from my dog training lessons I know I am diluted the cue by using it when she doesn't obey it....so I need to get the behavior first.
I'm learning from Tess that if something is hitting my (unfortunately too low) frustration threshold, it's because I'm missing a foundation piece.
Which brings me back to my Bingo moment.
The Stand I'm trying to teach Farley is identical in principle to the Recall I'm trying to install in Tess.
Today, I started playing a very structured "recall" game which includes a very structured progression from less distractions (rated as a 1), up to distractions that are HIGHLY fixating for Tess. It's all about repetition, enforcing the command, and moving through more and more distracting situations in a very progressive way. The post on Tess's blog was initially suppose to publish on Thursday, but I've moved it to Wednesday (today) so that you can take a look at the method I'm using for the recall.
At the end of my "program" I want Tess to come to me no matter what.
I want Farley to "stand" whenever I ask, no matter what.
Currently, I'm asking Farley to stand before I have really solidified that behavior in a variety of situations. I have to first teach the behavior in a comprehensive way and "bank" lots and lots of successes.
So - could teaching the stand with the clicker and a progressive, structured program be beneficial for Farley? I'm not interested in doing "full blown" clicker training with Farley -
it's great with Tess, but it's just not what I want to do with my horse -
but I'd be wiling to try it for the "stand" just so I can train it in a
different way (and perhaps get a different result - remember the definition of insanity? doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?).
Farley is very food motivated, but doesn't have any pushy dominant behaviors that I'm worried about making worse. The personal space boundaries would remain the same and I won't tolerate "mugging" so I'm not worried about that "side effect". I don't think trying this would make it worse, and it might make it better.
Here's the plan so far:
For the first "trick", teach her to look away from the treat with her head down, or something similar - a trick I don't mind being repeated over and over and over....in every possible situation. Similar to what AareneX has done with her Standardbred mare.
After Farley gets the concept, start asking for a stand, and rewarding it in low distraction situations for longer and longer duration (probably going up to 2 or 3 minutes - enough time to get through a line in a pulse check or replace a boot). Eventually ask for the same behavior in more and more distracting situations. A rating system of distractions might look like (less distracting to more):
mounting at home
mounting from an object NOT a mounting block (like a truck or fence)
on trail turned away from home
on trail turned towards home
tying or removing ribbons
mounting on trail
mounting during gunfire
horses leaving or passing
food on the ground
water tank (when thirsty)
During a race start with horses milling around
A key to this approach is to recognize situations that are above your ability to ask for a stand and NOT ASK, or don't put your horse in that situation where you are forced to ask until you are ready for that level, but working through "lesser" distractions first. By working through these levels and layering success upon success in a variety of situations, I'm hoping that at the end of 2 months, I have a horse that will stand, even in the most distracting of circumstances!
Using this approach gives me a "path" to a horse that has a proven ability to stand during a variety of situations and help me recognize situations I haven't sought out, and forces me to seek them out!
If anyone has any online resources that would point me in the right direction, feel free to comment (or write a post on your blog!)
I'll let you know how it goes!
15 hours ago