Reclaiming Andi - day three

Continuing on with step one—we started clicker training.

I don't subscribe to it in a religious sense as some people seem to do to one system or another, but I have found it to be a very handy communication tool.

Remember, my main goal is to open the lines of communication so I can ask her to learn and do stuff with me, and she can let me know if she understands what I'm asking or if she's uncomfortable or ready for more.

I went into the stall with her halter, the clicker, and a pocket full of grain (Notice I don't have the bucket. I want her to come to me now, not to the bucket.) ((I'm actually combining a few steps and making a fairly complex lesson day for her.)). I want her to figure out that when she hears the click, she gets a treat, so I click the clicker and offer her half a handful of grain. I've never had a horse take more than about 28 seconds to figure this out. Usually, the light dawns with the second 'click/treat' or at most, the third.

Andi is no exception. By the time she heard the third click, her nose headed for my pocket, .but that was just an aside. Remember, she's wearing her halter to eat.

At this point, we back up a half-step and get her to 'target' the halter. I do that by touching the halter to her nose and clicking (treat). I do this twice then simply stand, holding the halter close to her . . . success! She stretches out her nose to touch the halter. (click treat).

Within minutes, she is following me around the stall asking to nose the halter.

To reach the next half step, when she noses the halter, (click) I put the halter on before I treat. This takes a few more repetitions because it's a little more involved. There is some lag time between the click and treat, and she has to figure out if I've betrayed her in some way, changed the rules, or simply added to the game. I give her time to whirl it all around in her head, and we do a few more repetitions.

Halter off.
Offer halter.
Nose halter.
Halter on.

This step takes her about five or six repetitions to get comfortable with and to totally accept what we're doing.

**this photo was taken after the fact (obviously we're in the arena, not in the stall) but I wanted to show her approaching the halter and (grrrr at my slow digital camera) touching her nose to it. oh well. But isn't she cute? The young man in the photo is living and working here and learning to work with the horses, so he's training in groundwork along with Andi.

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