Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comments from Thursday's Post

Tuff wrote that she couldn't comment so I'll post our emails here. Hope that's okay Tuff.

Tuff wrote:
Do you think you've changed in your approach to Jessie's training at all to explain the tantrums?

Unless the horse is "off" I typically don't offer them a second chance when it comes to the trailer. For me - it's like a kid saying "no" & then asking them "are you sure?". To me it's not a question of yes or no but instead "yes sir! How fast!". Who knows - maybe I'm too picky. To me trailer loading seems like the one place people start out well and then one day the horse just won't load & they have no clue why.

I know you aren't like that but you know what I mean. If they don't load I might not work the snot out of them but I will do a few sending exercises and then ask "would you like to rethink your original answer?". Most of the time 3-4 sending exercises and they are in the trailer (lapse time less than 2 minutes) and no one is running on adrenaline if that makes sense.

I think you are doing a GREAT job with Jessie but I think you should have your wife video you working her (if a tantrum arises even better) so you can see yourself from an "outside" view. It's amazing what you pick up.

And I replied:
Have I changed my approach? I was kind of thinking about that this morning. It seems with each exercise I learn a little bit more. I don’t have a lot of experience with a lot of different horses so I don’t know how much variance in train-ability there is. I do know that trailer loading has been a place where timing and body language seem to make a lot of difference. Another place has been clippers. She wasn’t clipped before I owned her and I’ve been having a heck of a time with the clippers. I’ve tried working her, approach and retreat, and I could get the clippers close, but every time I tried to cut some hair she’d start flipping her head.

Last Monday was the one year anniversary of buying her. I had reflected I should really be able to clip her by now. I did get to work her almost every night for the last 5-6 days (we were out of town over the weekend) and I have two hand held clippers. I decided to have the clippers a part of every groundwork session until she was clipped. Having that as a goal seemed to take the time pressure off. So, every day I would run the clippers around her face, pole and chin. (Previously I would only work with the clippers about once a month) I still haven’t clipped her, but last night she just dropped her head on her own and almost closed her eyes while I ran the clippers around. I really wanted to clip her but I thought that was the predator in me talking and decided I would just keep doing this for a couple of days.

BTW, the consecutive days work, even though none of it has been longer than 45 minutes has done wonders on her ground work. She hasn’t thrown a tantrum in a while and has been quite willing to do everything I ask. I think a lot of that has to do with me practicing my technique and timing and that the repetition has helped her as well. The video is a good idea. I’ll try and get some trailer loading and we can critique that. Also, I did some liberty stuff that would be good to video just for its comedic value.

One final note. It's probably not a coincidence that I have problems with her when there is a time crunch - trailer loading, clippers, groundwork before the ride (some of the people I ride with don't do groundwork). Even if there is a time crunch I have to learn how to suppress my body language that communicates that.
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