Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A trip to town

Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera rolling as Cali carefully walked up the steps in the bus with me in tow. The plan was to go to the little town of Broadalbin to test drive some of the obstacle and terrain training we've done in the arena. In the arena, Iset up roadblocks in the form of gates in our path, barrels for noticing,ladders etc. All these things were in our path. I wanted

Cali to point them out by targeting them. We also targeted a chair. Then, we targeted her feet by asking her to touch a plywood mat, a tarp and the change from sand to grass with her feet.

So, Cali traveled in her bus. I don't think she was too comfortable with the bus and neither was I. There is an odd feeling that you must have to get used to to drive a vehicle with steps and glass down to the roadway as it whizzes past.

We parked in the parking lot of a market. The boys at the school yard were most amazed at a little horse getting out of a bus.

Cali when down the first step easily but jumped after the second one. Note
to self: raise the priority of carefully going down stairs. Up to now, I've been happy she would even go down stairs like these. And, we were off.

Cali tracked the street as if she'd been doing it all her life. There was traffic in the store parking lot but she just tracked straight. The sidewalk starts at the first corner. I stopped her at the curb and we turned right to track down the sidewalk. There was a post today on one of the lists
discussing whether the guide should stop at every driveway or only where there is traffic. I stopped her at the driveways. She found and targeted fire hydrants, and sign posts if they were on our path. Too far off our path, she didn't target them. She looked though. On the way out, I stopped at terrain changes. Soon though, I just let her guide.

She doesn't yet know to stop at curbs. We had an interesting trip through the town with very large trucks including tractor trailers and motorcycles going by beside us on the street. Cali was not phased at all by all that noise. The road curves around past a bank, past a post office. Soon, we'll visit the bank and post office and maybe the pizza place or sandwich shop. But, for now, we stopped at the crossroad.

It's nerve wracking focusing in on all the things she needs to be aware of and at the same time letting her do what she can with as little help as possible.

We crossed the street and there was a cross-walk to "find". I pointed it out to her. The curb by the cross walk is painted yellow. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of vehicles. As the traffic goes slowly thru this part of town, the sound of cars is low and not that easily discernable. And, we had a small motor bike go by that was very quiet.

Cali waited with me. Soon, the sound was quiet and we crossed. She stayed straight and followed the cross-walk. She did stop at the curb on the other side. Good girl.

At this side walk we turned left to pass a few more shops. There was a sharp dip in the sidewalk for deliveries to a store. We stopped there a long time as I decided where next to cross the street. I decided to go down the hill across a bridge over a rather large stream. On the way I noticed a smiling young high school student coming our way. I closed my eyes. I trusted her.
She glided on by without a look. I didn't even know we'd passed until I opened my eyes again. I thanked the young man and we smiled.

On the bridge Cali slowed noticeably. Caution that tells me. She carefully crossed the bridge and picked up the pace on the other side. There was a good place to cross the road. We turned left and stopped and waited as I listened. Just then a cement truck came around the corner it was very loud.

A motor bike driver stopped to wave us on. Thanks but no thanks as Mona would not see nor should she trust that wave. He went on. When it was quiet again, we crossed.

On the other side we again encountered the bridge. Again she slowed - caution.

After the bridge we pass a firehouse. It's all road surface without a sidewalk for guidance. Cali took aim at where the sidewalk started again and took us straight to it. She targeted a electric pole where the route narrowed sharply. Still enough room for us but worth noting. In front of us,
I noticed a metal ground doorway. The old kind where people load and unload delivering directly into a basement. I knew it would sound hollow and decided to see what Cali would do. She stopped at the metal. Good girl.

Forward took us onto the metal. I asked her to stop before going off the metal. Another person was coming the other way. Cali lifted her head to notice this woman go by. That woman I feel certain wanted to pet Cali but held herself back. Cali did acknowledge the admiration.

What took me by more surprise was that Cali stopped at the next yellow painted curb. I knew it was a cross walk and so did she. I had not planned to cross there but because she noticed it I thought it would be a good reward to cross there.

Again we waited for traffic to be quiet. Across she went. On the other side we turned right to follow our original outbound sidewalk. She thought about targeting the same hydrant that she had on the way out. But, that would have made her cross in front of me. I slid down her lead and told her forward. It was just a flicker of a thought and on she went.

This time there was a truck parked partially on the sidewalk. She targeted it. Hmmmm an interesting concept still about targeting each object only once. Or is it OK to point out that this object is long. So far, I think only once will do. So, I just ask for forward when she targets that same object more than once. Down to the next curb and turn left to go to the bus.
She did not veer directly to the bus. She stayed straight until we were quite close. Then, she targeted the bus. Good girl. I dropped our makeshift guide handle and sent her up the stairs onto the bus for the ride home.

Home I decided that she might as well begin to learn how to go slowly in a guide way down the stairs of the bus. We carefully took each step, waited and clicked. It takes a good deal of hindquarter balance to come down the steps of a bus one step at a time. But, with help she got it. She is very willing to let me help her.

I picked up her harness again and sent her forward wondering what kind of route from the bus she'd take us on. She decided to go straight towards our road. That's her normal route. In the heading straight, though she came across a pole on the ground with a storage box in my way. She stopped - good girl. She targeted the pole, I turned her right and she targeted the box.
All unasked. She made these decisions. We went left around the box, she found our trash.

Technically, that wasn't in our way. I accepted the try anyway. It would give a person some reference of where they were in a tricky situation. She had to pass the horse trailer. She targeted it. I sent her home. She now knows that home is her living space. At least for now.

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