Thursday, September 17, 2009

Walking Through Grass

I just had to comment on the issue of walking through grass and using c/t for absolutely everything I do with my mini.

Because Cali is a working horse and needs to be guiding, I don't generally let her have grass while we work, though I do occasionally give her grass as a reward or when I stop to chat with someone. Cali is pretty good about keeping her head up while we work and won't stop for grass except when she knows my mind is elsewhere.

I've worked quite a bit on getting her to understand when she can and cannot have grass. For instance, in the mornings, when I've got a few minutes before the bus comes to pick us up for work, I deliberately walk her over to the grass and say "go ahead" so she gets the idea. And when the bus comes, I tell her it's time to go. Her ears go up, her head comes up, too, and we're off.

Also, there are times when I ask her to pick up her head and move along with me. I then reward her for coming with a bit of grass. That way, she knows the grass supply won't run out. I want Cali to love to work and to know she'll get rewarded for doing what I need from her.
Now, when we're walking, Cali almost never stops for grass. She just trots along with her head up, passing all the grass on both sides of us. There's always grass to the right and left of us because we walk on city sidewalks. And there are also the tempting flowers. But Cali rarely goes for the grass. Now, I usually take Cali for a walk after I've fed her because I figure if she's hungry, she'll be wanting food, in this case, grass, and it isn't fair to take her out and work her if she's hungry.

Now, I just have to address the issue of the suggestion that to much c/t could make a horse an automaton. Cali is living proof that c/t doesn't do that. She has a mind of her own, and I actually think the clicker makes her more confident in her abilities as a guide. She always insists she's right when we stop for something, whether it's a curb, a terrain change I didn't notice, or some obstacle. I've gotten a few good bruises from not stopping and listening to my little girl! She really is always right!

Cali also potties on cue. I can ask her to potty, and usually, she'll pee first. Then she gets her c/t, and I ask again. Usually, within two minutes or so, Cali poops, and another c/t. We go to work, and she won't need to potty for a good four hours! Talk about an awesome horse!
Okay. I'll go away now and let everyone ponder all that. Really, Cali is even more amazing that I've explained, and the more I work with her, the more in awe of her I am. It's only been three months since we really became a team. I can't imagine how it will be in three years or, God willing, thirty years.
I'm off to clean up horse poop and feed my girl, and maybe we'll play with her ball. That, too, is accompanied by lots of c/t!

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