May 30, 2011
Today I decided to start teaching Penny that the click means a treat is Coming. I made a mistake early on and gave her treats randomly as we were walking or when I saw her in her pen. I think I shouldn't have done that, but at the time, I wanted her to associate me with good things. Now, when she sees me, she automatically looks for the treat and pushes and shoves at me. When I give her the treat away from my body, she bites my palm. I don't think it's intentional, but I don't want her to get into the habit of doing this.
So I decided to treat Penny like a big horse and stood on the other side of the stall door in Cali's part of the shed. This created some problems because when Cali heard the click, she turned to me, wanting her own treat. So I asked her to wait, then clicked and treated her for waiting. I clicked and treated Penny quite a few times and in between, I clicked and treated Cali for waiting. I think that Cali got confused, though, and am going to find somewhere else Cali can be while I'm working with Penny. I don't want Cali to think that click doesn't equal treat, and I'm afraid that might happen if I continue to click and treat Penny, not her. I've heard of people who've trained multiple dogs at once,; how they do it is a mystery to me.
When Penny dropped treats, Cali would put her nose under the door and get what she could. Penny reached down, too, and Cali squealed at her. I think Cali is warning Penny away but am not really sure if that's the case. Hopefully, they'll tolerate each other someday. If not, I guess Cali won't have a friend like I envisioned.
As Penny was eating her hay this evening, I pattered, rubbed, and scratched her, talking quietly as I did so. Even when I touched behind her front legs, she didn't flinch. I guess she's getting used to me. I couldn't tell if her ears were back or not, but since she still kept eating, my assumption is that she wasn't too upset. I am so lucky to have these two amazing, smart horses! Now, if only I could figure out how to teach them to get along!
May 31, 2011
This morning, I had to use fly spray on both horses, as mosquitoes and flies have gotten horrible. Cali decided to protest, which means she saw the bottle in my hand, turned around, walked out of the then, turned back around, and walked into the shed, whereupon she let me spray her without any fuss. Why she does this, I haven't figured out. My guess is that she's simply telling me she's not happy about what I'm doing. Sometimes when I'm getting ready to brush her, she does this. It's funny, but I'm thinking I should listen to her and perhaps click and treat her for not doing it, if I can catch her not protesting about being sprayed, that is!
When Penny's turn came, I had to brush her first and so set the bottle of fly spray down on the floor. Penny let me brush her with no hassle. I suspect that's because I didn't even try to do her legs. When I finished brushing her, I walked over to where the bottle was and she put her nose on it. This is when I should have clicked and treated, but I wasn't prepared. Handler error! I exchanged the brush for the fly spray, let Penny sniff at it, then sprayed some in the air away from her face. She wasn't disturbed and didn't even flinch when I sprayed
her—except when I tried to do her legs and her tummy near her legs. Then she tried to kick and danced around some. I talked quietly to her, but her ears stayed pinned. If it hadn't been necessary to spray her, I would have just left her alone, but as it was, I didn't want her to get bitten by mosquitoes. She hasn't had all of her vaccines yet, and I don't want to take any chances. Bruce was outside, so I asked him to spray Penny while I talked to her and tried to soothe her. She wasn't happy about the procedure, but we were able to spray her down, at which point, I gave her some hay pellets. Of course, this is something we'll have to work on.
One of the things I really want Penny to learn is manners. I want her to understand that she'll only get a treat if she stands with her head far enough away that she can't mug me. This is something I didn't do with Cali, something I paid dearly for in the beginning.
When I went to Penny, she nickered at me and put her nose over the stall door. Cali was outside on the grass, so there was no interference, jealousy, or confusion from her, which meant I could focus exclusively on Penny.
First, I started clicking and treating from outside the stall, putting my hand down far enough that she had to lower her head to get the treat. A few minutes later, I decided to go into the stall and stand beside her. She stood on my left side, the side she'll learn is guide position, and tried to get at the cup of treats in my left hand. I raised my hand high enough that she couldn't touch the cup, and then Penny started mugging me, moving over to my right, nipping at my sleeves, nudging me with her nose. I didn't respond except to say "uh-uh." When she moved away and stood quietly for a second, I clicked and treated. It took several more times of this for her to get the concept that standing away from me gets the click and treat. I still don't know if she really understands. Time will tell, but I'm so excited because I feel like I'm getting somewhere with her.