Stand – lesson 1
|October 14, 2011||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Wednesday was Pony Day!
In the new spirit of taking care of myself, I have declared any day that I get out of school before 3pm to be a pony day.
This week, that meant that there was a singular pony day, and I looked forward to it all week.
Isn’t it’s amazing how a little anticipation can add drive and excitement? I felt a little thrill in the pit of my stomach as I drove over to the parents (checking out Chicken Man’s place curiously as I drove by).
Of course, I had limited time and a whole lot of things I wanted to get done – which meant that Farley was invited to my sister’s “rustic tea party”. Loreleigh paced around our upturned wicker basket and teapot, and waved her hands as she related her latest job hunting drama (somebody please hire her OK? She’s sweet, cute, and has a degree and managed to survive as a Walmart checker putting herself through school) as I trimmed feet.
We’ve had some wet weather and I was reminded how FUN trimming feet is in the spring and fall. CHUNKS of sole were crumbling out of Farley’s feet, exposing nice walls and sole and bars that my hoof knife sliced off and I was able to get a good roll of them without power tools for the first time since the spring. WHOO HOO! I ruthlessly took down the heels, backed up the toe, and held a conversation without a drop of sweat and zero swearing. Amazing.
Good thing because the next thing on my agenda was a workout.
Normally one doesn’t consider mounting a horse the workout of the day.
Normally, one doesn’t mount 50 times from each side, bareback, from a 2 step mounting block.
As I walked away from our session, legs trembling and more than a little sore, I was glad I had skipped my morning swim in favor of sleeping in. (I know – what a bum!)
I approached session 1 as a test of Farley’s understanding that she should stand while mounting. We worked just outside the pasture gate, in a halter, bareback. I asked her to stand and stood on the mounting block. I ran my hands over her, swung my leg over, and flopped around. Then I started vaulting on. I switched sides often, completing approximately 50 bareback mounts from each side.
She attempted to move off 3 times – once before I started mounting, and then twice after I had vaulted on. All the “failures” were early in the session.
Each time I corrected her by moving her back into position, and then repeated the exercise.
Thoughts on session 1
Based on Farley’s performance, I think I can assume that she understands the concept of standing while being mounted. The next step will be to expose her to more and more distracting situations, while asking for the same behavior.
I’m learning in dog training that it’s important to maintain a high success rate during the entire session – not just near the end. In its entirety, this session had a 94% success rate – a rate high enough I’m comfortable moving to the next stage. Once I reach a situation where the success rate in a session drops below 80%, even if I get many successful attempts near the end of the session, I will stay at that “distraction level” until I’m getting a compliance rate above 90% for the entire session.
I’m first working the “stand” as an exercise in mounting because I think it’s the situation that Farley understands the best in conjunction with stand, and it’s the one that’s the clearest for me to enforce.
At the next session I will start adding tack. If everything goes well, the next session after that will be new locations – the road (private, dirt) in front of my parents property, on the trail etc. I’ll continue using the mounting block for now, since in the beginning I want to do lots of repetitions and mounting from the ground puts a greater strain on her back. So far, I don’t feel the need for additional “tools” to teach the concept like clickers or treats etc. – she seems to know the concept (after all – this isn’t the first time I’ve tried working on this concept with her) so I’ll focus on being consistent and progressive for now. I foresee using other reinforcements, such as the clicker, when I start working on our pulse check stand.
As always – feedback is welcomed! [and if you want to head over to Tess’s blog and give advice there – it would be greatly appreciated too! What little I know about horses, I know even less about dogs…. :)]