Tuesday, June 10, 2014

There's a Click for That!

I've been a little quiet on the Cricket front, and I think it might be because things have been going so well...

Do you dare to try this? (Whisper and Splash - not Cricket)

She is learning to be brave.
When she sees something scary, there are 2 acceptable options:
 - ride on by
 - investigate it
Riding on by is working well in the arena.  Once we can ride on by, I will gove her a chance to investigate the scary objects.  If Cricket touches the scary object, she gets a click (she usually jumps at that) and a treat.  She is getting much more investigative!!
Yup, she's now bending in her body, as well! (not just in her neck, as shown here...)

Both mares have been exhibiting some resistance to bridling.  Cricket is consistently resistant.  Fancy Pony is usually fine, but has days where she has no interest in the bridling game.
I break this activity down into the tiniest of steps.
 - allow me to hold my hand on your nose (*click*)
 - allow that hand to hold the crown of the bridle (*click*)
 - allow me to raise the bit to your lips (*click*)
 - take the bit (*click*) (the treats come once the bridle is securely over the ears on this one.)

This approach results in a bit with gnarly treat-laden slobber all over the horse's mouth, but both girls are really looking forward to bridling!  I don't use the clicker every day, but if things start to turn sour, I don't hesitate to pull it out.  Fancy Pony will open her mouth in anticipation of receiving the bit!

I don't even click every step once the basic progression has been established.

I've also been teaching Cricket how to stand at the mounting block with patience (yes, using the clicker).  I figure these are skills that will really help a young rider out when they want to ride as independently as possible.
I feel like the clicker is helping to descibe exactly what behaviors are expected.  Understanding leads to success.  And Success leads to confidence.

In Cricket's last jumping adventure, two poles on the ground turned into 3, and that third pole was terrifying!! She didn't jump out of her skin, and she didn't run out of the line.  She slowed W-A-A-A-A-A-Y down, put her nose to the ground, and snorted at the pole... before trotting on over it!

She gets the idea, now, what jumping is all about, and I think each tiny jump makes her feel more confident about the next one.  I don't want to raise them too quickly, but I *loved* the way she handled herself over the 2' vertical!  I think it might be time to introduce Cricket to courses!

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