Clicking Clinic.

We got to drive clear down to Scottsbluff yesterday to meet with some other clicker trainers. We are very lucky to have others so close who enjoy this rather obscure method of training. By close I mean within a few hours. It’s all relative. A couple hours is closer than the other side of the world.

The morning started out with dogs. We got to see some big beautiful pit bulls in action. They were well socialized, had excellent manners, and very good training. Jeffery talked about how the younger one would be classified as a dominant dog in more traditional circles. He barked a lot and was more physical with other dogs. When really it was all signs of insecurity. Then he brought out his older dog who was very quiet and patient with the puppy bouncing around his feet and face. This one was the real boss. He was very confident and didn’t need to show anyone he was tough.

The bouncing puppy was very reactive and spent the beginning of the day barking incessantly and pulling constantly, front legs off the ground, at the end of his leash. In a very off hand manner, Jeffery tossed them a harness to try as he continued to work with his big dogs. After the tack switch the puppy almost immediately stopped barking. Not completely, there were still lots of dogs, and new people, and things to bark at. But the barking only erupted occasionally when a new dog was introduced or something set him off instead of constant.

We discussed and demonstrated TAG teaching over lunch. And did some outright clicker training of people while we were at it. It was lots of fun watching a persons mind work as they tried to figure out what was being asked of them. It was also fun watching the “trainer” try to figure out how to thin slice it and how to give cues.

After lunch it was on to horses. Rusty and I got to go first. It was different talking to a group of horse people who knew what we were talking about than school children who know basic normal horsemanship st most. We got to discuss the things we were doing. And they were very understanding when Rusty couldn’t resist eating the green grass instead of handing me my hat.

Then Kyler showed us how he has been working with the flashy little Shetland he is training. They have been using clicker training to help her calm down and focus as well as to get her to move forward calmly. She was a wonderful example both of a reactive hot horse being calmed by clicker training and of how it is a safe method for children to train and work with horses. They gave a great showing.

During Kylers demonstration and Berns afterwards, everyone wanted to borrow Rusty’s toys! This is one of the few groups of horse people where a rubber chicken, a bouncy ball, and a trampoline are sought after horse training tools! I loved the way they got passed around, not only by the children playing happily on the sidelines but by the trainers working with their horses.

Last, but certainly not least, Bern brought out his pretty Appaloosa mare. They have been working hard on laying down on cue and even though she didn’t lay down there on the grass in front of our shade tree we were unwilling to leave it was nice to see the obvious training and time he had put into her. The showed how to start a horse on clicker training using a target, a cone in this case. Then he gave an example of transferring targeting, or touch, to another object. Rusty’s bouncy ball in this case. That turned into a demo on teaching a horse to pick something up. They came really close to getting it in one session.

Then it was time to go home. It was a fun, informative day talking to clicker trainers in person, for once, instead of online. Everybody has so much knowledge and so many things to learn from them all. The things that stood out the most though were the change of collar on the puppy and the amazing effect it had. The children. They were everywhere. It was wonderful to have kids involved, both training and watching, and to be doing a type of training that is, for the most part, safe to do with small children in close proximity. We discussed how I can train on Rusty with my kids underfoot. Kyler demonstrated how it can be applied safely by a kid without the bucking and running often involved in traditional styles of colt starting. I can’t wait to do it again!


Training In Real Life

I haven’t hardly had time to look at the new ponies these last couple of days. Rusty and I are going down to a clinic Saturday and  I want to make sure he’s on his best behavior and remembers what we are going to talk about. That maybe half an hour spent there seems to take up the whole amount of time I have to work with a horse in a day.

I got to thinking and noticing something today though, as I fed chickens and gave the horses some husks from our sweet corn the night before. I stood at the fence and watched the horses and the goats hanging out, eating their treat, and asking if I had more. I had the plastic bag they had been carried in in my hand. It rustled and crinkled, Amarillo took a step back. Then he came right back to me sniffing and curious. The goats wandered underfoot, fighting for more of the husks.

I realized then that they are being trained by everything they encounter in life. I get so worried about “training sessions”. Some people get so focused on round penning. It is such a tiny part of their lives, such a specialized environment. Why concentrate our efforts on that when we have their whole lives to train?

These horses will have four wheelers, tractors, combines, and semis driving past all the time, chickens, cattle and goats underfoot, the big noisy payloader delivering their feed. They learn to come running and stand under it expectantly instead of running away. They learn that four wheelers are part of their herd  not scary. Baa and baby baa, or Snow White depending on who you are talking to 😉 walk around under their feet and bounce about their heads. Coyote and Rusty come running when they see people, setting a good example. Once they are all in together it will be even better. They’ll learn to come to so they don’t get left behind.

I need to stop worrying about the days I don’t get out play with them with a set training goal. All of life is learning and of we use it effectively amazing things can be accomplished by not working with the horses.

 


First Day Of Training

I would say this was the first day of training for Amarillo and Harvey but really they’ve been training since they got here. What better way to show two new, unsure horses that I am a good fun person than to start loading the clicker? I click then treat and repeat. By the end of their first day here they were starting to come when called.
This morning I strapped on my shiny new GoPro, grabbed my target and a bag of treats and went to find the horses. Unfortunately they were on the far side of the corral. on the other side of a pen full of waist high weeds covered in thick morning dew. There are few things in life worse than wet jeans. I braved it anyway. Following one of the many horse trails that meander throughout I made it to them staying mostly dry.
When I got close I called to them. They looked and stood. Finally Harvey started my way. Such a good pretty boy. When he got to me I clicked and treated him, Amarillo was quick to follow. I turned and they followed quietly behind back to the front corrals.
I separated them. It was a little upsetting. They were quickly shut behind their separate gates. Amarillo wandered off to explore corrals he had not yet seen. Harvey was less chill. I had wanted to work over a different gate, but, this was the one closest to Amarillo. And it worked. He wanted his buddy to come back but he likes food a lot too. He figured out the target and click thing very quickly. I may have another Rusty on my hands. He was very enthusiastic.
I left Harvey after a few good goes and walked over to Amarillo. He had come back to the gate and was hanging out watching. Until the target came close. Then he nearly left. Who knew a tennis ball on the end of a curtain rod would be so scary. He finally overcame his fear of the terrifying tennis ball and figured out what we were talking about. He got the targeting down nicely without the excess enthusiasm Harvey had.
I went back and forth a few times between them then forced myself to quit. This is my first time starting from the beginning and doing it right. With Rusty I had no clue what I was doing and we started somewhere in the middle. With these two I am determined to do it right. It was a great first go and I cant wait to play with them again.

Unfortunately the video is to long to load hear. Lets see if this works  https://www.facebook.com/309985332692651/videos/661619447529236/


Finally, Pictures!

Ok, time for every drop of information I have on these two. There’s not much. Last fall a skinny little Morgan stud was run through Stanley Brothers in Louisiana. Once Forever Morgans stepped up for him, they started producing more horses that were by him. Didn’t Forever Morgans want to take them too???

 

The first two, Bert and Ernie, I don’t know what happened with them or if they had papers or found DNA matches. I guess they found homes right away? I found the post, finally, they were both registered. There was also a mare who did not get a DNA match.

❤️❤️SOLD & SAFE❤️❤️Thank you, Forever Morgans!!!!Tags 3139/3156 – Bay Morgan Geldings – $1700 Bert (3156) 12 yr old and Ernie (3139) 13 yr old purebred Morgan geldings. They are out of a registered Morgan stallion and purebred Morgan mares however they will not have papers on them. They each stands approx 15 hh and are said to be broke to work and ride and totally traffic broke. They appear sound and sane and easy to handle and be around. Would like to sell and keep together since they are brothers and have been together their whole lives. Tag 3156 is the bay with the socks on the back feet. Ship Date: Monday, September 11th at 10:00 a.m. CSTLocated in Arkadelphia, Arkansas Contact Katrina via text at (870) 703-9996PayPal payments to stanleybroshorseco@gmail.comPlease use the goods and services option for the payment and note your contact info and the tag number you're paying for in the comments section. Please send confirmation to the page so as the status on the tag paid for can be updated as sold and safe. These horses, mules, ponies, and donkeys are sold as is with no guarantees. They are sold as kill pen owned equine and not performance equine. Lot is not responsible for accidents, sickness, or deaths of any equine!

Posted by Stanley Bros. Horse Co. on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

 

Then they dug two more out of the wood work. These two didn’t come with papers and AMHA was not able to find DNA matches for them.  Then the feedlot added lots of charges, and difficulties, and were the reason Forever Morgans said they would no longer be doing any business at all with Stanley Brothers. I don’t blame them at all. But that left them with Harvey and Amarillo.

STILL WAITING! Isn't there someone out there to take him into their home and heart, even as a foster? FOSTER OR…

Posted by Forever Morgans on Saturday, November 11, 2017

 

I should add somewhere here that we are so lucky to have a breed registry that takes DNA samples at registration and is willing to search and help owners identify horses that have been separated from their papers. Other, much larger, breed registries will not even begin to look. I won’t mention names 😉

 

Amarillo, I can’t find anywhere and don’t remember seeing him before he was listed on the available horses page.  While there is no doubt that Harvey is very Morgan like, with Amarillo it’s hard to say. He and Harvey are so much alike in coloring and, sometimes, looks, their ears and thick full forelocks, that sometimes I have to wonder if the story from the feedlot is true. Maybe they are related. Maybe they are both by the beautiful Tolder. But, Amarillo is big, thick, and sturdy. A complete opposite to the tiny, delicate, fairy like Harvey. He is solid and unconcerned about much of anything. I have hopes that he will work for the children to ride. The lady who has been boarding him says she and her vet guess him to be in his early twenties.

Harvey is much smaller than his pictures make him look. Not a pony, but very refined and elegant. His head is stunning, huge wide-set eyes, long thick forelock, long gracefully arched neck. In his pictures he’s a dark bay. In person I almost can’t tell him and Amarillo apart! They are almost exactly the same color, another reason I wonder if they couldn’t be related. Even if other aspects and ages say differently. For him the age guess was seven or eight.

I have not looked closely at either of them. Other than standing quietly and getting them to eat from my hand I am letting them be. No starting clicker training over the fence does not count as bothering them, it goes with hand feeding them. 😉 Nothing like trying to catch them and look at teeth and bug them.


They Got here!!

The trip went without a hitch. They spent the night at the house of a very generous Forever Morgans supporter who offered her place near St. Joseph Missouri so they’d have somewhere to get out and stretch a little. Once here there was one small problem. GPS does not know where we live. It always sends people off in the other direction. I tried to give directions but didn’t do a good job. We ended up meeting her in town to lead them back this way.

I think it’s a good omen. We met them at the same gas station we met my parents at when they brought Princess Onna out.

Back at the house we unloaded the horses. Amarillo was in back. He walked out as calm and quiet as could be. Then immediately dropped his head and went to grazing as she went to get Harvey. He was completely unconcerned. In the pictures online he’s a very brown buckskin. In the pictures she sent me from the trip I couldn’t tell which was which. In person I still couldn’t tell. Amarillo was very pretty, big and thick. Easy to handle and very well behaved.

Harvey I had been hearing about ever since they left Alabama. He kept taking his halter off. Finally he broke it. He was wearing a spare she had and was far more concerned than Harvey. He was calling loudly from inside the trailer. Once out I didn’t have time to look. we turned and headed to the corral. Unhaltered they immediately went to munching weeds.

 

I don’t know which rout they took but not the one through Kansas.

We watched them eat while we stood and watched discussing horses in general. These two in particular. My two came running up to the gate calling out their welcomes. I had them locked  away from the newcomers, a pen in between. Better safe than sorry. These two should be healthy but they’re coming from a long ways away. I am rather fond of Coyote and Rusty.

With more time to look I was surprised to see just how tiny and delicate Harvey was. His gorgeously well defined head was deer like in it’s shape and alertness. In his pictures he was a dark bay. Bleached out in the summer sun he is nearly the same buckskin color as Amarillo. His dark forelock is thick spilling over his large widely spaced eyes.

Neither one of them wanted anything to do with us. She spent some time telling me how they could only be caught with grain. That is so not a problem for me. I planned to get out there with some treats as soon as I could. Once she was off, on her way back home I grabbed my treat bag and went back out. I got a chance to listen to Anna Blake and stand still breathing. My horses catch me so fast I have no time to do anything but grab them and get going. With these two stood quietly and waited. They were understandably unsure. I was a strange person in a strange place after a long tiring trip.

In no time at all they came over sniffing cautiously. Amarillo braved me first. He wanted some food. He ate willingly out of my hand. Harvey, not so much. He was busy sniffing around on the ground looking for anything Amarillo dropped. Silly pony. Finally he figured it out and they took turns eating in a very mannerly… manner. We even got our first little bit of clicker training done!

I left a pile of hay next to the water. They didn’t want to walk through the mud in the gate to get to it. I turned and left carrying the food. They followed, a few steps then turned back. I went back too and fed them some more, then turned away. When Harvey followed a step I clicked him and gave him a handful. A few more steps, another handful. He wadded happily through the mud and found the hay. Amarillo followed along behind. Tomorrow hopefully we’ll start with a little targeting with some protected contact. I plan to do it right this time instead of starting in the middle like with Rusty.


Delivery Day

This is such an exciting day. Harvey and Amarillo are going to be here tonight! Baring any major complications, and that would be awful. I can’t help but think about and compare this to the day that Rusty finally arrived.

All three horses are, or were, fosters for Forever Morgans. Rusty I did not need, we had three horses already and that is our magic number. But, although they were all perfect wonderful horses, non of them where what I needed. I was desperately missing a horse for me. Coyote is my baby, has been for almost twenty years now. But he is older and already trained.He is not interested in learning new things, he’s already wonderful the way he is. I wanted a baby to start. He turned out to be perfect for me.

With these two the story was slightly different. We lost the perfect and wonderful Princess Onna and needed a new horse for my daughter. Coyote may end up filling that roll although I had already declared him to be my sons. Coyote hates showing though and even if he’s doing a great job around home I don’t know that she’ll be able to handle him by herself in public for quite a few years yet.

I searched through Forever Morgans and Morgan Safenet’s lists of horses available. There were some that looked good but I never got a reply. I looked online for horses for sale near us that would fit the bill. Nothing was perfect, everything was too far away. I looked back through Forever Morgans lists of horses needing homes, again. Harvey had been catching my eye ever since he showed up there. His description broke my heart and made me want to work with him.  “He does ride. He is hard to catch but is good once haltered. He is afraid of people and shakes when they come near – this poor boy needs someone with patience and love who can teach him how to trust again and that not all humans will do to him what clearly was done in the past.” How could anyone not want to fix that. He wasn’t what we needed, but maybe he could be a short term horse.

Without Princess Onna we had room for another. I could take advantage of this opening to bring him home, get him going, and find him a home. Maybe in the mean time the horse that we needed would show up. As with Rusty finding shipping took what seemed like forever. They asked if there was any chance I could take two horses instead? It would be easier to find shipping and his buddy could stay with him. I am not the one who gets to decide these things. My father -in-law is the one who feeds them. I told them I would ask and see.

In the meantime I looked back at the other horse they wanted to send. Amarillo sounded pretty good. I wasn’t entirely sure why he wasn’t the one I had asked about in the first place. “Amarillo is good to handle. He leads like a gentlemen. Good for the farrier. Good on cross ties and for grooming. Amarillo is pretty laid back. Amarillo can sometimes be hard to catch. But come armed with treats and he is in your pocket.” Plus he rides and is a pretty colored buckskin. Maybe my daughter will love him.

Now they are almost here. The lady hauling them has been wonderful, letting me know what’s going on and sending pictures. Her pictures are far more boring than Rusty’s pictures were. He came over mountains and through blizzards. The pictures I got were of a green baby grazing at a rest stop along the interstate, semis in ditches, I was fascinated and terrified. Now I am getting pictures of horses standing quietly in a trailer with full hay nets. Much more boring. Not a bad thing at all.

 


Holiday Celebrations

Guess what my husband got me for Amizon Prime day! What? You don’t celebrate Amazon prime day?! I can’t believe it. Luckily for me he does. And he got me a GoPro!!
I had time to run out real quick and try it out practicing self bridling with Rusty. This is going to be lots of fun, I’m looking forward to lots more playing with my new camera.


Two Little Surprises

Did I mention a little surprise coming?? I am so looking forward to meeting these two! If our plans come to fruition they will be getting some training, trick and regular, and we will see how (if) they ride. With the loss of Princess Onna a place opened up to bring a new horse, or two!, into our lives. We never would have chosen for it to happen this way but when it did we knew we wanted to get another Forever Morgans horse. It is a cause I love and support wholeheartedly and coming so soon! We can’t wait.

PLEASE HELP!! We need donations to get these boys to thier foster home. They have waited a very long time for a foster…

Posted by Forever Morgans on Thursday, July 26, 2018

 


Trail Ride!

I’m so excited! We are getting a little something (s) special. I can’t wait. I’m also not saying what it is.
I got to ride my horse two days in a row!! Talk about a big week. My daughter rode Coyote. My son was off in a tractor with his father. It was wonderful. Coyote was wonderful. Rusty walked bravely, and speedily, forward leading the way through all dangers, a fawn, the pivot, with water coming out even, he did great and even ponied Coyote when needed. He’s becoming a grown up pony!

 


The Sitting Bridle

We are back on track! Kind of. Early this spring we did all the ways we could think of to get on. It was SO much fun and we found some really good ways. I thought. If you missed it, you can see it here https://www.facebook.com/309985332692651/videos/590997127924802/
I came up with a list of other things we could explore in-depth like we did mounting. First up was bridling. Then summer came. Life got busy. I waved good bye to Rusty as he stood ignored out in the pasture. Maybe not completely but I lacked the time or drive to get back to our challenge. I feel the drive again. We are back at it. Accomplishing two of our goals counts, it’s a start at least. Hopefully we can keep at it and manage the other was I want to try bridling. These are the easy ones.