I went out this evening to check on the horses, make sure they realize they can get up to the barn, they might not be able to find these things without help 😉 I took along cake for everybody, a little extra to go with the free choice hay to help keep them warm. Cake is cattle feed in big pellets, handy to feed horses and use as a reward when it’s broken up a little smaller. Once out I decided to brush the snow off their backs and we all hung out for awhile. Here in the yard, behind the wind breaks, it wasn’t miserably cold. The world was in shades of black and white. I could see the cattle, brought into the corrals for extra shelter and ease of feeding. Spots of black against the white snow, their backs covered in it, thick winter coats not letting enough heat through to melt it.
I stepped outside the fence to feed the horses. I will often just say Rusty’s name and click him when he looks at me, I say we’re loading the clicker, reinforcing his responding to his name. In reality, well, who knows, I’ll stick with my theory. But we had been doing that a few times already and I wanted him to work for it a little. I gave the other two each a piece of cake, they’re big and take some chewing, that bought me time to ask Rusty to back and turn with me, a quarter of a turn. Then the other two were done chewing and looking for more. And repeat.
I was asking for so little and with a barrier so he couldn’t stand on top of me. I keep reading about making the lesson micro, thin slicing them so the criteria is so minute that the horse can understand easily and is rewarded constantly. Every time I think I understand the basics I get shown what a complete beginner I am. He has been acting grouchy about the training we’ve been doing and I knew I was messing something up. But I could not figure out what. I thought I was breaking it down, everything we were working on was something we had already covered, mostly. Walking next to me, stopping, turning with me was new but he knew everything else we were just adding one extra thing. I needed to keep the lesson short and sweet, but every time I taped a lesson I was surprised to see at least fifteen minutes of video. I was not getting things right.
Tonight, one small step back and a turn in one direction only, he was happy. I managed to keep it short, the freezing cold coupled with running out of cake insured that. I finally found our micro.
- Old Friends
- Set Backs, For Me