Monday Spring Song picked up the ringed toy, raised her head, held the toy and shook it. Wow!!!! I told her she was BRILLIANT and instantly ended her training session.
This photos shows Spring Song (with white on her face) and her best friend, Cecelia. Cecelia is a very accomplished mare. She’s lovely under saddle and makes gorgeous babies. When she first came to Winsong Farm (a few weeks ago) she was definitely in broodmare mode. She was in charge of the world. Her eye was small, tight and pinched looking. I decided a bit of clicker training would be very interesting.
The first session she was in her stall and I was in the aisle. Cecelia was very distracted and had been her only a day or two. I showed her a toy through the stall bars. She looked at it (click/treat). The click/treat wasn’t as instantaneous as it usually is with any other horse I’ve played with. First of all something else happened in the barn that caught her attention the split second I clicked the clicker so I’m not sure that she was aware of it. Secondly it took a minute for CeCe to realize I was offering a piece of carrot through the stall bars. I stood calmly, holding the treat, waiting for her to take it. Finally she did.
I repeated the sequence and she started shying at the sound of the clicker. I clicked behind my back and she got calmer. There was still an abnormal delay on her part regarding taking the treat.
The second session she was in a stall that had a window which looked out onto her paddock and her friends. She seemed more distracted, but I quietly played the game with her.
The third session I was walking past the upper barn where CeCe lives and saw her being tacked-up in the crossties. I asked if I could clicker train her and received an enthusiastic “yes”. CeCe did quite well, but at one point something caught her attention and she totally forgot to receive her treat for about a minute.
All in all I wasn’t sure that CeCe understood the game I was playing. But I had faith in the system. That faith was confirmed with every subsequent meeting with CeCe. No longer is she the BIG, PUSHY, “I’m in charge of the world” brood mare. She’s soft, attentive, listening and happy to try to do what I ask. Wow!
The first time I realized the BIG change in CeCe was later in the day of the third session. I was fetching Spring Song from the paddock. CeCe joined us when I got to the gate. I turned to CeCe, told her she was beautiful and asked her if she could step to the side so that I could open the gate and take Spring Song into the barn. I was bowled over when CeCe softly stepped aside and I was able to safely take Spring Song out of the paddock. Triple Wow!