Slow and Steady Progress

What a great day on Saturday with the horses! My friend Kirsten was out at the rescue for the weekend and we worked most of the afternoon with a few of the horses.

I am continually being reminded that animal training shouldn’t be a race. Slow and steady progress beats fast and rushed! The horses are so much more willing and learn so much faster when we go slow and give them time to figure things out than when we push and force them to do things they aren’t quite ready for.

Trixie pony got all the way into the two horse trailer yesterday. The old little metal two horse trailer with the funny sounding wooden floor is VERY different from the big four horse slant load trailer that she’s familar with.

So, we’ve been taking our time getting use to it over the past several sessions. Every time we approach it, I let her walk up as far as she wants to, wait a second or two, then click, give her a treat, and then back her out of the trailer. Clicker training works great for trailer loading. No pushing, no forcing, no waving ropes or sticks around.

The first day we did this, she would offer to put her front two feet on the ramp, but that was it. The next time, she offered to move up a bit farther. Last time we worked on this, we got the front feet in the trailer and the back feet on the ramp. And today, she was comfortable and calm about going ALL the way in the trailer about ten times!

It’s hard to see the slow (but steady) progress sometimes. We want to be at the final goal! Clicker training, however, teaches us to break behavior and training down into these smaller steps so that it is easier to communicate what we are trying to teach.

Kirsten and I worked some with Dottie. Dottie seemed pretty comfortable with Kirsten even though Kirsten hasn’t worked with her much at all. I think Megan’s work last week with Dottie really helped! Kirsten did much of the same stuff Megan and I did last week with Dottie. The extra attention is really helping this filly become more comfortable around lots of different people.

We played with Takoda and Paden a bit as well. Part of this slow and steady training is watching the horse and working on what the horse needs to work on. Takoda recently came back to the rescue and he’s still adjusting to being back. We wanted to work on some ground work, but he was a bit skeptical about being caught. So, Kirsten just worked with him on some of the steps for catching and worked on having him follow her around the pasture. By the end, he was staying with us and curious, rather than trying to scoot off. And Kirsten told me that on Sunday, he came right up to her in the pasture and was more than willing to be caught several times.

We also saw a lovely hot air balloon, late afternoon. Not sure that it relates to this post, but I thought it was worth sharing as well! I hope you had a wonderful weekend with your animals and are enjoying this nice fall weather.

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