Mojo had his appointment with the hoof trimmer. He was OK with the fronts and held them up well. However he was way over threshold by the time we got to the hinds. So Penny will come back and start with them first next time. He seemed to enjoy his red light therapy and was relaxing but still very protective of the hinds, even though he had been on bute for 4 days beforehand.
We have been training with a new head collar and really starting over with hoof care. I consulted and experienced equine behaviourist who came to see him a few weeks ago. Justine thinks it is pain related but how do we get to the bottom of this when he wont let the vet near his right hind?
We will keep on with the retraining and adding duration of his hinds legs being off the ground.
The yard has a visit booked from someone with a Theraplate machine so Mojo is booked in for that and a sports massage. He enjoyed the last massage he had and is OK with our physio too. So we will see how he is with a new person present.
May be we need to rent a few people to come and see him – so he can start associating new people with fun things.
We have been having a little trouble getting out of the field as there is a very friendly pony who always gets to the gate first.
Mojo was OK to get out of the field, I had Liz with me and she distracted the pony who keeps chasing Mojo away. I took him into the stable to groom and pick out feet. He offered all 4 feet with me just saying “lift”. This is the cue my yard owner has been using, so I need to keep the consistency. No kicking, snatching or putting them down before I had finished cleaning them. He was eating his lunch at the time but got a few more treats for being so good.
Then we went in the arena and I put out an L-shaped corridor. We did that one way and then he backed on cue a few steps with in the poles. I asked him to back over a pole which he did well but then I decided to try the corridor again but going the other way. He got a bit confused and thought I wanted him to walk over the poles.
We ended with him standing on the tarp and getting a handful of treats. I left him in the school whilst I put a few things away. I had bunting tied to the fence as the yard owner wanted to do some obstacle training with her son and his pony in the afternoon. As i was unravelling it Mojo came to have a look, he was very eager to touch it.
Well finally got Mojo in the school to do some pole work and short lining. We haven’t managed much recently apart from grooming and a little targeting on the yard. I used my new short lines from Whinny Reins – they were brilliant, very easy to hold and didn’t get all tangled up like the feather lines, I must take a photo next time.
Anyway Mojo was very good, he walked well over the poles from a “walk on” cue and stopped on a “whoa”. He went to the frisbee I threw for him and even had a little trot, must now get the trot on a reliable cue. Only did a few minutes and now must build it up so we do more and then some ridden sessions.
A couple of snippets from our 2nd lesson with Sally Ede. Mojo was calm and relaxed and focused. I used my body and a slight open rein to turn. We used scratches as reinforcement and he was forward going so only a slight touch with the leg to indicate ‘yes” that is what I want.
I now want to add verbal cues to the rein cues but that will come after I get more confident riding. At the moment Mojo doesn’t seem bothered by my riding and as long as he is under his emotional threshold all is well.
I did feel a little guilty as I wanted to use more positive reinforcement in our ridden sessions but I also need to know he can be ridden by anyone, as he will most probably out live me.
Well we only managed one session of training last week, but Mojo was much calmer at the top of the arena. I used the cones to settle him and get his attention away from the mirrors and scary pigeon producing hedge.
He was very good at his cone touching and then he stood at the mounting block and turned his head rather moving backwards for the reinforcement.
We did the mounting block at the top, middle and bottom of the school.
Here is a little montage of the session at the lower end of the school.
Another lesson with Sally Ede on Friday 17th so hope all goes well.
Mojo and I had a lesson with Sally Ede – a Ride With Your Mind coach, and great confidence giver.
We worked on getting Mojo standing at the mounting block – due to me not having done much mounting block training recently he had reverted back to swing his quarters towards me. He was at his emotional threshold once we got in the school as we worked at the top end in the shade. It just goes to show how important generalisation is in our training. He hadn’t been up that end much in our training sessions.
As he was at his emotional threshold all it took was a pigeon flying out of the hedge to tip him over in to a flight response.
This a very bad video of the event, the video was too far away and I had no help to reposition.
By the end of the lesson Mojo had calmed down and was beginning to stand still and not swing round.. I managed one foot in the stirrup a couple of times and then added some weight in the stirrup. So my homework is more mounting block training and to so this in other areas of the school.
Also to remember to breathe and do my grounding exercises before and during sessions.
To this end I have written a shaping plan. I am often too lazy to write them but it is a good idea to have a written plan. Having also just complete an Advanced Animal Training course I ought to know and do better!!
Mojo was ridden by Liz Hibberd, he was very cool today, we used the “walk on” cue and the target. Then phased out the target and Liz just cued him to walk.
He had one little spook when he trod on his own feathers – I really must cut them again.
He even had a little trot at the end, then lots of praise, scratches and treats.
Liz also sat on Indi for the first time and walked a few steps, we used my hand as a target and then the “walk on’ cue. Indi was very relaxed and we called it a day after a few steps.
What would you do if your horse had a behavioural problem?
Firstly check for any physical reasons for the behaviour – pain, ill-fitting tack, back problems, teeth, feet etc. Then check the environment is right for the horse – has he got friends, freedom and forage? Is he free from stress – e.g stabling for too long without enough forage can cause stress related problems such as gastric ulcers.
Look at the diet, is he over fed for the amount of work he is doing?
Then look at why he performs the behaviour, what is the purpose of the behaviour, is it a fear based behaviour, does he feel insecure, does he have separation anxiety etc.
Often changing the environment will make a huge difference.
Only then can a behaviour modification plan be formulated.
Training alone may never get to the root cause of the problem, at best it may put a sticking plaster over the problem, by suppressing the behaviour.
Yes you can train alternative behaviours to ones you don’t want, you can punish the behaviour e.g adding an aversive stimulus every time he performs the behaviour until he learns how to avoid the aversive and the behaviour stops. EG adding pressure to the halter every time he tries to run away. The use of aversive stimuli can either stop a behaviour (punish), or its removal can reinforce a behaviour. So are you punishing the running away or reinforcing the stopping?
Get professional help from an equine behaviourist well versed in the correct use of positive reinforcement. Behaviourists will need veterinary approval first – this is to rule out any physical cause of the behaviour.
Find one who can teach you to use systematic desensitisation and counter conditioning. This will change the emotions associated with fearful situations.
Horses are big, strong animals and we do need to stay safe but that does not have to mean using pressure halters or other controlling equipment. They may work as the horse learns to avoid the pressure but without examining the underlying cause of the problem it may reappear later.
Suppressed behaviours do have a habit of spontaneous recovery.
Horses need to feel safe, our relationships should be built on mutual trust.
I saddled Mojo for the first time this year, he was very good. He was in the school loose so had the opportuntiy to leave if he felt he needed to do so. We then walked around a bit before the bridle was presented, he stuck his nose in and stood whilst I fastened the buckles.
Mojo sidled up to the mounting block as soon as I stood on it and allowed me to get on. With a little moral support from a friend I asked him to “walk on” which he did and we got half a circuit of the school no leg pressure or rein contact.
Below are the photos my daughter took on her moble phone – as I left my camera in my car.
Over the past few months I have been studying with the Natural Animal Centre and have just passed the Equine Behaviour Qualification Stage 1.
Now I am busy writing some generic behaviour modification programmes, these will be adjusted for individual horses and handlers.
I am not rushing in to consulting at the moment, as I wish to do some more studying and learn some techiniques to help people change their behaviour. Presently I am reading a book on Transactional Analyisis.
Now this course is finished I can get on with more saddle and mounting block training with Mojo. Just wish the rain would stop for long enough to get him clean.