Mojo up date – he had been in all night as he asked the yard owner to come in last night. Apparently he looks directly at her kitchen window and stamps his foot when he wants to come in to his stable. It was obviously too wet for him last night as at 5pm he was happy out and at 7ish he was at the gate asking to come in.
He was a very muddy beast and quite hot, with all his hair, this morning, I brushed as much as I could and got lots of hair out. Then we went in the school to walk over the poles that were nicely laid out in a fan shape. Mojo was very good at this but did knock a few out of place. Then did his “carrot” stretches using a target and then giving the food. I left him in the school after the end of session signal and he went to look in the mirrors at the end of the school, he seemed quite intrigued at his reflection.
We just need some dry weather for a prolonged period so the fields are not so waterlogged. Is this really Spring?
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.
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.
What will 2017 bring?
I am studying to be an equine behaviourist but so far am unsure whether I want to practice as a behaviourist. The equine part of the equation seems to be the easiest component. Changing peoples long held believes is very difficult, so many don’t even understand the basics of how animals learn. I don’t blame the average horse owner as they are not taught this at riding schools or even in colleges at diploma level.
If people are using pressure to motivate horses they need to understand that it is the relief of that pressure that reinforces the behaviour. This is basic negative reinforcement but I did not learn about this from the British Horse Society or even when I was doing natural horsemanship. I did learn that it is the release that teaches the behaviour but not that it was the use of an aversive stimulus nor was negative reinforcement ever mentioned.
It was only when I investigated clicker training that I learned about positive and negative reinforcement. The more I learned the more convinced I was that positive reinforcement is better for the emotional health of the horse, it gives them a choice. They can say “no” instead of being too afraid to object due to the adverse consequences of non-compliance. Even when I was doing natural horsemanship the horse was not allowed to walk away as this was seen as being “disrespectful”.
Benny taught me so much – he was very adept at escaping the escalating aversives and he introduced me to positive reinforcement.
Mojo is teaching me even more, horses can teach us so much, if we listen, than any human can.
We do not need to subscribe to any particular genre of horsemanship, we need to learn as much as we can from as many sources as possible. Only then can we truly decide what is in the best interest of the horse. To be blinkered or brainwashed by clever marketing is very limiting but unfortunately very common.
So I do find the human animal very hard to understand – it is the human who has to change if the horse is to have a better life.
There was some competing motivation before we started today, hay in the field so he didn’t want to leave. However he did put his halter on and was good to bring in and go in the stable. Feet were a bit sticky but he was still enough to saddle.
Mojo was not settled enough today to line up correctly. I will only sit on him when he feels like he is calm and relaxed about it all. I am not agile enough and it is not fair to him either. May be I need a higher mounting block.
So we just played a little in the school and quit for the day.
Mojo fidgeted a bit having the saddle on and then didn’t want the bridle at first. After some investigation and some reinforcement for touching he put his nose in the bridle.
He was very good going from cone to cone over the poles though.
We didn’t do any training at the mounting block as I didn’t feel he was in the right mood today. I just couldn’t find his scratchy bits today.
This is low res video as there seems to be problems uploading large ones to You Tube.
Mojo stood still for the most of todays saddling, he did fidget a bit on the first one but this second session was better. I pulled on the stirrups and jumped up and down a bit too.
Another good session with Mojo today. I haven’t done much recently due to holidays and other things getting in the way.
Yesterday I saddled him at liberty – he was a little fidgety but stood still as I fastened the girth.
Today I did the same with the saddle and he stood perfectly still for the numnah, saddle and girth. A big fuss, lots of scratches, bridge and treat too – as I was very pleased with him. He actually came and stood by the fence at the far side of the school as that is where I had put the saddle on the fence.
He came to the mounting block and I played with putting stirrups up and down and tapping lightly on his side – not a flinch. We then did some weaving round cones with him wearing the saddle – I threw the stirrups over the saddle to stop them flapping about.
When we had finished the cones and some frisbee following I pulled the near side stirrup down and then threw the off side one over the saddle – he did startle at that but stopped and came back to me.
So I did a few more of these and he was still and seemed happy.
I then took off the saddle etc and jackpotted him. As I put the cones and other things away Mojo mooched round the school.
Then I got the clippers – I borrowed some quiet ones – and he targeted them, let me touch him all over with them off. Then I stood by the gate and turned them on , his head went up and he began to move away – not a big startle as he does with the louder ones. So I switched them off and put a treat in his bowl. Let him sniff them again and gave a treat.
Then went back to the gate and turned them on – he just stood and watched – another treat in his bowl. I repeated this once more then held the clippers out to the side with them on and he didn’t move. More treats in a bowl.
This time last year he was petrified of clippers, fly spray and several other things.
Then I went back to the gate and held the clippers out and he came to me and touched them. A huge deal for him so he got lots of scratches and praise and treats in his bowl and I ended the session there.
After treating Mojo for feather mites with powder and neem based fly spray I have gone back to basics of foot lifting.
I now need to add more duration and get him better at people holding them.
We also did some more generalisation at the jump block as well as the ordinary one – which I missed off the video due to not positioning it correctly.