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February 17, 2017: The Horse Life: Breadcrumbs for Tyra fra Tuskast

Pete got home a short while ago. We immediately took Hrimmi and Tyra for a walk around the loop. I worked with Tyra on walking in her own space, an arm’s length away from me. I got the idea to reward her for this by tossing packer pellets in the road in front of her. And as I did this, I got to thinking about absolutes in relation to clicker training.

I have been reluctant to fully embrace clicker training because I have been afraid that I’d do something wrong and mess up my ponies cognitive psyche. And for this reason, I’ve refrained from doing anything out of the ordinary.

But a few days ago, I began clicking and tossing treats out on the road, ahead of Tyra. I’d previously thought that, well, I must reinforce the behavior of her walking straight and staying out of my bubble, by feeding her by hand. But then treat tossing had a threefold effect. The first was that Tyra no longer anticipated that I was going to give her a treat and veer into me. The second was that she was less inclined to mug me. And the third was that in order to sniff out the treat, that she had to lower her neck, head, and nose to the ground, thus activating her sympathetic nervous system. I have this idea now that I might reinforce head lowering by clicking when her head goes down.

Tyra has not, as some might expect, rushed ahead, in search of the treats; rather, she has waited for the click before seeking them out. This also might be good preliminary search and rescue training.

Pretty nifty. I got the feeling in doing this (as I have in the past with Raudi and Hrimmi) that Tyra and I are in this together. Clicker training (for us) is not a matter of absolutes in that I must do things in rote, prescribed fashion, and that she must follow suit; rather, we are figuring things out together. To make a metaphorical comparison, we are essaying, which is engaging in a collaborative exploration.

Now to say that Tyra and I are figuring things out together means that yes, we are educating one another. Should I one day work with another young horse (and never say never), I will have more educational options. And should Tyra ever work with another human (and never say never), she’ll have more options. I just hope that if the unforeseen ever comes to be, that Tyra’s future partner would allow her to show her what she knows.

I’m just missing one thing here, and this another person to work with, someone who is as invested in this particular training method as I am. But perhaps those explorers, those who charted literal territory, often felt the same way.

I am sure that such explorers also at times felt uncertain. I am not now feeling uncertain for I feel like I’m doing right by Tyra in clicker training her. But collaborative activities are synergistic – one plus one equals three.

I am so very excited these days about working with Tyra. And every single day I think about how lucky I am that Pete agreed that we purchase her and then went and got her. This was real leap of faith. We did not know what we were getting. I also like the age she’s at. It’s my favorite horse age because they then know some things and not others. And while short, they are able to focus on some things for a short while. The trick is to know when enough is enough.

Tyra and I make it most of the way around the loop with her paying attention, and then she starts to lose it. Clicker training is good in that this really makes itself evident, and in making itself evident, keeps me from forcing the issue.

There is going to come a beautiful spring day, as with Raudi and Hrimmi, in which we go for our first trail ride. And yes, this first ride is going to be uneventful.

Next: 49. 2/18/17: The Show must go on

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