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November 11, 2020: The Dog and Pony Show: Our Day

We acquired Rainbow, or, she acquired us, in 2002. I decided that since she had so much energy that we should do agility with her. If I knew then what I know now, and if her agility teacher knew than what I hope she knows now, Rainbow would have excelled. She had a lot of energy, but her teacher taught dogs en masse. Agility-wise, Rainbow was doomed from the start. But she did lead a good life.

Her teacher did tell me one thing that held true – Pam said, do your homework and learn as much about clicker training as you can. I didn’t want to hear this. I just wanted to get on with the show. I did read some very good books on the subject though; books that later shaped my thinking about positive reinforcement training in general.

I gave up on Rainbow and agility. But I

Shadow jumping log on Siggi's Trail

began doing positive reinforcement/clicker training with Raudi and company. I also did some with Ryder, but I gave it up for search and rescue training. I have now come full circle and a half. I’m now in the thick of working with the ponies and the dogs. And I’m reading and rereading as much as time permits on positive reinforcement training.

Today was a good example. It began with Shadow going for a short ride on Tinni – we went down the driveway and met the farrier. I next worked with all the horses on the supposedly problematic November agility obstacle. How to pop those balloons? This was the question. All the horses now put their feet in the various sized buckets, no problem. But stepping on balloons, that’s another matter. The balloons popped out. The balloons tied together with bailing twine moved when the ponies went to step on them. Arrgh.

Pete, after the farrier left, made slits in the rubber buckets, and with bailing twine, tied the balloons in place. Tyra, who I was working with, simply kicked the bucket around. Pete then had an idea, which was to put balloons in a hay net. This way, they would not bounce around. This worked. Tyra smashed four balloons with great abandon.

I realized that Tyra did so well because of her previous Intrinzen training. I had taught her to chase a flag on a stick when working on the Panther walk.

Pete and I spent the afternoon working on the Playground of Higher Learning. He plowed and I put my equipment in order. My plan is to set up the course tomorrow and work with the horses on going through it. Then I’ll do the balloon obstacle. My thinking is that if I focus exclusively on busting balloons that they won’t do as well on the other portions of the course.

We finished at near dusk; however, the day was not over. I found Tinni, who has yard privileges, down by the driveway gate. This was his way of saying it was time to go for a walk. So I gathered up the dogs, had Shadow jump on Tinni’s back, and off we went. It was an excellent hike.

Lastly, I worked with the dogs tonight on stay – I have discovered this works best if they are sitting on bins. I say dogs because Ryder is letting it be known that it is not the dog and pony show, but rather, the dogs and pony show.

Next: 313. 11/12/20: Dog and Pony: Positive/Negative Senses of the Term

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