Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #104

April 14, 2013: Trot

A busy day. Began with early morning horse chores. Had brunch with friends. Then went horseback riding with Pete. Next went to the big horse barn and watched Vickie and Hunar in a jumping clinic. After this, came home and went for another ride with Pete. Then more horse chores. Spent some time with the goats, who were very happy to be out and about.

All day, beautiful weather. Sunny and warm. Blue, cloudless sky. The snow’s melting (again) the snow in the horse pen is now pockmarked. Puddles are forming.

This afternoon I alternated riding Raudi and Tinni, and Pete rode Siggi. Tinni made it clear to us that he does not enjoy being the pony horse or being ponied. Actually, he’s okay ponying Signy, but they all are. Well, we have so many horses around this place that this is no big deal.

Raudi is doing far better than previously. Today she was very forward—she wanted badly to pick up the pace and go. It’s like I went and traded her in and got a different horse. I need to let her go. The problem is that there are still icy patches on the road.

Yesterday I worked with her on trot, using the clicker. Clicker, clicked, is a way of saying yes. If I’m working on trot, then the clicker must be clicked when the horse is in motion. If I accidently click, I must still give the horse a treat; otherwise, the clicker becomes an empty yes. Must just work on one thing at a time, otherwise the horse becomes confused. Horse can stop after it hears the click, and get a treat, just so long as the click comes when it is doing what it’s supposed to do.

I didn’t use the clicker today, but I’ll use it again tomorrow. Both Raudi and I like the non-adversarial approach better than the adversarial approach. What’s most amazing was that yesterday, for sure, something clicked for her. Plus, she’s no longer in pain from the saddle.

Today, at the arena, a woman was having trouble getting her horse over the jump. The clinician was very, very good – he ended up laying poles before and after the jump – the mare saw them and had to think about what she was doing.

Watching horse and rider, I got to thinking – what if the clinician used a clicker – and clicked when the horse did what it was supposed to do – say, come down on the correct lead? The horse would then know it did the right thing. Of course, the horse and owner would need to have introduced the horse to clicker training beforehand.

Al this got me to thinking – maybe, just maybe, I now know a thimbleful about horse behavior and training. Okay, I’m being presumptuous. Maybe I now know half a thimbleful about horse behavior and training. For the longest time, which is until today, I was convinced I knew nothing.

My self-doubts come from the fact that as with most things, I tend to gravitate in the direction of training methods that are least known and more unorthodox. It was this way when I was teaching, too. Someday, I’d like to work with a group of horse people, in an arena setting, who are interested in putting TTeam and clicker training theory to practice. I’d like for us all to make the connections between communication, cognition, and conditioning. This may never come to be, so I ought not hold my breath.

Anyhow, Raudi and I are now moving forward, together. And I’m feeling really, really good about this. And it’s just in time for spring. What luck.

Next: 105: 4/15/13: Visionaries