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[RC] My Little Monster - victoria thompson

So, today I was back up at Bar H playing with Hawkeye. This time I didn't take any carrots with me out on our walk. I was also the only person out there. No workmen and no neighbors stopping by. Hawkeye walked by all the big equipment without so much as a by-your-leave. We went by the cows (all at the upper end of the pen, so out of reach) without a single snort. We went on our farthest walk yet away from home all by ourselves and there was only one snort and shy (at a tree no less - it made noise when he stuck his nose into the branches). The best thing about today was when we turned to go back home there was no sudden rush to his step. Hawkeye didn't even try to pick up the pace when we headed for home. That gives me confidence that he is becoming more comfortable with me as his only source of companionship and that he is finally getting his mind to grow up into that body of his. This is a good thing.

For the comments about clicker training, this is the method I have used with all my horses to get them used to scary things. With over 45 years of horse ownership I have never wanted to have anything to do with babies until I bred for Hawkeye. So all my horses have already been trained - from very well trained to barely green. Working with a blank slate has been interesting and educational. Thank God for Kat. Anyway, I teach all my horses two things. 1) Touch it, and (2) Take a step. Touch it is reinforced with food in the beginning, substituting scratches and 'good boy' until touch it becomes ingrained in their brains. Take a step begins usually when I'm around a mounting block, but since Hawkeye isn't old enough yet it will be taught probably during grooming, but take a step comes after touch it is learned. That way when we're doing our trail training if we come across something he is afraid of I can ask for him to take a step closer to the object and (however long it takes) finally get him close enough to say touch it. Every horse I've had has become a more confidant trail horse by this method - this isn't the only method I use to make a trail horse. It is used in combination with a whole bunch of other strategies to make my horses the kind of horses I prefer to ride. I don't believe in just getting your horse passed the boogeyman and moving on down the trail. Please take note of the phrase "horses I prefer to ride". There is no reference to how other horses are trained or what other people do. This is strictly my horses and me.

So, back to our walk. Since there were no carrots from the very beginning Hawkeye had to be content with scratches and praise, because believe me there was lots of touching going on. Any time we came close to anything in the road he stuck his nose on it. The only time I wished I brought carrots was when we came to a big mud puddle. I stopped and invited Hawkeye to continue walking through it. Not a chance, but he stuck his nose in it and came up covered in mud. He then proceeded to smear it all over the front of my shirt. If I'd had a carrot he probably would have been content to smear it all over my hand instead. When we got back to the barn he got his supplements and a bunch of carrots. We walked a little more and visited with the other horses. Then we went into his pen and he had to work for the remaining carrots. When I told him go away he had to leave and when I called him he had to come back. He got the carrot when he came back. Then he had to free longe around me a few times for another carrot. Since he was competing with his roommate, Marla, for the carrots, they both had to do the same thing to get them. Since Marla isn't mine and I've never done this with her in the pen before I was really surprised at how quickly she caught on to what I was asking. Since Marla is one of Kat's thoroughbreds I'm sure she'll have some comment about brainy thoroughbreds and her training. But I prefer to look at it as she wanted the carrots and figured out real fast what she had to do to get them. It was a good day.

Off to brave the mall tomorrow. Pray for my safe return.

Tori and Hawk-Aye (will work for carrots)


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