Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Introducing the Clicker and Tai Chi Walls.

I haven’t had much time to introduce Rico to clicker training since I bought him as most of the horses are still in at night so mucking out still occupies a big chunk of the day and a lot of my energy! However, right from the start, I’ve been giving him a tongue click and a treat when he’s good to have his feet picked up.

Tonight I decided to see if he’d made the connection and he certainly has!!! His little face lit up with the very first click and within minutes he was reliably touching the target wherever I held it. He takes the treats very politely and gently and we both had a lovely time!

I LOVE working with youngsters. I once taught one of my lambs to target my hand with his ear in just a few minutes. I couldn’t believe that he’d really got it but he had.

Roll on Summer and more time to play!!!!

Rico is moulting and very itchy at the moment and he has the typical baby habit of throwing himself against things to have a rub on them, including me! I’ve been trying to discourage this without getting too heavy handed or aggressive with him but he’s very confident and quite difficult to put off!

I suddenly remembered Alexandra Kurland’s Tai Chi rope exercises and the Tai Chi rope wall.

Basically this is using the bone rotation of your arm to make the leadrope into a wall which you can use to redirect the horse’s energy and, literally, bounce him back off it out of your space. As I’m doing it I think ”this is a wall and there is no way you can come this way”. I’ve found it to be an amazingly powerful and effective non-confrontaional technique. Rico obviously did too as within four repetitions over the last two days I only have to start running my hand down the rope if he’s leaning my way and he’s straight back in his own space again with no offence taken!

When it’s well established I’ve even found it transferable to riding – thinking that the inside rein is a wall to keep the horse from falling in, just by the power of communicating the suggestion really plus the extra energy that’s probably transferred into the rein (I’m not aware of actually doing anything physical). Note to self – have a play at using it with the outside rein to stop Bella from drifting out which she’s been doing a little just lately.

I LOVE all this clever stuff!!!