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Friday, October 17, 2008

Invisable Halter Training.

I have found another way to have fun with Echo. I have been looking for a way for him to be gentled that he is comfortable with that is on his terms.

I pretend he has a halter and lead rope on him. By motioning my hand and saying "step up" I can get him to stand with his nose up level with my shoulder. With my hand under his chin I can turn him and lead him. Sometimes he lags behind, but always catches up. Yesterday I was blown away by how well he was doing so I added 'back' to the routine. By putting my palm towards his chest, saying "back" and stepping forward, I can get him to step back. The trick is not to have him turn away while backing but to back in a straight line. Then I step back, motion and say "Step up" and he steps up to me. I was going "WOW"! I was noticing that he was letting his nose bump on my hand more and not becoming startled.

The problem is with my training method is I have to let him into my personal space more than I should. I think that if I expect him to trust me I have to trust him. He sometimes rubs his nose on my face or very gently tugs my sweater with his lips. I stand very still and think to myself, 'please don't bit me'. Any move to stop him from touching me would set us back about a month I think. I let him look at the empty carrot bag. He was so brave that I think he even surprised himself. He let his whiskers touch the bag, then his nose. Wildairo would have grabbed it.


When Brad came home I showed him Echo's latest tricks but Echo had one eye on Brad and didn't do as well as earlier. He was very good though, so I had Brad ask him to step up and he almost touched Brad's belly (not hard to do) with his nose. Not bad considering not to long ago Echo would run off snorting when Brad went into the corral.

I then went to feed Foxsun and when I came back all hell had broken loose. A cow had shoved a calf through the feeder and Brad opened the gate to run it back in and some other cows ran out. I went up to help and stood near the gate holding Bobby's collar. I can't run or even dart about anymore, I am so thrilled just to be able to walk again. Anyway, as Brad chased cows in others ran out and he yelled, "DO something, wave your arms or something!" So I did, letting go of Bobby, who ran after one of the escaping cows and got kicked really hard. Airedales are pretty useless as cattle dogs. I was not going to stand in that cloud of dust, in the dark, in that gateway with what look like the bull bearing down on me! It turned out to be old Dandylyons coming to see me. I do love a bit of cattle excitement every now and again.

Bobby grovelled to me begging forgiveness for getting kicked. She didn't leave my side all evening. Here is the silly dog underfoot as I tried to cook dinner last night.



Kara said...

Have you ever considered "clicker training"? I ended up using very similar concepts with training Chico and Catlow to accept haltering and progressing to riding. I first made Chico very dependent on treats (gave him lots, he became addicted), then I started asking him to do things (like let me rub his face with the halter), then when he accepted it the way I wanted, I said "good boy!!!", then have him a treat reward. I worked my way up to slipping it over his nose (first I just worked on him letting me touch his nose with my cupped hands, accept, "good boy!", treat). He caught on REALLY quick. Now, when he sees me coming, he approaches me, and puts his head down in the waiting-for-halter position. I do the same thing while training him to ride (Catlow too), and the phrase "good boy!" is so ingrained in him as being a reward that sometimes we'll be cantering along, and I'll just be happy with his pace, so I'll murmer "good boy", and he'll slam on the brakes, and turn his head around to the side waiting for his treat. I know what I did isn't EXACTLY clicker training, but it is similar...similar concept anyway, and it sounds like something that will work really well with Echo...just work up to asking him to accept more and more stressful/new things.

Kara said...

For someone who used clicker training to work with a very sensitive neglected Arabian mare, check out this link:

It is very informative. I learned a lot about the philosophy behind my training methods by reading her message board.

arlene said...

Thanks for your input.
I tried the clicker with Wildairo. I will check out the link. Thanks.
Now Echo is trusting me more I'm going to be able to touch him. I like your cupped hands idea.
With Wildairo I rubbed his face with the halter. He was so much braver though.

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Linda said...

I so understand the "mutual" trust concept. I've felt the same way myself training Beautiful--and to get to the next step, it seems they want you to give some fear up, too.