I don’t think PJ is all that happy in his work. Nothing definitive but little things. He doesn’t have his ears up on crossties; that head shaking thing (almost gone but not all); just seems stressed.
I’m stressed too because I just can’t understand why he won’t go. I’ve been working on what Adrienne had me do – ask nicely, if he goes then praise, if he doesn’t go then make him go and then praise, then repeat. But it only works 65% of the time. And even when it does work, he shuts down immediately after starting to go.
I want PJ to be happy and enjoy working and learning new things. I decided to try clicker training. I have a clicker from trying to get my cat to be quiet (major fail). I started with PJ on crossties to teach him click means treat. He seemed to get that. Then I rushed it and got on him. At the halt, I clicked and treated a couple of times. He seemed to get that too. Then I asked for what I wanted – soft leg means go forward.
He seemed to get that too except he would anticipate me stopping him and giving him a treat and would stop on his own and turn his head around. I gave up.
Since my ride, I’ve been doing some reading (something I should have done first) and some people suggest asking for a nice halt after getting the desired behavior, but I don’t know if he’ll associate the go with the click or the halt with the click.
I am going to try again tomorrow but I’m going to do something called targeting from the ground. That’s where he only gets a treat for touching an object of my choosing (I think it’s going to be the whip top). This way he learns that a behavior gets a treat. Hopefully I’ll be able to transition it to under saddle work. I’m not giving up on this just slowing down.
My goal is a happy horse who looks forward to seeing me and learning new things. And a horse with a go button!