This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stand on the mat

Well, it's been a while since I played clicker with my guys so I thought, "Hmm....what should we work on today?" Since I have a pony and a mini donkey, I thought perhaps we should all practice standing on our very own mats!! This is something that I have done with Split and Jingle separately but today I decided to bring both mats out at once and see what would happen. Split's "mat" is actually a large piece of plywood - he can fit all 4 feet on it comfortably. Jingle's mat is a red carpet square that I appropriated from my friend the pre-school teacher. It's bright red - ya can't miss it! LOL Split remembered what his mat was for - he walked over and placed both front feet squarely on it. "TA DA!" he nickered. Jingle had a tougher time. Was it to pick up and flip around? No. Hmm....Shall I stomp it to death? No? How about if I just paw at it for a while. Not that, either. Well then, maybe I'll just STAND ON IT!
Yay! Click and treat! While Jingle was trying to figure out what to do with her mat, Split moved off and on his. I had to be quick to catch those few seconds when he stood like a statue. Sometimes he'd come off the mat completely and walk toward where I was working with Jingle and try to mug me. I had to ignore that. He'd back up, offer head down, mug, walk in a circle around me, etc. I finally walked him back to the mat and when his front feet were on it, C/T. It only took a few times for him to figure out, "Oh! I STAND HERE AND DO NOTHING AND GET REWARDED! OH!" ha ha It was a pretty successful 45 minutes over-all. At one point, after Split had actually been standing on the mat for quite a while (and getting C/T'd for it), Jingle walked up and started pawing the plywood like crazy! I'm sure poor Split was feeling the vibrations go up his legs. He wiggled a little and moved his feet but he DID NOT MOVE OFF OF THE MAT! I had to jackpot him then - peppermint! His favorite but they're only doled out on a limited basis.
I tried to pay attention to MY body energy today, too. At one point when I was working with Jingle, Split got VERY pushy with the mugging but as soon as I changed my body position and communicated with energy that he was not to do that, he moved out of my space. No hitting, no yelling, no ropes flying. He's a very sensitive pony and realized that - oops! - this mugging thing was getting him nowhere. He backed away and waited patiently. He's no fool. Which is why he gets frustrated with me, I think. I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes! LOL But we're plodding along and having a great time. We all learned something today. Split re-learned Stand On A Mat; Jingle is working on Stand On A Mat and I've discovered that she will pick things up just from watching Split and me and then she will OFFER the behavior herself! What a hoot! I learned that I need to be clearer with what I'm asking and also need to be careful what loops I create so that I don't inadvertently end up with a behavior I don't want. This clicking stuff is HARD!!!!!!!!
We leave you with this quote today:

"Recognize the smallest change, the slightest try." Ray Hunt

I hope you all have sunshine and warm weather today! We're finally enjoying the springtime here in the Great Northeast U.S.!!

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