First of all, I think I've found a new resource. After doing my Psychology paper learning about conditioning and learning and my Canine Behaviour paper with an assignment on positive reinforcement, I have been wondering how this would fit with training a horse. This site has all the answers and links to many more.
Thanks to Kim at Enlightened Horsemanship for the link!
The stories Cheryl has about her horse DaVinci, whilst more extreme than Fox, follow along a very similar path. The fear, the hyperreaction to pressure, the dislike of certain places being touched and certain actions. This also would explain why our float loading was successful. Ok, I wasn't using clicker training as such but I was using asking, letting Fox make his own decision and positive reinforcement.
Previously I've been put off the thought of clicker training by the clicker itself. I am not that coordinated at the best of times so adding a clicker into the mix of interactions was bound to be a disaster. However, Cheryl mentions she uses mouth clicking. That I can do!
So I think I will experiment with the Something Wonderful concept tonight, see if Fox gets it.
Fox has been moved back to where his old buddy is. The reaction to seeing Al for the first time was priceless and totally validated my decision to move back. His ears pricked, his eyes focused and he let out a soft whicker. They had a wonderful time saying hi to each other after their long separation.
On Monday, the evening was fine for a change so I decided I would have a quick bareback ride. I gave Fox a quick groom and massage, put his bitless bridle on and prepared to mount. He was very impatient and wouldn't stand still, I eventually managed to get my leg over and settle in. He seemed very eager to go but when we were going past Al's paddock he got 'stuck'. He seemed nervous of something ahead but it may have been him acting slightly herdbound. I urged him on a bit and he walked a few more steps before spinning, bucking and running back towards his paddock. And I stayed on. Self preservation can make the body do wonders.
I thought I would have another go. This time I just let him work through his fear of the spot and he walked off on his own accord. But a bit further down, he took exception to something else and we had a repeat performance. This time I didn't stick. I think I am a good lander, so no injuries. Gave my head a bit of a whack which means a new helmet is on the list of horse related things I need.
No I didn't get back on. We went for a nice handwalk instead LOL. Fox remained 10 foot tall but he remained calm and there were no antics.
Last night, winter had returned so I only went to feed. Fox was in a mood, maybe the cold air and rain had refreshed him. He was running and kicking and bucking like a lunatic. He seemed to be having a great time. It was fun to watch until I went to feed him and some of those kicked seemed to be aimed more than coincidentally in my direction. Not close by any means but definitely some direction. Not sure what that was about so I made him back right off. Once he was calmish he got his food.
So I have a horse who is full of beans that I am reluctant to ride with a saddle and now ride at all. Lunging is not a good idea for his pelvis or leg so it will be handwalking. Lots of it until we get some sanity back. I mean it's nice to know he's feeling good again after so long being depressed but sanity is better.