May 24, 2012

Click. Treat. Hmmm.

I had always been interested in clicker training. I grew up in San Diego and had seen the marine mammals at the San Diego Zoo, and at Sea World, and had met Shawna Karrisch and her wonderful Rottweiller. Horse people I admired, like Beezie Madden, used CT to good ends. Bryan seemed like the perfect candidate for me to expand from interest  to execution. I bought some CT videos, studied them, bought a little clicker at Petsmart, and off to the barn I went.

I tried it first on a couple of the more…er…normal horses. I called my friend Linda who was quite good at CT and she came and gave me a lesson It was interesting and very fun to watch the boys figure out the click treat connection and then to teach them to seek the reward. I loved it. Wonder and Zachy, the two boys we worked  with, got the idea in about two and a half minutes. Cool! I thought. This is it! CT will be The Breakthrough Bryan has been waiting for!

Well, not exactly.

I had already learned to break things in to not just small but infinitesimal steps with B, so I decided to start with the most basic thing. Click, treat. That was it. No target, no trick, just click, treat, respond.

I started in the cross ties, where he felt safe. Right in front of his stall, no Barn In The Distance issue to distress him. Well within his potentially reachable comfort zone. Right?