Thursday, March 23, 2017

Black and White and Shades of Grey

I was clicking through some video that I took while riding the other night.

As in took--I mean I set the camcorder on top of a jump standard, so it wasn't particularly focused and the lighting in the arena leaves a lot to be desired as far as image quality.

So here are the images in black and white instead.

I have a handy dandy stick with the flag on it as seen in the first photo.  Chili is what I would call a noise-reactive horse.  She doesn't really like weird looking things, but weird looking noises particularly bother her.

This is unfortunate as I don't usually hear whatever weird thing is going on.  On the plus side, if we need to run away from a ticking bomb, she has us covered.

But back to the flag--the purpose of the flag was to be able to control and introduce a stimulus with a noise factor.  I originally began pairing the flag with a treat so that flag=treat.  Eventually, I established a verbal command of "Touch it", so she has to touch the flag for the treat.

She does some pretty impressive "carrot stretches" to touch the flag.

The other night was the first time I picked up the flag and rode with it.  Apparently carrot stretches still apply while in the saddle.  The goal is to engage "curiosity".  High fear animals often have high curiosity and I am hoping by engaging her curiosity in touching this flag that we can continue to establish a verbal cue to remove fear and instead seek it out instead and be reinforced for that behavior.  We shall see if it works out. 

Training and working with horses is all shades of grey and not just black and white, right? 

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