Sunday, August 31, 2008

31st August, 2008 Beautiful things come in small packages

Here Chaos demonstrates the power of a calm companion when getting a pony used to clipping. Sheila and I, sat on buckets, used systematic-desensitization and the pleasant association of food to persuade Armarni that clipping doesn't have to be a horrific experience. Just one session like this can teach us and the pony so much - for example:

1. Armarni is less emotional and therefore her adrenalin levels are lower when she is clipped outdoors. This means that you can achieve far more before she even gets slightly concerned about the clippers.
2. Gently enclosing her – just getting in the way of her movement, is much less worrying for her than completely restraining her.
3. Like all Miniature ponies, she seems to be happier when we are at eye level.
4. She responds well to a calm voice and hand. If her emotion levels go up, then ours must go down to match. We really need to work with empathy for the way that she feels.
5. She is calmed by the presence of other quiet ponies.
6. Clicker training will only be appropriate if we can teach her in the long term that head still equals click and treat. This is not achievable within one quick session
7. Distraction seems to work very well – it might be worth trying something like a Lickit so that the handler doesn’t get nibbled along with the pony nuts! Although I am not keen on “bribery” it may be that it would be fine just for when we are working on her head and will create a pleasant association with having her head clipped.
8. She seemed to prefer the big clippers to the little clippers (which may be more tickly) and it would be worth trying them first next time – she certainly isn’t bothered about the noise.