Tuesday, October 14, 2008

14th October, 2008 Rewarding work

Work is particularly rewarding at the moment. This morning I worked alongside John the Farrier on a horse that has become very very frightened of farriers. The last time someone attempted to shoe him, they took him into a stable and had a real battle with him before giving up. The horse and the owner became apprehensive the moment the farrier's van arrived. We worked using clicker training to reward the horse for allowing the farrier near to him, to touch him, to handle his legs and then pick up his feet. John was able to take his old shoes off (which had been on for in excess of 12 weeks). In just over a week we will do the same and re-shoe the horse's front feet first and then, on the following occasion, his back feet. Hopefully by then the horse will be pleased to see the farrier rather than mortally afraid. If only all farriers were like John. He has no vast ego, is not macho or anything else ending in o. I can well understand that farriers get fed up of ill-mannered or untrained horses but getting cross with the horse is not the answer.

This afternoon I worked with a beautiful Dutch warmblood horse. I really like these horses - they seem to study what you are asking them to do and then try their hardest to do it perfectly. I have met quite a few that have been pushed and pushed and it is only then that the lid flies off the pressure cooker. It can be quite spectacular.