Sunday, August 8, 2010

8th August, 2010 Train for what you don't need!

Yesterday we took the opportunity to borrow David to handle Mystery's feet before the farrier is due to visit next Tuesday. Iona and I have had regular practice sessions since the farriers last visit when Mystery took one look at the farrier, bolted and cleared the fence. Iona has since discovered that the first time Mystery had her back feet picked up was the day before her vetting. At that time she had mud fever and it would have been very uncomfortable and probably forced.
Earlier in the day I had been working with two of Jodie's ponies - Locket who was objecting quite strongly to fly spray and Fudge who had decided he didn't want to load.
Whenever possible, train for what you don't need at the moment. Autumn is a perfect time to start on things like loading or the application of fly spray. When there's no great urgency to get the job done you can use a much more relaxed approach and shape for the behaviour that you want. When it's mid-summer and the flies are aggravating your pony, it's not easy to stop spraying when the pony stands still or to just use plain water as you would when training; the natural impulse is to make sure the pony has had a thorough covering of fly spray even though he is unhappy about accepting it. Every time he is forced to accept fly spray this will reinforce the behaviour and the fear. An additional tip - practice fly spraying when it is raining. I use clicker to enhance the training and find that most ponies then consider the spray bottle their friend. It's worth thinking well ahead, introducing training when it doesn't matter and the having regular practice sessions leading up to the event or time of year when it is essential.