Thursday, September 9, 2010

9th September, 2010 Of strange and gauzy threads

There is probably nothing more delicate and nothing more relatively resilient that a spider's web. Working with wild and traumatised ponies using clicker training is very much like spinning such a web, trying to form strong cross strands at the same time as extending the span of the web. Recently Jack suffered setback in his training when one of the strands became too stretched and broke. The spider didn't fall entirely on it's face and other sections of the cobweb have remained completely intact. Jack took off with his lead rein when I put too much pressure on him to cope with something he couldn't and he is now convinced that the lead rein is still there trying to bite him whenever I go to put his headcollar on - he turns to look for it and walks off kicking out at this imaginery snake. Just like a spider, I am going to have to rebuild his web with him. It's no good me being cross or disappointed as that will just turn me into an impatient predator. He still jumps, picks his feet up and is pleased to see me! Jenny has now invented a peel off lead rein where a velcro fastening will give if Jack decides to leave - this is safer than a clipless rope which has a tendency to thip the pony in the face as it pulls through the ring of the headcollar. Of course, this wouldn't be something I would want to use in a public area and I have to be careful not to teach him that he can just leave when he wants to. It will allow me to use gentle pressure to ask him to stay and yet not frighten him all over again if he does break away. Hopefully we will be back on track very soon.

Postscript: By Sunday (12th) Jack had apparently forgiven me or the headcollar whichever one of us it was and was allowing me to put it on quite easily. He is also learning to have it put on his head while I am sitting down and that entails being face on to me. I was impressed that on only his second session, he has started to push his head into the noseband of the headcollar and tolower it in order to earn his click - he also let me put the crown piece over his thread of silk then.