Saturday, January 23, 2010

Whoa means stop your feet

This concept has been very hard for Gwenevere to grasp. Until now I don't think she's ever really stopped her feet while being led. When I would stop, she'd just circle around me. If I tried to tug on the lead to get her attention, she would get upset and start jumping around.

Enter clicker training. For the past two days we've been working on whoa. I've only been walking her around the barn at this point but she's making huge improvements. Here's what I did: keeping her on a loose lead, I stopped my feet and said "whoa." Then I stood there, if she circled around me I did nothing, I didn't tug on the rope or say anything other than whoa and I didn't move my feet. If she stopped her feet, even for a split second, I clicked and gave her a treat. It took a couple times but she really started catching on. My goal is to get her to anticipate the whoa and stop her feet when I stop mine. Right now I don't have enough of her attention to get that but I think I will soon.

So far clicker training has been a success. I've noticed a distinct softness in her now when I take her out of her stall. Where before she was very anxious, almost hysterical, now she's willing to wait, she moves slower and she doesn't ram her shoulder into me anymore.

Today I switched it up and tried targeting with her while she was loose in the pasture. She was a superstar. Then I brought her into the barn and groomed her. I've been slowly working on getting her to pick up that left hind foot for cleaning, and today she finally let me. This is the first day that I've ever been able to clean out all of her feet!


  1. Clicker is Gwen's friend! Did you get her to come when you were targeting in the pasture? Congratulations on your recent successes!

  2. Yup, I got her to walk over ten feet to touch the target! I'm pretty impressed with her.