Learning to be respectful (mostly him) and learning to be specific with communication (mostly me)!

Clips from groundwork sessions 4 & 5; session 6 and session 7.

What fun we are having doing our little sessions in the arena! We are learning more and more how to use treats as a reward, so they are not demanded, but achieved. And remember this is always mutual, not just him. My treat is him achieving what I ask, which means I must have asked it right, and he has rewarded with me with that delivery.

We are learning how to be less wishy washy about what we are asking so we achieve understanding and response, rather than reaction. It is all step by step, slow and easy.

And then Timmy is suddenly at a place where his response is so ingrained that he feels he has to be fast. So we learnt to slow down. From that we are starting to find a more subtle and deeper neutral, where we can relax between activities. Relax, consider, and learn. It gives both of us time to consider and learn.

This first video shows snippets of sessions four and five. At first we start at liberty doing some back-up (still need to find a hand signal that is less wishy washy lol). We also start to work on finding our neutral feeling, spacial respect, and also focus. You will see he goes after Neige who has come in to see what is going on. He went to crib at one point so I did a little bit of neutral and back up with her – it is mostly about working on building a significant trust base with her as she is losing her sight. Timmy didn’t like my change of focus, even though he had changed his focus to the cribbing post. It was interesting to sense and understand this reaction, and over time it will need working with, so he doesn’t feel the need to see the others off when we are working together.

We also do a little bit of asking him to go around me, and yield his hind quarters. We move back to the head collar and rope in session 5 to see if we can find a way to walk together around a circle. I am just seeing what he offers at this point. I notice he prefers to be lead rather than be at my shoulder and stay there.

For session 6 I made the circle a bit bigger. Timmy seems to have one walking pace and then goes into trot, whereas he could match my pace at a fast walk which would be great. Something to work on, how I find a way of communicating that. As I am not sure on that yet I take the trot and go with what he offers, and then find our relaxed neutral place to come down from the short bit of excitement.

There is much to work on with my direction communication skills, and his feet placement. I am also using the flies to my advantage, and offering a rub as a reward. It also puts me in a position for neutral that is at his side rather than in front of him. We do spend a lot of time just standing, but this is important to him. His thinking levels go up quickly when we rush and then we get some fear aggression coming up, or he goes to crib. I wonder if the cribbing started as a way of dealing with this fear at some point. Maybe he wasn’t allowed to show it when training. Not important really. What is important is that we let it come up and then make peace with it.

The last thing I asked in this session was for a trot. Before he had trotted of his own accord but this time I got slightly in front of it and asked for it and he did a lovely transition.

In session seven, putting the head collar on, and treat politeness is all much improved. We change to a longer rope today (just to add to the challenge!) Back up is still slow, but again much improved, particularly now there is less hand flapping. After we did some back up he needed to crib, but he comes back, then we go for a walk. The circle is bigger again today. He offers the trot and I take it.

Our goal for today comes to me at this point and is two fold: A soft relaxed neutral; and a walk around the circle at my shoulder. So it is about slowing things down. I sense he has always expected to trot up on a circle, rather than slow down, so it was an interesting challenge.

In the 4th section we go anticlockwise and I have noticed he struggles a bit with this direction. More important though is, although he trotted, he slowed down and I rewarded that. We then took a strong neutral and I ask him out again.

This time I didn’t reward the trot, but rewarded a slow walk, just a couple of steps, catching it before he felt the need to trot. Then back to neutral while we sense the slowness.

Then a lovely slow walk half way round the circle at my shoulder. The he needed to crib. Maybe he needs to do this to work things out..who knows? I always leave him for a bit to crib if he needs to.

Once he came back we had a nice walk around anti clockwise. Then a try clockwise but we went back to trotting. We keep trying and practicing for a while and get a lovely walk. At one point Chocolate joined us on the circle so I thanked her and rewarded her as well. Then a last beautiful walk. Nice pace now, with no rushing (although Neige blocked the camera a bit for the last one lol).

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