KBR Horse Net
Training Case Study:

"Magnificent Max"
Part Two

Day 2:

Max' second day at the ranch was the windiest in several years. In fact the wind lifted shingles off two outbuildings and tore the tar paper off Mustang Manor, depositing debris in Max' pen. He seemed to handle it all without too much anxiety but it was not a good day to work with him. Ergo, "Day 2" in this presentation represents his second day of actual work.

Upon entering the pen Max reverted to his "Here's my Butt" stance although within only a few minutes he would let me approach a reasonable distance from either side and would bend toward me if I retreated. I did a little polling and reattached the sliding neck loop. This time I asked him to close the distance between himself and me which he did reasonably well. He still, however, was not comfortable with my reaching for his face.

With an ordinary horse under ordinary circumstances, I would likely ask the horse to circle and try to draw him in. In Max' case, we had a pretty heavy horse trying to walk on some very long and unbalanced feet. Our objective was to gain his confidence with the least amount of running around, exploit his natural curiosity and generate some behaviors so that we could safely get under and trim those feet. This is a horse with good muscling and undoubtedly a highly tuned ability to use those feet as weapons, so we definitely needed to harness them for purposes of good, not evil.

We consider a horse like this to be a good candidate for clicker training. We need to develop a positive and cooperative attitude, then get those feet taken care of so we can move on to other activities. Considering these objectives, we opted to get Max interested in taking carrots by hand, a behavior which we will next shape into his learning that a click marker precedes the treat, and then that he has to perform a correct behavior to get a click, then a treat.

By the end of the session Max would move forward quietly from pressure, would yield to the pressure of the sliding neck loop and even got the rope tangled around his ears a couple of times without getting upset.

The late afternoon sun made for harsh pictures and this sequence may seem boring, however we encourage you to take note of Max' body language and expressions.
Coming in on light pressure
"Voluntary" close contact
Looking at a carrot
Reaching for a carrot
(I'm taking up slack in the rope
not forcing him around)
Closeup of curious facial expression

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