Thursday, October 14, 2010

Roping... Boomer's way!

No, we didn't learn to rope cows!  

Boomer is, however, in roping boot camp.  Since his minor escape followed by eye rolling and trumpet snorting at the dragging lead rope I have decided to work on this little 'fear'.  So, everyday he is going out into the small paddock (maybe 100x200) with his halter and lead attached.  When he walks calmly or stands relaxed he gets a carrot bite.  Tuesday was the first day of the experiment and he did pretty well.  Mostly he just stood still- he didn't want to make the rope move.  He would sometimes walk to trot, but he was more focused on the rope than anything else while he was moving.  He discovered quickly that moving in a circle around the rope made the rope hold still.  No panic moments or anything too exciting.  We spent about 15 minutes working on this and it seemed like a good start.  

Before the great lead rope experiment, I worked on standing nicely and a little clicker-ing for 'head down'.  

I decided to put him out on the hitching post instead of the cross ties.  I just draped his rope over the rail and got started grooming.  I would stop occasionally and work on him lowering his head for a click/treat.  He seemed to catch on quickly.  It didn't take long for him to lower his head to the ground for the c/t.  I'm not sure he quite saw the point, but he did it for the carrots.  When I was grooming him he kept trying to reach down and graze.  I just gently put him back where I wanted and went back to grooming.  I had to readjust him 6-8 times before he held still, but after that he was a gentleman.  Unfortunately, I still don't trust him to stand tied or stay in the cross ties, so I feel a bit like a babysitter.  I have to have all of my gear with me before we get started and I can't walk off and leave him.  

Though, in full disclosure, I think that much of this is my fear more than his behavior.  He hasn't pulled back in almost a year and he has only had 2 'girthy/cross tie' episodes ever.  

My Be-Good halter is in the trailer and I am thinking of getting that out and starting to actually tie him at the hitching post.  However, I want to focus on ground tying/standing nicely first.  So, most of the time I want to have him 'loose' and be able to get him to understand the concept of wanting to stand nicely.  I also want to work a lot more on giving to pressure.  Then hopefully being tied will not feel as much like a trap to him.  


Shanster said...

Hey - the Aussie cowboy talked to me about pulling back...which Rosso really hasn't done since coming home and I've had him tied while I clean stalls or ride Sera and he just has to stand...tho' the Aussie had him stand tied really most of the days he was in training for hours upon the arena while the Aussie ran cattle, worked other horses, unloaded cattle from big semi trucks and cattle haulers etc. Rosso just had to stand there and deal with it.

First he was tied to a wall with a tie blocker on a VERY long line so if he pulled back he could never reach the end of his rope...once he began to stand, he was moved to being tied to the arena along with all the other horses in training...

2ndly he told me about creating a "war post"... sounds worse than it is to me. Very stout post in the ground - preferably in concrete - and a sleeve that fits over the post, it can turn as the horse does tho does not come off the war post. This way the rope doesn't get tied shorter and shorter...and nothing around this post that the horse could get into trouble with -- like a fence or a wall or a gate etc. and leave them tied until they stand quietly with whatever happens to be going on around them.

My understanding was the horse was working against itself vs. a person and they figured it out pretty quick.

Just sharing info... I never did put a war post in at my place cuz the issue seems to be resolved. Dunno if it would work for you - just passing the info along.

Sounds like all is moving forward and that is always a good thing! Boomer is a very smart boy...

Heather said...

I think that I am going to try a few tactics with the pulling thing. He hasn't actually pulled back since he came home from training last fall, but that whole trust thing just isn't there yet. So, I think I will work on him giving to pressure for a few minutes each day, then tie him to the hitching post in his Be Nice Halter and see what happens. Hopefully, nothing will happen.
John called my clicker training redundancy in design. Basically, I am hoping to give Boomer a bunch of different cues/ways to understand giving to pressure (lowering head, stepping forward) plus the actual physical barrier of being tied. So, if he panics maybe SOMETHING will trigger in his brain and he will recall at least one of the things I taught him about giving to pressure.

Funder said...

I had one of those be-good halters! It was for my Percheron, and it didn't seem to phase him at all. Probably works well on a light breed, especially an Arab - Percherons are big dull galloots. Not that he was dumb, just naturally impervious to sensory input.