Today Bill and I got to have a sort of 'play date' - very unusual for this time of year. All that means is 'we got to go to town' together; something we love to do. We tackled the lodge chores quickly and the guests wished us well as we saw them off to their various hiking adventures, letting them know they would probably beat us back to the lodge.
We figured that if we got our town chores done in a timely fashion, we could play with GunDiva's horse, Skeeter, a bit. She had mentioned wanting to teach Skeeter her name, having been appalled to discover her horse didn't have the slightest clue as to her name. Now in the horse's defense, she was the only horse on the property for three months and was always happy to meet any person willing to come by her corral and chat with her. She didn't need a name. Since I had used a considerable amount of 'clicker fun' with Jesse (many years ago), GunDiva suggested Bill and I could start teaching Skeeter to come when called.
We stopped by GunDiva's and picked up the clickers. We were so excited to work with Skeeter when we got to her corral that we got the box of carrot chunks that were waiting for us, snatched our cameras and a couple clickers and headed out to see the horses. I told Bill we needed to teach her targeting before we could start on the name game. Skeeter was all excited to learn something new, perfectly willing to watch Bill and try to figure out what he wanted when he said 'touch'. We decided to use the lid to the carrot container as the 'target'.
When I tried it with her, she focused on the lid ... and got her treat.
We decided to stand a few feet apart and take turns calling her to us, giving her a treat whenever she changed direction and focused on the one calling her name. It took quite awhile before she would focus on our voices; she was just interested in the closest one to her. She would stare at you for awhile, until she realized you were not going to give her anything, then turn back to the other. Soon she was going back and forth - but we realized she was coming to the sound of the click, not her name. When I explained this to GunDiva, she asked if we had 'charged the clicker'. Duh.
In hindsight, I should have taken a glance at the clicker book also. I seem to have forgotten a lot about the beginnings of clicker training. I had totally forgotten that step. No wonder poor Skeeter didn't quite 'see the light' for us. She tried her best - and was getting it - just much slower than if we had done it correctly.
Sorry, GunDiva, hope we haven't set you back too far. She's a smart girl; I already had her following the target to the ground and touching it when I would give it a short toss. We might have another frisbee partner one day.
Bill, of course, had to play some other 'games' with her, trying to teach her to 'mane lead' like he does Ranger - by putting his arm under her neck, grabbing a piece of mane on the opposite side, and walking. She was doing well with it until she figured out he was going to pick on her by leading her to the tub. She's pretty sure he's a goof.
We took time to give Copper some good scratches through the fence panels so he wouldn't feel left out. He definitely wanted in on some action, too. Soon, Copper.
It made for a fun day.