July 29, 2016

Jethro's Newest Trick: Lying Down

Jethro's trick toolbox previously consisted of fetching a Frisbee, putting a hoop over a cone, and dribbling a soccer ball. Now, he has a new one: lying down.

tricking training horse to lie down

It is still a work in progress. He lays down on a blanket only right now, and weaning him off the blanket onto grass and arena footing is proving to be slightly difficult. The blanket is a very obvious, easy-to-understand location to lie down, which is why I think transitioning him to lie down without it has been a bit confusing for him (considering how he sees and walks on grass everyday). He lies down on the grass directly near the blanket, but never without the blanket present.

trick training horse to lie down

It has been taught purely through association and positive reinforcement/clicker training only. When I was first looking through tutorials, most of them involved ropes and pulling/pushing. I knew he wouldn't like that very much, so I cast those tutorials aside and figured out a more suitable method. Personally, I don't really see the point in trick training if you force the animal to do the trick. I view it as a fun break from regular training, and something they should look forward too (via positive reinforcement, not force). He learned his other tricks within three 15 minute sessions. This one has been a bit more difficult. I have done three 15 minutes sessions so far and am anticipating several more days until he has it nailed down without a blanket.

We will work through it though! As soon as everything is ironed out and consistently problem free I will write up a post with the details of how I taught the trick.

trick training horse to lie down

July 9, 2016

Saturday Stills and Catching Up

This year has been a crazy whirlwind of school, research, and traveling, thus causing Ypke and Jethro to sadly be put on the backburner. Research and traveling will be wrapped up within these next couple of weeks, so my regular weekly posting schedule should resume shortly. I've missed reading your blogs, looking forward to catching up soon!