Archive for April, 2010
One of the blogs I frequent, Book Ends Farm, recently did a post on the Keep Going Signal used with clicker training. Honestly, I had no idea what that was – never heard of it before. If you have been following my blog from the beginning than you probably know that I openly admit I don’t read a lot of training books. The shame I know. I prefer to rely more on my instincts, and just a process of trial and error.
Don’t get me wrong, I do watch training dvds, and have been known to “internet” browse for training ideas, but I just can’t get into reading books on the subject. Mostly I think its just because I’m a visual learner, so unless there are lots of pictures – you’ve totally lost me.
So anyway, back to the real reason for this post, the Keep Going Signal. Apparently I have been using this method for years and I had no idea. From what I gather, the Keep Going Signal is a cue (probably verbal works best) that you give your horse (or any animal) to let them know you want them to keep doing what they are doing and they will be rewarded shortly.
Here’ are some examples:
When teaching my ponies to paint, once they’ve got the concept of target brush to paper, I use a “good boy” to get them to keep targeting the paper and continue on with strokes until I ask for the brush back and click/reward them.
I also use it in my mounted games training. A “good boy” for a really nice spin around the end pole, but I want you to keep going until you finish the race and I can give you your treat.
The more I thought about it the more I realized I use it pretty much everyday. It must have just developed over time with my interactions with my boys, but I realized they all recognize the “good boy” means your effort was correct and your reward will be coming. When all the ponies hear those two words uttered out of my mouth they offer me a more enthusiastic attempt at what they have been doing, maybe a burst of speed, or a free-er flowing brushstroke.
So how did it happen? I think it happened when I first started clicker training each of them. I would ask them to do something, offer up a “good boy” then click and reward them. I think over time, as I began riding them, I began to space them out. The “good boy” would come, then a little later the click/reward. Helps prevent the slamming on the breaks effect when clicker training while riding.
As Book Ends Farm mentions, I guess some people don’t like using a Keep Going Signal, as they feel it complicates things and can lead to frustration in some horses. I definitely could see how this could happen, but I think it also depends on the horse. Obviously if your horse just gets frustrated when you say “good boy” because they are expecting the reward, then you probably shouldn’t use it.
Around Painting Pony we’re known for our three talented painting Chincoteague Ponies. Minnow, Blitz, and Boomer all hold paintbrushes in their mouths and paint onto canvases while standing at their easel. Since November of 2008 they have had a special sidekick, Ammo the Dachshund. Ammo has lived in their shadow for the past two and a half years. He gets toted to horse shows, brought to performances, and lugged to the farm where they live. Don’t get me wrong, he loves all of it, especially the visiting the farm part. In fact, he’s formed unusual relationships with all of the ponies, as I frequently catch him playing with them in the pastures. But if you have been following this blog, you know that I have decided to let Ammo come out from behind their shadow by helping him develop his artistic talents and learn to paint. We have been working almost daily on honing Ammo’s talents as a painter.
While Ammo is getting closer to creating his very first painting, we are still working on distinguishing between the handle and the bristles. I’m sure it won’t be as fun to jam the bristles in his mouth when the paint is applied! So, in the meantime I decided we would embark on some other artistic endeavors. In his case, scratch art.
For Ammo’s graduation from training class I taught him a new trick, to dig on command. It was quite funny actually, I used a matboard marker and taught him to target his feet to the mat. I then enticed him to dig at it (natural to the burrowing Dachshund), and then gave him a command for it. Ammo thought the whole thing was quite fun, and we routinely practiced every morning before opening the shop. Suddenly I had an idea – we should try making some scratch art with his new found skill.
So today I attached some transfer paper to piece of matboard and set out to see if Ammo would like to create a scratch art painting. As you can see he was very proud of his very first work of art. The Dachshund was more than disappointed when we had to stop for the day, so I’m sure this will be the first of many scratch art paintings for the little guy. I’ve been scheming up some more creative ways for Ammo to get his scratch on, so be sure and stay tuned to see what he will create next.
I will post a video of Ammo “scratching” soon!
So what do you think? Is his masterpiece fridge worthy? Would you hang it on your wall? Excited to see more of his scratch art talents?
On April 22, 2010 Ammo the Dachshund graduated from the Level 1 Basic Manners Class at DTCCC. I’m so proud of him! In the course of 6 weeks he learned so much, and so did I. Honestly the class was more about giving me ways to train my dog, but the added benefit of taking Ammo to a new place, meeting new people (and dogs), really helped to give him more confidence. I’m excited that we will be taking the Level 2 course starting in mid-May. I know there is a whole world of things Ammo can still learn!
Below is a video of Ammo’s final test. We still have to work on our loose leash walking as Ammo likes to smell EVERYTHING, but its coming along.
At the end of class Ammo was rewarded with his certificate and allowed to choose a toy from the pile. Ammo of course couldn’t make up his mind so I chose a cute stuffed dog for him. A puppy to call his own.
The cutest thing about Ammo and his new little friend was that the second we walked in the door to the house he ran straight to the bathroom and jumped in the tub with his new pal. Not sure why, he never gets in the tub (at least voluntarily), maybe he thought his friend needed a bath. Either way it was pretty adorable. In fact, its now become a regular thing for him.
Today I decided to take some photos of the boys with their paintbrushes. I was attempting to get some nice photos of them for their new website, but it proved to be harder than I thought with handing them the brushes and trying to run backwards to get the shot before they decided to drop them. It would/will be much easier with two people. Minnow decided to be camera shy – he’s always had an issue with the sound of a camera shutter. I think he associates the sound with the flash going off, and he REALLY believes that the flash is lightning. And Minnow is afraid of lightning. Its one of his lingering fears from when I first met him that I haven’t quite been able to get him over. Although he no longer runs now, he just chooses to look away or calmly keep himself at a safe distance.
If you think about it, its quite amazing that he will still perform with me while onlookers flash cameras at him in all directions. Sometimes his fear gets the best of him and I have to refocus him, that or politely ask people to turn off their flashes until Minnow relaxes. This has/is one of his biggest challenges when we travel to Chincoteague each year, because he performs in an indoor facility, which tends to make the camera flashes go off. I’m not sure Minnow will truly ever overcome his fear, he must have had a traumatic experience with lightning before he came to me – perhaps something happened to him when he was a foal on the island…I will never know.
Blitz was quite the ham with the paintbrush – as always. He’s such a funny pony, I think he knows he’s cute – which in turn makes him think he can get away with anything. He kept trying to paint the fence with the brushes, which eventually led him to frustration when he realized that with each stroke he took, nothing came off of the brush. Don’t worry Blitz, we will paint again soon.
I was recently honored as the second place winner of The Horse Studio, Jump into Spring Writing Contest. The topic to be written about was “When did you fall in love with horses?”. Below is my entry:
My Little Chincoteague Pony
I’ve been involved with horses since the day I was born, but I didn’t really fall in love with them until I was 18 and Chincoteague Minnow came into my life. He was a short, rotund Chincoteague pony that started his life as a wild pony on Assateague Island. I didn’t know much about him except for the fact that an owner in his past had neglected him and his care for several months, and I quickly found that he had deep trust issues as well as a nasty buck.
For two years Minnow and I battled to gain an understanding of each other. He constantly ran away with me and wanted nothing to do with me. He ignored scary situations and refused to confront anything he felt threatened by. But I loved him anyway and I refused to give up on him.
It wasn’t until a simple book came into my life that things began to change. Trickonometry by Carole Fletcher was a book that detailed a multitude of tricks to teach your horse. As I taught Minnow his very first trick, to give me a kiss, something began to happen. Minnow began to light up as he discovered what it meant to learn. We flew through the book as he learned to play fetch, shake hands, and even bow. Minnow and I were now communicating and understanding each other.
A year passed and I could barely recognize him as the pony that had appeared in my life 3 years earlier. He was bright eyed and excited for my daily visits to see him. He no longer ran away with me and most importantly we were a team. Minnow had showed me how to teach him and in doing so we opened up a whole door to the world of horse training. And I loved him more every day.
Minnow is now an accomplished trick pony as well as an exceptional riding pony. As he now enters into the retirement phase of his life we enjoy spending time together even more. I have him to thank for my love of horses, although I can be sure that I will never love another horse the way I love him.
Excitingly my prize is an Imagine A Horse DVD, Using Treats as a Training Tool. I can’t wait for it to arrive – as I have actually been dying to see the video. I will be sure to post a full review on it after I watch it.
If you would like to read the rest of the winning entries click here.