Boomer is one of those rare ponies that will do just about anything for his “person”, combine that with the fact that he’s pretty fearless – makes the things he can accomplish (in a short amount of time) quite amazing.
So last week I decided I wanted to teach Boomer to sit on some beanbag chairs I had been saving since I was a kid – just for this reason. He had already had some practice targeting his rear end to things, but I had never fully gotten him to sit on anything from a stand-still.
After a few short sessions over a period of 3 days I had him successfully sitting on his bean bags. He was very proud of himself once he figured out what I wanted and now he doesn’t even want to get off of the beanbags.
As he progresses in his training I will slowly remove some of the beanbags until he can hopefully just use one to sit on.
Next he’ll be learning to shake hands while sitting on his beanbag! He’s such a cool pony!
Minnow has been in training for the past few months as I’ve begun teaching him new tricks and a new skit for Pony Penning 2012!
Minnow especially loves this time of year as he LIVES to perform and learn new tricks. He’s a total ham even when the only audience is me, Ammo the Dachshund, and my camera.
We’ve been sharing bits and pieces of Minnow’s new act on our Facebook Page, but if you want to see the entire performance you’ll just have to make the trek to Pony Penning this year (or book us for your next event).
We’re also going to be working on a new DVD featuring several of Minnow’s favorite performances that will be available for purchase for those of you that won’t be able to see Minnow in person. Once we have that available we’ll be sure to share it with everyone!
In the meantime though, you can check out our online shop where we not only have a collection of paintings, but also the Trick Ponies of Chincoteague DVD that features all the ponies and one of Minnow’s earlier performances.
And now, here’s a few more photos of what’s been going on around the farm lately….
We hope to see you at the pony swim this year!
If you follow us on Facebook then you may already know that Minnow has been working on learning some new tricks. Most of these are in preparation for Pony Penning 2012 as I’m teaching him some new skills for a brand new performance.
Now, you may remember Workout Barbie – well this is Workout Pony! And Workout Pony is way way cooler!
We’re still in the planning stages of our performance and I have lots of ideas for new tricks, but I thought I’d share a video of our first training session with Minnow’s barbell. It’s important to note that this video was shot after I had spent about 10 minutes working on the skill with clicker training. Yes only 10 minutes!
As you can see on the video he has two skills he’s learning – “lifts” and “curls”. I was actually quite shocked he picked it up as fast as he did and he already knows the cues for each skill. As we continue on in his training we’ll work on duration and I just finished making him a more permanent barbell that looks a bit more realistic.
I’m really excited about all the new tricks we will be working on and it will be so much fun to showcase the new performance during Pony Penning.
So, anyone else teaching their horses new tricks this spring? Have any ideas for new tricks for Minnow? We’re always open to suggestions!
Over the weekend I packed up Boomerang and headed down south to Maryland to compete in the MGAA Mid-Atlantic #1. It was the first of the mid-atlantic mounted games series for the year and we were excited to attend.
Boomer and I were dusting off the cobwebs a bit as typically I give him the winter off due to being pretty busy at my shop – so this was sort of a “getting back into the swing of things” competition for us.
Boomer was the only pony at the competition to compete in a Bitless Bridle and Treeless Saddle – and you will also notice our treat bag hanging from his saddle, used when I am clicker training him during competition – because the training is never done.
I think one of the common mis-conceptions about treeless saddles is that many people think that without a tree the saddle won’t be stable on the horse’s back. But, all you have to do is watch me play games in it to prove this wrong. All weekend I was leaning off the saddle like a monkey, and vaulting on from the ground.
I’m in love with my freeform saddle for so many reason, but mostly because it is the most comfortable ride I’ve ever had, for me and my pony. And as much as treeless saddle are rare in the mounted games arena (in fact I believe you are not allowed to compete in treeless saddles if you ride with the USMGA organization – why, I do not know!) Bitless bridles are probably just as rare.
I think with equine speed sports especially probably a lot of people think you won’t be able to control your horse without a bit when it’s in racing mode. Now Boomerang may not be the fastest pony out there, but he wants to run towards the finish line just like the rest of them. Because I took the time to clicker train him a really nice stop, and to respect my seat and leg aids just as much as the rein pressure I am able to successfully compete him in his dr. cook’s bitless bridle.
Many riders in the US now compete in hackamores – yet these have a much different way of steering/stopping the horse by using sensitive pressure points on the nose. Bitless Bridles use painless and even pressure to help guide your horse in the direction you want to go and does not interfere with the horse’s breathing.
And while I personally am an advocate for the bitless bridles I do believe that using a bit or not is a personal decision that most times depends on the horse too. Not every horse may be a good fit for a bitless bridle and I think it just depends on what works best for each animal in the most humane way possible.
And finally, here’s a quick video I put together of Boomerang having a blast competing.
We hope to make it to some more MGAA competitions this year – and for anyone who is interested in getting started in the sport be sure to take a look at our upcoming competitions at Iron Horse Farm.
You can read more about mounted games here.
I implement many different training methods while working with Minnow, Blitz, Boomer and even Ammo the Dachshund, but I predominantly prefer to use Clicker Training.
Clicker training is the process of training an animal using a clicker as a marker for behavior that will earn positive reinforcement (most often a food reward). Typically the clicker is a small mechanical noisemaker, but some trainers prefer to substitute a tongue click or other marker signal.
One of the challenges in training an animal is communicating exactly when the animal has done the behavior that the handler is attempting to reinforce. The clicker allows for precise timing and clear communication about what specific behavior is being reinforced, and enables the trainer to teach complex and difficult skills to the animal without the use of force or punishment.
All of the ponies of Painting Pony (including Ammo the Dachshund) have been trained using clicker training. It is not limited to trick training, but can be used to teach everyday tasks such as picking up feet, leading, and standing for the farrier. It can even be used during riding.
In an effort to share this great tool we have created a Clicker Training Set
This set includes one translucent clicker in red, blue, green, or purple (colors may be specified, but ultimately it’s a fun surprise) with a tab to hang on a wrist coil or lanyard. Comes attached to a postcard that explains what clicker training is, how to teach your horse to use the clicker with targeting, and where to go to find out more information.
Great as a gift – can even be paired with our Painting Pony Gift Set!
You can purchase our Clicker Training Set HERE.