Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Educating Winston

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? 

I have started training Winston with 18 months of Obama as my background in training. Obama's training was the testing ground for my first system, no weapons, and you aren't allowed to DELIBERATELY frighten the animal. This system morphed into my Carrot Carrot, reverse clicker training concept, basically developed to wind up Theresa which is as good a basis for a training system as any other.
I still hold to the first principles of
No DELIBERATE frightening of the animal..
Obama also benefited from Nick Sanders brilliant location in Brecon, and so I led him out into Brecon, and eventually to Birmingham.
Ducere, latin for to lead, ex, latin for out, Ex ducere, to lead out, the derivation of EDUCATION.
So I led Obama out. I haven't bothered to break him to drive, I just found that on the way back he tended to overtake me as I led him, so I hopped on the Saddlechariot. Pulling the left rein seemed to make him go left, and surprisingly pulling the other rein had the opposite effect. Pulling both slowed him down. That's his driving training. I educated him, I led him out and he learned about  life.
Obama and I have been far enough and fast enough, and through enough, for me to be pretty happy with the system.
So Winston arrived a couple of weeks ago. Not the easiest animal, with a reputation for kicking, and having done not a lot, or slightly less, scared of most things and prepared to kick what scared him. So I parked him at Adele's to see if he and Obama got on, which they did. But even with Obama present, walking down the drive to a seriously rural, dead end Devon lane, was too scary by half. I rapidly discovered that Winston wouldn't listen to me much while Obama was about, so we separated them for Winston's next stage training at Lee's place.
Here, I have mixed loads of treats with leading out. At first the ratio of treats to distance was disastrous. I doubt we were getting three inches to a grass nut, but gradually Winston realised that whatever he did, I was there, between him and danger, and with food in my hand. His behaviour was like a young foal suckling, nudging and nuzzling into me, and I could assess the stress by the amount of treats he needed to keep him happy, but after the third walk, he started to explore a few strides, take a few mouthfuls of verge, and then realised that on the way back, he knew the terrain, and more to the point that we were going back to a boring field, and he went from baby needing to be suckled, to teenager in a major strop.
The transition was nearly instantaneous, from "It's alll scary and I need a cuddle" to "I'm perfectly adult and I know what I'm doing" and he flipped happily between the two states dozens of times each walk, but two weeks from the start and he's taking high speed double decker buses and trucks in his stride.
He visits major office developments and sneers at the traffic on the M5, only occasionally reverting to babyhood, and needing a cuddle, but throughout the process, he has never been hit or threatened. I shout at him, I barge into his shoulder, I stand in front of him and make him walk backwards by walking into him, and when he tries to chomp into my hand when I am feeding him treats, I grab his nose and threaten to rip his nostrils off, but I never hit him, I never raise my hand.
To date he has hit we with all four feet, but only the first hit, hurt. I had just separated him from Obama and was trying to catch him, and he thought I was getting too pushy, so he spun and hit me just over my left knee with his left hind. It was a very precise hit, and he was within easy range of making it hurt badly, but this was clearly a warning. I accepted his point, and made sure I gave him space when  caught him a minute later. I just used more treats, less pressure.
The next kick was stroppy teenager, being taken back to his field, and he just hit my waistcoat with his right hind. The next two hits were front feet, having gone up in a playful strop. I just shouted at him both times, and he hardly touched me. Today he went up once when the pressure of traffic worried him, but didn't even try to hit me, then cow kicked me when he felt safe, but gently, and then tried to stamp on my toes twice, so I tried to stamp on his. I think we are level pegging on toe treading at the moment.
It's scary working an animal, that is so scared, so new to everything, but the buzz when he comes back with another fear conquered, is massive. Tomorrow I intend to put the Saddlechariot on him, and maybe take him round the cconstruction site for a laugh. I have to keep the pressure up as we intend to set off for Lndon on the 16th. We will drive Obama and Winston across Exeter on the 15th for a laugh and to get in the mood.

1 comment:

蕭v柯凡豐珈火 said...