Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Solving the "LBI Package"

Hi all,

It's been literally months since I've been compelled to write about anything at all. Been having some huge discoveries in my horsemanship,and in my journey, and only recently have I been processing coherently enough to start blogging again. However, yesterday's session with Prin was super-cool. So cool in fact that I felt I not only SHOULD share, I HAD to share.

Prin and me in FL. Photo by Coco
A little history beforehand: Prin has a bundle of "braces" that I like to call the "Left-Brain Introvert Package"…kind of a pattern with LBIs that have had their dignity stripped. She’s challenging to bridle, can be a little cinchy, is funny about needles, used to pull back, and is a terror to clip. I became acutely aware of these things after I spent a considerable amount of one-on-one time with John Baar during my externship, addressing her clipping troubles, and realizing that there were braces that I had ignored just about everywhere else.

So with that in mind,yesterday was "deworming day"…and that is one of the things I’ve just sort of plowed through in times past with her. She’s always been easy enough, and as a human, I’ve just done it without thinking much. But since becoming aware of these braces, I’ve been sure to address things more thoroughly and put the relationship first.

Her behavior was no surprise, she snorted and pulled away pretty hard when she saw the tube. Over the next 30 minutes, I played around with her, asking her to keep her feet moving so she couldn’t lock up and explode aggressively, something she's been more apt to do since exposing these things. I’d stay at her shoulder out of the strike zone and I’d offer her the tube to sniff. If she got snorty, I’d move her feet again, if she looked at it, sniffed it, touched it, I’d give her a rub, and I’d let her eat grass.

John Baar and Prin in FL
By the end of the session, she was offering to put her nose on tube, and I could put the syringe in her mouth with NO protest. All with her ears forward lower lip floppy, and eyes half-open. She looked happy and boy, did I feel happy! I didn’t deworm her, of course. Talk about a horrible reinforcement for great behavior! Today, I plan to play with it, and give her a syringe full of applesauce.

  Needless to say, I’m VERY pleased. I feel like we broke down a major threshold and she felt successful. SO cool!

Stay tuned for more of the things I've been learning from Prin since returning home from my externship. She's teaching me HUGE lessons, and expanding horizons I didn't know existed


Janine said...

Yeahh, I am sooo glad you are back and I am very much looking forward to your blog stories again!!!

Wendy Ann said...

Hi Fran~Great to discover your Blog.I learn a lot about the human-horse bond from you. I will pass it on to Ty who will always remember his wonderful first riding lesson w/you and Prin.
Love the worming lesson /story. Am working w/positive reinforcement teachers to help my Golden pal,Buddy to become a therapy dog. We use the same technigue as you described, building on a behavior in small steps.We use a word as a marker, and then the rewards.Clicker training w/out the clicker.I do occasionally train w/a clicker. Karen Pryor has these methods outlined in detail for horses too.