Rough Magic

” There are quite a few people who, learning about the rough magics not only of the high disciplines of training but also of the stories that elaborate the significance of the trainer’s discipline, abjure them ahead of time as it were, have sense enough to avoid the tempestuous powers of high art which make castaways of those who encounter them”   – Vicki Hearne

“The learning of language is an emblem of the beginning of art which is also the beginning of sorrow, since through art one learns not only stunning beauties but also the loss of them, and therefore grief.”  –  Vicki Hearne

Dragon and I had our first training session today where we lost ground/behaviors/emotional control since I have started back with the clicker in February. He maintained most of his learning, but after cantering on the longe and stopping for his click and treat, when I asked  him to continue walking forward, he started throwing his head, turning frontally to me and trying to race off in the other direction. Classic horse space games with a fair amount of energy/conflict thrown in and right up close in my face. And one nip thrown in for good measure.

The behavior seemingly came “out of nowhere” and although he used to play those games as a three year old, he hasn’t offered that behavior in years. When I looked at my video from yesterday, after his second trot, he turns his head in, just an inch or so, and I use my raised hand to straighten it as I sent him forward. The micro -expression of what I got today. So what is different?

1) I ran out of my regular treats on Easter sunday and started using meltaway mints as a reward. They have an incredibly high sugar content and he ate an entire bag of them in the span of  two training sessions.

2) Dragon has been a bit stiff/lazy lately and I had to “pop” the whip at him for the first time on March 31st. Compulsion. I got the gait I wanted, plus a head shake and a tail swish. Old behaviors. Conflict behaviors. He has been saying “no” for some reason and I wasn’t listening.

I’m going to give him tomorrow off of longeing and work on something completely different that he enjoys and can be successful with. No more mints. A review of go forward from a simple whip raise on a high rate of reinforcement, outside, where we haven’t been working. And a reminder never to fight with Dragons.

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