Monday, February 20, 2012

Will Yawn for Food

An intelligent horse can be a blessing and a curse -- they pick things up quickly, but sometimes you don't even realize that you have (accidentally) taught them something by rewarding a certain behavior. Fortunately, most of the things Salem has taught himself/me have been either harmless or helpful; for example, he taught himself to halt on the longe line when I square up to him. He taught himself to turn his head away from me in order to get a treat.

And he taught himself that yawning = meal.



Ever since he came down here last April, I've been doing a bit of liberty work with Salem. Nothing fancy, just some basic w/t/c, halt, reverse, etc. at liberty in the arena. Unfortunately, I usually get to the barn when it's dark out these days, so our liberty sessions have suffered quite a bit; but the liberty work we do every day involves Salem standing patiently while I bring his grain out, and standing still until I give him the signal that he can walk to his feed tub and eat. And somewhere along the line, Salem must have yawned while he was standing there, and I inadvertently rewarded that behavior and gave him the "release" signal. So now he stands there letting out these dramatic, eye-rolling, tongue-wagging yawns while he waits for his food. You might have also noticed him turning his head away from me (his "this-is-what-I-do-to-get-a-treat" trick) and then going back to yawning -- you can almost see his little brain working, saying, "OK, which trick does she want me to do? I will run through them until I get it right."

Such a goofball. ;-) I love it.

6 comments:

smazourek said...

It is amazing what we teach horses when we don't mean to ;)

Alana said...

He is so cute! I 'taught' Ta'ceyewi to kiss. If you walk up to him and say Kiss! He very gently touches his nose to yours. Of course it is always slimy...
How did you teach him to stand until you give the signal for food? Mine are all bratty beggars when food is involved??

Frizzle said...

smaz, so true! :-)

Alana, Ta'c sounds like such a sweetie! And, hmmmmmm, well I started out installing a very good "Whoa" button in Salem--he knows both the voice command and the body language. Then I started telling him "Whoa" when I brought his food out, and then walk a few steps away with his food. If he came towards the food, I would chase him away, then tell him "whoa" and start over. He still tests me every once in a while, and if he takes a step or two forward I ask him to back and then whoa and wait again.

achieve1dream said...

Thanks for the comment on Faran's hooves. My farrier mentioned that his coronets were jammed. You have a good eye. I'm impressed. :D Thank you for the advice! He's doing so awesome letting us mess with his feet. Now we just have to work on the thrush . . . that could be fun lol.

achieve1dream said...

So what causes coronet jamming and how do you fix it? I haven't gotten that far in my hoof knowledge lol. Thanks for all the tips. I'll ask her about showing me the 30 degree hairline.

achieve1dream said...

Chrome used to yawn for his food too.... now he nickers lol. :D I wish I could teach him to wait for his feed like that, but with no way to keep the others away I don't think it would work..... maybe I could do it in the round pen.... :)