Monday, August 10, 2009

TAGteach seminar

I am headed to a TAGteach seminar this coming weekend- should be inspiring. There is so much more to clicker training than simply clicking for tricks that I know there will be similar benefits to TAGteach when I get more deeply involved in it.

One of my biggest challenges with TAGteaching is focusing on one thing only. I know that is the best approach and one of the greatest advantages to using TAGteaching but my own brain keeps telling me that I can't ignore certain things because they are safety issues. This past week I had 2 girls, both D1 Pony Club kids, at the farm for 3 days. They arrived at 8: AM and stayed until 2: PM- their first experience with a Pony Club "camp". As neither of these girls have their own pony, we thought it best to give them this experience before throwing them into the full camp experience with the older kids. So they came early, cleaned out the run-in shed and scrubbed water buckets, spent a few minutes each morning just observing pony behavior and had two lessons per day in addition to a noontime "lecture". They also cleaned tack daily!

As Kizzy is not terribly cooperative when it comes to obstacles (preferring to go around rails on the ground or at least walking over them rather than trotting), I put one of the girls on Elly for the first time. Elly is just enough bigger and more horse-like that it did challenge the girl's position. Legs slipped forward, hands came up and eyes focused on the ground (further away than before!)

I felt like all these things were critical pieces that needed correction and so I started the week by forcing myself focus on one at a time. Keeping it at a walk, I announced, "TAG point is lower leg back". The kids use the dressage letters as reminder points and I use them as opportunities to TAG. Each time she passed a letter, she was to remind herself to have her lower leg back and if it was correct, I tagged her. When she was keeping her leg back, we moved to "TAG point is pinkies within reach of the withers". She was to check to see if she extended her little fingers down, could she reach Elly's withers with them. If not, her hands were too high. I tagged her at the letters if her hands were low enough. Last and most difficult for her- eyes up. When I initially teach kids, I have them look at the mountains and trees and clouds and distant barns to encourage them to look up. But then I need to transition them to look where they are going (in the round pen, that's a bit dull which is why I choose more fun sights). So the third tag point for the week became "TAG point is look at the next letter". This was an effort to have her focus on where she was headed next in the arena. This was the only one which wasn't solid by the end of the third day. She did look up frequently, but she wasn't keeping her focus up- so that's the next lesson! I just need to figure out how to break it down. Maybe "TAG point is keep your eyes up between letters" and I will tag only if her focus remains up between each set of letters?

Maybe I'll get some inspiration at the seminar!

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