There were two things that popped into my head that I should have added to the last post before I continue with the most recent sessions.
One is to point out the difference between my previous method of dealing with the issue vs my current method. One was managing and one was training. By carrying a whip and just using it to quietly keep the horses out of my space, I was simply managing the situation, which is a good thing to do in order to keep a situation safe, but it does nothing toward changing the future behavior of your horse and so you need to keep managing that situation each and every day. That was what got tedious and I'm sure I will find, as I have in the past, that simply taking the time to train, I will find it much less time consuming!
The other point is that I am trying to remember to train the opposite...I don't want the ponies to think that they should always be standing in that spot and even though am currently using the jug as the cue and intend to train a new cue, I want to be sure I have a way to pull them away from that spot as well. So when I go to the gate and want them to come, I use my kiss sound to bring them to me, and reward them for that.
This morning I changed the criteria a bit to introduce yet another distraction that might pull them away from their spot- food. Stowaway stayed with Ande at the jug while I did a little review of walking toward the feed room and opening the door. I am finding it very interesting that while he doesn't always maintain the behavior within each session as well as Ande, he is progressing. This may show up as "holes" in his training down the road, but I am prepared for them and prepared to address them with some solo training if necessary.
My first step in the new criteria today was to simply lift a flake of hay from the bale and put it right down on the floor. I know the horses' hearing is quite good so I was pretty sure that would have them interested. When I stepped out of the shed, Stowaway had turned his head back over his shoulder to look and Ande was watching me out of the corner of his eye but he batted the jug with his nose again. So I clicked and each got a hay stretcher pellet. Next step: bring the flake of hay to the door and put it down- C/T for standing. Next, bring the flake about 5 feet out of the room, click, set the flake down and hurry to treat. I then proceeded in about 5 foot increments, each time bringing the hay a little closer.
Now since I had set it up that they were waiting at the spot where Ande usually gets his hay, I was able to proceed up to the point where I was right on the other side of the panel from them...and then went past them with the hay. I knew this would make them want to follow me so when I got just half a step beyond them, I clicked and threw the hay over the fence as the final jackpot. But I underestimated Ande. The jug was still there and so he stayed there even when Stowaway had his head in the hay pile! Thankfully, I had a wrapped peppermint in my pocket and so I clicked again and gave him that peppermint. While he was eating it, still standing there, I untied the jug and then clicked again and gave him a handful of the horse peppermint treats. What a good boy!