OK so I've picked my two subjects for the clicker challenge. I want to work with Kizzy this winter to continue increasing her comfort level. The two behaviors that the group picked were mat work and picking something up. I had to stop and think about which horses didn't already know mat work but I don't think I've done much, if anything, with Kizzy. I may have had her step on the plywood mat a little but I haven't done a lot. Mostly I just want to work with her and increase her understanding that she can have fun with me and make good things happen. I got her willingly standing on the mat just by free shaping in the first session. Now I need to figure out where to go with it next. I think I might incorporate it into the work I'm doing with distance targeting of cones and backing. Last time I did that I think she really started to get the idea of waiting for a cue, rather than just the presence of the cone being her cue. The behaviors are not truly taught until they occur only when a cue is given and every time a cue is given. So now, we need to iron out the details in these behaviors.
As for picking something up, Percy is the man. He already fetches his loopy toy- I taught that last year as a way to give him something he was ALLOWED to mouth. It's so hard for those little boys to keep their teeth to themselves and he has always been so good about it, I wanted to give him an outlet. Just like we give puppies chew toys, why not colts? But I also didn't want him going around willy nilly picking things up in his teeth so I initially limited him to his loopy toy. Of course he occasionally volunteers to pick up other things but I just don't reinforce it. This morning, however, he volunteered to pick up a small, empty mineral supplement bucket I was going to take to the house. I decided that could be fun- I can put things in it and have him ferry stuff around. It will keep him happy and busy as well as entertain others.
We're allowed to choose one other behavior and so I'm sticking with teaching Stowaway to be better about picking up his feet. I realized I probably shouldn't teach it just with a pointing cue because kids need to learn how to pick up a horse's foot. If Stowaway learns to pick them up with a point, the kids won't learn how most horses work! So instead I'll just teach him to do it with a light touch but focus more on having him hold it up. This past summer, if kids were lucky enough to get his weight off it, he'd frequently slam it back down or lean on them. So if he learns to hold his foot up (duration), that should solve that problem as well as teaching him a little self control.