Australian Brumby Challenge ©
This week we have started float training. Initially, I don’t go anywhere near the float for this, I teach the horse how to go over, under and through different obstacles, in an incremental manner that I find easier for them to learn and feel safe. Scarlett is already comfortable stepping onto a pallet and the noise of her hooves on the wood does not concern her, so that step has already been completed.
On Sunday, for the next step, I introduce under and through. To do this, I made an arch using a folded tarp across the laneway. To make it easy for Scarlett, I folded the tarp so it was only about 30cm wide and tied it very securely to the fence so it did not flap in the wind and frighten her unduly. I then left the area to allow her to investigate it in her own time. I did however “hover” at a distance to see how she was coping with it. Watching her approach and retreat the arch was really interesting. She would walk up to it, sniff and quietly walk away. Within about ten minutes, she had walked underneath from front to back. Scarlett does not “need” to walk under the arch to access food, water or shelter, she can completely avoid it, if she so wishes, with no consequences.
I left the tarp in place for the day and noticed she walked under it several times during the day. At feedup that evening, I asked her to walk under using only positive reinforcement. She did so in a calm, relaxed manner, happy to receive her reinforcement when she did.
Each afternoon I unfolded the tarp a little to make the arch a bit wider. The distance I increased it was dictated by the eyelets in the tarp, so I could tie it securely. This turned out to be approximately one metre. Leaving the tarp in place and a short practice session asking her to walk under the extended arch daily has resulted in her being able to confidently walk under/through a tunnel of approximately four metres long by Thursday afternoon, even when the wind is moving the tarp slightly.
Next week, I will enclose the side more by adding tarps to the bottom of the fence and possibly add the pallet for her to walk over while under the tunnel so she gets the feel and sound of timber while underneath.