Training the Component Parts of Passage with Umber
This video is very similar to my previous video: In-Hand Dressage Training: Working Toward Passage with a Mule, with a couple changes--a little more explanation, only the highlights of her trot, and it documents Umber's most recent progress (January 14th, 2011). This video explains some of the component parts of the dressage movement "passage" which is a slow, powerful, highly collected trot with a suspension and a pause between each stride. A good passage looks like the horse (or mule) is dancing. I have never seen a mule performing the passage, so I am experimenting to see whether it is something I can train Umber, my 8 year old mare mule. Umber is a cross between a standard donkey and a Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) mare. I show some of the component parts (or building blocks) of the movement, including self-carriage, haunches-in, leg flexions, and leg flexions in movement. All of these exercises have been taught with clicker training, a very effective, non-coercive, non-aversive training method.
Working Towards Passage with a Mule
I have been working on some dressage basics in-hand: shoulder-in, haunches-in, longeing on line and at liberty, and in-hand canter. Mules can do this work as elegantly as horses can. Umber has learned to go forward in self-carriage without being held up by side-reins or rein contact. Clicker training creates the communication needed to let the mules know when they are on the right track. When they are balanced in their movement it becomes easier to them; they love the lightness and power in their bodies and it eventually becomes a habitual way of moving.
Training a Donkey to Self-Halter
The donkey in this video was abused with ropes when he was with his previous owner. He had a huge fear of ropes and halters. We used clicker training to teach him to put his nose into his halter. We never tried to force him to stand still and accept being touched; he always had the option to leave. This process changed has changed his outlook on life--he is much more curious and brave, and he is not scared of ropes anymore!
Donkey Yielding the Shoulder
This video is of Ringo, a standard donkey gelding. Ringo was pushy and needed to learn how to stay out of his handler's space. This video shows him learning to yield his shoulder, which helps him not to crowd or fall in on his handler. I'm using clear body language, clicker training and soft rope handling skills to show Ringo my intentions as I lead him.
Taluka is a green mule who had a lot of questions about the world. Using clicker training, a non-coercive training method that makes the animal a partner in the learning process and involves a minimum of pain for both trainer and trainee, From the beginning of training, when she could scarcely be touched, Taluka has gained lots of confidence and has become more trustworthy as a partner and companion. At the start of this video we had already made some progress. This is her story!
Getting a Mule to be Safe Around Bicycles
This video shows clips from a 15 minute training session to get Cavort, a five year old john mule, to be safe and calm around bicyclists. The video shows the whole training process; I only edited out the portions of where the bicyclist is circling around for another pass. I show the basics of using advance and retreat to defuse fear. This technique is very compatible to clicker training, and uses some of the same principles, even though I am not doing a whole lot of clicking and treating in this session. This method is very effective at defusing fear and aggression, in horses, mules, donkeys, or any animal. The important part is to wait until the animal shows a sign of self-calming before the scary object retreats. Cavort took responsibility for calming himself, which makes this method much more effective than straight desensitization.
Practicing Collection at a Halt
Poetica has learned to coil her loins, lift her back, engage her abdominal muscles, arch her neck and lift her withers in a dynamic pose. I used clicker training to teach her this exercise, and it has changed the shape of the musculature of her back. She puts her weight in her haunches and it changes the shape of her entire body. She practices using a large range of motion in her back, similarly to how we practice using our bodies when we do Yoga or Pilates. When a horse understands how to improve their topline at a halt, they naturally start to carry themselves this way in movement—drastically improving their gaits.
De-Spooking a Mule and a Horse
This video shows a little about how to use clicker training to teach your horse or mule to be brave and face scary things, like a tarp blowing in the wind. It is a great way to help a horses or mules that spook or shy at "monsters" since it generalizes well—once you teach them to touch a few scary things, they will easily brave new obstacles.
Mule Lines Up at the Mounting Block for Riding
Umber has learned to align herself to the mounting block and stand still while I get on. This video shows a little of the training process. I use clicker training to get accuracy, reliability, and enthusiasm. Umber is confident about this behavior which makes her happy and safe.
Mules Meet Me at the Mounting Block
Three mules demonstrate ground tying then coming to meet me at the mounting block. They learned to ground tie, come when called, and line up to the mounting block with clicker training. Clicker training is a gentle teaching method which makes confident, calm, safe, and fun horses and mules.
These mules are so hard to catch; I have to chase them around for hours before they submit ;-) Well, maybe not! Clicker training is wonderful for teaching hard-to-catch horses and mules to come when called and to voluntarily be haltered.
Mule Fetches Squeaky Toy
In-Hand Dressage Mules
I have been working on some dressage basics in-hand: shoulder-in, haunches-in, longeing on line and at liberty, and in-hand canter. Mules can do this work as elegantly as horses can. They are learning to go forward in self-carriage without being held up by side-reins or rein contact. Clicker training creates the communication needed to let the mules know when they are on the right track. When they are balanced in their movement it becomes addictive to them; they love the lightness and power in their bodies.
Mules Stand Quietly For Hoof Trimming
Trimming mule hooves without restraint. Video demonstrates the results of using this non-violent training method: clicker training. The mules don't even attempt to eat the hay since they are focused on the task at hand.
Mule Tricks: Laying Down
Murry, the mule, lays down on cue. This was taught without any force, ropes, pulling on the reins, or whips. Horses and mules can be trained to lay down with clicker training.