Training updates and successes with apples.

I can’t believe we have been quiet here for so long as so much has been happening.

Training is going amazingly well. Alexis and I have taken Susie out around the field together and best of all we have discovered a secret weapon to use with Susie. Apples! She is very happy to have the halter put on and to be lead out when she is offered pieces of apple every 5 to 10 metres. It is so exciting and fulfilling to watch this transformation. Thank you to Alexis for working this out.

We have both been working with Leander in the walkway and will be taking him out into the field on our next training session. He is much more relaxed once he has been haltered but he is still hiding in the corner of the pen when I halter him. So I need to work on my own handling skills to improve the experience for him and reduce his anxiety.

With William, Roger and Marmite we have been focusing on clicker training. They absolutely love it. So much so, that we are using the halter as the target with amazing results in just a few sessions. William loves clicker training so much that mid way through a session he is reacting to the clicker (which produces dopamine and serotonin in the brain) and moving straight back to the halter instead of accepting his food reward. Unless, that is, I train with apples as we did in the last (freezing) session which sends him into a frenzy. Which begs the question;

Do apples contain something other than fructose which is a stimulant??

We have also found our dream piece of land and are looking at how we can finance it. Which means lots of time spent on the phone and typing business plans and finances. If we can pull it off it will be amazing so please wish us luck.

We also met with Stephen over Christmas to talk more about the film Tommy.com would like to make about the project. Filming has been pencilled in for early March….

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Power Wood here we come

We are very busy getting ready for our first ever excursion to PowerWood.

We leave next week.

We have some clicker training activities planned as well as making tagulators.

Susie was practising target training today. She loves her pony nuts! She knew she needed to move towards the green bucket I had placed out as a target but she still liked to try just to snuffle them out of the frisbee or even the training bag where I keep the extras.

I’m thinking of taking three chickens for clicker training too….

Sometimes we just need the right language

I only went to Worcester but I could have been to the moon and back.

Marty McGee’s Advanced Camelidynamics course was very dynamic. I love her style of teaching especially how reflective of her own methods she is and how willing to share her thoughts as the course went along. I definitely recommend the course to everyone who owns alpacas or llamas. I left feeling like I had only just scratched the surface but with enough tools to explore and develop at home.

The three top things I have taken away from the course have been the following;

Clicker training! I love clicker training or marker based training. It is very effective stuff. We trained some of the Simply Alpaca alpacas to touch a target for a reward and we trained their chickens too. My only frustration since I’ve been back is that I can’t find my clicker! So I have already been online and ordered some so we can all train alpacas, chickens, geese and rabbits… oh, and I’ll have a go at training the piggies too. Apparently it is pretty much the best way to actually share a good time with animals. Can I be anymore enthusiastic?

Zoopharmacognosy! This is based on the awareness that animals (in the wild) will self medicate. Domesticated animals often don’t have access to all the herbs they may need so we can help by providing a choice of herbs or essential oils for them to chose their own medication! I’m looking forward to reading Caroline Ingrahams new book wen it comes out this summer to discover more.

Last but not at all least- The Science of Behaviour! Wow. It was like finally finding the language to describe what I already believed. The ABC principles are; A. Make the right behaviour easier, B. Behaviour is an action not a label (learn to describe it by what is happening) and C. make the right behaviour rewarding. I may take Susan Friedmans online course Living and Learning with Animals sometime this year.

Altogether a full packed learning experience that I want to do again please.