Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 84 - 6 days and counting

I am exhausted!  Marley was a very good boy under saddle today.  We had some trouble with our turn on the haunches, which normally isn't a really big deal but I think Marley was getting confused.  I left it alone for a while and came back to it, and when we got a few good steps I left it at that.  At this point, I don't think I am going to try to make any forward progress with our training under saddle even though we aren't where we should be, rather I will work on what we have to refine it the best I can. 

After a good ride I worked on Marley's "down" behavior again.  I don't know if I'll be able to use it or not at the EMM, but it's still really fun to train, and I'll hopefully have him for longer than another week.  He went down several times on cue, and rolled twice off cue, but I gave him a "jackpot" (the rest of my carrots) when I gave him the cue and he immediately put his head down and dropped to the ground.  It was his best approximation yet, and now that he is laying down, I will have to shape it so that he knows that if it is cued, he doesn't roll, and he stays down until I ask him to stand up.  Not sure how long that will take as shaping usually takes longer than simply catching a behavior and rewarding it (this simply increases the frequency of the behavior). 

Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Can it please be the 13th?  I just want this to be over.  It's hard to not look at other trainer's blogs and progress reports, and each blog update I write is harder and harder as the event gets closer.  I can't believe how quickly 90 days goes, but one thing I am thankful for is that before EMM I never would have thought that in 90 days I could do what Marley and I have done, regardless of how we measure up to any of the other horses and trainers.  My goal was to have a sound, safe horse by the end of the 90 days, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of positive reinforcement training.  I never thought we would would/could get as far as we have because I had never seen any of the Extreme Mustang Makeovers in the past. 

Going into this blind was actually a huge blessing because I didn't have expectations going in that I find myself fighting with as we near the end, now that I know what trainers are capable of accomplishing with their horses.  If anything, I think it really does go to show that with some knowledge, patience, and an open mind, anyone can do this.  You don't have to be some big time trainer to make it work, and I think that's what this whole thing is about anyway.  These horses need good homes and so many of them will live out their lives in holding for no good reason.  Not one horse I have seen in this has walked onto the trailer looking like anything extraordinary, but now I don't think anyone would argue that every single one of them is.  It's really cool, and I would absolutely do it again.


  1. Beautiful Post, Lauren...drove a little tear..It is for young women and men like you to bring the meaning and sensitivities back to our horse events and THIS one especially...THEY ALL SHINE...

  2. I know how you feel Lauren! I get a little insecure about how well the other trainers are doing too. But take heart, you're miles ahead of where my horse and I are! I'm not even sure how much I'm going to be able to ride him!