Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hatchet (wo)man

I got a hatchet today! I took my most faithful steed (Champ) out into the woods and chopped down some trees. All that trail clearing yesterday really inspired me to fix a few more problems. I took out a couple of elm saplings that were almost in the way of our trails. Chopping down elms doesn't bother me one bit because they're just going to die of the Dutch Elm Disease anyway. I trimmed a few limbs off of some oak trees - I'm much kinder to oaks because they'll hopefully outlive me! And I bushwhacked a bit and made a new steep trail up a hill - the old steep trail is slowly eroding away and it gives T the heebie jeebies. I don't think she'll like the new trail much better but c'est la vie!

I rode Champ in a halter again. When did I become the person who just goes hacking out in a halter? It's not even a rope halter; it's a nice padded nylon halter. No control whatsoever. I think I just finally realized that my battles - wait, no, they're not even that eventful - my skirmishes with Champ are mental, not physical. And the halter sure is easier to do trail maintenance with. Unclip the rein, tie him to a tree, chop down a different tree.

Spring is here, by the way. I trimmed hooves when I got back from killing trees. Silky's feet were fairly long - maybe 1/4" all around - so she got nippered back. She was pretty good, considering how creaky and skittish she is. One of her frogs, the RF, is all tattered and gunky looking, but she was not going to let me pick it out and look at it. After she snatched her hoof away twice, I promised to leave the frog alone if she'd let me trim the walls. I'll keep an eye on that foot.

Dixie came up to beg for more grain while I was trimming Silky, so she was my second victim. Her feet are still a little odd, but not nearly as bad as they were when I got her. Dixie was Not Keen on letting me mess with her feet, but she acted way better than in the past. A little flare on the outsides of her fronts, and a little too much toe, but overall very nice. I think I'll take some pictures tomorrow to compare with a year ago - she's come a long way. Horses are amazingly resilient creatures.

Oh, and a Cersei update! Cersei doesn't actually have toenails, she has ROCKS growing out of her pads. I keep dulling my cheap nail trimmers on them, so I invested in (warning: annoying link!) a as-seen-on-tv PetiPaws for her. It's a low-speed battery powered dremel with a guard. It makes a quite moderate buzzing sound. She thinks it's the Chainsaw of Death coming to chop off her feet. Sigh.

This seemed like a good opportunity to do something useful (as opposed to just FUN) with clicker training. I use high quality kibble for her standard treat, and I've got some rendered duck skin bits for the jackpot treats. She'll target the Deadly Toe Devourer for just kibble while it's off, but it takes duck skin for her to touch it while it's on. I worked with her for about 30 minutes and got her to let me touch her feet with the Buzzing Swarm of Bees, as well as let me hold her paw in my hand. It was good progress and I think she'll come around.


  1. Did you read the book 'Don't Shoot the Dog!'??? I've only ever heard the term 'jackpot' in terms of treating in there. LOL

  2. You know, I've still never read that! I know that's where the term comes from - Karen Pryor is the person who made clicker training so famous - but I've just never gotten around to it. I ought to see if the library has it.

    I read a lot of clicker sites online, but the only clicker book I've actually read is Kurland's The Click that Teaches. One of my favorite sites, the one that I learned a lot from, was Clicker Solutions.

  3. I don't do any clicker training with my dogs. I have tried on occasion, but it just doesn't come naturally to me. I do use well-timed verbal "yes" and "ahah" markers when I am training, though, and they all respond to that. I am thinking of trying some clicker stuff with the horses though. Do you do that?

    I have never used a dremel-type nail tool, but I do have a very nice pair of clippers that I won in the raffle at a flyball tournament. They never get dull and the edge is very nimble so that I can really shape the claws. Titan chews his own claws down to a comfortable length -- I have never known a dog to do that before.

  4. I am impressed with your youthful back! If I went trail blazing and then did the hooves...would be out for a week!
    I am trail blazing with you funny too, cause I think of you as I toss limbs and crack brantches for markers. going to make sure to change my bridle today to the halter one with detachable bit..and take rope!
    Okay Fund...I would like to bestow some awards and a fun the 5 addictions questing of you...come over to my place ans if you want or not..I was jsut thinkin of YA!

  5. Well, Labs are truly natural animals to clicker train. Food? Plus attention? BEST GAME EVER!

    I did clicker train Poppy to do some basic tricks. He will target, put his nose on the ground, do "carrot stretches", spin his hindquarters away from me, and (annoyingly but cutely) paw. It's a LOT of fun for a horse that can't be worked heavily. Good treats for horses are harder to find - I often use Frosted Mini-Wheats.

    My friend Sara has done a lot of clicker work with her horse Peanut. I'm pretty sure she'd be happy to post about it if you asked.

    Oooh, Kacy, I'll come check it out!

  6. Ah! Does your PediPaws actually work at all? Because I got one for Christmas and it SUCKS. Doesn't do a damn thing!

    And yay for trimming! Do you have pictures? I did Gogo on Monday and I got a few but I never seem to actually get any nice ones... sigh.


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