Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Clicker Training for Sheath Cleaning

The pony that has recently come to stay here for a while, is pretty dirty in the sheath area. I take my time with new horses and don't try to rush into things, so we're just now getting around to addressing the sheath cleaning.

The other day when he was in the round pen, I took a picture when he was slightly dropped, to use as a baseline for reference. He is very scaley and loaded with "stuff". Not much gunk because it's not sticky, it's pretty hard. With the light (and mottled) skin, I worry about something being cancerous.

It must be very uncomfortable for him.

This afternoon, I had nothing on the calender, so decided to *do* nothing. I put him in a small corral and took a book and chair to sit and read. I figured I could click him if and when he dropped. No pressure. Nothing asked. That would be a start to sheath cleaning.

Well, in watching him, I didn't get much reading done. It's hard to read and watch for the slightest try in dropping. Impatient, that's me.

I thought about it, thought about the mechanics, and decided that if I put some lubricant inside the sheath, that would at least help with loosening up some of the scaley stuff, even if he didn't drop. As I put my hand in, I was able to touch him, and clicked. He's pretty smart, and I think he made a connection.

I didn't want to stand with my hand inside of the sheath (neighborhood kids and all....), so I figured if I just put my hand on the sheath, on the outside, I would be able to feel if he was dropping at the slightest, and click that.

Yes, that's all it took for him. He got the idea, and dropped more and more each time.

I got some pictures for a baseline. I added more lubricant to soften the scaley stuff, and altho the whole procedure only took a few minutes, and we didn't *do* any purposeful cleaning, he looks a little cleaner. Not clean by any standards, but better than he was.

As I said, I don't hurry through these things, so it'll wait til the next opportunity.