Lightning training update

August 31, 2010 | Marilyn Johnson

Well it looks like our newest keeper, Sarah, has officially become Lightning’s new primary trainer! The three of us (Sarah, Lightning and I) took several walks together over the last few weeks to get her transitioned and for Lightning to learn that she is now one of his trainers. Lightning has made great strides with his behaviors recently, including doing things that he would never do before. One of these things is walking over unfamiliar objects or substrates. For instance, he will walk on stonedust, concrete and grass…. but he has always refused to walk on things like pothole covers, mats, bricks or wood slats. Gradually, we have taught him that these things are OK to walk on, and he will now actually search out pothole covers so that he can get treated for walking on them!  Just recently we got him comfortable with a red mat, but we are still working on bricks and wood slats (that being the boardwalk over the wetland).

Some of his other behaviors are target, come, stop, heal and stay. Just recently he learned to “show hoof”, which means he lifts the desired hoof when we want to clean it. His hooves get cleaned daily, but it has often been a struggle with him over the years. Sometimes he wants to have nothing to do with it, and he gives the keepers problems. However, recently he has improved immensely, and now it is quite easy to clean his hooves! His newest behavior is “go home”, which I also recently taught to Chummix. This means Lightning goes into his stall. It’s not a behavior that he is excited about, but he will still do it!

Now that Sarah is the primary trainer for Lightning, it’s time for her to “take over the reigns” and teach him more new things herself.  I will remain his secondary trainer, and of course will help Sarah out whenever she needs an extra hand with training.

You may start seeing some different kinds of posts from me in the near future. I am going to try and start giving very short updates on my training sessions with Chummix. The posts are meant to be a short overview of our sessions. Let me know if you have questions about any of my future training posts!

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