Welcome to the Cardinal Points Farm blog !

Dear friends and fellow animal lovers, here it is ... a blog to discuss training.

My specialty is horse training and dressage, but I’ve applied to my horses many invaluable lessons from other animal trainers. Together we can create a greater awareness of the unlimited potential for greatness that your animals (and you) possess, once you acknowledge that many animal species are intelligent and capable of reasoning and communication.

So let’s get started ! Let's share insights, lesson plans, techniques, videos, pics, stories ... what have you.


Sian Min The
Cardinal Points Farm

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Coping with thunder, and other boogeymen

Here's an article I wrote last year for a dog forum. Event though this is about my dog, Bosco, I use the same technique to help my horse cope with scary stuff (and you know in the equine world, there's SO much of that).

An explation of my vocal cues: the sound "X" reinforces of a behavior. For more on this technique, send me an e-mail, or leave a comment.

End of June 2008: Bosco is terrified of thunder. It doesn't have to be loud, and it can be very distant rumblings, for her to tremble so hard to make her chair rattle. It's pitiful. I always feel sorry for her.
Then, I realized that by feeling pity it confirmed her suspicions that thunder is a BAD thing.

Sunday's storm: she had been cowering and trembling for a while. Then I said "ready ? here comes thunder" ... BOOM ... "that is thunder, X!" BIG smile from me. I did that about 3 times to name the thunder sound. She does her all-over-body tremble.

Then I said "at the next thunder, easy right shoulder" ... (lightning flash) ..."are you ready?" ... BOOM ..."thunder, right shoulder easy (CR by massaging her right shoulder), X! (when the right shoulder stops trembling).

"At the next thunder, easy right shoulder, then easy right hind" ... BOOM ... (again CR on her right shoulder and also right hind, and TB the minute she stops trembling for an instant).

As the storm progressed (and it was a long one), she got the idea. Then I had to start dinner, so I couldn't massage her with every thunderclap. I just had to say "ready? here comes thunder ...BOOM... is your right shoulder easy? X ! is your right hind easy ? X!"

She got some beef gristle when her relaxation was particularly good, and I made a big deal of it.

Eventually, she rested her chin on her front paws, and closed her eyes. No more trembling, even as the storm raged on for a while longer.

That was the first time I truly felt she succeeded in conquering the thunderboogeyman.

July 24, 2008 update: There have been few thunderstorms since the above , but with hurricane Dolly making landfall (thankfully way south of us) we had some thunderstorms. Bosco dealt with these on her own. I did not intervene, because I didn’t have to: most of the time while the storm raged, she slept.
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