Can you teach a horse to come when called? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Can you teach a horse to come when called?

I am currently looking to board my horse on a farm with 48 acres of pasture. The horses that were turned out could barely be seen and it looks like a loooong walk. I wouldn't mind the excercise cause I need it but I am hoping that I can train my boy to come to me if I want him to. What is the best approach? I was wondering if a dog whistle would work because I can't yell that far and a regular "gym teachers whistle" would get on everyones nerves fast. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 03:21 PM
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Dancer will come when called. Every time I went to see him I would stand at the gate and call him. At first it took forever but eventually he started to come. (sometimes the other horses would come, It sure saved me walking through mud to get him :)
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post #3 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 03:22 PM
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My horses come when called too, just because they learned to know their name. I usually only say it when I need them to move stalls, go to pasture, paddock, workouts, baths... whatever! And they are such good sports.
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post #4 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 03:27 PM
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My four horses all know their names - so did the horses I had before them - I just use their name a bunch when I'm around them (simple names - no more than two syllables or then I give them a nickname - if their registered name is too long).

I also say their name when I'm mad and yell at them, too, LOL! They will pick it up with repetition. When mine are out in the pasture, I can call out a name and that particular horse will pick up its head and look for me (the others don't care and act like they aren't listening) and if I motion with my arm for them to come, they will. That helps too, a big 'come here' arm motion. At least for my guys.

I also have a 'group' call (it works for my dogs, too!) - if I say 'HERE BOYS', they will all come galloping up. If they are crowding me and I yell 'GIT' they will all scatter and buck and acts like idiots (it's a game) but it is also their clue to back off and give me space (I feed and throw hay in flip flops all of the time) - because they are always in my business or trying to pull my ponytail or bite my shoes. My horses are very much pets, obviously!
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post #5 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 03:29 PM
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Yes, you can! We always either whistle or call the "leader's" name. (The most dominate horse's name. If he comes, the rest come, too.) We just started by doing groundwork. Every single time you go to lead them, say, "Come + the horses name" and then start walking. Eventually they will catch on and then you can start teaching them to "come" from a bit farther away each time. Then, for the whistle, we would always whistle, and then when they come, feed them or give them a treat or some kind of a reward. To start teaching them, you'll obviously want to be near them, but as they get better, put a little bit more distance between you and the horse. I'm sure you could teach them to come by any sound. This is just the way we taught our horses.

I hope this made sense! ...I'm kind of tired right now, so sorry if there are any typos or if something didn't make sense. good luck!

Strength lies within the heart but the strength to trust lies between the horse and his rider.
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post #6 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 04:27 PM
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Sure i just whistle and call his name RANGER and he comes so does all the others also
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post #7 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 04:35 PM
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Yep. Horses are very trainable for anything, even this, if you are patient. There is a story in a diary about a British officer who brought home injured horses from the Battle of Waterloo. They were, of course, trained to rally to the bugle, and after they healed in their retirement, he would often observe them running to rally up to the top of the hill on his estate, just as they did in the war.
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post #8 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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But, how is the best way to train in the beginning? I don't think he could hear me if I yelled his name and even if he did hear me he is not trained for that. That's why I was wondering about a whistle or something. Does anyone know if a horse can hear a dog whistle?
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post #9 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 06:26 PM
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I my horses came on a whistle. Had to be the same whistle every time. I used food... just like with a dog.. well.. sort of.

It started in a small pen with a bucket of grain. Horse is on far side of pen, I would whistle and rattle the grain bucket. Horse came. Because they associate the whistle with something good (getting grain) they very quickly learned to come when I whistled. Every time I went out to the barn or pasture, I would whistle and feed (always had carrots etc on me). You can start this by going to the horse, whistling and feeding a treat.. but eventually you have to up the ante so the horse has to come to you (even if it is only a single step at first).

Another secret is to catch the horse using the whistle but NOT always ride him. Call him up and feed, pat him and walk away. If you whistle him up and work him every time he will catch on quick and go the other way when you whistle.

A little Story now about this.

Back during the Great Depression my Dad was a young boy (born in 1922). He worked at Bradwells livery stable outside of Albany, NY. Dad was only around 9 years old. He had a pony he won in a contest there (yes.. such things really did happen back then LOL).

Every day he came to the stable he had carrots with him and he always gave carrots to this horse (a big chestnut) named "Jim Dandy." It got to the point where this horse would do ANYTHING to get to my Father.. including ignoring whoever had rented him or who was taking a lesson on him.. and going to my Dad. It got to the point where the proprietor of the place could not have the horse rented when my Dad came to the stable.. because jim would raise a ruckus with his rider to come to my Dad.

All for some carrots offered consistantly by a kid..

(I have lots of stories from my Dad about Bradwell's.. the proprietor of the place had been an cavalry officer.. for real).

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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post #10 of 26 Old 08-05-2012, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by clippityclop View Post
I just use their name a bunch when I'm around them (simple names - no more than two syllables or then I give them a nickname - if their registered name is too long).
Hehe - I find this hilarious, my horses and all the rescues all know their names and All know who's the one getting yelled at regardless of what we call them. My mare's name is Irish Tank. I call her everything from 'Mrs. Tanker Truck" "wide load" "Mrs. Fat bum" her newest is "Mrs. inside out panda" cause she's fading around her eyes xD even Sometimes even "Momma bear" it is truly the spirit behind the name, She ALWAYS knows when I'm talking to her. When she paws the fence even when I yell from the big barn (across a herd of other horses) "knock it off chunker!" she immediately stops. I think it has to do with the guilty conscience too xD really I find they need simple names So I don't forget - not them :P

As for the OP coming when called. Yes! Practice standing at the gate and when they come to you do something nice for them! Don't make it so that every time they come they have to work, sometimes do it just to give them a really good scratching or grooming them in the field or just to give them a mooshy nose kiss :P That way they never knows know and always want to come see if you might be calling them for something good!
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