Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Phillipsburg Ohio
My mare does about 40 different behaviours on command. This is my experience with it.
First some horses enjoy trick and some do not- my trick mare is extremely smart, but very strongly opinionated. She is extremely food motivated, but demands correct handling at all times or she will walk all over you. She also tends to volunteer "guesses" when learning a new trick. This makes her easy to train, but means I cannot teach her anything I am not prepared to have her offer on her own at any time- more on this in a moment.
First, teach the horse how to learn. I use clicker training principles, but I don't use an actual clicker. I cluck my tongue and say "yes". The first 2-3 lessons are boring for the human. Click, then hand a treat. Do it over and over. 10-20 times a day then leave, and repeat tomorrow. This teaches that the click noise means a treat is coming.
Next step is to "capture" a behavior. Pick something your horse is already doing, say the command or touch the spot that will be the command, then click and treat while they are doing it. The first is the hardest- once they make the "lightbulb" connection between I do something and then you click, they will begin to be easy to shape.
How I taught these:
*Lay down- I taught it first from the bow. I kept that foot up, and kept rocking her back and her withers toward me. pull withers toward you, so legs end up away. took some sweat and struggles the first time. massive cookie overload when she finally went down. Took about 4 days before we could stop using the rope. I have since also taught her to lay down from a kneel.
*roll-get good and sweaty- lay down, then command roll, when she does it anyway, click treat. this can be dicey if you want a lay down that will let you climb on, or if you want lay down in tack- mare likes to jump to roll on her own when she is hot and itchy.
* bow on 3 legs- it helps to hobble train first. horse must not be upset by foot being restrained, or by ropes. 2 cotton lead ropes- one goes around her neck and just in front of the shoulder groove. The other attaches to a single hobble on one foot. first i teach "foot", for lift and hold the foot up by the hobble. You can use a saddle horn to wrap rope around, but do not tie. You must be able to release if the horse panics. With the foot up, we use the neck rope to rock the horse back. click treat any give in the right direction at all. took about 2 days for my mare to go all the way to the knee.
easy one- bring out something that smells strongly- an essential oil or ammonia works well. Let horse sniff while you say smile. They will do the smile because of the smell. click, treat repeat. this one took my mare about an hour
I don't like kiss- I don't want her face in my face. You teach kiss the same as you teach targeting. The first thing I taught my mare was "touch". It means your touch whatever I point at with your nose. That translated to kiss (point at your face), soccer (point at ball) and is great for liberty- I can send her to any spot by putting a target there. I taught touch with a shiny piece of posterboard. She sniffed to investigate, I click treat-repeat.
stand at her left shoulder facing forward. offer a treat with your left hand. start with it under her nose, gradually move farther back until she is hugging with her neck. again, say the word, click, treat repeat. I don't like the hug with a leg around you, but it is taught similar to wave.
* back when I'm standing behind him- the way i'm picturing this isn't safe- could you explain more what you mean?
*rear- i do not train rear. it can be done safely, but my mare volunteers too much for it.
Hope that helps some- I agree, watching videos is easier than reading. You can train virtually anything pretty fast with a clicker once you get to the lightbulb moment. teaching them how to learn is the hard part.
I've found very few people are scary once they've been poked in the eye...~Bones
Last edited by wingsinmoonlight; 10-31-2012 at 02:14 AM.