Clicker training Beau
A little about me. I am a 36 year old mother of two teenage girls. One is horse obsessed and one not. When I was about 15 yrs old I was given my first horse as a birthday gift from my older sister. I knew absolutely nothing about keeping a horse, caring for its health, not to mention riding it. Nobody in the family thought anything of it though, as my aunty had kept horses since she was 11 and my dad knew a little to get by.
It was just expected that I would know what to do and the theory was just get on and ride! No lessons, just work it out.
Ha, needless to say that horse - a 16 year old TB by the name of Billy,ran rings around me. I couldn't understand at the time why he .used to try and bite me every time I did up the front neck strap on his rug, why he would bolt for his pen every time we turned at the end of the paddock to face home, why he bucked me off once when he tried to get home instead of going in another direction. All I knew is that I was pretending to be a great horse person, when really I was absolutely uneducated, and therefore scared stiff! Billy was the boss of me.
At 15 years old and with no references like the internet and no trainers nearby, I did that horse a total injustice. I thought he was bad and mean. Looking back I realise it was me who was bad and mean. It was me doing all the wrong things, making all the mistakes, me who needed the education.
As you can imagine it took not so long to resent my horse. I lost interest and didn't want to spend time with him out of fear. My mother eventually told me to let him go to a better home, where he would be used for handicapped children to ride on a lead line. I was happy with that and let him go.
Years later I found out he ended up at the doggers, not long after he was given away. When I think of how that could have been avoided- with all the 'if only I knew what I know now' it breaks my heart in two.
I'm sorry Billy. I'm so, so sorry. You were right, I was wrong. You did nothing wrong. It was all me. I can never make it up to you, but I can promise never to make the same mistake.
I promise to become educated, a leader, a great rider, to stop thinking like a stupid human and to never give up trying. A friend for life.
This I do for your memory. Rest in peace.
A little about Beau- I purchased Beau 3 weeks ago. He is a lovely 8 year old, 15.3hh standard bred ex pacer who was retired from racing due to being over worked and got a stiff stifle for his efforts. He has won his ex owners over $300,000 and was swiftly booted away when his body could no longer take the workload.
I purchased him from a center that saves and reeducates standard breeds to trot instead of pace and gets them use to the saddle.. I fell in love with him immediately. He is calm, quiet and a softy at heart. Due to his stifle issue, he can only be ridden lightly twice a week for trail riding and light trotting. Exactly all my daughter and I need.
Already seen that he's not scared of cars, motorbikes, other horses or cows.
The first two weeks Beau settled into his new home out in a large pasture. He has horse friends nearby, but unfortunately is on his own. It took about a week and a half for him to settle down and not run towards the other horses he could see, but now he's calm and content grazing on his own. When my daughter is fully educated, we will introduce a friend for him as I can't handle two horses while I'm still learning myself.
The start of week 3 we hired a trainer. She is teaching us how to show him ground manners and being the leader. Within 2 minutes Beau no longer drags me to the grass to eat. I'm the boss, that's not acceptable and he knows not to do it anymore. If he even thinks about it, I'm onto him before he gets a chance!
Step one of being a leader.
I've also learnt to push him hard in the side if he walks into me or too close. He's getting the idea.
My daughter has taken her first riding lesson. Apparently she has a great seat, learns fast and had that horse doing everything she wanted. Left, right, one rein stops, backing up and the start of trotting. Our trainer says she's a natural and will be off out and about within weeks if she keeps it up. I was amazed, this horse knew she was boss.
My turn riding next week, her turn ground manners. I'm sure I'm not going to be so quick on the uptake as her, lol.
Okay- clicker training. My hero is Shawna Karrasch. I solidly believe in clicker training and it's something I really want to do. I also believe in pressure and release. I believe both methods should be used. I've studied and studied and believe to gain respect and leadership to communicate with your horse you need to act and think like another horse. Horses use pressure and release with other horses all the time.
I want to use the clicker training as fun time, learning time and bonding time.
That's how I see it. I also believe clicker training can train horses anything you want from them without the pressure and release techniques, However, you need those techniques in the start to affirm your spot as the leader.
This is going to be my journal of my clicker training progress with Beau, starting with day 1.
I hope those interested will have fun reading my progress and all it's ups and downs. All that I have learnt and will learn, will be from Shawna's videos and books and internet sites of other clicker trainers. Living in South Australia, we don't have many clicker trainers to get help from. An internet search showed one listing and they live miles away.
It would be my dream to have a fully clicker trained horse, to take out to public and show and spread the word!