Clicker training Beau - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 11-13-2013, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Australia
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Post 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!
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post #2 of 6 Old 11-13-2013, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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day 1 ( which was actually a few days ago) but I've kept notes and will get you up to speed.

10 November 2013
Started teaching Beau target training yesterday. Click and reward, click and reward, just getting him use to the sound of the clicker meaning a reward is coming.

Day 2 he's already learning to keep his head forward to get the click and treat. So smart. Whenever he try's to poke me for treat, he doesn't get one, as soon as he looks forward or the other direction I click and treat.

13November 2013
Tried targettraining beau today, but think he's not ready yet. He didn't really reach for the target at all. I helped out a lot and touched it on his nose for him. It was a different environment than he's used to, so guessing that didn't help.
Will go back to charging the clicker till it's down pat. Should have listened to Shawna, and not rushed it. At the moment I am working with him twice a day.
NOTE - doesn't like being touched on stomach areas, tried to bite me at this. Something to definitely work at.
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post #3 of 6 Old 11-13-2013, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Australia
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14 november Day 5
Clicker training up in his paddock after having his breakfast. He seems to be most focused after eating and in his known area.
Still working on charging the clicker. Looks forward click and treat. Looks at me, no click or treat. I'm finding he likes me standing more forward closer to his head rather back at the shoulder. I'm working on that.
Trying to work on his right side as well, but having difficulty on this side. He hates me being on that side of him. Working on it slowly.
Sometimes he tries to back up, I'm trying to keep with him. Only does it on the one side.
Even though I know not to push it, I couldn't resist. Bad bad me.
I told him BACK and pointed at his chest without touching him, he did it, I clicked and treated. We went over it 3 more times. Every time he was doing it and I was clicking and treating. I'm amazed he does this.
My trainer who is only into pressure and release told me to yank on his lead, wiggle it around and push on his chest to back him up.
Hmmm, might not need to do that!
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post #4 of 6 Old 11-16-2013, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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A set back and fright today- making me second guess if what I'm doing is good or not.
Up in the paddock today just hanging out with Beau, no clicker training.
Gave him some lucerne to eat from bucket, he ate that calmly, I stood nearby watching, not interfering at all.
After woods when he had enough he walked to me, gave home a pat and he seemed enjoying it and relaxed.
I was standing next to him, leaning on the fence with my head turned the other way and he bit my arm out of the blue. I was shocked really. He gave no hint that he would do that. I gave him a quick smack on the mouth and a quick verbal.
I just stood there though because I was shocked I guess. It didn't hurt or anything but i did feel his whole mouth on my arm. When I was looking at him I noticed his sheath was fully out, like he was very relaxed. What the?....
Was he trying to get my attention, treating me like another horse what the hell went through his mind?
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post #5 of 6 Old 11-19-2013, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, so I have had a rethink the past few days. Nearly gave up on the clicker training altogether. However I now realise the bite was just him being an ordinary horse and trying to get my attention. It was my fault for not paying attention.
Anyway, time to keep trying.
One of the members here has PM me and has got me back on track. I realise I have been asking a little too much from Beau too soon.
At this stage Im just going to keep at the charging the clicker with him looking relaxed and forward looking .
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post #6 of 6 Old 11-27-2013, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Australia
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After several days considering different training methods, I decided to continue with the clicker training. I really enjoy doing it, so why not.
I spent the evening with Beau, grooming, gave him a sponge bath, took him for a walk to some nice green pasture and practised some parelli games.
I decided to end it with some more clicker charging.
What a smart horse, it has been quite a few days and he still remembers. I had him tied up this time, which was safer and he let me on his right side this time and did really well, keeping his head straight forward and soft looking.
Very encouraging to see.
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