Getting to come at a.... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-31-2012, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: On 38 acers in Colorado
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Getting to come at a....

So in the past I worked at a little farm and the neighbor next store had about 5 horses. When it was later in the after noon you could hear a wistle and all the horses came galloping back from the pasture. I thought it was the neatest thing (and thought of the movie "Spirit" and how the horse Rain came to the Indian guy...) I would ride a horse up to the fence and mimic the wistle, just to see if the horses did the same. And just as i suspected they went galloping back to the house.

Now here is my question - How can I train my horse to come to a call or wistle?

When ever I come in to his pasture I wistle and call but this doesnt seem to be taking effect. Also I dont want him to just come to me because he thinks I have treats... Any help/advice?

(P.S. sorry if this is in the wrong spot... I went to training and say Natural Horsemanship and saw this as more of a bonding question I guess...)
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-01-2012, 12:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: The Bluegrass State
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I've never done this, so I'm not sure if this will work :p

First I'd get your horse respecting/trusting you to the point where you can get your horse to follow you by just sticking a halter on. Not touching it except for that, except maybe to get them to stop eating ;) I would walk away at a fast pace so that you are at a spot where your horse has to catch up. They don't have to trot. I'd get far enough away, whistle, and when your horse gets to you, give him a treat. Do this a few times each day.

Routine sounds smart here too. Once you get him to the point where you can just stand in the pasture with him, whistle, and he comes, start doing this every night at a certain time when you bring him into the barn.

Again, I can't even whistle, so no clue if this works :p Just my thoughts! Makes sense to me!
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-01-2012, 12:38 PM
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Consistency. I work with 40 horses broken up into 7 herds and they all come when you call. We only call them at feeding time. When they seem to "forget" (ie ignore us), I grab a bucket of grain, shake it loudly and call them. Individually they wil not respond to the call but they do as a group. You don't want to call them unless something good is happening so that way they associate whatever the good thing is with being called.

When starting, just call and entice ONE horse to move its feet and the rest will come!
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-06-2012, 07:54 AM
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With Scout, coming to a whistle just sort of happened; it's more like if he sees me coming he makes his way to the gate (big walk/jog), and if he's too busy grazing to see me coming, I whistle, and he comes faster (brisk trot/lope) like he's upset that he didn't see me first, lol. I don't think I've had to walk out into the pasture to catch him since the first week I had him.

I'd say that it comes down to how your horse sees you; horses want to be near their herd leaders - that's a place of safety, etc. Having a solid foundation of general respect in groundwork and riding goes a long way toward establishing that perception of you in the horse.

Consistency is important, too. I bring mine in and feed them at 4 in the afternoon, and it doesn't take long for them to set their internal food-clocks to start looking for me at about that time anyway. I use the same whistle every time; I start with a low pitch, run up high, and back low, but as long as your horse can hear it, and it's consistent enough that he can associate it with you, it doesn't matter. Do my guys associate it with food? Probably, but they don't always get fed when I catch them. Sometimes they get groomed, sometimes we go for a ride, sometimes they just get to come in and stand in the shade in the barn (we unfortunately don't have much shade cover in the pasture).

Something else to keep in mind is that some horses are just so aloof that they aren't going to come at a whistle like that. Scout's a big baby, and loves nothing more than to be messed with and loved on. His "brother" Rio, on the other hand, is much more aloof in general, and will look up from his grazing and acknowledge my presence at the gate, and then put his head right back down and wait for me to come and get him.

Good luck!
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-08-2012, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by JazzyGirl View Post
Now here is my question - How can I train my horse to come to a call or wistle?

When ever I come in to his pasture I wistle and call but this doesnt seem to be taking effect. Also I dont want him to just come to me because he thinks I have treats... Any help/advice?
My horses come to me at a specific whistle, but I almost always give them a treat for it. Looking at it from the horse's point of view they have to have a really good reason to come to you. If they have other horsey companions to hang out with, they will generally prefer the company of the herd to the company of a human. I've seen a few people who have that fantastic bond that their horse would just rather be with them than in pasture with other horses, but that takes a huge amount of time and really knowing how to be around a horse. Food incentive isn't bribery, it just makes you a lot more appealing to your horse.

With my boys, if they are close range and I want them to come, I don't whistle, I just give them the "get your bottom over here" look and they don't usually get cookies for that, but if they are out in pasture and I want them at the barn, I whistle and treat or feed them for coming, or if they are at the barn and I want to turn them into pasture I whistle, and going on pasture is their treat. I use the whistle for getting them from a long distance.

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post #6 of 9 Old 04-08-2012, 10:45 AM
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Treats or feeding is what does it. After all, realistically why else would a horse want to come from a nice pasture?

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-08-2012, 10:50 AM
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It's as simple as building a positive association for the horse between the whistle and coming to you --- simply put, food; more specifically, high value treats/rewards. Start right at the horse - whistle, treat. Move a short distance away - whistle, treat. As the horse makes the association between coming to you when they hear the sound and getting the treat you can continue to extend the distance and will reach the point of wherever they are when they hear the call they will come.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-15-2012, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: On 38 acers in Colorado
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Thank all of you for the help! Ive got him to perk up and look around when I whistle and I pat my leg and say "Come Here Cowboy" and he will take steps to me(: Hes doing really well. Ill try some of the things you all have suggested(:

That girl is a Cowboy.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-15-2012, 12:35 AM
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My horses come running every time I go out to visit them. They know that I feed them when I'm out there. LoL. That's all the incentive they need.

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

-Samuel Butler
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