Im really interested in natural horsemanship- the seven games and all that. Me and my horse do have a very strong bond(shes a very loving horse) but I was wondering if natural horsemanship is the tool for things such as asking them to lie down, or to sit, or to beg with out force. I really want to learn how to train a horse such things so any info or suggestions! Much appreciated!
Natural horsemanship is a pleasant solution to trick training, yes. My horse knows how to sit, to lie down, to roll over on command, to let me sit on his back and stand up after lying, to march, to rear (on ground only), to carry an object and give it to me, to back up from tail, and I taught him all that using only NH methods (and, no, not clicker training). I've got some more in mind to teach him, let's see how it goes. :)
However, tricks cannot be taught separately, the horse has to respect you and be willing, and that comes from refining all the basics really well.
Anyhow, any tools and methods are soft if used softly and with knowledge. And vice versa.
Thats excactly what I want to do with my horses! How do you know if you are ready to start teaching them tricks like that? And HOW do you?:) I know it may sounds silly but the main reason I want to learn how to do these tricks is to see how closely I can get to myhorses and to earn as much trust as possible:) also to have a bit of fun!
It is simply great, teaches both basics and more advanced options when it comes to tricks. :) It has inspired me greatly.
I think that a horse is ready to learn a trick or to, when he has perfect ground manners, is respectful and understands the 7 games, which I find a good starting point in teaching most horses. However, I don't just follow them blindly, but use my own experience and ideas, which tell me what fits my horse best.
For example, I noticed that my horse enjoys mouthing different objects, so one day I let him mouth my crop, then gently suggested him to take it (just like a horse would take a bit) and added a vocal cue ( "Hold!" ) and the instant he took it and held it I praised him. Now he holds it easily and will follow me, still holding it in mouth, and gives it back on cue "Give".
Sitting comes after being able to lie down easily, to be able to lie down on side and on chest, to push out front legs by command, to be lied down again on the side whenever I ask with a soft touch, and to lie for extended amounts of time, not just a few seconds. When my horse was good at that, I asked him to extend his front legs and then rise slowly in a sitting position, still listening to me and not getting up completely. It took some time, but he has finally started doing it quite well.
However, you should be careful and start with simple tricks, and, if you don't have much experience, don't rush to lying down, sitting, pawing, rearing, and such. These tricks may be dangerous if the horse misplaces his body even unintentionally and hurts you, and they can also teach him bad habits, ir the skill level is not sufficient to keep the horse respectful and attentive.
I like your description of 'natural horsemanship' as a 'tool' ... there are certainly some 'tools' that practice NH! But as IMO the principles of it at least are synonymous with good training, yes, it's a great 'tool' for whatever you want to teach!
'NH' just seems to be an almost all encompassing lable IMO, generally, but not always, for good training. So it's rather ambiguous & to a degree meaningless IMO, So saying, this is what I believe it should mean & what it means to the 'good' players IMO...
It's about understanding the horse & their natural behaviour & way of thinking, first & foremost & finding ways to work *with* them rather than just on them. It is learning how to relate to them in a considerate manner & being respectFUL to your horse & his 'horsiness'. It is about consistent & clear training & timely reinforcement with little punishment.
Many 'NH' people, as with the rest of the horse world, use virtually all negative reinforcement - release of pressure/removal of unpleasant stimulus in order to strengthen a behaviour. Many others, such as 'clicker training' that uses predominently(or occasionally solely) positive reinforcement - reward, Good Stuff given at the time of a desireable behaviour, to strengthen it. I personally use a mix. I think it's important to learn the principles behind effective behavioural training and then you'll know when & how certain reinforcement can be applied.
You can google 'clicker training' & learn a fair bit online. You can get a great little inexpensive, easy to understand book called 'Don't Shoot The Dog' - which is not about dogs as such, but the principles of training & reinforcement relevant for any species... yes, even cats, but more surprising, husbands & teenage kids too!
Thanks for the advice! I shall happily check them all out! As danger goes-i have the bond with my horse to know when she is being dangerous(never really) and getting there with her 11 month old foal, he is so dopey he will probs be easier than his mum :P my older horse however is definitely smarter than most horses so will that make it easier? Pictures on how the tricks should look would be great!
Another thing, does it matter how I use my body language and voice to give a command? Or can I use any body language and words? Thanks guys!
Well, mine is very smart, too. That means he understands everything very quickly and anything gets boring for him fast, so I have to vary what I teach him and it has to be interesting, otherwise he starts playing against me, not with me, lol. He is a dominant horse, not a follower, that's for sure. Dominant and leading horses always have to get better reasons to do something, the following kind - not so much, they need more reassurment and safety.
And YES, body language is the most important thing in this all - horses read our bodies and our intentions, not the words we say! If one wants precision from a horse, then one has to be precise and subtle in his body language, too. Vocal cues are just something that comes in handy with trick training, but the core is in body language.
Yeah I would class the jolie(the older one) as a follower and she is pretty good at trying new things when with me(shows trust) and I think she would enjoy tricks:) kody(the 11month old on) on the other hand is more laid back but quite dominant as in if he don't want to do something it takes a lot of persuading!
So how would I ask my horse to do a trick first time? (the older horse, and preferably the easiest tricks) can I reward with food for the first few times?
I guess I wouldn't be teaching any tricks to 11 month old foals, they need their mind occupied with much clearer things - leading, good manners, picking up legs, grooming, maybe a small ponied hack or two. As for your mare - well, asking for tricks is just like training any other element. Start with baby steps, reward for the slightest effort, don't go big the first times - the horse might need some time to grasp the concept. I usually don't use food as a reward, because my horse is prone to nipping, but, if you do, use only very small treats, so that the horse keeps his mind on what he has to do.
Do you have a large car tire, filled with sand, or a very sturdy box, stool, or maybe a rock? You can teach her to put a leg on it and to stand on it. Lead her to the object and show her with body language to keep going, as in climbing into a trailer. Block her if she tries to evade and ask again. Be patient and positive, and I really suggest that you learn some basic NH methods - as I said before, tricks are nothing separate, you will need to know how to correctly ask and block. At first you can praise her for even sniffing the object, then go further to asking her to put on it just one leg, and step by step you will be able to make her stand on the object with any of the legs or all 4 of them.
Be sure that the object you ask her to climb on is sturdy enough to hold her weight and safe.