Fun Friday: Teach your horse to Pick Up items

One of the most fun tricks I ever taught Kyra is to pick up items. It is very versatile too because once your horse can pick up stuff, you can teach them to hand it over. Kyra can now pick up and hand over a flower, her food bowl, my clicker, a dog toy, a whip and anything else she can grab with her teeth._trick_training_play_fetch_hippologic

How to start

I started with something really easy to pick up for Kyra: a piece of cloth. In the beginning Kyra didn’t know what to do with it, so I knotted a carrot in it. That stimulated her interest. I clicked and reinforced for small steps like touching and sniffing the cloth, then examining it with her lips and after a while she tried to grab it with her teeth. Yeey: jackpot! This took a lot of sessions, to be honest. From this early start I developed a clear strategy to set horses and people up for success if they want to train their horse to pick up items, so that they don’t have to get stuck in this part of training.

Putting a cue on the behaviour

Once Kyra understood this new trick, she wanted to grab everything off of the ground. That is the reason I started with an item that was easy to distinguish: the cloth. The cloth itself became part of her ‘cue’. I didn’t want her to grab my brushes or other day-to-day items. What did happen, so that’s why it’s important to know when you can start adding a cue (a ‘final’ cue) to the new behaviour. Once she learned what to do with the cloth I added my final cue to it, the verbal command ‘Pick up‘ with a pointing finger to the object I want her to pick up. After Kyra learned the cue I started teaching her to pick up other items. I bought a dog rope toy that is safe and easy to grab. I wish this would have been my training object.

Shaping the behaviour further

Later on I practised with her empty food bowl, my gloves in winter, her halter, the lead rope and so on. It turned out that it is a very versatile exercise. Then I raised my criteria and I threw the item a step away. Now I only clicked and reinforced after picking up the item that was one step away. The next criterion was to move towards me one step with the item in her mouth. Then I taught her to hold the item until I could grab it. In this way she learned to put it in my hand instead of dropping it in front of me.

Play fetch with your horse

Now Kyra can fetch an item that I have thrown several meters away and bring it back to me. One day I asked her to pick up her toy while sitting on her back. She did it!  I use a treeless saddle, so I have to use a mounting block to get in the saddle.Wow, now I don’t have to dismount anymore whenever I drop something from the saddle. Bonus! This week I stumbled upon a lovely video of a horse that picked up three rubber rings and put them on a cone. I don’t have rubber rings, but I asked Kyra to put her toy in a bucket. That was fun too. Here are the videos of Kyra’s tricks. Video 1: Kyra playing fetch from the saddle Video 2: Kyra giving me flowers (that would be a nice trick to perform one day) Video 3: Kyra putting her toy in a bucket Video 4: Kyra handing over her food bowl after eating If you like the videos go to YouTube and subscribe to my channel so you won’t miss new clicker videos. HippoLogic Clicker Challenge October 2019: Teach Your Horse to Pick Up Items Impress your friends with your smart horse Join the Clicker Training Academy if you want to improve your clicker skills What is the HippoLogic CTA? It’s an online place where you can learn to train every behaviour you have in mind with R+. We have a small, all-inclusive community in which students can thrive and develop.
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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
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Fun Friday: Easy Tricks & Tips for Fun

Get out of your normal routine and do something new and exciting with your horse this weekend. Here are some tips and tricks you can do.

One day tricks

If your horse is already clicker savvy and knows basic behaviours like leading, standing still, targeting, follow a target, mat training and backing it is very easy to teach one of these simple tricks.

Clicker trained horses are very eager to learn new things because in their experience there is a lot of good things (clicks and treats) involved. It is fun for your horse! Want to start clicker training? Start here.

_horse_hug_hippologic_click_with_your_horseHorse hug

Basic behaviours: standing still while handler stands next to shoulder and targeting.

Teach your horse to follow the target that you keep behind your back, click and reinforce for every inch his head moves in the right direction behind your head. Last step is to fade out the target. More detailed instructions can be found in this book Horse Trick Training

 

_mat_training_hippologicStanding on a pedestal

Most horses like to be a bit taller and think this is a fun exercise once they have learned it. Mat training is a good basic skill to start with.

Set your horse up for success and click and reinforce for every small step like approaching the pedestal, then investigating it and touching it with a hoof, et cetera. Raise your criteria slowly.

Before you know it your horse wants to stand on the pedestal. Therefor it is equally important to teach him to backup and dismount it. Don’t forget to reinforce that, too.

General tips

  • Keep the sessions short (5 minutes) and repeat over the weekend.
  • Give your horse a short break in between the sessions.
  • Make pictures or a video on Sunday to record your success. Please share your pictures with me on Facebook.

More fun things to do

  • Explore your surroundings and take your horse for a hand walk or hand grazing session. Read here how you can teach your horse to leave the grass voluntarily.
  • Ask a friend to go with you. Do a photo session with your horse during the sunset.
  • Hide a treat under a cone and teach your horse to find it.

_cone_hippologic

Have fun with your horse! If you have fun tips & tricks to share, please write them in the comment section. I am looking forward to hearing about your fun time with your horse.

Sandra Poppema
Are you interested in online personal coaching, please visit my website or send me an email with your question to info@clickertraining.ca

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How to… make the arena more appealing

In my previous post What if your horse doesn’t like arena work I already mentioned that the first step is to find out the reason why.

If you can exclude physical reasons like pain from the saddle, medical reasons like hoof cracks or maybe an unskillful (or rude) rider and so on, you can look for solutions to make your horse more happy in the arena.

What floats his boat?

It is obvious: positive reinforcement (+R) of course. This way of training will make your horse more eager to work for you. With +R you will trigger your horses brain. He has to find out what made him earn that bridge signal (paired with a lovely reward). He will be challenged to think. Horses like that. Really they do!

Variation

If your horse gets bored in the arena because everything you do is very predictable, try something new. If you always ride him, try some at liberty work, long reining or horse agility. Variety is the spice of life.

Use more positive reinforcement to create a better association with the arena or ‘work’ he has to do. Change your Rate of Reinforcement, your treats or your exercises. Raise your criteria (slowly). Trick training is a lot of fun.

Challenge your horse and do something crazy together like ‘101 things to do with a cardboard box’. You can bridge & reward him for every new exercise he comes up with: touch the box with his nose, left hoof, right hoof, kick it forward, play fetch with it, shake it and so on. Don’t bridge a second time for the same idea.

Give him a ball (small or huge) to play with, or to wake his curiosity. Make sure he is not afraid of it.

Relax time

Don’t forget: there is a time to work and a time to play. Do nice relaxing activities in the arena.

I like to let Kyra roll before we ride in the indoor arena on a rainy day (she loves rolling in hog fuel when she has a wet coat) or after our ride.

If your horse likes to be groomed, groom him more often in the arena. Spend time scratching his favourite spots. Watch a video about TTouch or horse massage and try if your horse likes that. 

Feed him in the arena. If you have an outdoor arena where patches of grass grow, let him find them. So he can display his exploration behaviour.
_positive associations with arena_hippologic
Don’t forget: it can take some time before a negative association changes into a positive one. Make haste slowly.

 

What do you do to create variation or make the arena more appealing to your horse? Share it in the comments!

Sandra Poppema
For tailored positive reinforcement training advise, please visit my website and book a free intake consult!

 

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Snacks voor Valentijnsdag

[Click here for the English version of this article]

Geven is beter dan ontvangen. Hier zijn wat lekkere snack ideetjes voor je paard voor Valantijnsdag. Deze gezonde snacks kun je natuurlijk ook tijdens je clicker training gebruiken.

Wortel hartjes ~ Ingrediënt
Winterpeen of wortel

Werkwijze
Snij met een schilmesje of je dunschiller een V-vormige geul over de gehele lengte van de peen. Snij daarna de peen in plakjes zodat je hartjes krijgt. Desgewenst kun je de vorm nog iets bijwerken.

_carrot_hearts_hippologic_valentine_horse

Appel hartjes ~ Ingrediënt
Appel

Instructies
Snij de appel in plakjes. Gebruik een hartvormige koekjessnijder of een schilmesje om hartjes uit te snijden. 

_apple_carrot_heart_horsetreat_valentine_hippologic

 

Paardenkoekjes
Als je echt iets speciaals voor je paard wilt maken, bak dan deze lekkere paardenkoekjes. 

Kaneel Koekjes voor paarden
Zonder de melasse zijn de koekjes suikervrij en geschikt voor alle paarden. De melasse is een lekkere variatie maar niet noodzakelijk om deze overheerlijke kaneelkoekjes te maken.

Ingrediënten
300 gram ongekookte (zilvervlies) rijst
140 gram gemalen lijnzaad (je kunt lijnzaad in een koffiemolen malen of ongemalen gebruiken)
3 eetlepels kaneel
65 gram bloem
130 ml melasse/stroop (variatie tip)

Instructies
Verwarm de oven voor op 135 graden Celsius (275 graden Fahrenheit). Bekleed twee bakblikken met bakpapier. Kook de rijst maar zonder zout volgens de aanwijzingen. Laat enigszins afkoelen.

Mix alle ingrediënten tot een kleverig deeg. Maak met vochtige handen balletjes ter grootte van een knikker. Dit is erg arbeidsintensief.

Wil je sneller klaar zijn, rol het deeg dan met de deegroller uit over de twee bakblikken. Rol het deeg uit tot ongeveer 1 cm dikte. Snij de koek met een pizzasnijder of mes in kleine vierkantjes voor ze in de oven gaan.

Bak 60 minuten. Keer de koekjes om en bak nog eens 60 minuten. De koekjes moeten hard en knapperig zijn. Als ze nog een beetje zacht zijn, bak ze dan wat langer. Laat ze een uurtje afkoelen en uitharden als ze uit de oven komen.

Als ze goed gebakken zijn kun je ze enkele weken in de koelkast of vriezer bewaren. Er zitten immers geen conserveringsmiddelen in. Ik hoop alleen niet dat je ze weken wilt bewaren! Mijn paard Kyra is dol op deze koekjes (zonder de melasse).

_healthy_horse_treats_hippologic_valentine

 

Deze gezonde kaneelkoekjes zijn ook uitstekende cadeautjes voor je stalgenootjes.

 

Sandra Poppema
Bezoek mijn website voor persoonlijk advies of hulp bij clickertraining

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Book review: Horse Trick Training

Today’s book review is about an eBook I found online about trick training.

Note: I don’t get paid for my opinion nor for providing links to places to purchase the books I review. This review is purely meant to provide information.

This book review will follow a specific order:

  • Title of the book
  • Author
  • For who the book is meant
  • Number of pages
  • Price
  • Publisher
  • Content
  • My personal opinion of the book
  • Recommend this book?
  • Where to buy this book

HorseTrickTraining

Title of the eBook
Horse Trick Training, How To Get Started
100% Horse Friendly Training

Author
Jain Brand

For who this book is meant
This eBook is written for  horse lovers who have never taught their horse tricks, or those who may have tried to teach their horse some simple tricks, and would like an easy step-by-step trick training program.

Number of pages
51

Price
US $7

Publisher 
Horse Tricks 101

Content
Introduction
Is this eBook Right for You (and Your Horse)?
Why Teach Your Horse Tricks?
How to Ask Your Horse to Do Anything
Trust & Training
How Long Will it Take to Teach a Trick?
When to Train – a Simple Training Schedule
Best Places to Train Your Horse
Which Trick Should You Teach Your Horse First?
Useful Tricks
Safety Comes First
What NOT to Teach Your Horse
Equipment
Rewards
Trick Training Treat ~ Molasses Oat Treats
Assignment 1
5 Steps to Teach Any Trick
Assignment 2
Recap and a WARNING
Trick Foundations
Preparing for Your First Trick
Teaching Your First Simple Trick
Assignment 3
Your Second Trick
More Ideas
Summary
What Comes Next?
Questions?

My opinion of the book
As you can conclude from reading the contents, this eBook covers all the basics of getting started with trick training your horse. The title covers what it promises, and I really appreciate that in a book.

It is an ‘easy reader’, with hardly any scientific definitions or difficult equestrian jargon. I think every horse owner can understand it. Therefor I can recommend it also to horse lovers who don’t have English as their native language.

The knowledge about how to teach your horse new behaviours is scientifically based and that makes it a valuable reference as well. It is really good hands on information.

Horse Trick Training, How To Get Started covers all the basics and it is also a book that I could recommend to a bit more experienced trick trainers. I mean people who have taught their horses a few tricks and have encountered minor difficulties or are just looking for some inspiration for new tricks (see content).

The tricks in this book are safe to begin with and easy to teach. It is an excellent start to get some experience in horse (trick) training.

Horse Trick Training, How To Get Started comes with easy to follow step-by-step instructions. It also contains several links to Jain’s videos and printable trick planners. The videos are helpful and educational.

Conclusion: I think it is a great book for people who want to start teaching their horse (new) tricks. The time and effort that Jain has put into getting this eBook together with all the handy printables and videos makes it a really good value for the price of $7 US.

Recommend this book?
Yes!

Where to buy this book
This eBook is only available online. Follow this link to buy the book.

UPDATE December 2017

My favourite exercise in the book is the Hug. It was so easy to train with the instructions in Jains book. Since I make pictures of all my achieved goals, I have a picture for you.

_tricktraining_horse_hug_hippologic

Is there a specific horse book you would like me to review, let me know and I will look into it.

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologicSandra Poppema, B.Sc.
My mission is to improve horse-human relationships by educating equestrians about ethical and horse friendly training. I offer online horse training courses to empower you to train your horse in a 100% animal friendly way that is FUN for both you and your horse.
Sign up for HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free) or visit HippoLogic’s website.

 

5 Tips to Expand your Horse’s Horizon

We have all encountered times when we think “Now what?” at the barn. Maybe you have already reached all your equestrian goals, maybe your horse became sick and needed rest, maybe you got injured, maybe you just bought a young horse, or a senior horse… We all need inspiration if we don’t know what to teach our horse next.

#1 Horse Agility (HA)
In HA you have to navigate your horse through an obstacle course while focusing on clear communication and positive horsemanship. Horse and handler are both on foot. Horse Agility can help build a very close relationship with your horse and it keeps your horse’s mind working constructively. Skills developed in HA are very useful in daily routines as well as in new and possibly scary situations. You can even enter online competitions these days where you send in a video.

#2 Trick Training (TT)
TT is a great way to improve the relationship with your horse. You become aware of your horses intelligence and it is a fun way to spent time together. There are many simple tricks that are suitable for horses of all ages, like smiling or playing fetch. Some exercises are beneficial and can increase the horses strength and flexibility like the classical bow or the back crunch._classical bow_buiging_hippologic

#3 Training husbandry skills
If your horse already knows a lot of tricks, you can start improving your husbandry skills. Ever thought of teaching your _dewormingcanbe_horse how to be dewormed easily or preparing him for oral medication you might need to give him some day? Teach him to accept eye drops or ointment, practice hoof trimming, braiding, taking your horses temperature, teach him to stand in a bucket of water in case you need to soak his feet. The possibilities are endless and you never know when these skills come in handy.

#4 Trailer loading
Best way to train this is if there is no goal or time limit yet. Read here the 4 reasons to start practising trailer loading today. If you don’t own a trailer, this is worth renting a trailer for.

#5 Water training
There are so many situations in which water is involved. During the summer months you can have fun water proofing your horse. _soaking feet in water bucket_horse training_hippologicThink of soaking hooves in a bucket, hosing down your horse, crossing water (river, water splash, muddy puddles), water obstacles in HA, going for a swim with your horse, spraying your horse with a plant spray and so on.

I hope I have given you some ideas to expand your horizons. Have fun!

Sandra Poppema
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Best Basics: ZEN time with your horse

Now that the temperatures are much higher than in winter it becomes more enjoyable to spent some ZEN time with your horse. ZEN time is time spending together without having an agKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAenda. You can take a chair and sit down in his paddock or pasture and just see what happens.

Herd behaviour
I really like to observe Kyra in the pasture because I learn so much about her. I see how she interacts with other horses in the herd. I see who moves away when she approached, how their body language is helping them communicate and for which horse Kyra moves out of the way.

Grazing routines
I like to observe the way she eats: she grazes from left to right to left, then she takes one step grazes the next halve circle of grass. It is an interesting pattern.

When I hand graze Kyra I can see if she is hungry or not. If she is hungry she will not lift her head up for the first 15 minutes. She eats, eats, eats. If she is less interested in grass she will often lift up her head to look for the juiciest patches of herbs and grass and she takes more steps in between grazing.

If Kyra eats something distasteful, she will push it our of her mouth with her tongue or open her mouth real wide and let everything fall out. I can even see that she has have a favourite foot, because she puts it forward longer than the other one.

Just be together
Sometimes in ZEN time Kyra comes over and makse contact with me. The other day when I was sitting in the round pen and Kyra was just walking around, she came to me and sniffed my hair. I sighed and she did, too! Then I sighed again and she did another sigh. I wanted to test if it was a coincidence and took one more deep breath and exhaled loudly and she did too. We were really connecting, it was awesome. Then the magical moment was over and she walked away.

Hand grazing and walks
Sometimes ZEN time means I take Kyra out for a walk and I will let her graze wherever she wants and I let her decide what to do. You can learn so much by just observing your horse and seeing what he wants to tell you or seeing if he wants to connect.

Renske, Kyra's beschermengel

Renske was Kyra’s guardian angel when she was young

Other days I will watch Kyra without being seen so I am not interrupting her herd behaviour. If she sees me, she comes to the fence and will not interact the way she would without me.

Enjoy!
Being ZEN with your horse is a really nice way to relax and connect with your equine friend.

My tip for the weekend is: fill a nice picnic basket, bring a pen and paper to make notes or a camera and enjoy your horse in the sun for an hour or so, see what you can learn.

Sandra Poppema

Does your horse have to “work” or does he have a “job” to do?

Work, this word has a negative association for a lot of people. “Work” has to be “hard”, “long” and involves “no fun” activities. If you are riding your horse or training him, do you refer to it as “work”? And what associations do you have with that word anyway? Think about it.

If Kyra “works” for me, it means that we are doing fun stuff, I invite her to be involved, I ask questions and she is entitled to have “an opinion” about her work. If she “complains”, that is a sign for me to be a better boss. In Dutch you refer to an owner as “boss” as well.

If she says “No” to one of my questions I want to figure out why and what I can do better in order to let her say “Yes”. My associations with the word work are “fun”, “learning” and above all it must be REWARDING in one way or the other.

I am convinced that people transfer their association that they might have with certain words to their horse. What emotions come up if I say: dentist, vet, trick training, trail riding? Are you yelling at the gate to your horse: “Come on the vet is here!”  Or: “Come on we are going on a trail ride!”

To me “work” means a lot of good things. I never say about my horse: “That’s her job. She has to do it, because that’s her job.” Kyra didn’t come to me for a job interview. So I am not convinced she wanted to sign up for whatever I have in mind. I have a lot planned in my mind. I am sure she didn’t want to hear about that when she was 11 months old. 😉

Yes, I pay my horse a good salary for doing a good “job”. She is a loyal employee and eager to work for and with me every day. If I give her a day off, she is NOT pleased. She doesn’t want to stay in the pasture when she can be working with me.

Sandra Poppema

_Ifahorselovestheirjob_hippologic

10 funny horse photos

Here are 10 funny horse pics for you. I hope at least one of them makes you smile. Or giggle. Or laughing out loud.

#1: Kyra, becauseyour own horse is always number one, right?

_weekend

#2 This little cutie made me smile

#3 We can all relate being scared

#4 Nomen est Omen (What’s in a name)

#5 This pic always come in handy on the internet

#6 How do they do it, ey?

# 7 Husband and Horse, do they mix?

#8 We all know that dance, don’t we?

#9 Some people think horses can’t think…

# 10 My face before coffee in the morning. 😉

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_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
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My promised video: cantering with a flag!

Today’s filming session didn’t go as planned. First of all the barn was full of people riding their horses. Most evenings I am all by myself and I didn’t expect it to be so busy. So I wanted to do something else first, instead of riding.

Three days ago I have entered a clicker training challenge on a Dutch Facebook page. The assignment is to teach your horse to stand on two little pieces of wood. The pieces are not too big ( 20 x 20 cm) so that is a bit of a challenge. That is what I thought…

I asked Kyra to mount these blocks with her front hooves. That went excellent: within 4 minutes she stood several seconds with both feet on the two pieces of wood. Wow!

Then I saddled Kyra to make the riding video. As promised I would film us cantering with a flag if my HippoLogic FaceBook page would hit 1000 LIKES. Today my page hit the magical number and a few more. That is awesome and I am super happy! My lovely husband offered to be my cameraman, so that was a big help. Thanks!

I remember starting my FB page and I was struggling to get likes from family and friends. The 500 was a big breakthrough and I decided to make a photo shoot with Kyra picking up a flag which said ‘500 LIKES and a thumbs up’, see  here.

After riding and videoing the canter I did a second session with the blocks which took only half the time: 2 minutes. I am so proud of my clicker trained horse. Especially because my 4 year old son is also in that video and he is waving the flag in front of us while I am training Kyra to mount the little blocks. He is distracting everybody, but Kyra only pays attention to me.

At one point my son stands next to me and starts to ‘help’ me, using all the voice commands I use for Kyra (in Dutch). It is funny to watch all that is going on in the background of this clicker training video.

I almost forgot: Click here to go to my → → CANTER WITH FLAG VIDEO .← ←

Thank you for watching and if you like it, click the thumbs up button on YouTube.

Sandra Poppema

500+ LIKES on FB deserves a nice pic

Yesterday I received my 500th LIKE on my facebook page

I wanted to celebrate that lovely event by making a nice picture of Kyra holding up a flag with the text “500 FB LIKES”. She knows how to pick up things and retrieve, so I thought it wouldn’t be a big problem to make this happen. Of course is picking up and holding it something else than picking up + holding + ME TAKING A PICTURE.

_500LIKES_HippoLogic_vlag

Home made creation. A flag for Kyra to hold

Well, I kinda nailed it, anyway. 🙂

__ZW_500likes_hippologic

Holding up the flag

And here a little blooper: she just tried to “kill the flag” by stomping on it and give me a look like this:

Sandra Poppema

__opdevlag_hippologic

Is that look on her face worth a smile of what? 🙂