As equine clicker trainer this meme always cracks me up. I am very visual (a great skill to imagine how training will go) and I know lots of farriers out these are still very traditional.
2. About the gaits. I do love a great trot, who doesn’t? Love that they are in sync.
3. Growing up with Dutch as my first language I haven’t heard so many silly and ambiguous word jokes. So if you have a lame horse joke, leave them in the comments! Humor is the unexpected and I love those word twists.
4. I wanted to find the picture of the sign at a horse rental that says: We have experiences horses for experienced riders, Fast horses for fast riders, Slow horses for slow riders and We have green horses for green riders. But I couldn’t find it. This one is funny, too.
I once had a swan that LANDED on the horses head at night in the outdoor arena. Similar experience as below…
5. As a cat person I see the humor in this one! I love the smiles!
6.Again a word twist… And horses do think this!
7.Having a horse is a lot of responsibility and keeping them is hard work. We, equestrians, that have cold or muddy Winters know all about it. We’re troopers!
8.This one is about context shifts. Yes, we behave differently if we want to show off, an audience is often a context shift and still… we fall for it, right?
9. What do you wish to be?
10. I love this one because this never happens to me anymore! The other day I called Kyra and I got Kyra + her friend coming over to the gate. All horses at the barn love to engage with me because I have to offer something: the Magic of Clicker Training. Can you relate?
Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to show off the amazing goals you’ve accomplished with clicker training?
Visitors at the barn
One time a Facebook friend who was eager to learn more about clicker training visited me at the barn.
On this particular day in Winter it was cold, windy and rainy. The field was muddy and when we arrived all horses where gathered around the feeding place in the field.
As soon as Kyra heard my voice she came over to the gate and while I was haltering her, I was pondering how I could show off and what I would do in order to impress my friend.
We went to the indoor arena where Kyra and I demonstrated a few tricks at liberty. I also kept it short because it was cold and when we brought Kyra back to the field, I asked her what she liked best.
Her answer was not at all what I expected!
Instead of asking me about How I trained lying down or Spanish walk, she told me that she was very impressed that Kyra had came across field, all the way to the gate. My friend assumed we had at least to wade thru the ankle-deep mud in order to get Kyra or maybe even chase her a bit before I could halter her.
To me this was not something impressive. I didn’t realize that something as simple as your horse coming over to meet you could impress people and I will never forget that feeling. She was already impressed before we started! Just by Kyra showing me she was eager to interact with me and willing to go through the mud!
From that day on, I paid more attention to what impresses horse people.
Some people are surprised that, when Kyra gets loose because I am bad at tying knots, she doesn’t run away from me and I can simply walk over to get her.
Others notice that she’s not mugging me while I obviously have treats in my pocket. While I hope they are impressed by the behaviours I spent hours training, most people are impressed by the side-effects positive reinforcement training has: a confident horse and the relationship I have with Kyra.
How does your horse impress other horse people?
Next time you’re at the barn, pay attention to what others admire about your training. What remarks do they make that tells you they want what you can do? Sometimes their sentence starts with simply with the words “I wish my horse would….
I wish my horse would be easy to catch…
I wish my horse would stand still…
I wish my horse was more like yours…
Share with in the comments what others admire about the relationship you have with your horse or what you’ve trained they wish they could.
I sometimes jokingly call myself a ‘lazy horse owner’. Why? Because I rather spend a bit of time training my horse than deal with undesired behaviour day in and day out and get frustrated all the time.
Tips for getting your horse out of the pasture
Here is a video of me getting Kyra out of the pasture.
I prefer not to get stuck in the mud, surrounded by horses. I am, like I mentioned, a bit lazy and I don’t want to chase my horse or to walk over to ‘catch’ her if she is in the far end of the pasture. Way too much work…
Make yourself fun to be around
Since I started clicker training horses, I discovered a huge change in their attitude towards me. I have changed from being (I am guessing here) ‘not so much fun’- to be around to ‘I rather be with my human than with my herd’ attitude. Just by switching from traditional/natural horsemanship methods to positive reinforcement.
It is not only the food rewards that make my training interesting. I think it is also the puzzles my horse must solve in order to get that click. She is not afraid to try out new behaviours, she is not afraid of being punished for displaying her ideas. On the contrary, she is encouraged to think and to figure out what it is I want from her.
So the first step in getting a horse interested in coming out of the pasture is to ‘offer’ something. Be more reinforcing than the herd and the hay or grass.
Chain of behaviours
What you see in the video is actually a chain of learned behaviours. These are the steps I all trained separately.
Responding to her name
I taught Kyra to respond to her name and come to me. I used targeting to teach her that. As you can see, I don’t need a target anymore and I even don’t need to call her. If she sees me, she wants to be with me.
Stopping at the gate
I taught her to always stop before an open gate and wait for a cue. I reinforced her in the past (click & treat) for stopping and waiting until I clicked my lead rope to the halter.
The second step in this proces is to reinforce her for the opposite behaviour too: walking thru the gate on my cue.
I always teach my horses to turn around on cue, so I can close the gate safely.
After walking calmly thru the gate and turning around, Kyra has to wait for me to close the gate. I have reinforced this step many, many times.
I realize that I need to be more reinforcing than the juicy grass patch on the outside of the fence. I don’t want her to drag me to places she wants to go. I have often clicked for waiting while I closed the gate. I used a lot of high value treats, like a whole handful of pellets.
To graze or not to graze
Every horse and every horse person knows the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I have taught Kyra to wait for my cue to graze and to follow my lead if we want to get away from the grass. As you can see in this video Kyra walks over to the grass (I wasn’t paying attention), but she is also willing to leave the juicy patch when I gently ask her to follow me.
This was a difficult lesson to teach Kyra and I did a lot of trial and error in this process. How to learn from my mistakes: join HippoLogic’s online Grass Training Course.
Last but not least
I taught my horse to walk with me without pulling the lead rope.
Is getting your horse out of the pasture just as easy? Let me know what difficulties you have and I can help you find +R solutions.
My mission is to improve horse-human relationships by educating equestrians about ethical and horse friendly training. I offer coaching to empower you to train your horse in a 100% animal friendly way that empowers both you and your horse.