Fun Things to Train

Fun things to do with the clicker:

1.Teach your horse to put on his halter (the goal being to hold the halter
up, and he puts his head in)
2. Get a bike horn, or any bell, and have him learn to "play" them
3. Can he fetch items yet?
4. Teach him his body parts: his ears, eyes, nose, etc.
5. Teach him to smile
6. Teach him to lower his head.
7. Wave a flag?
8. Touch his toes?
9. Roll a ball?
10. Say YES (nod) or NO (move left/right/left)?

I taught my gelding his body parts, as a means of getting him comfortable being handled. He used to be ear/head shy. In one twenty minute session, he learned to put his ear in my outstretched, cupped hand (Rocky gave a great breakdown of the steps just a day or two ago*).

After the ears, we moved to the eyes. By then he'd picked up on the "game", and it went pretty fast. I use the same approach to the body parts as I did with the targeting game. In lieu of the horse touching an object with his nose, I want the horse to target my HAND with the specified body part. Just like you help a horse learn to target by making it easy for them to bump into the object, I had my hand approach say, his eye. Right on the comfort side of his discomfort threshold, I'd click him. Then his comfort zone stretched progressively, until he'd allow my cupped hand to cover his eye.

I tend to yak alot when I'm with him, so I probably was saying the cue word ("eye - where's your eye"?) all along. Now I can hold my outstretched, cupped hand anywhere, give him the verbal cue, and he walks over and gently places his eye in my hand. He's pretty cool.

The smile is easy. You're just clicking the horse for something he already does naturally - the flehman response (you know, when they've smelled or tasted something new, and they stick their heads in the air and curl their upper lip up towards their nostrils). All you have to do is find something that induces your horse to do the flehman response. Sometimes a new treat will do it, or something very sweet. As soon as that lip goes up, click and treat; build in your verbal and physical cue (I point to my own mouth and say "smile"!), and you're on your way to having a smiling horse. Your friends and neighbors will be amazed.

*Rocky's Breakdown:

I was prepared to CT my friend's hard to catch horse, Licorice. She said that Licorice turns her butt to you when you take out the halter, or runs away. She wants to be able to catch the horse, and asked me to help.

I spent maybe an hour total, in 10-15 min. sessions, and ended with her horse putting it's own head in the halter and waiting patiently for me to buckle it. I repeatedly put the halter on and off (over 10 times) in the last two sessions.

The horse was so ear-shy to begin with, that I had to pause in the halter-lesson to desensitize her ears to my touch. Licorice gave in on that issue almost totally! I thought she would hang onto that problem, but when I showed her that my hand could touch and slide gently over her ears, she was willing to trust me. CT is sooooooooo COOL!

Course, I had to start with my hand at the edge of her comfort zone for the ears... and that was about 8 inches from her head!!! Then I pressed on, slowly. I alternately petted her neck and face while I worked the ears.

When I left, Licorice was racing me to the gate, not wanting me to leave. (isn't that what CT is all about!?...a willing partner...*sigh*)

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