Clicker Training! Day 1  

Posted by Serenity

It has been weeks since I last tried to work with the horses (regardless of the date of my last post) and nothing I have done has brought me any closer to them.  It has been too cold for round pen training.  Neither myself nor the horses need that kind of exposure right now so it's time for some creative thought.  What method could I use that won't require me to spend a lot of time out in the cold and won't get the horses all worked up.  Aha!  I remember a friend telling about a method that she was going to use for an unruly horse of hers.  It just might do the trick while it helps me rebuild the trust I lost with Doc.  CLICKER TRAINING!

Time for some research on how.  Every website I went to and video I watched show this as being a low stress method for both horse and trainer.  I like that.  I also like the fact that this method is built on positive reinforcement rather than negative.  I can see the value of having a way to tell my horses every time  they do what I want rather than punishing them whenever they do the wrong thing, which they will often do.  I can even get them started while it's cold since most sites suggest limiting the first few sessions to about 5 minutes each until the horse learns that Click = Treat and we all know that Treat = Good.  I trained my dog in much the same way only we didn't use a clicker.

The part that concerns me is that there will come a time when It is not practical to continue using the clicker.  Will my horse stop responding to me when I start phasing it out?  Or will they behave like the dog and continue doing the tricks in the hopes that the next one will be the magic treat one?  I guess time will tell.

I bought my clicker on Monday and eagerly took it out to the corral with me during feeding time.  This seemed to be the most logical time to introduce them to is since they usually get fed at this time and they will be expecting food.  It's an easy way to get their attention.

Fred is first up.  I grab a handful of her grain and thrust it into the corral waiting expectantly for her to decided to try it.  Fred eventually stretches her neck out far enough to reach my hand, she must be part giraffe.  As she takes the food from me I click my clicker.  Of course she spooks and starts to run away, but the promise of more food is just too much for her to resist and she doesn't go far.

After trying this several times I put her food bucket in its holder on the post and wait fore her to stick her head in and I begin clicking again but only for a short time span.  It's Doc's turn now.  I repeat the process.  Doc doesn't really care about much of anything I guess.  The sound of the clicker had no effect on him at all.  Well It's Amira's turn and with all the time I took with Doc I will have to stand by Amira so she can get her full ration without the kids pushing her out.  Sounds like a good place to stop for the night.  I smile back at the kids thinking that this might just be the method that will work for us and our situation.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at Wednesday, January 12, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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