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Old 07-19-2012, 01:15 PM
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Picklepaige Picklepaige is offline
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Default Clicker training horses?

My friend wants me to help me use clicker training to teach his horse fun tricks. I've actually never thought of using the clicker to work with my horses, so does anyone have any tips or experience? How different is it than clicker training dogs?

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Old 07-19-2012, 01:35 PM
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CaliTerp07 CaliTerp07 is offline
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I know nothing about horses, but we clicker trained bunnies (shaping) in almost exactly the same way as a dog. Except with cranberries or raisins instead of hot dogs and string cheese
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Old 07-19-2012, 01:39 PM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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Horses can be a bit more problematically pushy due to their size, so you do need to set clear rules about how they should behave when treats are around, but I taught my horse to "shake" and touch a target on cue with the clicker - just like my dogs but with different treats! LOL

Alexandra Kurland clicks with horses, so she'd be a good place to start for information.
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Old 07-19-2012, 01:49 PM
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PWCorgi PWCorgi is offline
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BostonBanker clicker trains Tristan. He can fetch, which I think is awesome!!

I'm sure she'll be along once she sees this thread.

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Old 07-19-2012, 02:46 PM
SaraB SaraB is offline
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I started clicker training with my two horses. I used the clicker to desensitize one to fly spray and to stand next to me to get tacked up. The other we just worked on hand targeting and halter targeting. I haven't had a lot of time to continue working with them, but I was loving the results!

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Old 07-22-2012, 06:47 PM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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I didn't see this until just now. Yes, I used clicker training to teach Tristan some fun stuff. I didn't have a dog when I first learned about it, so he was my test pilot! He's actually a blast to train - he shapes very quickly. Our training has rather stalled, since he no longer likes food enough to train with it.

I never had issues with him getting pushy, but he's a horse who has had very, very good manners instilled in him all along. Feed the treat away from your body, and since the click marks the behavior, they learn quickly that food isn't available until they hear it.

Here are some old pictures of some of his tricks. I just handed my camera off to someone, so they aren't great timing or very clear in all cases, but they may give you some ideas to play with.

Smile (his cue is "say cheese" and me pointing a finger up)

I taught that one by holding a treat a bit out of his reach so he had to stretch his lip out to get it. Marking any movement of his upper lip.

Bow (cue is Tada, and me bowing at him)

The first one I completely free-shaped, starting with him just dropping his head.

Shake (cue is "Gimme paw" and me holding out my right hand)

This one was my first bad idea! I originally wanted him to reach out with his foot more, rather than just raise it up. I showed my friend our progress on it, and she said "You know he's going to nail you in the knee, right?". I brushed it off, and low and behold, a few days later, he did. So I re-shaped it into just lifting his foot up.

Kisses (cue is me pointing to my cheek and saying Can I have a kiss?)

I started by getting him to lick my hand, moving my hand up to my face, then eventually removing my hand.

Stick out your tongue (cue is me sticking my tongue out at him)

Freeshaped, just watching for him to move his mouth and tongue.

Yawn (cue is me yawning loudly and covering my mouth)

Captured behavior.

Shake your head (cue is me touching my forehead and saying "fix your hair")

Free shaped/captured

Spanish walk modified

Not really a trick we trained for fun, but the start of his passage training, back before his health went downhill and he was a real riding horse.


Taught to keep me from dying when he was on long term stall rest/handwalking. Having a game to do while we were walking kept him from losing his cool. Once he was back to being allowed to do more, we worked more on the behavior. He'll go get the frisbee, bring it back to me, and I'd started training him to 'throw' it back to me when I lost focus. Note that I flinch even when my horse throws a soft toy at me. I'm such a wimp.

Have fun with it! I love training with Tristan. It's mostly been a way of interacting with him while he's dealt with various illnesses/injuries over the years and couldn't work undersaddle. Yawning and kisses were both taught when he was on IV meds for Lyme and I had to stand in the stall with him for 30 minutes or so every day giving it to him. Frisbee was when he had torn a suspensory. If I could get him more interested in food, I'd clean everything up a bit more, since my timing has improved since I worked with him. Let me know if you come up with any fun tricks!

Edited to add my favorite story about training him. It was after I'd started training 'bow', which, as I said, was the first I'd free-shaped. I think it was the second one I'd ever trained after "smile". I was working in the barn, and happened to glance at his stall. Over and over, he'd bow, then stand up and look around, baffled and clearly expecting a treat. He'd try again. And again. Looking more and more frustrated. He clearly hadn't worked out that the cookie only came if I was actually there to give it to him!

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Old 07-20-2012, 01:09 PM
seahorse seahorse is offline
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Clicker training works exceptionally well with horses. The biggest difference is the manners around food. It s best if these boundaries are taught right away. Here is a link to a free video that shows the manners lesson. It is part of a de-spooking exercise but the first video shows getting started. It will help give you a better idea where to begin.

This link is also fun as it shows reuniting with a clicker trained horse after 7 years. It shows lots of fun behaviors...and enthusiasm.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:41 PM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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I trained this with a clicker. I have trained a few things other than tricks. I had a horse that I did the initial leg yielding with a clicker, and another I free shaped him to jump things. He's now an event horse who 'locks' on to jumps when he is pointed at them!
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:57 AM
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mrose_s mrose_s is offline
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Funny this is up. I've been meaning to do some clicker work with our guys for agessss. but I finally bought a bumbag today for carrots.
We're also probably getting a little shetland cross soon (he's staying with us atm and we're trying to buy him) and I'd really like to do some tricks with him.

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