A clicker-training success

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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One of my targets this year is to be able to ride Ziggy in the school in good form, with his hind end engaged and without his nose poking out.

My RI can achieve this at all paces through her seat, by getting him to lift his back up. I'm getting better - I can now get him to work long and low - but I can't seem to get him to go without the pokey out nose yet.

I thought it might help if he responded more quickly to contact and decided to give in hand work a try today after our schooling session. Standing next to him and holding the reins I asked him to soften to the bit (gentle oscillating pressure from both hands). His ears oscillated too - he was thinking - but he didn't know what to do.

In clicker training I have taught him to drop his head when I touch his crest or withers. So as I oscillated, I touched his neck. No clicker required - bingo! He dropped his head, accepted the contact and made a lovely shape, poll the highest point, nose just in front of the vertical, gently working the bit. I released at once and made much of him.

He is such a clever ponio. I swear after only two repetitions he had this nailed. I even tried standing on his right, to make sure he wasn't one-sided, and he did just as well. Now I need to be able to ask him to soften as well as moving forward... That will be a test for my skills!

It defeats me how Ziggy can have failed as a RS pony, failed as a showjumper and failed as a Safecob when all he does for me is try.

I :inlove: my pony.
 
Nov 4, 2008
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did you self teach yourself clicker training or did you get a book? Id like to try this with harry!

Well done sounds like hes come on leaps and bounds :)
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
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I have two books:

"The art and science of clicker training for horses" by Ben Hart, which is mostly about the theory but ensures that you really, really understand what you are doing! and

"Clicker training for your horse" by Alexandra Kurland, which is a little more practical.

I wouldn't say either book is a real How To Do It, but I found I could learn from them.

The hardest thing to be honest is deciding what to teach. I have taught Ziggy "touch" (a great starter, and really useful when he is frightened of something silly), "come", "halter" (to put his head into it), all the usual commands like Walk, Ter-rot, Whoa and Back Up, Stand (which he has decided requires him to have his head tilted very slightly away from me, which makes me giggle - bad clicker timing there!) and a couple without voice commands - move quarters, move shoulders (still working on this one) and drop head.

If I had the time and the inclination I know I could teach him tricks, but I don't think I will bother.

He loves his clicker sessions and would walk 3 times around the school for one grass nut. Silly pony.
 

natural horse

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Feb 9, 2011
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I too taught myself with the Alexandra Kurland book. The first thing I taught was touch and this progressed to me being able to throw a frisbee and my cob trotting after it to touch it and then wait for me to catch up. He loves this game (probably cos he gets a small piece of carrot as reward) and gets so excited when he sees the frisbee. :bounce:
 
Nov 4, 2008
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haha i would love my cob to do that! He does have a very active brain so maybe chanelling it using clicker training would be usedful...how do you use clicker to teach walk, trot, canter though? And do you wean them off the treats? my boy will do anything for food so think he would be a bit disappointed if he just got a pat haha
 

natural horse

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And do you wean them off the treats? my boy will do anything for food so think he would be a bit disappointed if he just got a pat haha[/QUOTE said:
:bounce::bounce: My boy would look at me in amazement if there was no treat forthcoming. :bounce: Yes you are supposed to wean them off the treats, but he can look at me with such a sad expression:cry: that I would feel terrible if I didn`t give him one.
 
Y

Yann

Guest
Sounds like a job well done :) From what I can gather that's more or less exactly how Alexandra Kurland approaches getting horses to work in an outline, along with a few other refinements.

When you think how hard horses will work to repeat something that gets them a reward and how quickly they'll pick that behaviour up and repeat it (think knocking a feed bin lid off and the like), it seems mad not to harness that to get them to do things we do want them to do as well :)
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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I He loves this game (probably cos he gets a small piece of carrot as reward) and gets so excited when he sees the frisbee. :bounce:

I should say I would love to do this, but only have the field and double field shelter as workplaces - the field shelter isn't big enough, and and I think the grass in the field would distract Ziggy from the frisbee!!! :bounce:
 

natural horse

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I should say I would love to do this, but only have the field and double field shelter as workplaces - the field shelter isn't big enough, and and I think the grass in the field would distract Ziggy from the frisbee!!! :bounce:

No problem. Start in the field shelter. Hold out the frisbee and horses being nosey he will investigate it by touching it with his nose. The moment he touches it, click and give a treat. Do this a few times holding it in different places then drop it on the floor for him to touch. Click and treat each time. Then throw it a few feet in front of him so that he has to take a step or two to reach down and touch it. Click and treat again. You can then start throwing it further away each time. I am sure he will appreciate a treat more than the grass and will enjoy the game as well. :dance:
 
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