The usefulness of the clicker

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Surrey Hills
The other day I was working Ziggy in hand over coloured poles. As always he got very stressed and began to refuse to go forward at all, but we overcame it after a while and using the clicker.

I noticed at the end of the session that he was very anxious indeed about ropes around his quarters. He is absolutely fine with rugs, but would not stand still even for a second with a droopy rope over his bottom. He didn't run, but moved quickly away from the sensation of the rope.

Today I took him into the shelter and did 15 minutes' desensitisation with the clicker. I started with the light lunge line, rubbed him all over with it, and then began draping it over and around his back end, under his tail etc while asking him to stand. He was anxious, but stood because he knew I had the clicker.

In the end I moved to my heavy white long rope (which scared him the other day) and he stood like a pro while I wrapped him up like a parcel :biggrin:.

Next time I will get him to walk a bit with the rope in place but I was very pleased with the first day. So was he, he got a whole small carrot chopped into little bits!

I love my clicker :redface:
 

sjp1

Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2009
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Yay Ziggy!!! I have not done clicker because Tobes is full on and a proper mugger!!!

However, I have done a lot of NH with Tobes, who was scared of lots and lots of things and whose default reaction was kick out!!!

Plastic bags were a real issue - I tied one on a carrot stick and walked in front of him initially waving it. I guess it took an hour and he was fine having the bag rubbed all over him. His back legs were also an issue, and for a few days I dragged a bag behind him a couple of years ago when walking from the stables to the field - cue much kicking out, but he got it in the end. Tarps after that were a breeze and after having spent a huge amount on a tarp and putting it down expecting a massive freak out ............. he walked over it without hesitation!!!

Recently he has had a cut on the leg and we have very boggy fields. So I put lint and a plastic bag over the leg. Plastic bags after the desensitation are no problem whatsoever and he stands beautifully to have them on.

Whichever way you get there with all sorts of things is fab. I wish I had a less 'mugging' horse because clicker training sounds brilliant, but I know what he is like!!!

Am a huge believer in the horse having an issue and taking the time it takes or whatever method works, to get them over it.

Edited to add - with ropes with the NH, you flick the carrot stick with line over them and the line. And when they are OK with that you whip the line beside them - doesn't take long.
 
Y

Yann

Guest
It's a great tool for this sort of thing isn't it :) The key thing is to break the steps down small enough so the horse stays happy about the whole thing, it's great discipline for us to have to think about it and work that way too.

What the clicker can give you with scary things that other approaches can't is an element of counter conditioning, you're changing the association he has with the ropes (bad things) and replacing it with a nice thing (playing the game and food rewards).
 
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