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He’s an Equine Einstein

Today is Vento’s second day of Clicker training.  This horse is scary smart.  This is also very interesting because there are definable goals and behaviors that you can see occurring which is taking it out of the realm of woo-woo for me.

 

The first seven days you do nothing but teach them to look away to receive a treat, and then touch a target with their nose.  We’re on day two, and Vento has gotten both of these behaviors down pretty well.  The point of this is to connect the click with the possibility of reward, and lead to the release of dopamine in the brain.

 

The biggest problem for me is getting my timing right so I click when he’s touched the target, and not when he looks to me for affirmation.  I want to associate the click with the proper behavior and not confuse him.  I also have a habit of bending over to offer his treat which means he has to lunge down for it, and we want him accepting the food calmly and quietly.

 

After the initial week is over you can start to teach other behaviors.  How to fetch.  To cross their front legs, to hop on three legs, to bow, etc.  I’m going to buy a stuffed toy for Vento and teach him to fetch.  I think he’ll like that game.

 

The next step is to ride with the clicker, and give him the click when he goes forward in an appropriate manner, and maintains the pace I have set.  When he leans into the reins and accepts contact.  That’s going to be interesting juggling reins and clicker, but I’ve had two reins with the double bridle so I should be able to figure this out.

 

I have no idea if this is going to help, but the traditional pressure and release method of horse training had stopped working with Vento.  The last trainer had put too much pressure on him, kept trying to make him “fiery”, and that actually isn’t this horse’s personality.  Yes, he is a stallion, but he was always more of a rogue than a posturing stud.  What I need to do is bring back his sense of joy and play, and teach him that he can keep that in the dressage ring.

 

Oh, and he loves his ball.  He carries this giant thing in his mouth as he trots around the arena, and he swings it in circles around his head.  I had to leave the arena this morning because he decided swinging it, and trying to hit me with it, or throw it at me was a great new game.  And I don’t want to be telling him no.  I want to be telling him yes, good boy now.

0 Responses to He’s an Equine Einstein

  • Let me suggest rubber dog toys, like a big rubber chicken (one of Lark’s favorites) or an open ball (even though Ace wasn’t interested, Lark loved it.) Ace does like his cones, however, and will pick them up and sometimes even stack them inside the perimeter of a hula hoop. He also picks up the hula hoop.

  • Melindas says:

    Gilly suggested something not too big. The damn ball he likes is [u]huge[u][/u][/u] Also something that doesn’t squeak. One lady brought a squeak toy and scared the shit out of her horse. 🙂

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