I posted a thread not too long ago about teaching a horse tricks that have a purpose. I got some great responses and have since done the following:
1) taught my horse to line up to the mounting block:
2) pick up her legs on command: great when she steps on a hose while we're in the wash rack.
3) teach her to "line up" to a wall, fence line, etc. This is very convenient for when I go in her stall to pick it out, put grain in her bucket and want her to move over.
4) teach her to play "fetch" like a dog: maybe this one isn't so practical, but it's entertaining. I'm going to try using it as a starting point for teaching her to pick up traffic cones and put them down in a specific spot. So far she knows how to pick them up and put them down when I'm on the ground. I'll eventually move to doing this while mounted.
My horse usually has one rest day each week and that's when I generally teach this sort of stuff. I've run out of ideas and was wondering if people have any new suggestions.
I taught "Touch it", originally for help with trailer loading, but now used for anything spooky.
Example, walk into the barn where we use the indoor and a new wheelbarrow is near the doorway...Duncan snorts and his eyes pop out of his head, but he doesn't move his feet because he knows better. As he is snorting and arching his neck, I gesture towards the wheelbarrow and say "Touch it" and he will walk over and touch the wheelbarrow with his nose. Then he knows its all good and stops giving the object the hairy eyeball.
You should do carrot stretches - you can teach them to bow!
A friend always taught her horse to "kiss" but I'd worry about my face being eaten off!
I'm currently working on this with my guy! We've been doing carrot stretches since his last chiro adjusment, and I notice that he naturally is lifting his near front leg as he reaches between his front legs for the carrots! I am working on getting him to rock back now, while he's lifting the foot. My goal (since I'm only 5 foot & he's 15.3), is to teach him to bow while I mount from the ground!
Backing from a distance
Backing when gently pulling tail
Don't forget to teach the OPPOSITE of all these (release from the obeissance to moving forward, coming from a distance, going forward when holding on to the tail - a la endurance riders)
I also teach my horses to come to me when I am kneeling in the middle of the pen - handy as a precursor for staying with you if you fall off.
Mine will step up on a platform. It helped with trailer loading. And in general he is much more confident about walking on strange footing. If he hesitates at the new wash rack floor, or the newly cleaned concrete pad in front of the door I just say "step".
"Fetch" can be a very useful skill for a horse whose rider is a chronic whip-dropper: You can teach your horse to pick up your whip for you.
Or get the bucket out of the mud. I had a horse that had been trained to fetch. Once the feed tub had wandered out of reach into the muddy pasture. I sent him after it. He was fairly annoyed, but he DID want supper.
I taught my husband's horse to bend and lift his left front leg to the side, why you ask? His shoulder was wasting away from a combination of an injury and stall rest. Now both shoulders match muscle wise. Also taught him to come when called because he was impossible to catch when we first got him.