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Practical "tricks" part II

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  • Practical "tricks" part II

    I tried a couple of suggestions that various COTH'ers had regarding my last post on "tricks" and they turned out great!!

    Meup suggested the lining up to a mountain block on command idea and horsie now does that. Works great when we're at a show or off the property and horse has to stand still when there is tons of new stuff to look at. Well now she has no problem lining herself up to the mounting block in expectation of getting a treat regardless of what else is going on.

    My horse also knows how to pick things up and drop them in a bucket. I kind of just played around with it for a while and then found that if I do this in the vicinity of something she's scared of, she gets so busy trying to do the game to get a treat that she forgets about the "scary" object and then is no longer bothered by it. Tried it again tonight in the indoor while a *huge* thunderstorm was brewing and horse didn't even react, except maybe to prick her ears forward at the thunder, but that was about it. She was too busy playing the game to get rewards.


    So I thought I'd create another thread to get some ideas on other practical or useful "tricks". Suggestions anyone?

  • #2
    I want a list of these, too! I would like to impress & amaze people, as well as keep my gal from getting bored.

    As a kid, I saw a lot of girls teach tricks like nodding or whatever & it was always a disaster. Mouthy horses, bad habits, etc.

    I would like to teach her something useful. I like the mounting block idea.

    My horse picks up feet for picking when I tell her "hoof".

    that's all I got.

    Comment


    • #3
      Can you explain how to teach the line up to the mounting block? I'd love to know that!
      Proud member of the COTH Junior (and Junior-at-Heart!) clique!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by PonyPeep View Post
        Can you explain how to teach the line up to the mounting block? I'd love to know that!
        I need to knooooooowwwwwwwwwww!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Please add me to the mounting block list!!! I also want to know the hoof trick, and the picking things up trick.

          Luna gets excited when I groom her and she tries to "groom" the pole she's tied too... It grates on the nerves a bit...
          Originally posted by dizzywriter
          My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            @ponypeep: I made things up as we went along, but here's the gist of it:

            Bring horse close to the mounting block, but at a slight angle.
            /
            / <--horse
            ------
            | M.B.|
            -------

            Stand to the left of the horse in the above diagram and say "over" while tapping the horse's right side to get it to turn on the forehand and get close to the mounting block. If the horse is too far back say "up" to get it to step forward or "back" if it is too far forward. Reward the horse with a treat when it is lined up the way you want it to be.

            I started with very shallow angles and my horse close to the mounting block so she didn't have to move very far to be lined up properly.

            After my horse got the basic idea, then I would bring her in at a steeper angle.

            Once she mastered simply pivoting or taking small steps forward and back, then I would begin the session by having her several feet away from the mounting block so she would have to walk forward and then turn on her forehand. In the beginning it helped to tug on the lead rope slightly so she understood that she needed to walk towards the mounting block. Once she was close to it, then she realized that she was doing a familiar task using "over", "back" and/or "up" to get in position. Only when she was perfectly lined up did she get a treat.

            By working in small stages like this I could finally issue a single command like "line up!", then tap the mounting block with a dressage whip and have her move into position on her own without having to use the individual commands.

            The basic idea is to break it down into small steps that don't require much effort, then gradually increase the complexity once the horse is confirmed in the previous stages of the exercise.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
              @ponypeep: I made things up as we went along, but here's the gist of it:

              Bring horse close to the mounting block, but at a slight angle.
              /
              / <--horse
              ------
              | M.B.|
              -------

              Stand to the left of the horse in the above diagram and say "over" while tapping the horse's right side to get it to turn on the forehand and get close to the mounting block. If the horse is too far back say "up" to get it to step forward or "back" if it is too far forward. Reward the horse with a treat when it is lined up the way you want it to be.

              I started with very shallow angles and my horse close to the mounting block so she didn't have to move very far to be lined up properly.

              After my horse got the basic idea, then I would bring her in at a steeper angle.

              Once she mastered simply pivoting or taking small steps forward and back, then I would begin the session by having her several feet away from the mounting block so she would have to walk forward and then turn on her forehand. In the beginning it helped to tug on the lead rope slightly so she understood that she needed to walk towards the mounting block. Once she was close to it, then she realized that she was doing a familiar task using "over", "back" and/or "up" to get in position. Only when she was perfectly lined up did she get a treat.

              By working in small stages like this I could finally issue a single command like "line up!", then tap the mounting block with a dressage whip and have her move into position on her own without having to use the individual commands.

              The basic idea is to break it down into small steps that don't require much effort, then gradually increase the complexity once the horse is confirmed in the previous stages of the exercise.

              Make a video for the Expert Village!

              Comment


              • #8
                "Hoof" was pretty easy- I have done it with 2 horses. Just say hoof every time you ask for one with a tap or however you usually do it. After a while, they just get it.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Picking things up:

                  I found this to be a somewhat difficult trick to teach given the number of steps required and that it's not as "natural" for a horse to do, like it is with dogs. Here's how I did it:

                  Pick an object that is easy for the horse to grab and hold onto. In my case, I found dog toys on sale for $1 at the local ShopRite (go figure). The one my horse prefers is a rubber ring about 8" across and about 3/4" thick. It could be anything really, just easy to grab.

                  1) Show the object to the horse. Reward the horse with a treat when it shows interest in the object by touching it or sniffing it. Repeat a couple of times during each session.

                  2) Once the horse is confirmed in sniffing/touching the object, then without the treat until the horse mouths, licks or chews it. This might be a bit more difficult as they probably don't have a reason to do those things. What I ended up doing with my horse was putting my finger in the corner of her mouth so she would have to open up. I then put the toy in her mouth, let her slobber all over it and then gave her a treat. After a while she realized that if she opened her mouth and did that on her own then she would get the treat sooner.

                  3) Once the horse is confirmed in mouthing the toy, then withhold the treat until the horse holds onto it momentarily. This step can take a while because you basically have to wait for the horse to exhibit the behavior that you want since you can't really make the desired behavior come about like in step 2). When the horse gets the idea, then begin waiting for longer periods of time. The horse will then learn that it has to hold the toy longer in order to get the reward.

                  4) The next step is to get the horse to drop the toy on command. I started by waiting until the horse dropped the toy on its own. I held my hands under the horse's mouth until she dropped the toy at which point I immediately rewarded her with a treat.

                  5) Once the horse is confirmed in dropping the toy into your hands, move a couple of feet away and put the toy on the ground. At this point, the horse will probably naturally want to pick the toy up but may not necessarily know to walk towards you. If you have a halter and leadrope on, then give a gentle tug on the leadrope to encourage the horse to walk towards you. Once the horse does that, then put your hands under its mouth and wait for it to drop the toy in your hands. during this stage, you may find that the horse drops the toy as it walks towards you. If this happens, start with the horse a bit closer, or have your hands out and ready to grab the toy as soon as the horse drops it. Over multiple sessions, try moving further away. The horse may drop the toy on the way but should pick it back up naturally if it has been confirmed solidly in steps 1-4.


                  After step 5, the training becomes much easier and you can be creative and have fun. Here are some ideas:
                  * out in the paddock: throw the toy to the horse and have it run after it and return for a treat
                  * in the stall: lodge the treat between boards in the stall or in an empty feed bucket and have the horse fish it out. Or partially cover it with shavings and get the horse to uncover it and give it back to you.


                  One of my favorites is to build on 1-5 by teaching the horse to put the toy in a bucket on command instead of dropping it in your hand. This takes time but is pretty straightforward. The idea would be to put the toy on the ground next to a bucket, feedtub, or whatever then issue your command to pick it up the toy. The horse will probably look for your hands to drop it into. However, if this happens, just guide the horse's face to where you want it to put the toy, then put your hands under its mouth. Let the horse drop the toy into the bucket, but move your hands out of the way. Only reward with a treat when the toy drops into the bucket. I found that the most difficult aspect of this trick was when the horse got close, but missed the bucket by a few inches. In the beginning I rewarded the horse if it was very close so it wouldn't get discouraged.

                  To improve my horse's accuracy in dropping things in the bucket, I gradually got her to put her mouth into the bucket before dropping the toy. To achieve this, I would put my hand in the bucket (sometimes with treat already in it) and guide my horse's head in the same direction by putting pressure on the leadrope. Over time she got the idea that she would only get a treat if she put her face in the bucket before dropping the treat.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You all rock!!! Thank you!
                    Originally posted by dizzywriter
                    My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      1. Left and Right! My very first horse way back when I was a kid was blind in her left eye and eventually went completely blind. But she knew her lefts from right. Whenever I was approaching from the rear I would say (Name) Left/Right side. This gave her a warning before I put my hand on her. (Name) helps when you have more than one horse on the line. Besides every horse should know their name!
                      To teach this trick is quite simple. Get some treats and take your horse out to the arena. Now I know most of you already ground tie your horse and if your horse doesn't ground tie TEACH IT! Approach on the left or right and say (Name) left or right. Place hand on shoulder or hip bonus if you don't get kicked. Reward as necessary though if the horse starts turning to your voice try again. In theory you want your horse to remain standing still facing the direction they are but not reacting to your 'sudden' appearance.
                      2. Stand! No I don't mean rear though if you're inclined to teach your horses that trick have at it. Tired of getting crappy pictures of your horse because they keep turning towards you or leave the premises? Have I got a trick for you, it's fabulous for foals and requires patience, lead rope and halter. Grab lead rope, halter and horse and head to an open area but contained just in case horse decides to leave you. Wait until all four feet are firmly planted and head is slightly elevated and say STAND, quickly give treat. Pull horse out of position and repeat until horse does it automatically. Comes in handy when saddling as well when installed as a foal. No more dancing forward as you put your foot in the stirrup.
                      Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                      Originally Posted by alicen:
                      What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jane Honda View Post
                        Please add me to the mounting block list!!!
                        It's called "bumping up", at least in the NH world, and a very handy thing to teach. Works for a mounting block or if you ever need to get on from a fence or trailer fender. I taught it to my WB mare long before I even put a saddle on her. She is rock solid for mounting. I learned using a different method than SnicklefritzG but that method looks like it should work just fine.
                        Crayola Posse - Pine Green
                        Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
                        Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
                        Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          All our horses have been clicker trained to pick up their feed dishes after their supplements at night. This is actually a helpful trick that doesn't seem to present itself in any bad ways.

                          My Godfather taught his horse to answer the question, "Are you a smart horse?" with a nodding head. MOST. ANNOYING. TRICK. EVER. Now he nods anytime he hears phrasing that ends in inflection like a question.

                          In drill, a double whistle from the coach means halt. Immediately. One of the team's horses got loose at one point and went gallivanting around. The coach blew a double whistle and the runaway slid to a stop. Gotta love conditioning!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If he doesn't already, all my horses are trained to come when called out in the field. I yell for them and they canter in from wherever they are. It never fails to amaze and is pretty easy to teach. (Horse comes, stuff it with treats. Repeat. Don't just do it when you want to ride.)

                            Install a stop dead "whoa." Superuseful if you do something stupid like have a sudden stop and end up sitting on your horse's head. When horse takes off bucking while you are perched behind his ears, having him stop when you say "whoa" is very nice. Don't ask how I know.

                            I taught my pony to bow when I was a kid. For the next 15 years, every time he wanted a treat he would nod his head down between his knees, then look at me expectantly. Pretty cute actually.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When i worked at a dude ranch, I used to teach all the horses I rode "stand". There were times I would need to help a guest NOW and not want to worry about tying or holding my horse.

                              It was great to be able to whip my horse around, run back along the line, leap off my horse and yell stand over my shoulder, and the horse would skid to a halt and freeze. My Arab gelding was the best at it. He would not move, no matter where I left him or what was happening. I just taught them ground tie and an immediate whoa to a halt. It was great for trail riding when you might have to jump off quick for some reason.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Ground tie
                                Come when called
                                Heed (follow you around at your shoulder W,T, and Canter if safe doing so - with no halter)
                                Generalize your mounting block teaching to lining up to fences, trailer fenders, logs on the trail, etc
                                Pedestal (up with 2 feet, 4 feet, back down from it, spin on it, etc)

                                The key is to put all those behaviors on cue and ignore them when they are offered "off-cue" - though that can be difficult to resist as they sometimes do their best ones on their own

                                I teach Spanish Walk and Bow also, from the ground and under saddle, but see above as far as putting it on cue pretty quick.
                                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  It's not a trick, but an essential - opening and closing a gate while mounted. This builds into so many usable riding skills and teaches the horse patience. It must be done right - the horse stands right at the latch and WAITS. It's not to see how long you can stretch your arm. If the latch is low and the horse is high, it can be challenging, but it's still a good training skill. Undo the latch and move the gate a few inches and WAIT. Eventually it becomes as simple as opening a door while afoot, but the horse needs to understand that it's done on your schedule. Doing it slowly also makes him take time to get the idea and not panic.
                                  The other essential is walking up to a mounting block, which translates to the horse trailer fender, a stump, or any object. I start with the block close to the fence so that there is a "chute" effect. Tap the horse with a whip and ask him to move up into position. I always found it wonderful that people with $50,000 horses couldn't even get up to the mounting block without drama, but my $1600 model marched right up while I climbed the steps, knowing that my limo would be waiting at the curb. Eventually it is no longer necessary to touch the horse to move him into position. A little outside rein invited him to move into the block.
                                  I also taught bow as a kneel, and used it for mounting in the arena, and very rarely, out in the open. It is usually too rocky to ask a horse to put his knees into the dirt. Unless the ground was very sandy, or it was sod, it was safer and kinder to ask for him to go up to an object. The tough part was finding a tall-enough rock or stump.
                                  "I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

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