Horse Training, Trick Training Tips

Quickest Way to Teach Your Horse a Trick

Would you like to teach your horse a trick quickly or slowly?  I think you would probably say ‘quickly’.  Who wouldn’t?  But I’ve found that teaching horses tricks slowly actually speeds things up.

Huh???

Let me explain…..

If you want to teach your horse to bow it’s easy – just grab a carrot, put a halter on your horse and without letting your horse step backward, tease them between their front legs with the carrot until they lower their head.

There are loads of websites that show you how to do this.

But….

Your horse hasn’t really learnt anything (except how to bend into a funny position to try and get a carrot).  If you want them to do something more complicated or a movement that can’t be taught by following a carrot then you won’t stand a chance with this method.

If you really want to do amazing things you need to slow down and get your horse really thinking about what they are doing.   You need to break your tricks into lots of small parts and teach your horse each part separately.  Then you will have a series of movements ( I call these Trick Foundations) that you can use to form lots of tricks and you won’t need to lure your horse with a carrot.

For example if I want to teach Bella to do a ‘Simple Bow’ then I just teach her to lower her head and move her leg forward.  And if I teach her to move her leg forward then I have also taught her part of ‘Counting’ and ‘Spanish Walk’.

Your horse will learn each trick quicker because they already know part of it and they understand the process of learning tricks.  Most importantly you and your horse will have developed a form of communication that makes working together a lot easier.

So even though it may take longer in the beginning to teach your horse these ‘Trick Foundations’ you will find that later on it will really speed up your trick training.

 

15 thoughts on “Quickest Way to Teach Your Horse a Trick”

  1. Hello,
    Your instructions for how to make your horse to bow was great and it helped me a lot.But I also need help on that if your horse would been as stuborn as mine and she did’nt want to bend to get the carrot,then what would you do in this case becuse I am stuck on it right now and I have no idea how to get her out of this, do you have any sugestions?

    1. Hi Ugne,

      Glad you liked the bow instructions 🙂 It’s hard to explain by typing. Videos are better 🙂

      I don’t like to lure my horses into a Bow with a carrot. They just try and follow the food and they don’t think about what they are doing. They can also become nippy and pushy around treats. Plus it’s hard to teach them other things using this method (you can only teach them tricks where they can follow food). I use treats as a reward when my horse does what I have asked but not to lure them into position.

      The best way to teach a Bow is just to break it up into parts (Horses learn better this way). I just teach each of these parts separately and then join them together to form a Bow. The 3 main parts of a Bow are 1. Leg Up. 2. Lean Back. 3. Head Down.

      All the best,

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  2. Hi I love this! I have an old mare named gloria( we don’t know how old she is but we have been saying late 20s for a while now ) anyway I tried the touch trick with her and another horse today. Even though the younger horse picked it up faster Gloria started understanding it too! She’s extremely trusting but can be sort of distracted any tips for getting a horse friend to focus more? Thank you so much for sharing your tips its so great to find something for me and glo to do together that isnt too hard on her back.

    1. Hi Charlotte, Great to hear that your horses are learning the touch trick. And good on you for teaching an older horse 🙂 Some horses, especially the older ones, can be a bit reluctant to try new things. They might have been punished for exploring or doing something different and they have ‘switched off’. You will find that over time she will become more and more interested if you encourage her (even the smallest try). I really like to work with treats – this makes most horses more enthusiastic and focused. You need to find something she really likes. I use small pieces of carrots most of the time but also bake special treats for times when my horses do something really well (or I want extra focus). Here’s a molasses treat that Trigger LOVES! https://www.horsetricks101.com/2014/02/molasses-trick-training-treat/
      Good luck with the training 🙂
      Jain.

  3. I have a pony called Suprise and whenever I try and get him to do a trick he gets confused. I have tried breaking it up but he still gets confused. I know he knows a couple of tricks from his old owner as he does them sometimes however he won’t do them for me so I must have the wrong cue. I can’t get in contact so what should I do?

    1. Hi Jushan, You are doing the right thing by breaking the trick up into small parts. Sometimes you have to make each step super small. For example when I am teaching my horses to drop their heads, I may only ask them for an eighth of an inch the first time. I keep doing this until I am sure they understand what I am asking. I would also recommend trying to teach Surprise a new trick. Something very simple. That way you can teach him new tricks your way and teach him to understand your cues. Also make sure you give him lots of encouragement and rewards 🙂 I like to teach my horses to ‘touch’ an object first. This is the beginning of tricks such as kiss, hug and fetch. If you’d like to know more about trick training have a look at my ebook on the products page: https://www.horsetricks101.com/horse-training-products/
      Happy tricks,
      Jain.

  4. Hi! I would really like to trick train my horse Kiya, but I only get to see him about every six weeks for a week or two since he lives at my grandmother’s farm. I will be spending lots of time up there this summer, but I would love to start some training now. what should I do?

    1. Hi Ellie,

      You can teach your horse some simple tricks if you have a few days together. I would recommend teaching Kiya to touch an object first. This helps to build an understanding between you and it will make it easier to teach him other tricks. Rather than try and teach him in one big lesson, visit him several times a day and do very short little training sessions (maximum of 5 minutes). I like to teach my horse to touch a target. Here’s a video I made about this: http://youtu.be/A_kyklhfbxs

      Happy tricks!

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  5. Hiya! I really love your page and I’m working on signing up yay! I have a welsh section A called Spellbound and I’ve been with him since last summer (early on in may), back then he nipped and would stop suddenly and seriously hated being groomed. Un-luckily and luckily he acquired a back injury during my test ride on him as he had just arrived at my stables and he had previously been brought up in an academy (being the prissy pony he is). Long story short during that time I gained his trust and I can now pick out his hooves, wiggle his legs and sit on him and actually read a magazine while he eats. But my issue is I’m very keen to start trick training during the summer but my yard is very strict on tricks as he is in a working livery so others ride him durning the week as I work at school 8-6 and have Saturday school too so I ride him on Sundays and Saturday afternoons. If I started training with him I know he picks up quickly as he picked up dressage moves extremely quickly I would be worried that he would try and do these in a lesson when other people were riding him. They may be simple tricks but he’s not stupid and knows when he wants food, I don’t want some poor kid flying or the instructor getting confused as he keeps lowering his head and sticking his foot out! How could I teach him so he only responds to me to make it safer? Thank you and sorry for the paragraph 😀 <3 – Lucy

    1. Hi Lucy, That’s wonderful that you’ve been able gain the trust of your Welshy and do so many things with him now. ‘Trust’ is the key 🙂

      However, I think it would be very difficult to teach him to just do tricks only when YOU ask. I find that once a horse learns to do tricks they are super keen to do them and someone may give him a cue, not meaning to, and he will do a trick you had taught him. Unfortunately then he may get a bad name at your yard.

      My only suggestion would be to think of tricks that would never be asked for by other people at your yard. Maybe something like ‘Fetch’. Teach him that when you throw a ball he should go after it and bring it back to you or drop it in a bucket. Don’t show him that ball at any time when others are working with him.

      You will also have to be careful with food. I really like to use treats as rewards when my horses do what I ask. However if you would like to train him using food, you need to make sure that no one else gives him food from their hand. Otherwise he may get confused or become nippy.

      Keep up the good work with him! 🙂

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  6. Hi,
    I would like to know the trick when my horse come to me. She knows many tricks for example to say yes and sometimes to give me a kiss. Can you tell me how I must to do that she does the kisstrick always?
    Thank you! 😉

    1. Hi Luna,

      To teach your horse any trick you need to teach them to understand a cue. For example, Trigger understands that if I lean forward toward his mouth and make a kissing sound that I want a kiss and he always gives me one 🙂 The cue must be exactly the same each time and the horse must totally understands what it means (it mustn’t look like any other cues).

      To teach a horse to come to you, I would just break the trick into lots of very small parts (as I do with all tricks). Here’s a video of Bella coming when called.

      http://youtu.be/kkQI8A2AO2U

      When she first arrived here she was hard to catch and would walk away from me. I just started small. Asking her to come to me from a step away. The cue is that I hold my hands up (so my horses can see me if they are a long way away). I then give her the Marker (as explained in the training ebook) and then a reward. She learns very quickly that if she sees my hands up that she if she comes to me she gets a reward. I then just start asking her to come to me from further and further away. Hope that helps.

      Happy tricks!
      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  7. Hello! I love the tricks that you are teaching your horses! I would like to do the same, but my horse is a stallion and i’m kind of scared of teaching him tricks since he gets pretty hyper and he bites a lot. Is there a simple way to teach my horse tricks without hurting myself?

    1. Hi Bea,

      Good to hear you like trick training 🙂

      Firstly, I would spend time teaching him to be well mannered around treats and not to bite. You can teach him in a way that is kind. He just needs to understand that there are rules around food.

      If you teach him this then you will be able to ask him to do just about anything without worrying that he might hurt you.

      In the beginning you might need to practise this over a fence or stable door so you can step back if he tries to get pushy.

      All the best with your training.

      Jain.

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