Trick Training Tips

How Many Ways Can Your Horse Back?

The more ways you can teach your horse to do simple movements like backing, the more building blocks you will have to build your own tricks.

Trigger now understands 5 different ways of backing and I can use these different movements to teach him more advanced tricks.

It gets easier and easier to teach him new tricks because he has this basic understanding.

To see Trigger’s 5 ways of backing watch this short video:

Solving Horse Problems, Trick Training Tips

Does Your Horse Do Tricks Without Being Asked?

When you start teaching your horse a new trick they may want to do it all the time (even when you don’t ask them to do it).

This just means they are super keen!  And they have discovered that by doing this new trick they are ‘rewarded’.  A reward for a horse can be anything like a treat or a scratch.  Some horses even find it ‘rewarding’ when their human smiles or laughs.

Even Trigger, who is an experienced trick horse, will sometimes do tricks without being asked.

And while this is cute and you’ve got to love them for trying 🙂 it is really important that your horse learns that they should only do tricks when you ask them.  Otherwise it could become dangerous or just annoying.

Your horse needs to clearly understand that they will only be rewarded if they do a trick when you ask them to do it.   

So from now on you can’t reward any trick you don’t ask for.   That means no smiling or laughing either…. I know that is hard to do! 🙂  (I even do it in the video below).

If you want to build the bond and relationship with your horse, you must never punish them for trying. You just need to explain that they should only do tricks when you ask.

Here’s a video showing how I handle Trigger doing ‘extra’ tricks (in the kindest possible way).

PS Watch for Bella trying to do some extra tricks too 🙂

Horse Treats and Recipes, Trick Training Tips

Try 2 Types of Training Treats

To encourage your horse to try even harder consider training with 2 types of treats.  I use a general one and a ‘special’ treat for when they do something really well.

The general treat is usually something that isn’t high in sugar or fat.  You can use a lot of it! 🙂

Options for the general treat include:

  • Chaff (chopped up hay)
  • Some of your horse’s daily feed
  • Low GI horse pellets

Here’s a link to recipe for Trigger’s favorite special treat:

MOLASSES TRICK TRAINING TREAT

 

Trick Training Tips

Could Your Horse Speak Spanish?

Use special training wordsThe words you use to cue your horse to do tricks need to be words that you DO NOT use at any other time.

Humans tend to chatter around horses and this can sound like general noise to our horses. If you don’t use special words for cues they will get lost in this noise and it tends to dilute their effect.

We recently received a clever suggestion on our Facebook Page:

Use words from languages other than your native language for cue words. 

Continue reading “Could Your Horse Speak Spanish?”

Horse Training, Trick Training Tips

Increase Your Horse’s Attention By Defining Your Training Sessions

If you want to teach your horse lots of tricks you need to clearly define the start and end of your training sessions. Your horse needs to know when you are about to start teaching them something new and to give you their total attention.

Bella training To signal to my horses that I am in training mode I wear a Treat Bag around my waist. This bag is a great place to store treats and it has a spring that holds the bag open so I can easily get to the treats.

But best of all… if I’m wearing the treat bag my horses know we are going to do some trick training and to pay attention. Even if it’s just a quick 5 minute session.

You can use other ways to signal the beginning of a trick training session. For example you could put a particular halter on your horse or train in a certain area reserved for learning new things.

If I am wearing a Treat Bag my horses really come to attention and watch every movement I make.

My hand movements and other cues now contain important information for my horses on what they need to do to earn a tasty reward (VERY important stuff for horses).  Continue reading “Increase Your Horse’s Attention By Defining Your Training Sessions”

Question & Answers, Solving Horse Problems, Trick Training Tips

Q&A – Should I Teach My Horse More Than One Trick at a Time?

Question: I have started teaching my gelding to smile, he’s doing pretty well considering neither of us have a clue… well, do I stay with just the one trick until he “gets it” or… will that make him too bored and should I introduce another trick and alternate during the training time? …OR would that confuse him? Heck, I’M confused just from my question :O) 

Trick smile

Good question!

Answer:  it depends on the horse…

One of the first horses I started trick training was a thoroughbred who did get bored with doing the same things over and over again – he was a VERY smart horse.  So I would try and teach him about 3 tricks at a time.

Continue reading “Q&A – Should I Teach My Horse More Than One Trick at a Time?”