Friday, February 22, 2008

Clicking Along

Here’s what is so cool about Clicker Training: It’s snowing like crazy but I can still work with Siete. I took a break from shoveling and brought my clicker and some tiny bits of chopped up carrots into her stall. We’re working on lowering her head when I say “down” and on backing up and coming forward soft and easy.

The hardest thing for me is to cue, click and treat. I keep wishing I had an extra hand. Siete is fairly patient with me. She gets it faster than I can respond. I’m always groping in my pocket for the treat. She bends her nose down to the pocket like she’s trying to say, “Mom! It’s right there!” What’s interesting is that she never bumps me or tries to go into my pocket. She just positions her nose as close as she can get and waits.

I continue to enjoy reading Alexandra Kurland’s book, “Clicker Training for Your Horse”. She has a very good website: theclickercenter.com. Anyone who is thinking about trying it should stop by there and check it out.

Silk is absolutely not interested in the clicker. She is a bit jealous and definitely wants to get her share of the treats. Of course, she already does all the things that I’m teaching Siete to do. Silk is such a lady, so polite and patient. I know it comes with the wisdom of age and her relationship with me. More and more, my dear old horse mirrors me.

Her daughter is an eager student who could spend all day at Clicker School if I had the time.

10 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Clicker training sounds interesting. I think I will check out the site you mentioned and see what it's all about, I've never actually seen it put into practice. Siete sounds like an "A" student.

ranchette said...

Thanks for the clicker training link. I've been thinking about starting it with the new hackney pony who seems a little...well in need of incentives to learn.

Farm Girl said...

It is much easier to train, if you can develope a tongue click. Then you won't need the third hand and you will always have your clicker with you. With practice, I think it works better, because my reaction is quicker, to mark the behavior. My horses worked just as well with the tongue click as with the mechanical clicker.
Hope you have lots of success with it.

detroit dog said...

Funny, what Farm Girl said. I did "tongue-in-cheek clicks" with my dog, though I only used it to call her. She must have been trained on the track how to work with it. I do have a book on clicker training for dogs, but as it turned out we never needed it. The next dog will be clicker-trained, however. Great technique, I think, as long as their hearing is good. Also seems less intrusive (in an audio sense).

Twinville said...

Great idea about the tongue click!

I'm the same way about incoordination and needing more hands to work with a clicker and treats.

I think I'd like to try clicker training with my llamas this summer. They are quite food motivated but don't much like handling. Clicker training might get the response I want without me having to 'manhandle' and annoy them.

Bones said...

Ha! I love it: getting her nose as close as possible to the treats. And, like you need more paraphanalia, but what about one of those belt bags the doggie folks use to hold treats? Or even a chalk bag.

And for Silk, even though she knows all this stuff, you could give her some rewards for doing what you ask; you know, just to include her in on the fun.

detroit dog said...

OK - one more comment. Re what Bones said. I took my girl to obedience classes - which is how I found out (4 years after she got off the track) that she already knew all the commands (it seems that I was the one that didn't know them). It was great for the two of us though to have this one thing to do together, to work at. Though it does seem that I'm the one that benefited.

Strawberry Lane said...

I've seen some amazing results with Clicker training. Farm Girl has a good idea there!

Good luck, will be interested in your progress!

billie said...

LOL about Silk not being interested. Keil Bay and Salina would likely have the same response.

Cody would manage to get the clicker out of my hand and run around clicking it at the other horses.

I think the pony might like it.

The fact that Siete is so interested and at the same time so respectful of the space is really exciting. It sounds like just the thing to engage her during these long winter days in the barn.

M. C. Valada said...

One of the trainers I work with, Paddy Warner, uses a "bait bag" for the treats. I would guess that a fishing suppler might have them in stock. I use my pocket, but a bait bag is certainly better for wetter treats like carrots.