Clicker Training - Equipment

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Clicker Training


1] Stall or corral

2] Horse

3] Target -- small orange cones sold in sporting goods departments work very well. Also useful is a shampoo bottle glued to a 3 ft. piece of pvc pipe. Bucket lids or small plastic items that the horse can see easily and can't get hurt on are good targets.

4] Clicker -- a clicker on a stretchy wristband is very convenient.

5] Fanny pack or something similar to hold motivators.

6] Paycheck -- grain, small alfalfa pellets, bits of apple, carrot coins, breakfast food, peppermints and horse treats are some of the motivators you may use.

7] Feed pan or bucket -- optional to drop food in if you are not comfortable hand feeding the horse or if the horse is not comfortable being close to you.

Getting Started

Practicing in front of a mirror is helpful before starting with a horse. This will help get your target, click and treat timing sequence down before you also have to deal with a horse. I put my clicker on my right wrist and hold the target with my left hand. I also have my fanny pack on my left side. Hold the target in front of you, pretend the horse touched it with his nose and click at that instant. Remove the target, get your treat and feed it to your imaginary horse with your hand held way away from your body. Practice this sequence until it becomes automatic. This will make it much easier when you start with a horse.

Chucking Food

Targeting is generally the first step in clicker training horses. If the horse is one you can't get near or is very fearful you may start with chucking food. If he is afraid of the clicker noise you can muffle it against your body or in your pocket. Or have someone else stand a distance away and click and you feed the horse a very small amount immediately after the click. Horses work very cheaply -- a carrot coin or a couple of pieces of grain is plenty. If you are woking with a wild one, click, drop grain or alfalfa into his feeder and back off to where the horse is comfortable enough to come to the feeder and eat. It helps if he is slightly hungry. Very slowly decrease the distance you back off until the horse is comfortable eating with you close to the feeder. With a very frightened horse this may take a week or more, but he will make progress as long as you do VERY SMALL steps.

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© 2001 Karen Parker