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ClickRyder--Clicker Training For Horses

Scarlett, Partner of Laura

This is my Mustang filly Scarlett when she was a weanling (Fall of '95). I call this "double-butt rub". She wags her butt back and forth and I do the same and we cross in the middle. She eventually got too big for this (her butt was alot higher then mine!) but now she'll back all over the corral so she'll get her scratchies, she'll even back through cones! We've had a very close relationship since she was born in March of '95. We feel she may have been born a little premature (mom was bred in the wild, so it's hard to say when she was due), so for the first 2 nights of her life I slept in the 3 sided stall with her in sub-20 degree weather so I could cover her with a blanket every time she laid down after nursing. I also put down straw, had a heat lamp and tied 3 of my husbands flannel shirts around her that I dubbed "filly jombos". Scarlett and I formed a bond from those early experiences that just gets stronger with time.

Here are a few photos of Scarlett just taken a few weeks ago (9/99). She's coming along in her training great. Doing walk and trot patterns, sidestepping and as you can see from the photo, counting while mounted!




This photo is of my Mustang filly Scarlett and her 1/2 Arabian gelding boyfriend Mystic. Scarlett is very attentive to my body language and pretty much imitates what I do with my feet. In this photo, we are learning alternating foot "counting". As soon as she understands what I'm asking and does it, I simply say "good" and follow with a cookie. Sounds pretty stupid, but Scarlett is trained to urinate and go "poopey" when asked. All I have to do is say "Scarlett, go poopey" and she will leave her food, walk over to her spot and go. She gets a "good" from me and then her treat. I'm sure people think I'm weird, but I like to keep track of what is a normal BM for my horses and what better way to keep track then if she'll go on command!

This is a photo of Scarlett and I when she was only about 2 weeks old April/'95. Right from the start, Scarlett and I have been best buddies. She has always displayed a tremendous amount of intelligence and maturity. I've used my version of clicker training with her in the form of praise and then "treats" of carrots, horse cookies or scratching her in her favorite spots.

My horses were trained using modified clicker training. I didn't have a clicker, so for the last 3 years I have trained my coming 4 year old Mustang filly utilizing a voice cue in place of the "click" followed by a treat. Scarlett, at liberty, sidepasses both directions, does turn on the forehand, back-up while I'm in front of her or behind, counts and I also ride her sans tack of any kind all over her large paddock and slide off over her butt to dismount. Two days ago I ordered 2 wrist clickers and the click training book (I hadn't known there was a name for the method I was using before joining the Clickryder list 2 weeks ago), but this is what has been achieved without having the actual clicker. I had also trained my mare Star in many different disciplines (including jumping a course of fences with no tack) utilizing this method.

This is Scarlett and I at the Wild Horse and Burro Show in Reno, NV in 1996. Scarlett was a little over a year old and one of only 3 yearlings competing that year. I entered us in the Costume class as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. My husband built the elaborate wings that Scarlett would wear, they were held on by 2 bungie cords wrapped around her middle. I used the clicker method at home to get her used to wearing the wings and walking around with them on. Within minutes of strapping them on she was completely comfortable with them, more interested in hearing her clicker voice cue and getting her cookie treat. The training served us well because when we came down the ramp into the echoing indoor Reno Livestock Events Center, the flashbulbs started popping and the applause was LOUD! Scarlett stayed focused to me and after my voice cue and slipping her a cookie, she was as calm as calm could be.

This photo was taken when Scarlett was only 2 years old. At this point in time I had ridden her 6-8 times, but never with even a halter on her. I still just ride her without tack, but our "serious" training where I will actually ride her with a halter will begin soon! I first got her used to being ridden by standing on her large tire feeder and sitting on her sideways or laying over her. When she accepted this, I would say "good" and then treat with either a scratch or a carrot or cookie. Soon, I was sitting all the way on her while she ate (she'd even wander over, take a drink of water and go back to her feeder without even paying attention to me on her back). I got to the point where I would ask her to "bring me your butt" and she would back up to the feeder, I would then scratch her back (her reward) and then climb on her over her butt.


I received my clickers yesterday and wanted to update you on my training with my Mustang filly Scarlett with the actual clicker instead of just voice cues. I went out with her and familiarized her with the sound of the clicker and within a matter of 2 minutes we were doing manuvers at the walk and trot at liberty on the ground, including trotting next to me with her nose to the ground. This morning, I took out a plastic milk container and again, within 2 minutes, Scarlett would touch the container even when I kicked it 15 feet away. Scarlett is a quick study and a very smart girl, so I played with her gelding boyfriend Mystic for a few too. He was touching the carton very quickly as well, and even picked up on touching it when it was a distance away within about 5 minutes. Yesterday I went out and began introducing a clients 2 1/2 year old Arabian colt to the clicker. He has a serious problem with his flight instinct, whenever something bothers him, his solution is to leave. He's also not comfortable with interaction with people going to his sides unless you move slowly. He's a smart, good natured colt though, and within a few minutes he was understanding the approach and was accepting very nicely my movements to both sides without trying to leave, which I would let him do by going to the end of the lead rope if he really felt he needed too.

Contact Laura

Starwood Farms