It wasn't always like this!
Tobey is a Wild Mustang. He's 16 years old and was a Range Stallion for 15 years. Wouldn't you agree that Tobey has learned much about equine social interaction? He received some pretty poor training methods from a guy who was the first adopter. The methods used were not those used in Natural Horsemanship circles, today. The BLM does their utmost to ensure that the homes the adopted mustangs will go to, are safe and that "Good HorseKeeping" is practiced. A "Rescuer" lady kindly took him temporarily and saw to his well-being until someone could be found that Tobey would let approach. He arrived here with 3 ropes embedded into his poll, maggots crawling in that.
Tobey accepting some wound dressing after he allowed me to remove the embedded ropes. Time? One hour till they were removed.
Using concepts of Clicker Training, we have moved to a higher level, namely actually rasping the very over grown toes of Tobey. He is unhaltered and at liberty to move off should he choose. The Clicker is on the wrist band. The bag carries alfalfa cubes which I break apart for small treats.
Tobey and I are working with "SCARY" objects over Tobey's head. The idea is to rapidly pass from one eye to the other and have Tobey "Spook in Place". Again, attached to my wrist is the Clicker. When he does well, he is rewarded for the "correct choice". The object is a crinkly grain bag attached to a progress string and carrot stick.
This is Tobey's progress in accepting various external scary objects. Tobey is watching intently but still stays in one place. I am holding a clicker in my left hand. It is his choice to remain standing near me, as he is untied.
"Sweet Pea", 2 1/2 y/o QH Filly. In her initial "starting", by the owners, just 4 months ago, she was driven through the roundpen panels in the first ten minutes, slicing herself on the legs, neck, shoulders and sides. She needed extensive Vet. care. Her attitude became very, very aggressive towards any human trying to tell her what to do.
Here, I am saddling. I request that she remain stationary and calm, untied. Even if my Kuvasz LGD's storm the breezeway. Or when some sheep accidentally enter the barn.
I am using the clicker, in my left hand here. IF she is calm for a few seconds, in the beginning, I CLICK! Otherwise, I return her to the original starting spot. Patience
Sweet Pea has a peculiar withers and back. I had no saddle that would not roll off. Suffice it to say, I tried many tactics. Thus, I needed a bucket to stand on, so I could make the first saddling safer for both of us. And allow future mountings to be easier. Yet Sweet Pea refuses to stand still. Not out of fear, but plain attitude. Rather than "make her work", a valid technique I use also, I decided to cause her to want to move to me for mounting. A more "Positive Reinforcement" method. First I played Parelli's "Seven Games", maybe not to perfection. Then I "Shaped" her movements 'till she side-passed over to me. And YES, sometimes I wear a helmet, other times my regular western hat.
Here, I am "drawing" her to me by cupping my hands and reverse-waving. Like if I was on the other side pointing at her, I would expect her to do a sideways game away from me. This picture shows her moving sideways towards me, into the correct position. The clicker is in my right hand. And, believe me, she IS enjoying this. I think she moves off now so that I will get her to side pass back to me and CLICK! her.
With nice Fall colors as a background, I work on yielding to the slightest suggestion of pressure on the rein. The clicker is on my right wrist. And, Yes, a very quick release of the right rein should be sufficient reward for her "baby give". But, Sweet Pea's general attitude towards training was pretty much "Opposition Reflex". But adding in Kurland's Clicker Training for Horses, I was able to pique her interest in trying to find out how to get a CLICK!
Just a couple of weeks earlier, this Filly tried kicking me with both rear feet 34 times in two and a half hours. I counted as I could not believe it either. Still, I persisted rather patiently, to borrow a Parelli phrase, and she realized I was not so much "driving" her, as playing some games. But the fact that I am sitting on this calm horse is proof that Clicker Training For Horses, might be considered by others facing severe problem equines. If you are interested, Kurland has written the definitive book on Horse Clicker Training.
Again, here on my left wrist is the trusty Clicker. Tobey understands the repeatable sound it makes at the instant he is choosing the "Correct Move".
This is "Thomas", a Foundation QH, 11 year old stallion. Until now, he has never been ridden. He was a serious case of attitude, having already broken many ribs of the first trainer to whom he was taken. The trainer says he responded in kind with a two by four. Seems that didn't work.
Well, using Clicker Training and Natural Horsemanship methods, here I sit. Thomas was like a little child. He really had fun with the clicker training. I could see his eyes light up when I approached with the treat bag on my belt and that white wrist band. He knew I was going to be letting him guess what I wanted next.
Ariel, a 7 month old Percheron Filly. Using the Clicker, I am signaling approval when Ariel does nothing about the ropes being drug over her face. Next photo is a closer look.
Backing. Slowly pulsing the open hand in front of her face while very gently applying pressure to the knot below the rope halter. The Clicker is in my left hand. Ariel stepped back. I released the halter pressure and also stopped the hand pulsing. I clicked, as I felt her movement, and gave her another small treat for the accomplishment.
Drawing Ariel towards me with hand motions. She started to move and I clicked to her.