Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Clicker to Load

Cricket hasn't shown much interest in the clicker.  She seems like she couldn't care less if I click or not.  If she gets a treat or not.  She is completely nonchalant.

I found an opportunity to load her in a strange trailer!  I happened to have clicker and treats in hand, so I decided to use them.  I know from past experience that she will walk right up to the back of the trailer, but she doesn't want to put her feet in...

She finally put a single foot in, and I clicked the clicker... Right before she charged backward! *sigh*
She took a few moments to rear and swing and generally act like a fool...  At one point, she stood up and hit the bottom of her chin on the top of the trailer...
I made it a point to not have any tension on the rope when she went about with the acting out.  And she settled quickly with nothing to fight against!

Once she settled, she looked at me, studied the trailer, and made up her mind...  She CHARGED into the trailer!

I clicked!  She took a treat, but before she even finished it, she started getting anxious.  The more she danced in place, the noisier it got!  The noisier it got, the more paniced she felt!  Before she trampled me, I asked her, "What has you worried?"
She replied, "I don't know which way to go!!!"
I said, "Then, go backward."
She took a step back, her hip bumped the wall, and she glued that hip to the wall as she backed out!
BUT! It didn't take 40 minutes to get her in...  It took 10.
She walked in twice more, each time calmer than the one before.

That clicker got her thinking, and thinking got her in the trailer.  It isn't about the treats.  I was astonished how quickly it made a difference!  Who knew?


  1. Interesting!! I've never used a clicker, but I know that when my horse gets uptight and panicky about something, the best thing I can do is interrupt her and show her a different option/solution. Maybe the clicker was that interruption to get her from panicky to thinking again. :)

    1. I think you are spot-on! I am convinced that this is what happens with Fancy Pony when she is walking off when I'm trying to catch her. I think the *click* flips a switch and actually changes which part of the brain they are using!

    2. We need to clicker train Sonny for this very reason. He's difficult to catch after turnout. I think it will help with the mounting and dismounting too.

  2. Replies
    1. I didn't really expect it to make a difference, but I figured that it couldn't hurt to try!

  3. Last night I was talking to the cowboy whose been working my trainer's western horse. His method for teaching trailering was pretty interesting and I let him do some of the ground work on Ramone (who is good to get on and so far we're just letting the big lug unload himself.)

    1. Are you going to share any details, or leave me sitting on the edge of my seat?? ;)

  4. I like to use the clicker when Shy is afraid of things. I ask her to touch it, then click and treat. It seems to assure her that things aren't as scary and she gets treat. I think it takes their mind away from scary and on to good(food).

    1. I'm finding that many horses are thrilled to learn to stand still with the clicker!



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