Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sonny Can Be Caught!

Where Sonny learns about the clicker...
He *CAN* be caught!
My friend asked me to keep an eye on her brand-new-to-her horse while she was out of town.  She divulged that he could be difficult to catch...
Well, the other night, I noticed while I was riding that he was still in the turn-out.
When I was finished riding, he was *still* out!

Then it occured to me...  Perhaps he wouldn't be caught...
Since I still needed to check in on him, I put my kids away and headed out with a halter, a bag of treat, and a clicker.

He has not yet been primed to the clicker.  This could get interesting...
After walking back and forth across the back corner of the pasture, he waited in a certain spot to let me approach.  As we stood together, enjoying a breeze, I clicked and treated when he looked at me.  He seemed to like this game.  However, when I picked the rope up off of my shoulder (seriously, I only raised it an inch!), he said to me, "Oh, **HELL** no!  I can't do it!" and walked away.

We paced back and forth again, then came together on the other side of the corner.  This time, if he put his nose on my hand, he got a treat.  When he got bored, we walked apart.

And we came together again on the first side of that corner.  As you can see, there was lots of walking involved for both of us!  This time, I asked him to let me scratch his jaw.

...more walking...
...other side again...
Scratch the neck?  Well, maybe...  Clicks when he lets me (followed by a treat, of course).  Nothing when he doesn't let me.  Suddenly, we're standing side by side, my shoulder at his jaw, just hanging out.  I reached under his nack and scratched behind his ears!  *click*treat*
I turned around and slyly, smoothly, lifted the lead over his neck.  Once it happened (and I'm sure he knew exactly what was going on, but he was more comfortable if we pretended we were sneaky), he was cool with it.  "OK, " said he, "I'm ready, now!"

We left the turn out and he just grazed on the end of the lead while I chatted.  Whenever he came up for breath, he would ever so quietly touch his nose to my hand.  And I felt obligated to *click*treat*, because I had already taught him that as the first step to being caught.
You see, I talk with my hands, and one would just end up out there to my side, as if it was waiting for his nose!  He decided that he liked that game!

It has been determined that Sonny has trust issues.  However, we think this clicker approach will help clarify our expectations and ease some of his worry as he learns *exactly* what we are asking him to do!
The game may have taken 25 minutes, but Sonny wasn't stressed when we got done.  I consider that a serious win!


  1. Hey, that's awesome! You know me, I'll never bash clicker training again.

    1. I'm right there with you, sister! Just another tool in the toolbox, right?



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