Some Tricks COME WHEN CALLED The #1 rule to teaching your horse to come when called is: Never, ever call your horse when you are going to do anything unpleasant! Especially for shots/deworming, long workouts or anything your horse might think is unpleasant and avoidable by not letting you catch him. For the first part of this exercise, you will not catch your horse at all. If you are accustomed to fetching your horse daily out of his luscious green pasture to do work, you are going to have to put this habit on hold for awhile. If you never have problems walking up and haltering your horse in a pasture, then you can skip down to Part 2 of this lesson (below). Otherwise, you must to do Part 1 if you want this to work! Part 1: Advance, Retreat, Repeat. In this step, you will teach your horse that walking after him with a leadrope (or anything) in your hand is not, in any way, unpleasant or threatening. Do not bring anything with you into the pasture except yourself. Leave the halter, leadrope and any other equipment you use back at the barn. Do not touch your horse at all during the first 3 steps. 1. Advance: Start walking toward your horse. Watch his body language very, very carefully. 2. Retreat: The instant you see his muscles tense as if he is about to walk away, turn and walk away from him first. 3. Repeat: Repeat this until you can walk all the way up to him, and turn to walk away without him even thinking about leaving. When you walk away, you should walk at least 20 ft. away. I know, you'll get plenty of exercise...but in the end, it will really pay off! Once he will do the above steps well, you should leave the pasture. Come back 15 minutes later and start over again. This time, you will realize that you can walk much, much closer before (if at all) he thinks about leaving. Repeat this again the following day. Vary the exercise! Now that he feels at ease and not threatened by you walking up to him in the pasture, you can repeat the same exercise as above, with a few variations. Variation 1: Walk up to him, pet his neck, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 2: Walk up to him, give him a carrot, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 3: Drape a leadrope over your shoulder, walk up to him, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 4: Drape a bridle over your shoulder, walk up to him, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 5: Hold a saddle over your hip, walk up to him, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 6: Drape a leadrope over one shoulder, a bridle over the other and hold a saddle over your hip, walk up to him, and walk away. Then repeat. Variation 7: Walk up to him, put the halter on him, then lead him out of the pasture. Stop right outside the pasture gate, give him a carrot, then immediately turn him back out. Repeat. get the idea..... Why and How does this work? If you take a look at this from the horse's perspective, you will see exactly why and how this works so well! Your horse is obviously avoiding the catching process for a reason. It may be because he has to go through something unpleasant every time you catch him, or it could even be that he fears people in general. Whatever the reason, he feels threatened. You will want to find out that reason, and if you can't completely eliminate it, then minimize its unpleasantness as much as you possibly can. Part 2: Come When Called. In this step, you will teach your horse to come to you when you call him. This will save your poor legs from walking an extra 50 ft or so. Never, ever call him when you are about to do anything unpleasant!!! That would reverse what you are trying to teach him! If it is time for his shots, then walk out there yourself and get him, don't be lazy! You will have to decide on a voice command or a sound to use for the call. This could be the horse's name, or as simle as you whistling. Whatever you decide, use it consistently. Don't call his name one time, and whistle another. 1. Walk through the pasture gate and stop. Call him with the sound you've decided on. Make sure he can hear you! 2. Wait a couple seconds, then walk up to him, give him a carrot, and immediately walk away from him. 3. Repeat. The first time you call him and he walks up to you on his own, give him a whole handful of carrots, stroke his neck, and tell him "Good Boy". He will begin to associate your call with something pleasant, and will begin to come to you when you call him. THE KISS Step 1. Have a halter and lead rope on your horse, standing him in a stall, aisle or next to a fence. Stand directly in front of him. Hold a piece of carrot in your right hand. Let your horse know it is there, but don't give it to him. Place the carrot firmly next to your cheek and let him smell it. He knows it's there, and will probably attempt to get it by reaching closer to your mouth for it. Command, "Kiss me!" while slightly raising raising your head (chin). As soon as his mouth touches your hand or cheek, give him the carrot. Repeat this several times, giving the command each time and continuing the suggestive movement of your head. Step 2. Repeat Step 1, this time rewarding your horse when he nuzzles your cheek with his lips (as in "kissing"), making more of the kissing movement. If you offer your mouth, be careful that he doesn't get over- eager and bite you. He probably wants the carrot badly, but needs to be reminded of his manners. Repeat this many times until he begins to associate the phrase with the reward of getting the carrot. Step 3. Dispense with your hand holding the carrot by your cheek. Just your command, "Kiss me!" and your cue of raising your chin up should produce a sloppy horse kiss! Repeat this process until your horse thoroughly understands the trick and responds quickly. Do not continue until he tires of it (and he will). Horses are so reliable, because they won't kiss and tell! (But if you have lipstick on, YOU may leave some telltale signs) When teaching your horse to "kiss" you, the end result should be his "wiggling" his lips on your cheek for a few seconds. Your cues should be , standing directly facing him, with your hands DROPPED AT YOUR SIDES, the suggestive movement of your chin upward and the command, "Kiss Me!" I don't think horses have so much different styles of kissing, as the trainer--you-- has in what you ask and expect of your horse. That is, you might be satisfied with just a little "peck" on the cheek, whereas some want lover lips to REALLY move those lips. If you really want him to nuzzle you, withold the reward until he gives you more of what you want. You'd be surprised at how agile some horses' lips are. Of course, they are big animals, and you always want to be careful they don't nip or bite, especially a stallion. As a trainer you will get from your horse exactly what you expect. For example, if you reward a horse for just a "little" of the desired action, you will get just that. For example, if I want a horse to bow on one knee, I will train him to bow ALL THE WAY DOWN on one knee, not just an ankle bent. Also, another tip--teach just one new trick in a session, so as not to confuse your horse. Also, teach him these tricks well, until he responds to them automatically with a halter and lead rope on. Then you can progress to doing it without. A VARIATION ON THE KISS Teaching your horse to Kiss your cheek is a very simple trick to learn. Follow these steps in order. Be patient and consistent...and don't rush it! Equipment needed: Some type of treat. 1. Place a treat on your hand and allow the horse to take it. 2. Hold another treat 2 ft. away from him and allow him to step forward and take it. 3. Give the verbal command "kiss" and hold the treat next to your cheek. 4. Repeat step 3 several times. Always be sure to give the verbal command "kiss". 5. Then, give the verbal command "kiss" - before you offer a treat. 6. Wait for his response. If he does not kiss your cheek, you need to go back and practice step 3. If he does kiss your cheek, reward him instantly with a treat. The first time he does this on his own, offer him tons of praise. Give him many treats and end the lesson at that. 7. Wait 5-15 minutes and start the lesson over at step 5. By repeating the lesson 5-15 minutes later, the horse will learn much faster, and remember it much better. You may also use the same steps above to teach your horse to kiss on the lips. If you want to teach your horse to kiss you on the lips, be aware that he may bite you on accident while trying to take the treat. It is fairly dangerous to ask any horse to kiss you on the lips, so teaching it is at your own risk ACT ASHAMED So now that your horse has learned to "kiss you" in the previous trick, and his attention is centered around his head, let us continue to teach him tricks using his head (and neck). This lesson will show you how to teach your horse to "Act Ashamed." Step #1. Have a halter and lead rope on your horse, standing him in a stall, aisle or next to a fence. Rehearse the first trick, the "kiss," to refresh his memory. Demand he does it correctly, and be sure to reward him when he does. Stand directly in front of him, facing him, and with a piece of carrot in your left hand, reach behind your back and under your right arm, turning your body slightly so he can see it. At the same time, raise your right arm level with your shoulder and in a SCOLDING TONE OF VOICE, say, "Shame on you!" Emphasize the word SHAME. Step #2 Make him lower his head, reaching under your right arm for the carrot. You can encourage him by gently pushing his head down with your right hand on his poll, if necessary. Let him eat the carrot, and while doing so, drop your right arm around his head, pet him and reassure him he is good, in a soothing tone of voice. Repeat this several times in one session, ove a 5-10 minute period, but no longer, so that he doesn't tire of it. Step #3 Repeat Steps 1 and 2, until your horse immediately drops his head under your right arm, upon hearing the words, "Shame on you!", and the raising of your right arm. Remember--your tone of voice is important here, so be sure to sound like you're scolding him. After many repetitions, you should be able to eliminate the treats each time (save one until the end of the session) and he should perform this trick with the cues and the command reliably. Note: With his head "hiding" under your arm, it will appear as if your horse is truly ashamed of himself. This is a great "cover-up" trick, for times when your horse doesn't get a trick right. This trick can be the ultimate lifesaver--a very useful, saving face response! Your patter and this trick will make people think that he really KNOWS that he is wrong, and he will appear even smarter! What is meant by a saving-face trick, was that if you ever decide to put a "routine" together where your horse will do many tricks, (You can usually perform a 10-15 minute act without repeating a trick!), this trick comes in handy for times when your horse may not give you a correct "answer," or do a trick correctly. THAT'S when this trick should be thrown in there to "cover-up" for a mistake. After all, your horse is making you look good, why shouldn't you make him look good! The presentation of tricks is everything! There are talented horses whose tricks seem to fall dead on their audience, not because of the horse, but because of poor, lackluster showmanship. The training of the tricks is not enough to count. Some people just seem to have the knack. VARIATIONS??? Some people may use variations, you will find a few listed below. Here are some reasons NOT to do them. While putting your hand on your hip for this trick is creative, most horses will not be able to fit there head under your arm since he doesn't have much room with that gesture. To really make him look like he is hiding his head under your arm and to be truly effective, the more he can get his head under your right arm, the better. What makes this trick effective is for the horse to appear as if he is "hiding" (that's the key word here!) under your arm. You should go for the full monty! That is making it possible for your horse to be able to get as much of his head under your arm as possible. Let's start with the discussion of arm position for the "ashamed" trick. However you want to cue your horse is entirely up to you. After all, he is YOUR horse and YOU are the only one that needs to be satisfied with the way he executes a trick. Some really like exaggerated gestures, so that the audience can clearly see the movement. {A tip for those with mini's or ponies:If you want to do this trick with your mini while you are standing, then maybe turning your upper body to the left would help him be able to "tuck" his head more under your arm. Either that, or you just have to kneel!} The Variations: WHAT IF IT'S COLD? When it get's cold you have more clothes on and this can cause some impairment of the cues. Try this: To teach this trick, you need to turn slightly, upper body to the left, so that your horse can see and smell the carrot behind your back. You still need to raise your right arm, though, because that is the body movement cue. Continue as directed before. CAN'T FIND THE CARROT? What if your horse can't seem to find the carrot even when it was in the right place? Take the carrot bit and hold it in your finger tips, hold it out slightly from your body to get your horse's attention. When you have it, bring your hand in close, just below chest level and slowly move the carrot down towards your hip and around towards the back a little, and open up your elbow at the same time. This brings the horses head forward, nose down and sort of tucked his head under your arm. Just be careful, if you try it, that your horse takes the carrot nicely. ANOTHER CUE This is a 1-2 motion: arm out horizontal then to hip, sort of like a cheer leader would do. Some think it feels good and is dramatic. When he goes to put his head under, open your arm to let him through. What works for you and your horse is probably what you should go with. Maybe it's not the suggested technique, but you can get a start from that and go on to what works. PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER or HUG ME Put on some mood music, get Romeo, whisper "sweet nothings" in his ear, and let's start the next trick: Put Your Head On My Shoulder Step #1 Review the previous lessons of "kiss" and "acting ashamed" and be sure he completely understands them and reward him when he does them correctly. Step #2 With a halter and lead rope on your horse, stand slightly in front of his left foreleg, facing the same direction as him and command, "Put your head on my shoulder!", emphasizing the word SHOULDER. Remember--your horse is also developing an extensive vocabulary with these new tricks and responding as well to your tone of voice. Step #3 Take a step back closer to him and with the end of the lead rope in your left hand and the snap part in your right hand, gently pull his head and place it on your right shoulder (it will be heavy!--if you have a mini, you'll have to squat, and if you've a draft, get a box!). As he relaxes and lets it rest there, reward him with a small piece of carrot. Step #4 Remove his head with your right hand from your shoulder, while simultaneously taking a step forward. Reward him with a small piece of carrot again. Step#5 Repeat Steps 2,3 & 4 until he responds to the combination of your voice command, together with your step backwards. Be sure to reward your horse with a small carrot and praise. You will most likely find he likes enjoys resting his head on your shoulder. Step #6. Now after learning this trick thoroughly, alternate your cues for "kiss," acting "ashamed," and "put your head on my shoulder." He should master the differences in your bosy position, hand movements and voice commands for these three tricks. Note: I you want to get your horse to look as if he is "Hugging" you, you can modify this trick slightly by offering the same cues, except you should offer the carrot to him out to the left and side, so he will in effect "wrap" his head around you. If you want him to do this, tell him, "Hug me!", reward him for it and incorporate it into your trick-training. What makes horse training so interesting, is that sometimes horses will show you their individual "style" in performing a trick, and if you like it, then you can reward it. Now you can show off how much your horse loves you. It's up to you, to develop a patter or dialogue with him in order to demonstrate his tricks. FACING YOUR HORSE DURING THIS? IT can be done that way, but it looks better when your back is to the horse. It is also VERY UNCOMFORTABLE if you have the horse wrap his head behind yours. Picture this: You would have to stand facing the horse, stoop so he can actually "hug" your neck, encircling your neck with his. You certainly can't wear a hat and do this trick without it being knocked off. More importantly, at this point in the horse's training, he is learning different "body cues" that are important for each trick, with your body in different positions. It is easier if you make these cues as distinguishable from each other as possible. Note: Spend time rehearsing these three simple tricks (Kiss, Acting "Ashamed," and "Put Your Head On My Shoulder"or "Hug Me." Make sure he does them all in the order of commands. A tap under the jawbone will call his attention to the error if he tries to do something different from what you have commanded...and he will! DO NOT let him kiss you when you have commanded him to "Act Ashamed." Or if he tries to hide his head under your arm when you have commanded him to kiss you, make him complete the action you ask for, and none other! Don't let him get away with any half-way responses. If you haven't the time to make him follow through, or if you feel you patience waning, turn and walk away. Ignore him completely until you have ample time to work on teaching the tricks. These tricks lay an important foundation in trick-training. You are spending time with your horse..just the two of you..(there shouldn't be any other horses around to distract him) props..nothing! He is learning to respond to commands, tone of voice, changes in your body position. He is also learning obedience, respect and to listen. But of prime importance is that HE IS BEGINNING TO LEARN. And you are learning how to make him WANT TO DO what you want him to do. Most of the training in the beginning is best done in a box stall. A variation on the hug Teaching your horse to hug you is a very simple trick to learn. Equipment needed: carrots or apple slices. 1. Teach this trick while your horse is in a stall or other small enclosed area. Do not tie him to anything (he needs freedom of his head to hug you!) 2. Stand on his side with your back to his shoulder. It is easiest to stand this way while teaching this trick. (After you've taught this trick well enough, you can turn around to hug him back). 3. Hold a treat in your hand and let him smell it. Give him a verbal cue (this is important), say "Hug". 4. Bring the treat slowly back towards his barrel (so that he has to reach around you to get it). 5. When he does this, reward him with the treat and praise him. 6. After several repetitions, you should be able to eliminate the treats and he will hug you on the verbal command "Hug".