This is an email sent in by Teresa Jessee, a reader who wanted to tell us about her successes with clicker training horses on the trail. These are great examples of how clicking can work out in the real world, outside of "training" scenarios. We had only been clicker training our horses a short while when we found out how valuable it was for trail riding.
- I was riding a friend's horse and trying to get him to stand by the gate while I unlocked it. This hot TB kept moving off. I decided to try CT. I CTed for stopping at the gate and for duration. Within a few minutes he was standing calmly.
- After a rain we came to a small ditch with rushing water and the horses got very excited and started dancing around. We knew they would jump it like it was a 3' jump. They had crossed this ditch many times with a small stream of water but not rushing water. I turned my horse sideways and started clicking when his feet were still. He let out a sigh and calmed down. It was like "Oh, I know this game". I turned him toward the ditch and he stepped over it w/o a fuss.
- Once we came across a downed tree limb and had to reroute our trail. This took us to a water hole in the middle of the trail. Again the horses got nervous. We CTed them for still feet and when they calmed down they carefully picked their way around the water's edge.
- I started hauling out to state parks to ride with some friends. Their horses had been doing this for years. We were trying out a new park that had lots of small hills. At the bottom of each hill was knee deep mud. With CT my horse was the only one that would go first. We came to one spot that had been fixed with a white drainage pipe sticking out on each side. Again my horse went first but it took a lot of CTing. I was very proud of my inexpierenced horse. My friend made the comment that we would not have gotten far w/o my horse leading. When ever we come to knee deep mud they call for us to lead. I know CTing has given him the confidence to trust me when I ask him to go through something.
Teresa JesseeTo learn more about clicker training for horse riding, see the new book Riding with the Clicker. Or for more on clicker training horses, see the new horse training section of the Clicker Gear Store.