Source: Flickr / veronika84
Luring, Shaping, and Capturing
I hear a lot of people who love the idea of clicker training, have gotten a few basic behaviors, and want to go further, but aren’t sure how. For those of you in that position, I’m about to share with you the three biggest tools you need to clicker train. Each of these three methods deserves its own post and will probably get one, but here’s a brief overview:
This is probably the easiest of the three approaches. This is where you use food (or anything the horse will follow) to create movement and get behavior by luring the horse along. It’s as simple as it sounds.
- Trailering (horse follows food into the trailer)
- Backing up (hold the food in a position where the horse must step backwards to reach it - probably under and beyond the nose, towards the chest)
IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not use luring with food, I use target lures. In other words, I don’t put food in my hand and lure with that. Instead I teach the horse to target it’s nose to an object, then I use that object as a lure. Luring with food is a good way to get bit, and using a target lure more actively engages the horse’s mind. Here’s a useful article about the difference between luring with food and with a target.
Possibly the most powerful of the three. This is where you click and treat incremental changes in behavior, until you get a finished behavior. This is a fantastic way to build behavior which requires the horse to think hard and act deliberately.
- Spanish walk (clicking the horse for lifting its leg higher and higher each time)
- Opening mouth for inspection (click for mouth movement, for flaring of the lips, for increasing openness of the mouth)
- Collection (clicking increased weight shifts towards the hind end)
Probably one of the funnest applications of clicker training. This is when an animal displays some random behavior, which you then ‘capture’ by clicking. An animal that understands the clicker will know to repeat the behavior, which you can then put on cue.
- Bow (capturing the moment when a horse sticks out its leg and shoos flies away from the ankle with its nose)
- Smile (capturing the flehmen response)
- Head lowering (clicking the horse when they sniff the ground)
So there’s a quick summary of all three.
I hope to make a post for each soon, so stay posted for that, and feel free to message me with any questions or confusion!
Source: Flickr / beautifulwolf
Source: Flickr / ozoniez
Source: Flickr / laurenmellies