Wednesday, October 13, 2010

4. Create or Follow a Training Plan

Before you start, it's ideal to have a plan of what you want to train. The first few behaviors become 'default' behaviors later on when the horse starts offering behaviors, so it's important that you start with calm desirable behaviors, not rowdy ones. Also choose behaviors that you can use to start building other behaviors from and are helpful in horse management.

Some good ones to start with:

food Zen (no mugging):

nose touches:

front foot targeting:

backing up:

standing still:

lifting feet:

When first beginning, you want to keep training sessions short, say 40 repetitions. Train in batches of 10, then give your horse a one minute break between each to think about what he just learned.

With practice and success, you can increase the number of repetitions as needed in a training session. When shaping a behavior, you may want to do all 40 repetions in a row , especially if he is "in the game" and working towards your desired behavior rapidly.

1 comment:

  1. With dogs, I think we often have the luxury of being mostly in control of our dog's environment. If a behavior isn't in place yet, we can often arrange a management plan while that behavior is taught. Ex. dog stays behind baby gate when new people come over for the first week or so until he has learned how to properly greet people.

    Horse ownership can be different, especially at boarding barns or stables, where many people keep their horses. There are often many other people interacting with your horse. (catching your horse to bring it in, leading it back out to pasture, feeding your horse, blanketing your horse, fly spraying your horse, etc.)

    Because of this, I think husbandry behaviors are essential to have in place at the beginning. Your horse then gets the "good horse" or "smart horse" label and your BO (barn owner) or farrier never has "help" you out by to "teaching your horse a lesson."

    As well, the first four below are basically the behaviors you need to have solidly in place if you run into an oh sh*t situation (major injury and having to trailer to vet clinic, evacuation situation, etc.)

    My list of basic husbandry skills / getting along with people behaviors is:
    --easy to catch and halter
    --backing up /staying out of space
    --trailer loading
    Good but not quite as essential
    --feet handling

    Generally, if a horse doesn't have these skills in place, I'll start with them. Luckily, most of these are fairly easy behaviors that can be taught pretty fast. They also create a horse who is much safer for you (or others) to handle.


    *Regarding bathing--this should be taught as soon as possible to assist with wound management and care. It's not fun to be teaching a stressed, injured horse how to stand to get hosed off.