A fellow LibraryThinger uses the handle "Puddleshark", which she defines as follows:
- Puddleshark (n) the largest British freshwater predator. Inhabits shallow bodies of water and preys on part-bred Arabian horses.
Enter the clicker. Anyone else use one? I was initially skeptical -- horses that get treats bite, after all, right? And who wants to be mobbed in the pasture by mouthy, pushy horses? Well, I decided to try it anyway, and I've discovered it makes a great way to positively reinforce curiosity. Curiosity rather than fear of new things translates to "touch" the scary object rather than high-tail it in the opposite direction.
There's a great book Clicker Training for Your Horse byAlexandra Kurland, that I'd highly recommend. She also has a helpful website.
I've used a clicker to help teach haltering, feet handling, loading, whoa, over and all manner of other useful behaviors. What I really like about it, though, is that using a clicker really seems to stimulate inquisitive behavior -- if Sunny sees something new, he doesn't immediately assume it's going to eat him. And he's engaged and focused on me while we're working.
Admittedly, I've found it most useful on the ground -- it doesn't translate as well to riding, but it's not a bad tool for starting & backing.