Teaching tricks

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Jul 15, 2021
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We have a few young minis. They are both very sweet and super smart. We were hoping to teach them a few basic tricks. Maybe like smile, one does give you her hoof for like a hand shake, but isn't consistent. I have been searching but can't figure out the best way to get started to teach them a few tricks and to have them do it consistently. Also a reason for wanting to teach them we have 2 disabled kids and our kids would love to be able to get them to do tricks. Any suggestions would be appreciated, like what's maybe worked for someone else. I have checked YouTube. But maybe I am not typing in the right thing because I haven't found anything.
How accomplished are you with in-hand skills? Tricks are only an extension of in-hand training, in my experience.
Honestly, teaching horses tricks is really the same as teaching a dog. Cause a behavior, reward it. Cause the behavior with the support of a cue, then reward it. Use the cue, reinforce it, reward it. Once you have some "try", you can build and mold a behavior into what you want it to look like. A smile is just reaching for a piece of food with the lip. Once they understand it's the lip up that's the desired behavior, they'll begin to offer it.
I'd be very cautious of a "high 5" type of movement. I do have my horses wave and Spanish walk, but I do that beside them and not to target me with their hooves.

Another extremely important thing to keep in mind when training for tricks is having an "off switch". Especially when you're doing movement tricks (if you want to go there) like the rear for example. I train a very firm "whoa" before I teach any movement tricks.

Clicker training is great, if your horses bridge to that. But it's absolutely not necessary for success. A clicker is not a remote control. A clicker is an articulation of the right behavior or engagement. It's saying they're doing the correct thing, or on the right track. You can just as easily accomplish that with your voice and enthusiasm. The benefit of the clicker is you can articulate a very specific moment whereas your verbal and body cue may take longer to communicate.

Anyways, best wishes! I think you've got a great idea!


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I recommend joining the Horse Tricks 101, and buying their book! I was a member on there for a while and learned so much about clicker training/positive reinforcement training, and how to teach so many tricks! You can look on their YouTube channel to view a bunch of the tricks that you can learn within their group. 💕🐴 Feel free to message me if you have any questions 😊
This is a trick I taught this horse. There were a series of about 4-5 cues before he was asked to launch. I could stop at any cue, or mix them up and he wouldn't launch.

Think safety before teaching each trick. Some tricks it isn't as important as others.

There are several trick books available and there was a trick group on FB. (I'm not sure if it's still active or not.

Hope this helps.


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