One of our foals was responsible for introducing me to clicker training.
When Picasso was just a few months old, we tried to introduce him to a head collar. We were not expecting any problems, having had other foals who had no problem wearing a head collar for the first time. Unfortunately, poor Picasso decided that the head collar was the scariest thing ever, and however we tried, he would not let us put it on, backing away, rolling his eyes, and eventually rearing up and almost falling over backwards. We realised that we couldn’t turn it into a battle and having recently heard about Clicker training, I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later, having received my new clicker training book in the post, armed with a plastic bottle to use as a target, I went down to the horses to start the training. I was totally amazed. Literally within a couple of minutes I had taught Picasso to target, I could not believe how easy it was and was very excited. I had decided not to use food treats, with Picasso being so young I did not want to encourage any nipping, and chose to give him a nice rub as the reward, which worked perfectly. (we do use treats on the older horses) Once he had got the hang of the target, I replaced it with a scrunched up head collar and he was perfectly happy to touch that instead. I then progressed to holding the head collar on the side of his face, with no reaction and within minutes I had the head collar on, with no stress or fear. It was like a miracle, I couldn’t believe how easy it was and was so excited at this new training tool. I read on in the book and tried a few more exercises on our 4 youngsters, easily teaching them to back up by just a hand signal in front of their chest; I could not believe how quickly they learned and how keen they were to do more. It has been such a useful tool for us, having lots of rescue horses with fears and nervous problems; it is the ideal way to help them.