In a previous post a while ago I talked about How to start clicker training: introducing the clicker. Once your horse knows the click means a reward is on it’s way, you can start clicking for specific behaviours.
The next lesson can be targeting. In targeting you ask the horse to touch an object with a body part. Usually we start with the nose. Later on you can also teach your horse to target with other body parts: the mouth for easy deworming, the hip for lateral work, the knee for Spanish walk and teach your horse to follow a moving target.
Choose a target that you won’t use in your daily routine, so your horse does not have a history with the object. You can make your own target stick with a floater attached to a bamboo stick, use a lid of some sort or a fly swatter.
Make a step-by-step plan in your head (or better write it down) to the end behaviour. First start easy by clicking and rewarding for looking at the target, then moving towards the target and finally touching the target with the nose. It depends on the horse how many steps this process requires: some horses are not used to strange objects, others are curious and want to investigate it.
Functional key lesson
I call targeting a ‘key lesson’ in training because it is extremely functional. Once your horse can target you can use it for many purposes like getting your horse out of a Summer pasture.
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The target means a click can be earned. The click in itself is a reinforcer, but also the (maybe even high value) treat…. Kyra thinks that she should better come over and check it out. Nothing bad has ever happened targeting.
Please let me know how you use targeting in your training. I would love to share some ideas.
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