I was pretty pissed off when Russian rider Ljubov Kochetova kept her horse’s nose at his chest for a solid 5-10 mins after her round in the warm up ring

Not impressed Ljubov, not impressed.

Photos are from today at Palgrave

Anonymous said: Hi there! I've only been riding about 6 months now and still on lesson horses (no leasing or owning for me yet) and I have a few questions: Our horses were trained traditionally and most begin trotting with a click (from tongue on teeth) and some amount of pressure. With a clicker trained horse, would that cue change? Also, many of the horses, I've noticed, sort of jump into their trot/canter. Is that because they're expecting an aversive cue? Do clicker trained horses transition more smoothly?

The cues can be exactly the same. If you teach a horse to speed up using positive reinforcement (maybe using a target for them to follow at increasing speeds), and cluck as you do so, they’ll learn that cue easily, until you can phase out the target and just cluck for the speed. Same with leg pressure. Once they know the cluck, you can pair the cluck with leg pressure in the saddle, and after a while they’ll pick up on the leg pressure cues. A lot of my under saddle approach is to teach things on the ground using vocal cues (‘whoa’ to stop, ‘trot’ to trot and ‘canter’ to canter and so on), and then pairing those with the appropriate pressure cues in the saddle until I can drop the vocal cues altogether.

As far as jumping into the trot or the canter goes, it’s hard to say. It may be because they’re afraid of getting smacked. But you could get the same response from a horse which is just especially eager to go fast. It depends on the horse and their training (and, if you want a hint, pay attention to their expression and body language as they jump into the trot or canter. If they pin their ears and thrash their tails, it’s probably stress related. If their ears are pricked and they move forward eagerly, it’s probably just having an eager temperament).

I’d say that it’s probably easier to get smooth transitions with the clicker, because as soon as you get one good transition you can capture it with a click and a jackpot (lots of praise and lots of food immediately). Then the horse knows exactly what got him the huge reward and he’s way more likely to try and replicate.

But again, it really depends on the horse, and the trainer.


Anonymous said: i started clicker training today with my horse. and wow, we are both loving it so far! i'm used to doing it with my dog for higher level obedience and rally, but this was my first time with a horse and he's learning so fast. thank you so much for giving me these great resources!

Glad you’re having such a good time with it, and that the resources are useful. Let me know if there are any particular questions you have or subjects you want addressed, I’d be happy to dig up some more resources. And good luck!



Photo Credits: Marta Nowakowska Photography


“Beauty is given to dolls, majesty to haughty vixens, but mind, feeling, passion and the crowning grace of fortitude are the attributes of an angel.” - Charlotte Bronte


“Beauty is given to dolls, majesty to haughty vixens, but mind, feeling, passion and the crowning grace of fortitude are the attributes of an angel.” - Charlotte Bronte

Have I posted this before? I don’t remember.

Nice video showing hacking green horses and using the clicker to get them comfortable. Some good bits:

  • Building confidence in the horses by taking them out in a group
  • Building confidence in the horses by periodically dismounting and leading
  • Clicking and treating the horses for approaching and sniffing strange new objects and obstacles, which eliminates fear and teaches them that novelty is an opportunity to be clicked, not a scary situation
  • Taking advantage of new places and objects to refine and proof already established skills (mounting off of new things, like a park bench)
  • One person in the group (cameraperson) is on the ground with no horse to worry about, providing some extra insurance in case of a dangerous situation

I really like this video, because you can see the spooky horses allowed to explore and resolve fear on their own, instead of being made to work through it. The horses are obviously a little spooky, a little green, but there are no blow ups or freak outs. (Even if you don’t clicker train, allowing horses to overcome fear naturally like this is vital for building confidence. The clicker just provides an extra boost of motivation and conditions the horses to associate the obstacles with positive things.)

A horse that is sound only in shoes, is not a sound horse.
Steve Dick, BWFA (via barefoothooves)

(via thebarefooteventer)



Diagnosing Lameness in Horses



The vet was at the stables today for the monthly rounds and taught me an easy way to help diagnose lameness in the front feet.

When the horse is trotting, it will bob its head up and down. It will go down on the sound foot. Therefore the other foot is lame!

This is the super extra compressed and simplified version. If it’s obvious most people that know (the) horse(s) will be able to tell that something is wrong. As an vet, and orthopaedics intern, let me tell you that is not as simple as that. Lameness can be defined as “a deviation from the normal gait”. Some horses will have multiple limbs that are lame and depending on the gait, if they are walking straight or in circles, if they are lunged or ridden, in soft or hard surfaces, etc, the lameness might change, or even show up in different limbs (bobing his/her head up when different feet touch the ground).

It will go down on the sound foot. Therefore the other foot is lame!

Depending on the type this might not happen, or it might be almost imperceptible. In some cases the amplitude of the movement is altered, but the head isn’t bobbing.  This only happens if the lameness is a supporting limb lameness!

Finally they might bob their head up with hind limb lameness but not when that limb that is lame hits the ground. Explanation for that straight from the bible (“Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the horse” - Ross & Dyson):

(…) Hindlimb lameness can mimic forelimb lameness at the trot. When the lame limb hits the ground, the horse shifts its weight cranially to transfer load away from the lame limb. This causes the head and neck to shift forward and nod down at the same time. The contralateral forelimb bears weight simultaneously with the
lame hindlimb and the head nod coincides, thus mimicking
lameness in the forelimb ipsilateral to the lame hindlimb.
Head and neck movement in horses with hindlimb lameness is not always observed. Horses generally must have prominent (>3 out of 5, see later grading discussion) hindlimb lameness before compensatory head and neck movement develops.

So resuming: to minimize the pain the horse will shift its weight and the head will nod down when the hind limb that is painful touches the ground. People will often think that it’s lame on the front right when trotting, when it’s actually lame left hind, for example.

Important note: If you are the owner or the rider, what us vets want is you to tell us that you think your horse is lame/the gait isn’t normal, and we won’t be mad at you if you can’t tell us which limb is affected or why you think something is wrong. Owners/riders are often wrong about the affected limb and we do not think less of them because of it. Some types of lameness change, and accessing lameness is one of the most difficult/challenging things in my opinion, so it’s good to learn how to recognize that something is wrong, but please don’t think it is that simple.

If you are a vet, please know that sometimes it’s not that simple at all (we get lot of referrals for lameness examinations that come as a one limb lameness that are often multiple limb lamenesses).

Re-sharing for the far more technical and accurate additional info added by equinevetadventures, for those that might be interested. :)

(via barefootdressage)

Cute little video showing some clicker trained behaviors, including self blanketing, self bridling, and hands off parking by the mounting block.

r+/clicker trainer pointing out the excessive use of aversive tools and methods in horse training, the endless justification of using pain and fear to control horses, and the disturbing trend of people laughing off or admiring imagery that involves severely unhappy horses.

I provide resources on how to use clicker training with your horse, and how to understand training on a scientific level.

(Note: I do not run the unhappyhorses instagram and have no connection to the person who does.)

I am not
-anti tack
-anti riding
-anti sport
-anti pressure
but I believe that tack should be gentle, responses to riding cues should be taught using positive reinforcement, horse sports should involve minimal tack (and avoid aversive aids; whips, spurs, etc) and put horse welfare before winning, and that horses should be taught to respond to pressure as a cue instead of avoiding pressure because it is aversive.

my tags
-tagged/video = videos, often with commentary
-tagged/i+like+this = some kind of training or riding that I approve of
-tagged/ask - for previously answered questions
-tagged/gadgets - for tack which is excessive or inhumane or both
-tagged/unhappy+horse - pictures or videos of horses showing signs of stress and/or physical pain

my posts
-On the four quadrants
-On bits
-On finding a good riding instructor
-On luring, capturing, and shaping with the clicker
-Shaping masterpost
-Luring/Targeting masterpost
-Types of training in the horse world
-What to do instead of hitting your horse
-On disrespect
-On how to ride without using aversive stimuli, and why leg and rein pressure don't have to be aversive
-On join up
-On ethical tack
-Explaining reinforcement and punishment in a training context
-On 'freedom' as anthropomorphism and unhelpful to animal welfare
-8 ways to change behavior
-My suggestions for starting out with clicker training
-Halter training with the clicker

external links
-Shawna Karrasch - Sea World trainer bringing +r based techniques to the horse world - official website, contains active blog.
-Shawna Karrasch - official youtube channel.
-Georgia Bruce - Australian equine clicker trainer and bronze medalist paralympic equestrian - official website.
-Georgia Bruce - official youtube channel.
-Mary Hunter - Texas-based positive reinforcement based trainer who works with horses - youtube channel.
-Mary Hunter - blog (updates regularly).
-Painting Horse - inactive equine clicker training blog with plenty of valuable older posts.
-Alexandra Kurland - New York-based equine clicker trainer - official website.
-SimplyPsychology - a basic explanation of operant conditioning.
-Mustang poker (fun link).
-Karen Pryor clicker training - equine clicker training articles.
-Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog, free to read online in its entirety.
-Katie Bartlett - Pennsylvania-based equine clicker trainer - information and how-to articles.
-Kikopup - Emily Larlham - California-based clicker trainer whose videos are fantastic resources - youtube channel.
-Peggy Hogan - California-based equine clicker trainer - youtube channel.

rescue organizations - donate to these guys
-Prince Fluffy Kareem

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