After having a go at clicker training during an equine behaviour module at university (click here for the post), I thought it would be a good thing to do with Trooper as he is quite playful. I have finally got round to having a go with him.
In the first session I did with him we were in his stable. I cut up an apple into small pieces and just got a few bits out of the locker at a time. I used a little rectangle tub and started by getting him to "touch" with his nose. I clicked the clicker the moment he touched the tub and then followed this with a treat. Despite never having heard the clicker before he seemed to pick up the idea quite quickly and was touching it on command. Trooper likes to pick up things in his mouth so I then decided to get him to "lift" the tub. He was doing this quite well and after about 5 or 10 minutes was distinguishing between "touch" and "lift".
About a week after the first session I lunged Trooper for 15 minutes in the indoor arena and decided to do some clicker training after. Again I used small bits of apple as the treat. I had my Mum there to help me this time so she had the treats and the clicker and I held Trooper and the tub (I used a different, larger one this time). He touched the tub 2 or 3 times and then just stood there and didn't want to do it! There were a number of factors that may have caused this. He had just been lunged so he might have been tired, with clicker training they have to use their own brain and have to be willing to take part. There was also another horse in the arena that may have been distracting him. He had his bridle on because he had been lunged so was finding it difficult to eat the treats. I was told at university that a lot of factors come together for them to learn the commands, if you then change the environment this is changing some of the cues they know to perform the command and they may go back to the beginning again. Here I changed the environment and the tub used so that may have also had a part to play.
I also wrote a post on learning and training that you may be interested in reading if you like behaviour!
Trooper is still out in the field over night and in the stable during the day. The weather has gone much cooler now so I think he will be coming in at night soon (more mucking out for us!). At the moment he is not waiting at the gate in the morning and even when it has been raining he doesn't seem bothered. He is usually the first one barging the gate when he doesn't want to be in the field so I think he will be OK staying out for another week or two.
Sorry I have no photos or videos today, I forgot to take my camera! I am also back in Wales so I wont be able to take any photos this week. When I get back I want to do an update on his weight and on his tail (which has grown really well this year).