Jive Pony Clicker Training and Vaulting Weekend

One not-so-sunny weekend in May, Jive Pony visited our farm in North Yorkshire for a great weekend of learning clicker training and teaching vaulting (watch the video at the bottom of the post!).

Becca, Rosie and their 4 horses arrived on Friday evening and we started bright and early on Saturday looking at clicker training. They’ve both trained their horses really well (as proven by the amazing shows they do!), but they wanted some more structure and techniques, which is why they came to me to learn some clicker training.

We started with the youngsters as they’ve each got their own problems – Rosie’s Casper gets anxious away from home and separation anxiety away from his fieldmate and Becca’s Navvy can get a bit pushy and focus more on trying to get to the treats instead of what he’s supposed to be doing! Luckily, clicker’s a great way to get the focus off the treats and onto the behaviour (seems a strange one, I know, to those of you who are new to this but it’s true, I promise!) and Navvy was much more polite and focussed around the training in no time. This left some time to work on some of his tricks like refining his nodding and teaching him to put his head down, a great calming behaviour.

Casper was quite anxious to start with when he was in the barn, neighing to Tinker and staying glued to the fence, so we started with him where he could see Tinker and gradually moved further away, until he was calm even when his friend was out of sight. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for separation anxiety, you just need to do loads of it, gradually increasing their comfort zone, but it was a good start getting Casper calmer and focussed on Roise instead of another horse. Once Casper had calmed down a bit we were able to teach him some more advanced behaviours too…wow, what a quick learner! Because Rosie has done loads of training with him, and he’s naturally bright, he’s a very fast learner and incredibly body-aware. Rosie wanted to teach him horsey sit-ups to help improve his back and his balance and he was rocking his weight back onto his hind feet in no time!

Then we played with the older horses, Tinker and Ronan, who lack enthusiasm sometimes as they have to perform their tricks over and over again and have been doing it a while. It was time for everyone to play a bit so I got some toys out (ball, jump, pedestal, tarpaulin etc) and they just started to have some fun. The other important thing to remember for older horses is to keep teaching them new things as this keeps them switched on and they really love the learning process. Although their horses are really well trained, both Becca and Rosie found that the clicker adds so much more clarity to the training and starts to open up more possibilities, as well as learning extra techniques to keep their horses focussed and engaged.

Toby and I then did a little show (by this time it was getting dark – we’d been clicker training for 12 hours!) and showed off his amazing collected – extended trot, shoulder-in and other tricks all at liberty. They were very impressed at his movement and enthusiasm, especially as Rosie said he looked like a little old man walking down the yard! He started learning how to balance and collect age 18 and we’ve been working on it for 3 years now and he’s just getting better and better!

Sunday, it was Jive Pony’s time to work and my time to learn as 12 of us were to have an exciting day of vaulting lessons. It was absolutely brilliant, everyone enjoyed it hugely and all 6 members (horses and humans) of Jive Pony were professional and fun! Watch the video to see how far we all got and then see Becca and Rosie show us all how it’s supposed to be done!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMPheJJYuVo&rel=0]

To see all the photos from the weekend click here.

Thank you very much to Becca and Rosie (click here to read their take on the weekend) and we’ll hopefully repeat the experience sometime soon!

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