Nerdy Talk About Horse Tricks

Horse tricks are fun, but they have seriously helpful applications.

(As an aside, first of all, I found out too late today that in order to get a proper video, I have to turn my new phone, which I call the Monolith, sideways. Oh well.)

Today I worked with my six year old Morgan, Kerry 7th Gen, on some stuff that I have been developing for awhile.

The important thing about tricks is that it teaches the horse to focus. A well-educated horse will become less reactive, by concentrating on the task at hand. The more a horse learns to learn, the more he is up in his brain and able to disregard stimulus that would otherwise be scary.

But reaching that educated point takes a lot of work. Here is an example of a completely distracted Kerry 7th Gen. He is looking across the street and although he is staying in position as I have asked, he is completely ignoring every other cue.

This is an example of how JR, as we call him, has a long way to go before he “graduates” to a higher level of expectations. By diverting his attention back to me, I am able to get him to perform the trick. Here he breaks the stay, but he responds honestly when I ask him to stop, and when reminded, he picks the whip up.


Clifford was watching the training and giving me little reminding nickers that he would perform each trick exactly as he was supposed to.

So, after Jr’s session was over and he was put back out to pasture, I went to Clifford and let him earn a couple of apple wafers.

Did you see how I handed him that apple wafer? It was supposed to be on my flat palm. My bad.

Clifford was too nervous to mimic aggression with the more dominant JR standing right next to him. So, I cut him some slack.



About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
This entry was posted in clicker training, Clifford, empathy, horse, horses, training, tricks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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