Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chrome's Fifth Ride (video - no clicker)

Just for comparison's sake I rode Chrome yesterday without clicker and treats.  You'll see at the beginning of the video he has his ears forward and he's walking off easily and seems eager to work.  It doesn't take long before he gets totally confused with zero feedback (no click) from me and just stops.  He doesn't know what's he's doing and was getting no feedback so he gave up.

That's the main reason I LOVE clicker training.  It tells the horse exactly what he's doing right and gives him the incentive to keep trying.  I also think he was incredibly bored (you'll notice he perks up in the barn when he thinks we're playing with the wagon and when he's following my friend). 

Now I do want to mention that even for a session with no treats he seemed very reluctant, so I took him out to the road and trotted him up and down in front of my husband . . . yep he was limping on his left fore.  Sigh.  I looked him over and couldn't find any injuries, swelling, heat, nothing.  It's probably just a stone bruise, but I'm watching him closely in case it's something else (he's still limping at the trot today, sound at the walk, still no swelling or heat) and I won't ride him again until he trots sound.  At the walk he doesn't show any signs of it (except for his reluctance).  He even trotted off in the pasture on his own, so I know he can't be in excruciating pain or anything. 

I feel bad that I resorted to using a stick as a whip to get him walking forward (I was only tickling him, not even having to tap or anything).  I should have just quit right there since he was so confused and not learning anything.  I feel bad that he was probably hurting (I couldn't feel him limping at all when I was riding him, it was only obvious at the trot).  He's such a good boy though to put up with me.

If you can't watch Youtube videos here is the photobucket link (

So anyway, that's a session without clicker.  Now I'm going back to using it so we can both have fun and he can learn something (if I ever get myself organized) lol. 
The silent spots in the video were just me cutting out conversations between me and my friend.  I also cut out the really shaky camera parts and the sitting around talking parts lol.  Just to keep you from getting bored.  :D  Also please ignore my hideous choice of outfits.  We had just gotten back from the pool and I didn't feel like changing clothes since I was only riding for ten minutes.  :)


  1. Do not feel badly about using the whip, but do teach him what your legs and the whip means. His first lessons under saddle should lay a strong foundation for the forward button, as this will be necessary no matter what you would like to do with him under saddle. I always ride with a whip, as do many dressage riders.

    I can see why he was confused. You normally give him constant feedback. You can still do that even if you are not clicking and treating. Substitute something else for treats. Reinforce his good behavior with your voice, pats on the neck, and a release of the aid.

    If you feel that he got bored, it could just be that he needs more to think about. Choose a pattern to ride and ask him to stick to the lines you request of him. Otherwise he is just wandering around with you on his back. Treats or not, why should he stay interested in that?

  2. He does look a bit befuddled. Poor guy. I wouldn't feel badly about the crop. I rode a fine horse who needed a crop as a reminder (just a tickle).

    I wonder if there is a way you can work with him with you on the ground but at his side or otherwise out of sight. I know with my dogs it is very difficult to teach skills that require them to do something without looking at me.

    Mango Momma

    P.S. Glad his foot is OK.

  3. I find that doing some refresher in hand work really helps before I get in the saddle. Simple stuff - walk forward, halt, back, move away from pressure at the girth, etc.

    I agree with Val about working a pattern - set some obstacles to walk around, step over - mix it up to keep Chrome interested.

  4. This is just a suggestion, so take it or leave it but I've found it helps with Pippi. Instead of using a clicker whenever Pippi does something I like or wanted her to do I tell her "Good Girl" so she knows she did as I asked and I give a pat. I noticed you pet him often but don't say good boy nearly enough. That's just a thought tho. I could never use a clicker while going around a jumper course but I can tell her good girl after ever jump thru a course and pat her at the end.

  5. A "stick" or "stick and string" is not a whip. I have watched James Cooler (my trainer/manager of the barn) use one for forward movement all the time. I think it aids in communication. I also encourage a pattern, a fence line or something so he starts to know where to move forward.

    :) He seems a sweet boy. I do have a question. Why have you decided to start him bareback and not with a saddle? It seems to me your legs would be a bit less floppy on his sides and you would be more balanced on his back. Perhaps I am totally wrong... I have NO experience in this matter.

  6. Thanks for your reply to my question on my blog. One thing to consider is to purchase a used Wintec. They are inexpensive and adjustable. We did this as we are trying to figure out what style of english saddle my girls want and I'm saving up for a nice Western saddle. In the meantime, I have enjoyed being introduced to a dressage saddle and my girls keep alternating between huntseat and "all purpose". (I bought all three for a total of $300)

  7. I am sorry. They were $200 a piece. But still a good price.

  8. Yep, that is a great price. I'm going to start looking around and see what I can find. :) Thanks for the info!


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