Clicker Training for the Hard to Catch Pony: An Update

I feel like I have a large enough sample size to follow up on clicker training for the hard-to-catch Welsh Cob.

Captured!

I'm 4 for 4 over the past two weeks!  Some might say that is a small sample size, but if you consider that I haven't caught him without catching his buddy first in about two years, four is a pretty good streak.

My last couple of tries, he's actually trotted away from me, then realized I had the clicker, stopped, turned around and walked up to me.

He's still sensitive when I catch him - last time I moved too fast to halter him after I gave him his first treat, and he spun 10 feet away from me before coming back and allowing himself to be haltered.

I have been:
- Making it about the touch game for about a minute before I move to halter him - long enough to make it seem like I'm not just there to halter him, short enough to keep his attention
- Giving him high-value treats that he loves and only gets when the clicker is out (Cliff Bars!)
- Doing a click-and-treat-jackpot once he's wearing his halter
- Practicing the 'Connor, Touch!' game in other places besides the field as well.  He's slowly getting better.

I still hold my breath every time I go out there, expecting him to catch on and ignore me, but so far, so good.

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes it is, thanks for the encouragement!

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  2. Mine has been becoming tricky to catch lately...maybe I need to break out the clicker on her! Yay for Connor!

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    1. You know, I was insanely skeptical, but I am a convert. It really works.

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  3. Yay! Glad to hear it's working!

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    1. Totally. I can show up for lessons on time instead of way early!

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  5. Awesome! I always go out like I don't care if we catch or not. Once that clicker starts, though, the Fancy Pony just zeroes in on the game! Of course, she doesn't have any issues with the later itself at any point in the game. Aaaaand, I haven't had a chance to practice in the field yet...

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    1. You have to be one step ahead of a pony right? Haha

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  6. In my barn everyone knows the clicker means treats, so if they hear all hears turn toward me. So glad it is helping.

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    1. That gives me hope too. These Cobs are so smart. Thanks!

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  7. This is really interesting to me! I also have a hard-to-catch horse, but it's hit-or-miss when he's going to be good. I've been looking at barns to move to and actually had to turn some down because the fields were too BIG. I'd never catch him.

    We've tried the 'when you run, you work' approach to no avail. But I like the idea of clicker training and will definitely keep that idea in the back pocket!

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    1. Hey, nice to meet you! I did the same thing, I was looking at moving to St. Louis and I was looking at these barns like "How am I ever going to explain that I have to empty his field before he can be caught?" I also did the run = work thing with no luck. Clicker training is honestly the first thing that worked, and I am still shocked every time it does.

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  8. I think about all those years growing up trying to catch my little pony mare Etty... if only I had clicker training then! At that point it was a bucket of grain and lots of pretending I didn't see her until I was right next to her. So glad it's working for you!

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