Old Fashioned Horse Training

I had the pleasure of talking to a man at lunch today. He stopped by to say hi and talk horses. That is always my favorite thing to talk about, but even more so in this case. He talked about what a wonderful horseman his dad was. Usually when someone says that it means they could ride anything no matter how hard it bucked, could tie ’em down and force them to do whatever they wanted. Big bits, spurs. I expected stories along those lines to follow. When handkerchiefs came up I was confused for a moment.

He asked what sort of treats I used for Rusty and then, instead of telling me that people shouldn’t feed their horses treats, told me how his dad used to use cake. Cattle cake, not people food 😉 He would put a piece of cake in his handkerchief then put it in his pocket. The horse would lip it and pull at it, and using food, he taught his horse to pull it out of his pocket. Then he taught the horse to wipe his nose for him. All using food.

He sounds like a wonderful and amazing horseman. I wish I could have met him. What a great trick to teach a horse! I assure you we will be working on it. How far ahead of his times he was! Or was he? Clicker training is a fairly new concept but training with food is something good horsemen have been doing forever. My mom fed treats her whole life and our horses were always well behaved. There was no trouble with horses biting, or having bad manners. It seems to only be the people who can’t manage to feed there horses without teaching bad habits that have trouble with giving horses treats. It almost seems like it’s a people problem not a feeding horses treats problem. Hmmm.

This is our first go at learning how. We got the taking it out of my pocket down, now for the nose wiping. We have carefully avoided teaching kiss. He is pretty mouthy and I’d like to keep mine. Now I guess we;ll have to work on it.



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