Magic Mustang Tamer

Task 05.1 Target Guider Stick.

There is nothing a two-year old stallion likes to do more than play. Casper isn’t opposed to targeting the guider, but he can’t help but trying to invite his trainer into a little rough-and-tumble horseplay. This is the point where it’s time to think about maybe training from behind a fence.


Behavior: The horse puts its muzzle on the red frisbee end  of the guider stick.

Antecedents: This is a young (1-3 year old) stallion that has recently learned to eat from the hand and touch the trainer. The horse learned to touch the guider target presented near its body. The pen is muddy but it is sunny. The trainer is wearing her bag toward the front, where it is between her and the horse. She extends the target as far from her as possible so that the horse will have to step away from her and she chatters quietly to the horse.

Consequences: The trainer maintains immobility except for leaning and moving her head until the horse targets the guider despite the horse pawing and nuzzling her face. When the horse touches the target, the trainer bridges and feeds a bite of alfalfa.

Summary:  THIS IS A CHALLENGE! A pawing, nuzzling stallion is dangerous even if it is friendly.  Male horses love to play – but they play rough. People can get hurt. This trainer is trying to get the horse away from her, but her efforts are not particularly effective. I would recommend that she shorten her stick and get the horse busy (increase the frequency) by targeting to an easier to reach target. When the horse is targeting well, she can choose to move her body farther from the target by getting on the other side of it. Then she can start moving the horse by moving the guider, but just a step at a time. The bag between her and the horse is inviting trouble. It should always be on the other side of the trainer’s body, away from the horse, unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise. If the pawing/nuzzling problem is does not come into immediate control, the trainer should consider stepping out of the pen and getting the horse to move around to a target stuck through the fence panels.

Showing examples of training challenges is problematic because the clip has to show things going wrong. A short clip is not going to show the solution, that has to be described in the text. Understand, that soon after the clip was filmed, the trainer solved the problem.

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