Teaching a Horse to Lead Calmly with a Target

Teaching an animal to touch a target is powerful not only for direct applications (i.e.: leading an animal from point A to point B) but also for indirect uses.

In this video, I (Kinna) uses the target to help Sole walk calmly next to me. The target gives Sole something to think about. It turns the exercise into a game. On his own, Sole starts matching his walk to the speed of the target. If he walks too fast, he passes up the target. If he turns his head to the side, he can’t see the target. So, he decides it’s way more fun to walk in a way he can touch the target. Then, he gets that click and a treat!

When Sole consistently chooses to match his pace to me and the target, I’ll add a cue to the behavior. Next, I’ll start replacing the target with the cue. Sole will have learned a new behavior with good memories. This will help him retain and want to repeat the behavior.

In the beginning of this video, you’ll see remnants of Sole’s older avoidance behaviors – he starts to turn his head to the side and consider leaving. But he’s also experienced enough clicker training to overcome this older fear. He decides it will be more fun to join me in a round of clicker training!