Yup, I taught Jethro how to play frisbee! I think he may be part dog...Follow Jethro by liking The Moody Mare!
Posted by The Moody Mare on Friday, October 24, 2014
Step 1: Clicker training and targeting
Before you roll your eyes and tell me that clicker training will 100% ruin your animal, hear me out and check out these two good reads: Clicker Training Myths and The Click That Teaches.
Clicker training is simply a reinforcement method - something that concisely tells your animal, "YES, that is what I want!" if used correctly. You can use it with any discipline - whether you are an eventer, barrel racer, or simply putz around - and with any training method such as natural horsemanship. It is simply a reinforcement tool that you don't even have to use 24/7.
- Buy a clicker and cut up some carrots/apples/treats.
- Choose a target. This can be anything. A cone, a water bottle, a pool noodle on the end of a whip, or my favorite, a Whips-a-Daisy.
- Go out to the barn.
- Stick your animal on the hitching post or in their stall (with a stall guard)
- Stand back. This is essential in the beginning.
- Hold out the target.
- Wait for them to touch it with their nose.
- Upon touching it, click and give them a treat.
Jethro targeting with his Whips-a-Daisy
Step 2: Introducing Frisbee
Once your equine gets the hang of how to properly take a treat and knows how to target, you are ready for step 2.
- Purchase a Frisbee. I personally recommend getting one with a whole in the center since it makes it easier for the equine to grab.
- Introduce the Frisbee as a new target. Hold it out, have them touch it with their nose, and give them a click and a treat.
- Repeat step 2 until they understand the Frisbee is a target.
Step 3: Holding the Frisbee
- Touch the corner of their mouth, almost as if you are asking for them to accept the bit.
- Once their mouth opens, place in the Frisbee. Immediately give them a click and a treat before they spit it out.
- Repeat step 5 until they realize that they are supposed to hold the Frisbee, not just touch it. This is the most difficult step because with targeting, they are discouraged from biting their target, so they will be confused about why you are allowing this.
Step 4: Picking up the Frisbee
- Drop the Frisbee at your feet.
- Wait for them to pick it up.
- Once they pick it up, immediately click and give them a treat.
Step 5: Retrieving the Frisbee
- Throw the Frisbee.
Option 1: They stare at you like you are an idiot. If this happens, walk with them to the Frisbee and point at it. At this point in their training, they have enough knowledge to pick it up. See option 2 for how to progress.
Option 2: They will immediately run after it, pick it up, but just stand there and not bring it back. The first few times they do, physically walk to them and give them the click/treat. Eventually, you will want to stand your ground and wait for them to come to you. It may take a while, but they will come.
NOTE: It is imperative that you start out by throwing it short distances and gradually increasing the distance as the equine becomes more experienced. Absolutely do not throw it 500 feet the first time you want them to fetch it. This is highly discouraging.
And there you have it!
Disclaimer because of people: This post is based off of my own personal experiences, and I am not a professional trainer. While my experiences have been positive and these steps worked for me, I cannot guarantee the same for you. Don't sue me if you or your animal suffer negative consequences. Train at your own risk. Thanks.