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As I learn more and more about clicker training I find that there are many uses for this type of training, and that every horse owner or rider can apply it to some areas of their horsemanship. One exercise that I found very helpful as I was learning how to first use the clicker is targeting. This is also a good exercise for horses that are just getting started with clicker training, plus targeting can be used to train many different things.

Targeting is basically just teaching a horse to touch something. I use a homemade target which is simply a water bottle on the end of a dowl rod. The horse learns to touch the target when it is presented and then as you start moving the target around you can essentially create many different behaviors which you can then train your horse to do with a separate cue from the target. It may sound a bit complicated, but its actually not. In today’s video, I will show basic targeting and then demonstrate how I used targeting to teach one of my horses to lower her head and line up for mounting.

After you watch the video, share any ideas you have for other ways to use targeting with horses. (On a side note, I am also using targeting to teach my new 6 month old pygmy goat to jump through a hula hoop – I will let you know how that one progresses!)


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16 Responses

  1. OMG! Your little goat is so cute! Love the idea of using clicker training for goats. They are smart little creatures.

  2. This was great. I think I will use your trail exercise with Izzy since shes not into the riding yet. Keeping her focused would be so great. She is also hesitant on the halter. Do you think i could use the halter as a target to get her used to seeing it? or would that confuse her?

    1. You definitly could teach her to target the halter, but then she may try to “target” it as you are trying to put it on her. Instead, I might take the halter on and off, while playing a targeting game in between. She will probably be focused enough on the game to start losing her apprehension about the halter.

  3. Thank you Callie for this video (and all of them). I have a question about targeting: what do you use it for in everyday riding? I am thinking teaching the horse how to open a gate on the trail. Any other uses? Thank you.

    1. Hi Daniele, I don’t use the target much in riding, I do use it for going into scary places, such as a stall or a trailer. I also teach targeting as a way to trigger investigative behavior of other “scary” things.

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