Train Your Horse To Hug
 By Winniefield Park   •   7th Feb 2015   •   1,578 views   •   0 comments
Train Your Horse To Hug

One of my family’s favorite TV shows was 'Whose Line Is It Anyways', and one of our favorite lines was from a game called Two Line Vocabulary. Whenever we notice anyone feeling down, frustrated or angry we say - oooo...somebody needs a hug! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it’s a good time to train your horse to provide you with some hugs. That way, you’ll never go short and always get a hug when you need one.

Before you begin, you’ll need to make sure your horse already has good manners. There’s no point in teaching a horse a ‘close contact’ move if it’s pushy, won’t stand still, is nippy or otherwise rude or disobedient. That could be dangerous. You’ll need treats such as carrot or apple slices, feed cubes, or something else your horse likes that’s easy to carry in your pocket. Clicker and target training makes it easier to train this trick, but it’s not impossible without. If your horse is already trained to target on an object (I use an old soap bottle taped to a broken whip for a target), and understands that a ‘click’ means ‘Yes!’ training your horse to hug will be a cinch.

Related: Trick Training - Teach Your Horse to Kiss
Related: Trick Training - Teach Your Horse to Bow
Related: How To Train Your Horse To Smile

Horses learn a different rates, and some are more motivated by food rewards than others, so it’s hard to say just how long it will take. But, keep your training sessions short and rewarding, and don’t get frustrated if your horse doesn’t understand. You want (I hope) to make the training sessions positive for your horse, and fun for you. It’s easy to get carried away, but fewer short sessions will be better than one or two long ones.

Now, with your horse on a lead rope, stand about a foot in front of your horse with your back to it. Be sure to hold the lead so you won’t get tangled. With your right hand, hold the treat over your left shoulder. Your horse will probably be curious about what you’re offering. Then, as your horse sniffs the treat or target, slowly draw your hand or the target diagonally, to your left hip. Your horse should lean over your shoulder and follow the treat with its nose until it has its head and neck around you. This is your hug. Some horses will figure it out right away, some will take more time. Reward your horse even when it gets it kind-of. You may have to step backwards a bit so it’s easier for your horse gets it right.

Once the horse has learned the move, you can add in a cue, perhaps patting your shoulder and saying ‘hug’. Eventually, you won’t even need a treat to get a hug. Be sure to finish each session with an extra special treat and a belly or neck scratch to say job well done. Now, whenever you want a hug, you’ll know they’ll always be some waiting for you.
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