Photo: Mats laid out in our training area make good destinations to encourage willing movement to the next destination. First we can have them close together, then further apart.
Destination training adds an important dimension to a horse’s ability to understand what we would like him to do. We have to remember that the horse is captive to an alien species. Unless we take him through a careful, thin-sliced training plan to teach him what we would like him to do, he has no way of knowing what we want.
Every moment we are trying to figure out how to communicate with our horse, he is trying even harder to figure us out, and work out what we want him to do.
Giving the horse destinations helps him to make sense of many of our signals, because he sees a purpose to what we are asking him to do, rather than keep him forever locked into a mystery tour. Like us, to remain confident, horses like to know what is going to happen before it happens.
Photo: Here we have set up a series of white target disks along a track. Boots earns a click&treat for targeting each one with her nose. Gradually we would spread them out further and further, eventually attach them in appropriate places along a longer ride on road or trail.
Once the horse loves to move on to find the next target, we can introduce targeting of natural objects like trees or rocks, bushes, particular fence posts. We can also teach ‘target places’ like corners of paddocks or favorite grazing spots.
The pdf document has a bit more detail and much more information is available in the HorseGym with Boots clips on YouTube.
Here is one clip which will take you to the whole playlist: