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I'm a children's author. Animals are a constant source of writing material for me. They are also my heart!

Tango Tricks!

>> Monday, July 6, 2009

Tango Tricks

Tango makes me happy. All of my animals make me happy, but you know that. I have to remind myself on a routine basis that Tango is NOT A DOG. He is a horse.

Reminding myself of that is important, because as big as Tango is, he could accidentally hurt me when we're playing.


"Playing?" you ask.


"Yes playing!"

A couple years ago, Tango was off for about six weeks. I couldn't ride him or do any ground work with him. I wanted to spend worthwhile time with Tango and so with the help of a friend, we came up with a plan.

"We can teach Tango tricks," I told my friend.

My friend didn't hesitate. She's the best clicker trainer I know. "I'm all in," she said.

The first thing we did was to hang a plastic pop bottle by from Tango's stall. Of course, Tango was curious. Every time he reached out and touched the bottle, we'd click the clicker and give the boy a treat. Oh! One more thing. We always said the word push at the same time we clicked the clicker.

That activity led to Tango pushing a beach ball around the arena every time we asked him to give it a shove.

After that, we taught Tango the word pick. Since Tango's a very mouthy horse, he often tastes everything in sight. We used it to our advantage. Every time he remotely used his mouth on a jolly ball (a ball with a handle) we'd click the clicker and say THE word.

Within a few weeks, Tango was picking up the jolly ball and depositing into a muck bucket. I could have taken him on the road. We could have had a one horse basketball game!

There was more. We taught Tango to bow. We taught Tango to kiss. We taught Tango to back all the way across the arena until we asked him to stop. It was/is so much fun I can't even tell you.

Then we made the mistake of asking Tango to count. His cue to stop would be when we would click the clicker. Somehow, that just didn't work out. Tango kept pawing and pawing the ground. I swear that horse could count to 903! Anyway, we filed that trick away for future use.

Week before last, my sister-in-law came to the barn to take photos of Tango doing tricks that we could put into a slide show (thank you, Sandy). Unfortunately, I couldn't find Tango's jolly ball and the beach ball's long gone. Someone took Tango's balls! Oh well, not to worry. We used cones instead. Tango will pick up anything I ask him to pick up.

That brings me to another point. Tango uses the tricks I taught him for his convenience. He will pick and push and pull and back even when I'm not around. He can open his stall. He can open pasture gates. He can push down fence posts that he shouldn't be pushing.

Tango's the only horse on the farm that has to come in at night. While I feel badly that he can't stay out all night, I understand and want him to be safe. I truly appreciate the extra security they've put on Tango's stall door.

That horse!

8 comments:

Ern July 6, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

What a cool horse, and neat slide show. I can see why you have to remind yourself that he's a horse and not a dog. Looks like, sounds like he does things like a dog would do with training Does he talk like Mr. Ed? I loved watching that show.

Jan Mader July 6, 2009 at 9:47 AM  

Oh yes...he talks, but not like Mr. Ed. He gives me sorrowful whinnies when I walk out of the barn at night and he's by himself. Then he presses his face through the big opened window that's in his stall and watches me go by....do I feel guilty or what??????!!!!!!!!!!!

Sandy July 6, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

I can attest he does have dog like mannerisms. We got out of the car and Jan called his name. He started making his way to the edge of the fence where we were.

When I was crouched down trying to get a different angle for a photo, he came over like a dog would. Guess he wanted to eat my camera or something. lol Trouble is, I'm sorta afraid of aniamls, of things bigger than me. And I was so busy looking the lense didn't realize how close he was getting...But, Jan called his name and he immediately went to her.

We had a fun day there at the barn and I took 137 photo's! Now all are good, but still 137.

Sandy

Jan Mader July 6, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

And you'll never believe what I asked Sandy after all 137 photos and a week and a half later. "Are there any photos of the barn cats? They're really cute!"

Rae July 6, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

What a horse!! Sounds so wonderful. He should be on TV.

Glue Girl July 6, 2009 at 11:26 PM  

Awwww. He is huge! I have to agree with Sandy about being afraid. I'm in awe of people who have relationships with horse b/c it's something I would like to do but am afraid of. It was nice of you to swing by and say hey on my blog - I have been very remiss in keeping it up lately. Hugs to you! Christine

Tweedles -- that's me... July 7, 2009 at 12:39 AM  

Tango is soooo smart! You mentioned you need to remind yourself that Tango is not a dog. But that he is big and could possibly hurt you. Horses sometimes do not realize they are a horse and not human. They also do not realize that their size can hurt. When you bond closely-that is what happens. They think they can sit on your lap. They think of you as a frisky foal and someone to play with.
Tango is really smart. Thank you for sharring with us.
xoxoxo
tweedles

T July 7, 2009 at 2:24 PM  

Aw, each post you write about Tango, makes me long to meet him. What a great Horse he is!

Love the slide show.

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