Treasure Hunt For Horses With Hertha James

Ever thought of setting up a treasure hunt for your horse? Apparently clicker horse trainer and author, Hertha James, has! I love it when folks think outside the box when it comes to horses. Sometimes we forget that there can be more to being with horses than grooming them and riding them. Check out her written description and video clips.

Hertha James is a clicker horse trainer in New Zealand and prolific author. I recently finished reading her updated 2019 book Conversations with Horses: An in-depth look at signals and cues between horses and their handlers.

Even if you don’t practice clicker training with your horses, her insights into horse-human communication can easily be applied outside formal clicker-training sessions.

Consider this idea she calls “Resetting A Task”:

“When we teach something new, we are experimenting with our signals and the horse is also experimenting to work out what it is we want him to do. It’s not unusual for things to get a bit complicated and messy.

If either you or the horse lose track of what you are doing, pretend it was perfect, relax (but no click & treat), pause. Then go back to the beginning of the task and try again, starting with your visualization of how a good effort will look and feel.

The magic about pretending it went well (when it actually turned into a mess) is that it dissolves the natural frustration we feel when our communication is not getting through.

If we can smile, breath out and relax our body before we reset, we don’t upset the horse or make him anxious. We simply start again.”

Hertha James

This is a gem of an idea. I can think about a dozen different ways to incorporate this into groundwork and riding. How about you?

2 thoughts on “Treasure Hunt For Horses With Hertha James

  1. I definitely can! Especially in training my Haflingers. When things aren’t going as planned it can be hard to know how to react, starting fresh seems to be the best thing to do! It keeps both you & your horse calm and relaxed!

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    1. That is quite the task to take your Haflingers from barely halter broke to ground driving to the eventual goal of pulling that carriage. I can imagine that starting fresh with a smile on your face when things don’t go as planned could be challenging at times. But I bet your horses appreciate your calm, your patience and your sense of humor through it all.


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