Equine Tricks

Arrow Bow 2015-09-22

Teaching your Equine Tricks is not only fun, it is impressive to others. It is fun to show off that little extra YOUR Equine can perform.

But the truth about Training Your Equine Tricks is all about Time Spent with YOUR Equine. Your equine will want to be with you more, the bond between the two of you will be tighter, and it is all in fun. But more, the more training you do with an animal, the more they want to learn, they more they want to please and obey you...

So grab some small treats and head out to the barn!


YES!! Equine can and do learn to preform tricks. They love to show off the tricks you have taught them too!!

You should know that just like all dogs do not catch on to doing tricks very easily...some equines may not either. Make sure you convert to your animal just what you are looking for it to do as you train. Be sure to praise with voice, petting and sometimes, treats. Smile when they understand, hold your face still until they "get it", then smile big and give much verbal praise. Donkeys like all animals read body language very well and will catch on if you are consistent.

To start training your equine to do tricks, make sure you are working somewhere one on one with the equine you are training because if you have other animals in your training pen....well? You could get hurt. Equine can and sometimes do get pushy for treats or attention.

You should have the right equipment set out and checked out and ready before getting your animals out for lessons. Checked out? Yes, make sure the items are in working order, safe and ready to use. Make sure you are dressed properly, long pants, leather boots, and gloves to protect your hands. If it is chilly wear a jacket, but you may want to keep the jacket zipped so that your donkey can see your movement and the jacket will not get in your way, or spook the animal you are working to train the animal.

I personally use treats (carrots sliced thin), petting, scratching and general loving on along with verbal praise when training and performing with my animals. Clickers are fine for those that like them. I have always used the word "good" just as one would use the clicker. My voice is unique and I can be louder or softer spoken when necessary. A clicker is always the same, and think about this....ever been to a dog class where there are clickers going off all over the place? Ever lost your keys, what if you loose that clicker? You are going to spend more time looking for it then training your animal.

One thing you sure need to know when training a mule/donkey. Punishment training will not work well and may in fact "backfire" on you at a later date. Working with and knowing your own donkey/mule will bring rewarding effects. Not only will the bond between you grow, the more time you spend together the more time you will want to spend together, but your animal will want to please you.

Learning to learn. This is where you teach the animal something simple so that it learns you are looking for a behavior, you are looking for the animal to respond in a pleasing way, that your want the animal to do something. Once they learn this, you are on your way to some real fun. Learning to learn can come easy for some animals and hard for some others...hang in there it is worth it.

I guess this is where I should add my disclaimer <sigh>. I hate these things and for most of the world it is like "well, duh!" but for those that do not know...

This is the way we have in the past and do trained our equine. It has worked very well for us. It may or may not work for you. Each trainer and each animal are individuals. Remember, equine, even the miniatures, are strong animals with a flight instinct. Work your animals at your own risk. I am not responsible for the health or safety of you or your donkey as you train your animals.

And now back to the fun stuff...the tricks.



This is so easy to Teach but yet it seems it is rarely taught. I have never owned an animal that did not come to me when I called it. Even animals we have taken in as adult. Horses, Ponies, Donkeys, and all sort of other animals. Each needs to learn to come when called.

And I don't know about you, but to me, it is so frustrating to ask someone to ride with me, but I stand, with my equine saddled and ready, as they ask me to help them 'catch' their's. Work with your equine people.

How do you teach your animals/equine to come when called? Reward them when they do. Make being around you the most wonderful thing in their lives.

When you first bring home an equine, or even if you have had it for 20 years and it does not come when called...

Put your equine in a smaller pen. Any animal we bring home goes into a 'quarantine pen', we never take chances our other animals could pick something up from it. Plus it is good for introductions.

While in this small pen, call the animal/equine's name when you feed it. Stand there until it comes. It is best to feed it out of a bowl in your hand rather than a bucket on the fence.

Pet the animal as it eats.

Get out the brushes and GROOM your equine well, as in all over nicely and for a while, before and after a ride.

Make doing things with you fun. When riding, acknowledge them with kind words and a pet on the neck and a "good boy/girl" as they obey what you are asking, whatever that might be.

Take treats out, yes, way out, into the pasture, and give them out as you talk nice to your equine, then turn around and walk away before they walk away from you. Most will follow you back.

You get the idea. Say their names often, and reward them. Make it fun to be around you. Soon, very very soon, after you start doing these things, your equine will not only come when called, they will follow you around like a dog.


SectionJump Thru a Hoop

Horse Agility Dream Makers first day 2014-08-27

First you need to make a large hoop. There are several ways you might do this. I used a section of black stiff hose about 1" in diameter, from the Hardware Store in the plumbing dept. sold by the foot. It is not too expensive and can easily be completed into a circle with electrical or duct tape. When you go to buy it go ahead and pull it off the roll and hold it up to see how large you would like to have it cut. Remember, the bigger it is to start the better. You can cut it down latter after your donkey or horse is more used to the idea of going thru it. You can also decorate the hoop later with tissue paper or colored tape.

This trick can be taught many ways. Maybe the laziest was is to set the hoop in the flow of your longing area and praise the donkey, mule or horse as you drive it thru.

Take YOUR Time Training This.

After you have a Hoop set up, making sure it is "break away", meaning that if the equine gets a foot caught in it the whole Hoop is not collapsing around the equine.

more to come, more photos to come

SectionPlay Fetch
So what will you have the donkey fetch? I started with a plastic feed bowl about 12" in diameter and 4" tall. I put a bit of feed in it and set it on the ground in front of the gate.
AbbyBall 2007-09-07.jpg

I bought these two sweet babies and they taught me this trick....well, kind of!

Arrow, my Paint Horse, and Dreamer, my Shetland Pony, were four and five months old when we bought them home. Dreamer was halter broke, Arrow was a wild squirrel.

So we put them in a small pen and worked with them, even for a few minutes if we did not have more time, daily.

I used to hold the bowl of grain for them to eat. Arrow was Leary so I stood on the outside of the fence. The bowl is the one described above. The bowl is pink and you can see it from a ways off.

I was in a hurry one day and set the bowl down for "the boys" and went on to feed the other horses, and animals. When I came back, a few minutes later, the bowl was not there. Gone. Then I saw it. Someone had picked it up and set it in the water troft.

I have trained animals since I was a kid. A light bulb went off when I saw that and I thought "If you can put it in there, you can put it in my hand." LOL I picked the bowl out of the water (it was floating mind you) with a big grin and big ideas.

My husband was not at all surprised when I came through the door saying "I need a book on training horses tricks."

The next day I took the grain out in a small bucket and carried the bowl in my other hand. I put a little grain in the bowl and set it down. Sure enough, when the grain was gone Arrow started moving the bowl. I COULD NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS HAPPENED ON THE FIRST DAY! I gave a very quick "GOOD BOY!" in a soft happy voice and picked up the bowl and put a little more grain in it. Again, he moved the bowl, again I praised and rewarded.

The following day I did the same, only this time when he moved the bowl he looked at me to pick it up, so I waited. He mouthed the bowl as if to move it, like a hand grasping it. I praised and rewarded and added the command "fetch it up" (that might tell you I worked with Labrador Retrievers for years LOL).

On the fourth day I just stood there when the mouthing the bowl was going on. He looked at me now and again as if "Put the treat in." Then it happened. I could not believe how easy this was going. He picked it up. I grabbed it. Luckily he knew my intentions and I did not scare him in my excitement! I praised, rewarded and tried again....nope, he did not pick it up again that day.

But I kept this up till he understood he had to pick it up. Then rather then taking it from him (that took a week or two) I made him hand it to me. Soon, I was tossing the bowl around the pen and telling him to "fetch it up".

By the time my Horse Trick Training book arrived Arrow was already on his way learning tricks.

Then I tried a rope, would he pick up a short rope? HE DID, how about a bandanna? YEP!! Then came the....I laid out the three, bowl, rope, bandanna and asked for one. Believe it or not, yes, he could play this game. I have not worked with him with this in quite some time....but am planning to start again. It will be interesting to see what he remembers.

I bought Arrow several large Frisbies. He can turn them over when they or the bowl lands convex (lip side down) but tends to go through several plastic frisbies splitting them with forse.

From there I taught Arrow to pick up my hat, if dropped on the trail, or other items and hand them to me in the saddle. But if you train this you need to have treats in a horn bag. Well worth it.....and really fun to show off on trail rides.

Now Dreamer, not as easy to train as Arrow. I had to move Arrow out of the pen or Dreamer would not get a turn to even try this game. Dreamer did catch on, but never with the enthusiasm that Arrow has. Dreamer would play twice and that was it.

Abby, our Donkey, I trained a bit different. I have this ball with a handle they sell for pets. I took the handle of the ball and put a bit of apple sauce on it. She licked it off. LOL So, then I took the handle, put it in her mouth like a bit, pulled it back out and said "GOOD GIRL!" and gave her a treat.

I did this over several days. Now donkeys are very smart, but they don't particularly want people to know that. After all, if she had learned that too quickly, she would not have received all the extra treats.

So since I am stubborn, I asked her for the ball and waited for her to respond. Of course she did know what to do....and handed me the ball. TREAT AND REWARD AND REPEAT.

I set her ball in a salt block holder so that it did not roll away and so that the handle was straight up when first training. It worked wonderfully!

*Kicking A Ball

Arrow's Introduction to Kicking A Ball

I was so surprised to see this Trick on a Horse Agility Course. Kicking A Ball?????? On An Agility Course?????? But there it is. Right there on one of the Horse Agility Club's Agility Course....

I have participated in MANY species of Agility and Kicking A Ball? Never on a course. Good Training for an Equine? Yes. Cute for Trick Training? Yes. On An Agility Course? "Who would have thunk it?" But there it is. So here you go.

First of all you need a Large Ball. You need the RIGHT Ball for your Equine. It might cost you a bit to find out what that right ball might be. You do NOT want a Ball with a Handle....some Equine can and are (mine included) to Fetch these for their Handles. Cute. But not what is asked for with this Agility Task. Believe it or not, there are many types of large balls one could use. Including many "Horse Balls".

These photos are of the first day I introduced my Paints to the Play Ball I bought for less than $5 in the Toy Dept.

Horse Agility Trick - setting up Dream Maker to Kick The Ball 2015-10-10

To train this "obstacle", I personally call this Trick Training. I took the Orange Play Ball out to the Agility Course I had set up and walked my equine past it a few times. They did not care about it at all. So. On the next pass, after several, getting closer and closer to the Ball laying on the field, I gave it a slight kick. My equine did not care.

I then set the ball in their pathway. I told them to kick it. Dream Maker, my Pony, stepped over it....many many times. When she finally made contact with the Ball, I praised and gave her a treat....each time.

Arrow, my Paint Horse, we raised from a Weanling and his training started with, during Ground Work, Tricks. So he took right to it, and when he heard the 'cue', "Kick It", he understood right away I was asking him to do something with the Ball. As soon as his hoof hit the ball, I gave the "good" and treated him....he got it right then. He will kick the ball each time I ask.

Any time your Equine want to stop and smell a new item on their field, let them. Give them a minute then walk the away from it and come back. If they want to sniff it again, let them.

With practice a person could teach Equine to Play Soccer and land the ball into a Net. Use the Ball with the Handle for Basketball.

*Untying A Rope

I will start with the warning: Arrow now needs a tighter, more real knot, when we tie him out. He can untie those with time.

One of the first tricks we taught Arrow, the Paint Horse I raised, was to Untie A Rope. I, had like you, seen it done on the Movies and such and thought it was soooooo KOOOOOL!

To Teach this Trick you need about a 2' Cotton rope, not too wide, not too narrow. Teach your Horse to Fetch, read about that here on this page. When your horse Fetches well, start throwing the rope and asking the equine to "fetch it up"...

more to come

SectionWearing Clothes, Glasses, Hats and more

Horse Tricks Dream Maker Wearing Sunglasses 2015-10-10 Dream Maker with Halloween Tail Boa 2015-10-10

Teaching your equine to wear an item is relatively easy with a gentle, easy going animal that you can handle well and is accustom to you touching about anywhere on it's body. Some items may spook the animal just a bit at first, so be sure to "show" the item to the donkey before attempting to put it on the animal.

Horse Tricks Arrow Wearing Sunglasses 2015-10-10

For the animal that spooks at the item you are holding....wear the item yourself as you walk the animal about. Put it over your arm if you need to, as you would a saddle pad, or bareback pad, and act like it is not even there. Soon the animal will calm down about it and you can let it smell the item. Stop there for the day. Do the same for as many days as it takes before you can just put the item on the animal and the animal just wears it.


Dream Maker Smile 2015-09-10

This trick can be taught in a few ways...the way I have taught it is to have treats in your hand. Let the animal know you have them. BTW, make sure the animal understands you want a smile not a nip!!
OK, you can teach the animal in one of two ways, I will tell you how I have done it first.

Stand on the outside of the fence with the animal on the inside of the fence (turn off electric fencing of course). Call the animal to the fence ad show it the treat. Now take the treat hand (that is with the treat in it) and as you give the treat, or I should say, just before you give the treat gently pull the top lip up and say "smiiiiiiiile". Praise and treat right away. Now do it again and again...stop for today.

Arrow Smile Trick 2 2015-09-22

Tomorrow, same thing. Now on the third day, hesitate just after you say smile and see what happens...even if it is the smallest bit of a lip raise, make a big deal and treat right away. Drag the word out as you say it and ask for the smiiiiiile again right away, but this time help make it a big smile with your hand. Continue on with this until the equine friend is smiiiiiling on command. This is such a cute trick. I get a kick out of it when the animals smile on their own when they see you after learning this one!!

The other way I have heard to teach this trick (and I have to tell you, I don't like this way) is to use an onion or ammonia and hold it under the animals nose when you ask for the smile, treat as they lift their noses.


This is a little Trick we have taught many of our dogs through the years. I will warn you, it becomes the "go to trick". So make sure you want your equine to learn it before teaching it. Another warning, your equine may go to the 'Yawn' when you are asking for the 'Smile'

But teaching the 'Yawn', is easy...for almost any animal.

To teach the 'Yawn', first Teach the 'Smile', as the equine 'Smiles' place your fingers in it's mouth, separate the mouth and give the 'command'/'cue', "Yaaaaawn'. Draw the word yawn out, yaaaaawn.

Repeat a few times and wait a day, then repeat every day for a week. You will be amazed how quickly your equine will engage in this task.

Be SURE to work the "Smile" trick as you are teaching the "Yawn". Make a distinction between the two. Ask for the 'Smile" and treat, praise, make a fuss. Start again, ask for the 'Yawn'. Not over and over, from time to time.

SectionShake Head for Yes

OK, this is another trick that can be taught several ways. The easiest way is to use an item like a little stick, not sharp. If you ask your animal something like "Don't you agree, Name?" for your cue, this is really cute!!

Work on the side of your animal. Ask the equine or tell the equine your cue. Now take the little stick, "Magic wand" if you will, and push it a bit into their neck below their head as a fly would tickle them. The animal will automatically shake it's head....the trick is repetition. Each time, ask or tell your cue to the donkey and soon the animal will shake before you touch it with the stick....

What is a "magic wand"? It is a small cue stick, think music concert baton. Something that looks better then just a whip. I have a plastic "magic wand" form a party supply store that looks like something a "ferry godmother" would carry. It is about the size of a small crop and looks cute for shows.

SectionShake Head for No

To teach your Equine to "Shake Head No" you will need a little stick. You will use it to tickle or aggervate, like a fly does, on your equines neck. You will stand on your horses side and just like teaching the horse to "Shake Head Yes", only this time you will be working on the side of the neck, just under the mane area, down from the head about half way: as before,

Work on the side of your animal. Ask the equine or tell the equine your cue. Now take the little stick, "Magic wand" if you will, and push it a bit into their neck below their head as a fly would tickle them. The animal will automatically shake it's head....the trick is repetition. Each time, ask or tell your cue to the donkey and soon the animal will shake before you touch it with the stick....

*Drinking From A Water Bottle

Some of you will be "aghast" to hear that when I was a kid, many moons ago, I had a Shetland Pony. My Dad would give the Pony, named Prince, a Cigarette (no filter)...it is how animals were wormed back then (tobacco), that and the "up their nose with a rubber hose" technique. We also taught Prince to drink from a bottle. A Beer Bottle..... Hey! I was 8 y/o, blame my Dad. It was 1965, normal was quite different then.

Every now and then, when my Dad's friends dropped by.....he would tell me, "Go get the Pony." He would just hand Prince a Cigarette and let Prince finish his beer.

While this did not harm Prince. I am not recommending this.

However, teaching your equine to drink from a bottle, use plastic, WILL Entertain YOUR friends as much as it did my Dad's.

To teach this trick...


This information will teach you to train your equine to hold items in their mouths until you reach to take the item from it/them.

First you will need a/or are "Cue" word(s). I have always used "Fetch It Up". "Fetch It Up" is different than "Fetch It". Fetch It means to 'go and get something and bring it back to me'. "Fetch It Up" means to pick something up and hold it until I reach for it.

Your Next "Command" or "Cue" word needs to be to signal the equine to let go of the item into your hand (or where ever you want the item to land) I use "Release". Other words that could be used might be "lose", "let go", "drop". Don't use the word, "good", "Good" Is your 'task over good job" cue word.

The first task you need is to teach your horse/pony/donkey/equine to PUT and item in their mouths. This is easier for some equine than others. Some horses love to play with their mouths. THOSE equine will be a cinch to teach.

Many equine will just take it from you when you offer it near their mouths. If not, you could bait the bottle with a molasses or syrup.

Once the equine takes the bottle into it's mouth, say "Good!". Then give your "Release" command and push your thumb up on the equines roof of it's mouth and take the item, again give a, "Good." The animal is going to be confused. Repeat. Then do something else. Later that same day, repeat the whole lesson. Repeat two short lessons over about 5 days. Most equine will have caught on by then, if not, the others ARE learning, just keep working on it.

If your equine IS catching on, start making the time longer, must moments, before asking for the bottle. Let them hold it. Let them shake it. Let them mouth it.

*TO TEACH YOUR Horse, Pony, Donkey, Mule, Hinney, Equine TO DRINK OUT OF A BOTTLE

Start with a 1/2 full bottle of water. Hand it to your equine and give the command you have chosen, ADDING ANOTHER COMMAND OF YOUR CHOICE, I use "Have A Drink". Now, tip the bottle just a little bit. Just so that the water barely comes out. The equine might drop the bottle or step back. If they do, say, "No.". Repeat, but this time, hold the bottle. Don't be pushy or mean, or push water into their mouths. Just gently let them know that they must do the same tasks as they had before when the bottle was empty.

Gently and easily repeat. After a ride out on the trail, or working out in the arena, might be a great time to work on this trick.

*Holding A Horn For Photos

*Making Bubbles

Horse Trick Training Bubble Wand

For this trick you will need a "Bubble Wand" that is large enough for your Equine to hold it in it's mouth and not get soap into it's mouth as it works the Wand.

I bought mine from a Dollar Tree. Other stores have these too and they are not expensive.

If you have taught your horse, pony, miniature, donkey, mule, or whatever equine you own, to Hold An Item in It's Mouth, and to "Shake it's Head Yes or No", then teaching this trick will be a breeze.

If not, go to those Tricks on This Page and learn to teach those to your equine.

The idea is, to have the equine take the Wand and Shake It so that Bubbles are made in the air.

Be sure to first blow bubbles around your equine so that it does not Spook when the Bubbles are made and floating in the air.

more photos to come

SectionGive Kisses
Another really easy trick to teach an equine. You can teach this trick in several ways. Some folks actually put honey on their faces to let the animals lick it off...uuuummm? <sly grin> I will not recommend this. This is a good way to get bitten.

Most equine love to get close to you and when you love on them a bit you can move their heads around easily. While doing this, put your face, chin out that is, towards a friendly sweet dispositioned equine and say the words "Give me a kiss." As you do this move their mouths close to your face where you want them to touch. Give verbal praise, treat and repeat. Repeat three or four times two or three times a day and you might be surprised how quick your animal learns.

This is a good starting trick to teach an animal to learn to learn.

*Teaching Your Equine To "Heel" (like a dog learns, walking at your side, on and or off lead)

This is easier than you might think. If you walk your equine on a lead and it walks quietly along with you....you are on your way. If your equine does NOT walk nicely on a lead, you should be working on that whether you want to teach it to "Heel" or not.

more to come

SectionStand on Pedestal

Do you have a Pedestal for your large heavy equine to stand on? You could build one out of wood, it will be more quiet then a tin stand and probably more stable. You could start with a stout stump if you have one handy. What ever you use make sure it will hold the animals weight and will not spook the animal with noise as the animal steps up onto it.

AbbyStepUp 2007-09-07.jpg


Arrow Bow 2015-09-22

This is a treat orientated trick. I recommend carrot slices.

more to come on how to train this trick

SectionDonkeys to Hee Haw On Command
Here's the problem with this trick......Donkeys love to bray and you may not be able to "turn this trick off". You may actually be teaching something to your donkey your will REALLY regret.

If you have decided to go ahead and teach this trick, have fun with it. You may want to use some fun commands like "Don't you agree with me Bess?" or "I hate when that happens don't you?" or "If you are happy and your know it give a bray."

To teach this trick you will need a small bowl of grain, sweet feed works well. Add only about 1/4 cup of grain in the bowl, and take it out to your donkey. For two days walk up to the donkey and give it to him/her. Just walk right up and let the donkey eat the grain.

One the third day stay outside the gate of your donkey pen and call the donkey to you for the grain. As you call the donkey shake the bowl so that the donkey can see and hear the bowl rattle. Let your donkey eat the grain. Do this for a couple of days.

Now, walk slowly out to the pen and see if your donkey does not meet you at the gate with a nice bray. If it does, scoot over, that means hurry and praise with the grain and by verbal praise a smile and petting as the donkey eats it's reward.

Next time out and several times after, give a command like "talk to me" or "Hey, want a treat?". Use this command only when you want the donkey to bray to you. Try to say it before the donkey brays to you for the grain.

So, now you can't shut your donkey up? Well, I did warn you. They do love room service and will call for it often.

SectionDonekey Vaulting and Trick Riding
Can you do vaulting on/off a donkey? Could you trick ride on a donkey? Sure, why not? If you are small enough and the donkey is large enough, have a good time!! Send us photos, we would love to see this.

SectionNow What?
So? Your big ole sweet equine now does all or at least one or two of these KOOOL tricks, now how do you get a gig? Man, that's the easy part. If you can get your animals to VBS (Vacation Bible Schools, done usually one week during the sumer) Old Folks Homes, Church Picnics, Outdoor Summer Scout programs...you are gonna be a star. Call the organization, better yet stop by in person and leave a business card. Offer your services. If you want to charge have a fee in mind before you visit. The groups may want to see your animals perform before they ask you to come perform.

Another place you could show off your talented equines would be at Pet Stores that offer Pet Shows, usually they offer a "best trick" category.

You could certainly also make a video tape of your star donkey and show it off on the Internet.

After your loving equine is rock solid on it's tricks you could add another animal, either another equine or donkey or something else...like a bird or cat or dog or horse or whatever you have. Teach it a few tricks to add to the show including riding on the back of your equine...just keep it safe!!

(more tricks and photos to come...you will love the photos!!)

TRICKS LIKE "REARING", "OPENING GATE LOCKS", "PAWING THE GROUND/COUNTING", AS WELL AS, "KICKING (back feet) AT ITEMS", "USING TEETH NEAR YOUR BODY" (taking items out of your pockets or off your head).... AND SUCH. For safety reasons I do not teach these tricks to equine. I would advise you TO THINK LONG AND HARD ABOUT TEACHING THESE. If you let your equine know that it is ok to perform these Tasks....you may have taught them to be very dangerous. Think about if these one of these tricks became your equines "Go To Trick".....

I would like to invite you to join us on any or all of my animal trick training elists at the Yahoo Groups eList website. I have separate trick training elists for Small Animals, Cats, Goats, an Agility List for Fancy Ratties (pet rats), as well as Rabbits and Holistic Lists for Goats, Rabbits, and Donkeys. I also joined a great Donkey list called Donkey Click at the Yahoo Site, you may enjoy this list too, come join us for great donkey talk and donkey training talk.

-- The Does My Butt Look Big In The Saddle Team
Sun, 09 Sep 2007 10:43:25 -0400

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