These are older write ups about Charlie and Fred's training that I wrote years ago. Enjoy
House Training and Litter Box Training (Fred's Training)
I wrote a big educational post on Fred’s Training for the Miniature Service Horse Group I’m a member of. Here is a step by step process of Fred’s Training.
1. When Fred arrived at my house Feb 15th I started with him learning to go potty in his stall in the barn on command. My Charlie was at the Equine Hospital at the time but my George was home. My boys are all trained to go potty on command when they come in the barn at night. Plus most horses love peeing on shavings when brought in the barn. It literally only took a week before he learned that if he goes potty when asked he would get a cookie. This process takes an incredible amount of patience and time. Sometimes I would stand around for 10-20 minutes giving the go potty command OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN until he went. Was he doing it because I said too in the beginning probably not but if they like treats it doesn't take long for them to learn to put the Go Potty command with getting lots of treats together. I know he learned by watching George as well. My "big" boys have a litter box out of 2 x 4's in the stall and that is where they pee. (most of the time!! George is a stinker and sometimes pees on the few shavings I have to keep in the stall for Charlie because of his laminitis) They poop on the rubber mat in one area next to the pee box. After a week Fred was going potty faster then his big brothers.
2. When I brought Fred home he was a fur ball and had several mats of burrs in his fur. I decided even though it was winter in Michigan I would clip him and move him in the house. (on a serious note when I bought Charlie 5 years ago I knew nothing about minis and size and had hoped he could live in the house not realizing my house isn't quite big enough for a horse his size to live full time and Michigan winters with one horse made it impossible) Fred was the 3rd wheel with the other 2 horses once Charlie was released from the hospital. Since he was so tiny just 56 pounds (under weight because he was in with weanlings twice his size and he wasn't getting the proper amount of food. Cindy the breeder had told me he was probably under weight because the other stud colts he was with would pick on him relentlessly) when he came home it wasn't safe for him to be in with them out in the pasture. He spent all day in the big stall because I didn't have a little pasture built. I turned my son's room into a "stall" with a tarp and rubber utility mat. I bought his litter box at Tractor Supply. It's is a 36"x24"x18" hard rubber mixing tub. I put Espoma Naturals Sani-Care in it and PDZ Stall refresher.
3. Since he was going on command consistently teaching him to go in the box was very easy. I would put him in the box and give the command. The first 3 nights in is room he made a mess not understanding he needs to go in the box. I bought a ReoLink Security Camera and installed it in the room to watch him while I'm at work. I could talk to him through the camera and give the Go Potty command as well. I was able to get my neighbor friend to come down to my house every 3 hours to put him in the box to go potty and give the command. Because Tina was able to help he had no accidents outside the box after just 1 full week in the room.
4. After our weather warmed up he would go outside during the day and then come in the house at night. I made him his own little pasture in the big pasture (which Charlie used for 6 weeks while he got past his acute laminitis) Fred and I started sleeping in the living room. He would go back to the box in his room in the middle of the night to potty and did amazing as long as I remembered to leave the gate open LOL If I didn't leave the gate open I would find little piles of turds by the front door. So once I saw he did that I knew I could then put the litter box on the deck and he would go to the door to go potty.
5. He now goes to the door when I'm awake and I let him on the deck to go in the box. I had bought a second box for the deck. He would have to go in the box and go potty after his grain to come in the house. After a few weeks I moved his first litter box from the room to right by the front door. Now he sleeps every night in the living room with me and the box comes in right before I go to sleep.
6. For the first few weeks in the living room he would startle me and scare the crap out of me while sleeping to get his cookie for going potty. Thank goodness that has ended he just does his business and lets me sleep. I must have scared him good when he kissed me on my lips with his muzzle to wake me and I about fell off the couch. Now he only gets treats when I give the Go Potty command and not when he just does what's expected.
The few accidents he had outside the box in the house were treated the same as when a dog has an accident when potty training. I corrected and reprimanded him to learn we don't go on the floor unless Mommy falls asleep before bringing the box in. LOL (I can't really get upset if it's not his fault)
Fred now understands that on lead when working going potty only happens when Mommy gives the command just like his "big" brothers. He has done so amazing and I'm so incredibly proud. I really enjoy training and can't wait to see all this little horse can learn.
We started Directed Retrieval training the other night on the deck. My Charlie was watching from the pasture. He was like let me up there to show Freckle Butt how it's done. Having other horses sure does help when training a new one.
If this doesn't make sense let me know. Hope this helps anyone working on training their mini. If you don't have another horse that is already trained to go potty on command you can look at Charlie-Mini Service Horse page and see the write up I wrote about how I house trained him when I owned just him. This time was so much simpler but I have so much more knowledge then I did 5 years ago when I first brought Charlie home.
Thank you and enjoy friends
How Mom House Trained Me (Charlie's Training)
So we have lots of friends wondering how mom house trained me. It was a process but very well worth it. This is the long version of how mom went about teaching me all I know. The training is very similar to housebreaking a dog and mom has taken it to the extreme of teaching me to go on command. If you have any questions please message Mom but we are hoping this will help anyone working on housebreaking.
When mom brought me home almost 4 years ago she discovered miniature horses being used as therapy and service animals. When she found the right mentors they advised her in how to house train. She was not a believer at first. Mom like most all equestrians and the public a like do not realize that miniature horses are capable of being house broke.
In the beginning of my life at Mom’s I had just the little 8x8 barn in the fence where I would go. Once mom cleaned out the garage and built me a big stall we began the real process of house training. Before the garage the first time mom brought me in the house I of course pooped and it was probably what you would call a nervous poop. Mom told me no, corrected me with a stern voice, and took me outside. She informed me that we only potty outside. The next time she brought me in same thing of course happened and she caught it in a bowl and walked me outside. Once again correcting me and telling me that pooping in the house is unacceptable just like biting and kicking are. The third trip in the house mom stayed close to me. She knew to truly make me comprehend the concept of having to go outside she would have to push my tail down when I started to go and make me finish outside. That is is exactly what she did. She pushed my tail down, held it down while walking me out the door and I finished on the deck. Once I finished she praised me over and over and gave me treats. I have not had an accident in the house in almost 3.5 years now. I know to go to the door or signal to be let out.
Peeing started when Mom started to bring me in the big barn every night. Mom would put me in about 9:00-9:30 and she discovered the very first thing I would do when going in at night was pee on the nice clean shavings. Can’t have a clean stall right!! Well mom started by just cuing me by saying GO POTTY GO PEE while I was already in the act then praising me and giving me treats when I was thru. It literally took me 3 nights to correlate if I pee when she asks I get treats. You all know I’m treat mongrel and love my peppermints. Mom did this EVERY night and still does it most every night. To teach me to go on command about 6 months after learning this she decided to see if I would pee while on the lead before walking into a nursing home on a visit. Rather then waiting for me to signal I had to go she wanted to teach me to empty my bladder prior to the start of a visit. I did it perfectly the first time and boy did I get praises. I now do this before the start of each visit and have surprised quite a few of the people that have witnessed it. They are always in awe whether I pee a whole stream or just a couple dribbles trying. I love to pee on the lead but now have learned I do not pee until mom says so if I’m attached to my lead rope. I am what mom calls a DIVA about peeing. If one dribble splatters I won’t pee. I’ve NEVER peed inside a facility, the house, a business, or mom’s truck. She says a lot of that is because I’m a very picky clean DIVA about it but she truly LOVES IT!!
Learning to poop when asked took a lot longer. For the longest time the truck was my trailer so I would poop on the rubber mats and mom always carried a bucket and gloves. She gave me lots of treats when I would go in the truck so that taught me the place to go away from home is my truck. To teach me to go when asked she would let me eat in the barn for awhile and fill up my stomach. Then she tried for 2 hours one night to get me to poop while she held the lead rope in the stall. I refused!!! Then she gave up and as soon as she left my stall I pooped. Mom decided that night she would just train me to go in a bucket in the truck or teach me to be tied outside while she holds the bucket. I will hold it for a very long time if my truck is not around. My truck is my safe place to go and I like my privacy and quiet when going. Mom has successfully as of last summer got to me to go when tied up when the truck is not available. Before we go on a visit mom takes me in the barn and makes me go before we load in the truck. I have gotten really good at this as long as she puts the video camera away. Like I said I’m a private pooper. I now am triggered when mom gets home I see her and I poop outside. It makes me feel good that I go when mom wants or when I see mom. She doesn’t give me treats anymore when I just decide to go when she gets home and I don’t understand :-).
Potty training is not hard but does take time. When I was little mom had all the time in the world after my big brother Dylan would go to bed at 9 to spend time with me teaching me all I know. If takes time but is so much more sanitary in mom’s opinion then potty bags. Mom no longer even watches my tail and I can eat all day while we are out doing visits. When I have to go I get antsy like a toddler that has to potty. I swish my tail, lift my hind legs, occasionally if mom’s not listening slightly kick out my back leg as a sign time to go outside, and if mom really isn’t listening I will give her a little nip on her thigh as a warning like Mom we had better get outside or else. Mom does a great job listening to me and the older I have gotten the better I can hold it. Horses can be reliably potty trained for up to 6 hours. The longest I have gone in between peeing is 11 hours but that is because I’m a DIVA and it was a windy rainy day and I didn’t want to splatter on myself so I held it until the weather cleared and the wind died down. I really surprised mom that day. She does not like me going that long in between but I do have a mind of my own. 7 hours is the longest I’ve gone in between pooping on a day we’ve been gone and once again that was by my choice. I was being a stubborn ox that day as well. I was just learning to poop in the bucket and still getting use to it and wasn’t the worlds biggest fan of it. Now I’m much better but still have my days where mom has to be smarter then me. With going potty now I can eat all day and if I’m on the lead rope or at an event (even if it’s outside) I WILL NOT POTTY UNTIL MOM SAYS I CAN. That has taken lots and lots of time but it is so worth it for mom.
We as a team have done 200+ visits and have NEVER had an accident inside or out while doing a therapy visit. Mom is proud of me everyday and when I go I love my Stud Muffins and that has became my potty reward.
I hope this explains in terms that everyone can understand. To recap you have to be willing to let you horse roam in your house and probably poop a few times just like you do a puppy when you bring them home. Correct the behavior and reward when they’ve learned the concept. Catching the horse in the act and cuing is the first step to teaching to go on command. Please if any of this doesn’t make sense send a message and we can talk and help. I hope we are able to help other teams just as our mentors helped us.
Thank you, Charlie and Mom
Fun fact mom learned when first starting to house train Race horses are commonly taught to pee on command by whistling at them. That behavior is taught for drug testing prior to racing. How cool is that!! This type of training has been around forever. :-)