Training for entertaining

Rebecca Tasker and Hokey Pokey. Photo: Bridie Rose Photography.

Katikati horse trainer Rebecca Tasker has recently found herself receiving phone calls and emails from international entertainment and viral media companies. It’s not her that they’re interested in though, it’s her six-year-old clicker-trained horse Hokey Pokey.

Hokey knows lots of tricks, but it is one in particular that has drawn all this global attention. In April Rebecca uploaded a video to Facebook of herself in a deck chair, relaxing in the paddock with Hokey. In the video she points to a chilly bin and he walks over to it, nudges it open with his nose and pulls out a bottle of wine before returning to hand it to his owner.

That 30-second video quickly went viral on social media. As well as almost 350,000 views on Facebook alone, the video is popping up on media sites all over the world. Rebecca has signed a licensing agreement and the Daily Mail, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, the Daily Telegraph, The Australian and many more international sites have featured this clever palomino pony from Katikati.

Rebecca travels the country under the name ‘Positively Together’, teaching people how to train their horses using clicker training, a method of animal training involving food rewards and a marker signal. Clicker training can be used on all species of animal, and is widely used behind the scenes in movies and television, zoos and marine parks.

“Clicker-trained horses learn faster, they retain their learning for longer, and they genuinely love being trained. They’re very engaged in the whole learning process. People are always really surprised and excited at the immediate difference in their horses and how well they respond.”

Clicker training is useful for more than just tricks, with Rebecca and her clients using it for dressage and other riding as well as solving problem behaviours.

“Hokey loves learning tricks, but he also tries his heart out when I’m riding him because he is rewarded for his efforts”.

As well as riding horses all her life, Rebecca has worked with guide dogs and worked as a drug detector dog handler for Customs.

For the past 10 years she has focused on horses and her passion is teaching people how to train their own horses in a way that is effective, efficient, and ethical.

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