Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

THE PICKPOCKET – Training Tip #2

In this world of political unrest, no horse tricks would be complete without the “Pickpocket.”  This is such a winning combination of the horse’s natural innocence added to the trickery, deceit and sneakiness that are too often part of human nature.  Have fun with this one!

This trick will involve your horse using his mouth to handle objects using his teeth.  Make sure that these items are a safe size for your horse to handle!  I once had a smaller hanky while teaching Bruq this trick and he almost swallowed the darn thing.  Had to quickly reach down and retrieve the pink material!  So, make sure that they hanky is large enough so that your horse cannot eat or swallow it.  Also, use a hanky that you don’t care if it will be torn, as more than likely it will tear especially during the early learnings of this trick.

Equipment needed:  halter, lead rope, hanky and lots of carrots!

This will make your life a little easier if you put your trick hanky in a container filled with carrots so that it absorbs the small of the carrot thoroughly. 

  1. Place a piece of carrot on the hanky that you are holding while the other hand is holding the lead rope.  Standing directly in front of your horse, show him the carrot and let him eat it, then allow him to eat more pieces off the hanky.  Then, take a piece of carrot folded in the hanky.  Once your horse takes the hanky readily, remove the carrot from inside the hanky.
  2. Repeat the above, saying “Take the Hanky” or “Pickpocket” or “Hanky
  3. When your horse takes the hanky consistently from your hand, place a small piece of carrot inside of the hanky and put it in your pants pocket with most of the hanky hanging out of your pants, turn away from your horse and tell him “Take the Hanky” or “Pickpocket” or “Hanky”.  When he does reward him with generous praise and another piece of carrot.
  4. Repeat until your horse consistently takes the hanky from your pocket.
  5. Repeat the above steps, except change pockets.  Perhaps a front pocket, side pocket, shirt pock, coat pocket.  He should be consistent in removing the hanky from whatever pocket you place the hanky and when you say your command.  Remember to stress the word “HANKY”.

Most horses get a thrill out of grabbing the hanky out of your pocket and may get quite excited, so watch their teeth.  I have suffered several rear end nips from my horse some of which left bruises!!  Remember that whenever you ask your horse to use his teeth to get something, you need to use caution as your horse may get excited.  He doesn’t mean to hurt you, he’s just very eager.  You can use this trick to have your horse take anything out of your pockets, but make sure that he only does it on cue otherwise this will become nuisance behaviour.

By teaching your horse this simple trick, you can now teach your horse to pick up a variety of objects with his mouth.

Have fun!



  Pat Wooldridge wrote @

It’s interesting to learn how these tricks are taught to a horse. I always wondered. :))

  daagelle wrote @

Hmm…that’s an interesting trick! Perhaps I could have some fun teaching it to my horses!

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