Snickers The Cow
By Alexandra Kurland
We know clicker training is great for horses, but what about cows? One of the treats of the summer was a visit to a dairy farm where I got to meet Snickers, a clicker-trained cow, and her owner, Julia.
Snickers was originally just one of 125 milking cows, a number not an individual. When it was decided that she needed to be culled from the herd, it fell to Julia to teach her to lead so she could be presented at auction. But when Julia started working with her, she fell in love. She couldn’t send her away, so this very lucky cow exchanged a number for a name and became a Julia’s pet.
Julia wanted to teach Snickers good manners leading manners. She tried putting a halter on and pulling, but as you can see from the pictures, the advantage was all on Snicker’s side.
Julia looked at horse training for help, but the traditional training methods weren’t any use. Then she found clicker training. She contacted Michaela Hempen, one of the coaches for my on-line course, and asked if she thought clicker training might work with cows.
Michaela thought why not! Why not give it a try. So Julia enrolled in the course and Michaela became her coach. Julia took Snickers through all the lessons. She began the same way we would begin with horses, with protective contact. She taught the basics of targeting using the stanchions in the barn as a barrier.
Snickers loved clicker training. She has become an eager and - very importantly given her size - a very polite learner. Julia didn’t stop with the foundation lessons. She went on to ride Snickers, and not just around the barnyard. They became regular visitors to the nearby village.
Photos are great, but if you really want to be inspired, here's a video of Snickers and Julia. You'll need a password to play the video. The password is: JoyfullCow