I have been starting the project horse on clicker training. After about a week we are working on building a few specific behaviors in her stall and she has stopped mugging me for treats.
But then I tried to introduce clicker with a friend on the ground while I worked on mounting her. She’s come back from the colt starter and I am easing back onto riding her here.
Friend is a fairly experienced amateur clicker trainer, committed to R+ training. But it’s interesting that whatever the combination of trying to do this in a more complex situation, horse turns into a wiggly nippy over excited mess when I get my friend to try to click and treat while I’m on the mounting block. It ends up being counter productive.
Horse starts mugging friend because she knows she has treats in this situation. Isn’t mugging me because she doesn’t think I have treats in this situation.
Since the goal is to get me up and riding her without a bronc episode, I am not going to spend a week working on the clicker manners at the mounting block. That’s kind of an unnecessary detail. We will just cut back the attempt to use clicker at the block.
When you are working with horses you need to be constantly aware what you are reinforcing for good or bad. I love it when horses start to help you put on the halter or bridle, and I definitely notice and praise them, for instance.
If you are making your horse nippy stop whatever is encouraging that.
BTW horses get attached to the person who is the calm consistent leader who makes them feel safe. They want to be with you because that feels like a calm place where they understand the rules.
Horse contentment can be just standing very close to a person or other horse and relaxing. I think owners sometimes want to see doggy style excitement in their horses and get them all pushy for treats. But actually this isn’t good even for dogs. Thats where you get neurotic toy dogs yapping and begging and never settling.
So OP you need to look at what needs of yours are being met by creating a pushy nippy high maintenance horse.