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Article: Using Food

CLICKER TRAINING

Clicker training is a teaching process that marks the 'yes' answers with a click or special sound/word and follows it with a small tidbit that the horse likes.

Research in France suggests that horses taught with this sort of reward reinforcement learn 20% faster than a control group that was taught the same things with only pressure and release of pressure (release reinforcement).

In the photo, Smoky is politely taking his reward after targeting the orange cone I'm holding behind my back.

Please contact me if you are interested in a DVD, Getting Started with Clicker Training - Table Manners and Targeting. 
The DVD is accompanied by 'memo cards' easily put into a pocket. 
Cost is NZ$25.00 plus postage.

My You Tube series, HorseGym with Boots, consists of a collection of short clips (usually 5 minutes or less that give ideas and guidance about how to teach basic skills and then apply them to everyday care, management and fun situations.


Clicker training feeds a treat with every click until the horse understands the request and has learned a signal cue and responds to it consistently.  At that point, when the horse has the new thing firmly in its repertoire, the click/treat is phased out and used to teach something new.

In the Photo, Boots is picking up the laundry
for me :-).   

There are a few things about clicker training that are often not understood by people who have not studied it and used it.  The first thing you teach when starting clicker training is that mugging gets you nothing.  The second thing you teach is that all treats are taken politely by the horse from your outstretched hand in the position that you chose.  The treats become like the horse’s ‘wages’.  It is like paying for piecework. 

As the horse gets to understand the click/treat dynamic, you start to withhold the click to get a slightly longer wait or a few more good strides or picking up a cone rather than just sniffing it, or getting three feet on the pedestal rather than just two.  In this manner, you build the behaviour by tiny increments until it is where you ultimately want it.  There are some great clips on You Tube if your interest is piqued. You can find my clicker training playlist by typing HorseGym with Boots into the YouTube search engine, then click on the playlist of the same name.  The clips should come up in order from number one onwards.

Like any other training system, clicker training can be done badly or it can be done well.  The person has to learn some essential skills and then become a patient teacher for the horse.  There are many layers to clicker training.  It can help teach lovely ground manners, balanced body movement during riding, and tricks for fun and mental stimulation.