Quick Start To Clicker Training - Page 2

You will need four things to get started. You will need a clicker, a horse, some treats, and a willingness to have fun!

Even very young foals can be clicker trained. Foals love to be scratched. You use this as a reward while you are getting them comfortable being handled.

Horses

Horses are never too young or too old to learn about clicker training. Horses of all ages appreciate the clarity and positive outlook that clicker training brings to each lesson.

You can use clicker training to start young horses under saddle, and to improve performance in your seasoned riding horse. Retirees appreciate the extra attention, and the "second career" playing clicker games gives them.

Some of our early Clicker Pioneers

Allie, a 17 year old Morgan mare. Her owner is playing "touch the goblins" to help her with fear issues. She was 17 when this photo was taken.

Magnat, our Arabian, was first introduced to clicker training when he was fifteen.  At 33 he still enjoyed playing fetch.

Robin, my Cleveland Bay/TB trotting at liberty. Note the beautiful topline, a clicker-training trademark. This grainy image was taken from a early video. Robin was showing us that we could shape beautiful balance with the clicker.

Training Tip

Clicker training is a win-win situation for both you and your horse. He'll think he finally has his human figured out, but you're choosing the behaviors that get rewarded.

Clickers

Clickers make a clear distinctive sound which is why we use them. The horses quickly notice the signal and link it to their food reward. Once the horse understands what the clicker means, you can switch over to a tongue click or other verbal signal so your hands are left free for other things.

Treats

Horses are grazing animals with enormous appetites. That makes it easy to use food in the training. Use carrots, apples, anything your horse enjoys, and you feel safe feeding. Remember that as tough and strong as horses appear on the outside, their digestive system is really very delicate.

Especially if your horse has any history of colic, it's best to be conservative when it comes to treats. Start with food he is used to. His normal grain ration and chopped up carrots work great for most horses. To avoid over feeding measure out your horse's total daily ration. Take out a portion for your clicker training.

If your horse gets only a small amount of grain, it's fine for him to work for the entire amount. In fact it's probably healthier for a horse to get his grain doled out a teaspoon at a time than all in one lump meal. In clicker training a little bit goes a long way. A tablespoon of grain, a sliver of carrot, a single sugar cube, that's all you need for a great reward.

FUN

Fun is the fourth ingredient in clicker training, and one that's easy to come by. When you see how eager your horse is to play the clicker game, you'll find yourself laughing with delight!

 

Traditionally most of us have been taught that we have to "make" our horse behave. We have to "show him who is boss". This kind of "do it or else" philosophy makes training anything but fun for many horses. 

 

Clicker training changes all that. Now both you and your horse are in this together. Your horse's job is to figure out what makes you "click" literally. And your job is to chunk down each lesson into small steps so he can be successful. It sounds simple and it is, but the results can be amazing! With clicker training you are limited only by your imagination!

© Alexandra Kurland - The Clicker Center

Questions? Email kurlanda@crisny.org

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