To Clicker Training

Lesson 1: Getting Started

with the


Lesson 2: Ground Manners

Lesson 8: Three-Flip-Three


Lateral Flexions

Scroll down to see Lessons 3, 4 and 5.

When I started “The Click That Teaches" video lesson series, this was the video that I most wanted to make. Head lowering can be such a transforming exercise for many horses. Most of us know that horses tend to be calmer when their heads are down.


This lesson does more than just calm a horse down. It helps to put an end to barging, rearing, bullying behavior. It develops emotional control and stabilizes the good behavior we want. It is a key foundation lesson for all advanced training."


Head lowering:


  •    Puts an end to barging, rearing, bullying behavior.

  •    Develops emotional control and stabilizes good behavior

  •    Shifts the horse’s weight off its front end in preparation for advanced work

Most of us know that horses tend to be calmer when their heads are down. We know that dropping the horse’s head below the withers can have a calming effect, but this lesson takes you much further than that. Based on the John Lyon’s “Demand Cue to Calm Down", you’ll learn how to reverse the horse’s natural tendency to pull against pressure.

 If you don't want this. . .



 . . . you need this

Imagine the following: your horse has stepped on his lead, or set back against a tie. In the past he would have felt trapped by the pressure and pulled harder, but after you’ve taken him through the head lowering lesson on this tape, he’ll understand that there’s another option.Now he’ll yield to the pressure and drop his head. Instead of having a wreck, he’ll know how to put the slack back into the lead.


Or maybe your horse is the one that rears when he gets excited. On the ground or under saddle his response to pressure is to stand up on his hind legs. With this lesson, you’ll show him alternatives to these theatrics that will make him much safer to be around.


Or suppose you’ve taken your horse to the county fair. Your friend’s horse is going crazy, leaping and rearing up. But you’ve taught your horse the “demand cue to calm down". You’ve given him a way to handle his fear.


This lesson teaches your horse patience. It shows you how to build duration with the clicker. If you’ve experimented with clicker training, you’ve probably discovered how eager horses become to show off behaviors they’ve learned. That can be great fun at first, but it may not feel very stable. Your horse may feel like an equine yo yo, offering the same bits of behavior over and over again to earn reinforcement. This tape shows you how to combine the clicker with pressure and release of pressure to build duration into the head-lowering behavior. In the process your horse will be learning patience. He’ll learn that if he wants to earn reinforcement, he has to control his fidgety, fussy, push-into-you, run-for-the-next-county desires. Instead he has to stand quietly waiting for you to click.


Head-lowering teaches emotional control, and it also teaches physical balance. If your goal is up-level performance, the head lowering exercise is an important foundation skill. Why? Because this head-lowering exercise teaches your horse how to shift his weight back into his hindquarters and to stretch through the entire length of his spine. If your horse leans down onto his shoulders, or over-flexes laterally, this exercise will teach him how to get up off his shoulders and elevate the base of his neck. The more you ask your horse to collect, the more you also need to be able to ask him to stretch down through his whole spine.


The video features four horses:


Leyden, a four year old Dutch warmblood gelding who knows he’s big and knows how to use his shoulder weight to barge through his owner. Leyden’s behavior is typical of many youngsters. He illustrates well all the steps horses go through as they learn the head lowering lesson.


Sindri, the six year old Icelandic stallion featured in Lesson 2. Sindri shows you how to take the head-lowering lesson beyond basics to develop soft, light control.


Gregor, a twelve year old approved Dutch warmblood stallion. Gregor was bred to be an Olympic-level performer, but his original trainers used too much force with him. he became instead an aggressive, dangerous, come-at-you-with-his-teeth horse. On the tape you’ll see how his present owner takes him through the head lowering lessons to a place of calmness where he can learn to trust people.


Blitz, a six year old quarter horse. Blitz is a good-natured, easy going horse. His issue isn’t fear, so much as it is balance. Under saddle Blitz is stiff and above the bit. The head-lowering exercise teaches his teenage owner how to be rounder and more forward in his gaits. Blitz’s lesson show you how to take the ground exercises and connect them to riding.

This DVD was first produced in 2001

Scroll down to see Lessons 4 and 5.

Lesson 10: MicroShaping:

Learning to See the Smallest Try

Lesson 11: Capture The Saddle

The Mounting Block Lesson

Lesson 12: Riding on a Triangle

From Capture the Saddle to Three-Flip Three

Lesson 13: Helen House Horse: The Mechanics of Single-Rein Riding

Lesson 14:

The Poisoned Cue

Lesson 15:


Creating Thinking Riders for our Thinking Horses

Stimulus control stabilizes behavior and creates good manners.


Cues act like green lights. They tell the horse which behavior will earn him reinforcement at this particular moment. When a behavior is fully on cue, you are saying to your horse that you want the behavior when you ask for it and ONLY when you ask for it.


“Lesson 4: Stimulus Control" will show you how to teach cues, and how to use them to create a mannerly, focused, happy horse. When you hear the word “respect", think stimulus control instead.

Lesson 4 ties together the lessons covered in the first three videos. It provides a superb summary and overview of clicker training, and it shows you how to use the clicker under saddle. If you can only get one video to start with, Lesson 4 makes a great introductory lesson.  


What does respect mean to you and how do you teach it?

Respect is an interesting word. Most of us can recognize it when we see it, but we may have trouble defining it, and even more importantly, explaining how we teach it.


This is in part because respect can have many different meanings and origins. In clicker training respect grows out of stimulus control. it is a by-product of good training. What do I mean by that?


When you teach a new behavior with the clicker, you’ll find your horse goes through two distinct phases. In the first phase you’re simply getting behavior to happen. At this point your horse doesn’t understand anything about cues. He simply knows that everytime he offers a particular behavior, click, you give him a treat.


From his point of view it’s a wonderful game. It’s almost as though he has YOU on cue! His behavior is a trigger that gets you to reach into your pocket and hand him goodies. Is it any wonder that horses love the clicker game?


This phase is a lot of fun. You get to see how eager and smart your horse is. But it can also feel very out of control. All you want to do is groom your horse, and he’s trying every behavior he can think of to get you to play the “clicker game". At this point you need to move on to “Phase Two" of clicker training and put the behaviors on cue.


This two hour is divided into three parts.


Part 1: Stimulus Control covers:


  •     What are cues?

  •     How do you teach them?

  •     How do you use cues to develop great manners in your horse?


Part 2: Riding with the Clicker


  •     Communication through the reins

  •     Chunking your riding lessons down into small steps to teach cues

  •     A riding lesson on single-rein basics and the clicker


Part 3: Communication through Cues


  •     Environmental Cues

  •     Cues: developing a two-way conversation with your horse.


The video features four horses:

  •  Robin, a seven year old Cleveland Bay cross. With Robin I take you through a basic lesson in stimulus control, how you teach it, and what you can do with it.

  • Peregrine, my seventeen year old thoroughbred.  Peregrine takes us through a master class on riding with the clicker.

  • Nikita, a twelve year old quarter horse mare. Nikita is having her first lesson under saddle using the clicker. She shows you how to get your own horse to go from stiff to soft through a clear progression of steps.

  • And lastly, Panda an eighteen month old miniature horse in training to be a guide for the blind. Panda demonstrates the use of environmental cues. And she also shows how cues can develop into a two-way communication system between you and your horse.

This DVD was first produced in 2002

Scroll down to see Lesson 5.

Lesson 16:

Whoa! Stop!

Finding Your

Horse's Brakes

Lesson 17:


Your Power Tool for Performance Excellence

Lesson 18:

Loopy Training

This Lesson begins Unit 2 in the "Click That Teaches Lesson Series."  It is intended to accompany the book, "The Click That Teaches: Riding with the Clicker".


The "Why would you leave me?" Game" is one of the key lessons featured in "The Click That Teaches: Riding with the Clicker." Essentially this lesson teaches teaches your horse loose leash leading. It begins by teaching your horse to walk with you on a slack lead - no pulling, forging ahead, or lagging behind. Perfected the lesson takes you straight to lateral work and beautiful liberty training.


When I was first learning about lateral work, some twenty plus years ago, the teaching was not exactly fun for the horses (or the handlers). But I was willing to ask my horse to go through those tough lessons because I was convinced that lateral work was good for him.  It would help him to move better and to remain sounder longer.


Now all these years later I am all the more convinced of the value of lateral work.  I know it contributes to long term soundness. But with clicker training the teaching process has become much easier - and a lot more fun for everyone.  Once you know what to look for, lateral flexions pop out of many of the lessons you've been learning in this lesson series.  It's like the old expression: all roads lead to Rome.  Well in this case all lessons lead to lateral flexions!


In Lesson 2: Ground Manners lateral flexions were introduced via the duct tape lesson.  Now in this DVD I show you how they can be the natural by-product of this simple loose-lead leading exercise.

This DVD was first produced in 2006

© Alexandra Kurland - The Clicker Center

Questions? Email kurlanda@crisny.org

  • Facebook Social Icon