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Training with the Clicker

Before you read any further- a word of caution. Using the clicker as an aid to training horses has exploded in popularity in recent years. Rightly so, since it is a fantastic way of working. However, just like any other training tool, it is not a magic wand, and is only as effective as the hand that holds it. In order to become a good trainer using the clicker you should be prepared to take the time to learn the science of the clicker (in other words the theory and the practical skills), which you can then marry with the art of training with the clicker (in other words the feel). You often hear people refer to 'clicker training' as a method in it's own right. I prefer not to take that approach- to me there is good, bad and mediocre training, regardless of the method taught, and I prefer to educate people to improve their overall training skills, so that they can then understand all the different methods out there, and choose to work in a way that they feel is ethical and effective. For me the clicker is simply a means of positively reinforcing your horse, it is my ethics, beliefs and skills as a trainer that matter.


So what is the clicker?

This is a clicker. It is a simple little plastic box that makes a distinctive 'click' noise when the metal strip inside is pressed.


How on earth does it work and why is it so great?

The noise of the click becomes associated with a food reward, and therefore the click becomes a conditioned positive reinforcer. The beauty of it lies in being able to communicate with the horse that he or she is doing something right, instead of relying on telling them they are going wrong, which is the way most traditional methods of training work. Because the noise is so distinctive and clear, it enables precision timing, so it can be used to reinforce very small behaviours. This means that very specific movements and responses can be very accurately trained.

The additional advantage of training using the clicker is that reward based methods of training encourage a relaxed, calm and confident horse, and if used with skill can be used to teach lightness and balance in the ridden horse.


Sounds great- I'd like to learn how to do this for myself!

Just give Helen a ring and arrange either to attend a workshop or to have some one to one or group sessions on how to use the clicker. Helen also incorporates clicker work into riding lessons for those who are interested.