Clicker Training Horses on the Trail

If you understand horses, you’ll be able to immediately see the differences in a ‘clicker horse’s gait and carriage. Even horses that have had a hard time in the past grasping basic performance behaviors can excel when clicker trained. There is also a great video sequence and description in which fear of objects on the trail disappears as the horse is clicker trained while on the trail with is rider in the saddle.

“Clicker training” is the popular term for the training or teaching method based on what we know about how living organisms learn.

Research has shown that any creature—whether a dog, cat, dolphin, parrot, fish, horse, llama, or person—is more likely to learn and repeat actions that result in consequences it desires and enjoys. So clicker trainers provide consequences desired by their animal in exchange for actions or behaviors desired by their trainers.

We call these consequences “rewards” and the process is called “reinforcement.” Clicker training, therefore, is a positive-reinforcement-based system of training.

First widely used by dolphin trainers who needed a way to teach behavior without using physical force, operant conditioning (the scientific term for clicker training) can be and has been successfully employed with animals of all sizes and species, both domesticated and wild, young and old; all breeds of dogs and puppies, cats, birds, leopards, rats, rabbits, chinchillas, fish, and more.

Clicker trainers who learn the underlying principles have at their disposal a powerful set of tools that enable them to analyze behaviors, modify existing methods for individual animals, and create new methods where none previously existed. This flexibility allows the tools of clicker training to be re-invented in new forms that work in a range of situations, and for an infinite variety of animals.

The same principles have also been applied to training for athletes, dancers, skaters, and other people. Called “TAGteach,” this form of training uses a click as a marker signal to teach precise physical motions quickly, accurately, and positively.

More information can be found at http://www.clickertraining.com

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