How to train your horse with gentle positives

horse clicker training

Teaching your horse to love learning!! Horse Clicker Training Clinic

Alexandra Kurland Equine Clicker Training Pioneer is coming to Hatfield, AR February 16-17, 2008.

To put it simply, an animal tends to repeat an action that has a positive consequence and tends not to repeat one that has a negative consequence. Trainers can take advantage of that natural tendency by providing positive reinforcement following an action that they want the animal to repeat. In order for the animal to connect the positive reinforcement to the behavior that he is doing, the reinforcement must happen AS the behavior is occurring, not afterwards. The actual reinforcement can’t always be delivered to the animal at that precise instant, however.

Horse Clicker Training Clinic

“Clicker training” is a term used to describe a way of training animals that has become increasingly popular in the last decade because of its gentle methods (and because it is effective). The scientific term for it is operant conditioning. The term came to mean a small box known as a clicker but and really can be coupled with any Marker.

Trainers needed to find another way of letting the animal know that he was doing the right thing, so they began using a conditioned reinforcer. A conditioned reinforcer is anything that wouldn’t ordinarily be something the animal would work to get. A primary reinforcer, on the other hand, is something that the animal automatically finds reinforcing, such as food or water. It can also be something intrinsic such as the opportunity to rest or even the opportunity to go forward.

We’re naturally wary of gimmicks that seem to pervade the riding and horse training industry. Most seem to be designed to permit the handler or rider to ignore good horsemanship techniques in favor of forcing or coercing the horse to do something in lieu of the human learning how to properly handle the horse and him or herself.

But once in a while someone develops a truly ingenious horse training technique which doesn’t replace good horsemanship, but instead addresses some specific barriers in equine training which, when removed, greatly facilitates the application of good horsemanship principles. Heavy doses of clicker training without appropriate application within the framework of a sensible natural horse training program could result in horses which did not tune into the handler’s space, energy and intentions. Clicker training is not a replacement for appropriate resistance free or low resistance (natural horsemanship) handling techniques.

And, here is where Alexandra Kurland excels. Putting into perspective the positive reinforcement with the less than unique idea that we’d like to ride our horses she gives us the balance of both the worlds of classical horsemanship combined expertly with the marker signal indicating “yes”. The marker truly highlights and captures a moment in time of the elegance of perfection.

Alexandra Kurland is the author of “Clicker Training for Your Horse” and “The Click That Teaches” video lesson series and step-by-step training guide. Her articles have recently been featured in John Lyon’s Perfect Horse.

Ms. Kurland earned her degree from Cornell University where she specialized in animal behavior. She has been teaching and training horses since the mid-1980’s. A pioneer in the development of humane training methods, Ms. Kurland began clicker training in the early 1990’s. She very quickly recognized the power of clicker training for improving performance, for enhancing the relationship people have with their horses, and for just plain putting fun back into training.

The Clicker Training Clinic is being held at Dolores Arste winter home in Hatfield, Arkansas.

Dolores Arste was first introduced to clicker training when one of her horses became unmanageable biting and rearing and generally being very difficult to train. Dolores is a practicing Life Coach and avid teacher of the clicker method combined with Horsemanship techniques such as Clinton Anderson, John Lyons and Parelli Natural Horsemanship. She is the author of an audio e-book “Finding the Clickable Moments”. You can find the e-book and articles including “Who uses Markers” on her website at: www.zenhorsmanship.com

When she’s not coaching or teaching clicker training she’s out riding one of her 5 horses in the beautiful countryside of Galway, New York or Hatfield, Arkansas. You can contact Dolores Arste for more info on clicker training and the upcoming clicker clinic.

Contact info:

Dolores Arste www.zenhorsmanship.com
Dolores @ zenhorsemanship. com (copy and paste into your email program and remove extra spaces)
177 Polk Road 152, Hatfield, Arkansas USA
Ph: (518) 882 6485 (Phone calls are best for contacting about the upcoming clicker clinic)

Horse picture by Ian Britton

Note from Joni on clicker training

I use clicker training for my dogs, ponies, and rescue foster dogs. They all love it and learn fast. Old, young, strong, or weak can learn to use clicker training and your horses will love you for it. By the way, all equines including Mules and Donkeys do great with clicker training.

If you want a horse that is highly motived to want to figure out and do as you ask and do it gladly then you need to give this a try! Most horses don’t want the training time to end. How many of you can say that with your training method?

Have you ever checked into clicker training for your horse? Leave a comment. Thanks!

2 Replies to “How to train your horse with gentle positives”

  1. It is wonderful that you promote positive training methods. This is something I advocate as well. By the way I love the graphics and photos on your site. Mind you I could look at horses all day.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog… A Collection of Cute Farm Animal Videos – Aww =-.

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