This is what got me in to clicker training….
“Most horse training, I explain, is based on pressure and release of pressure. I put my hand on her shoulder. She looks mildly puzzled. So I go on to explain that my hand on her shoulder is not painful but if left there for long enough it would become annoying. Its a mild aversive which i have introduced to her experience. If she were to take a step back, she might discover that I would take my hand away.
The woman nods her head indicating her understanding, but she does not move. I have done this demo many times and I know this is normal. I leave my hand on her shoulder, waiting. As I go on talking about negative reinforcement, almost imperceptibly, I feel her weight shift back. instantly I remove my hand. And almost as quickly I put it back again. I continue to explain that with negative reinforcement she can get rid of the annoying stimulus by changing her behaviour; in this case shifting her weight back. Again there is no initial response, then comes that tiny shift of balance. I remove my and and just as quickly replace it.
This time the change comes a little faster. It is a little more definite, but still only a small shift of weight. I go on talking about negative reinforcement. I explain when I am taking away something she doesn’t want, i.e. the pressure, I don’t have a timing problem. I can remove my hand the instant I feel her weight shift so she knows exactly what she has to do to get me to remove the unwanted stimulus.
But now suppose I do something different, I say to her as I feel the expected weight shift and instantly remove my hand. Suppose in addition to taking my hand away I reach over here and tear off a coupon good for $50 off at any booth here at the trade show. I mime the action I’m describing and hand her the imaginary coupon.
And this is the interesting part. Her face lights up. A broad smile flashes across her face. I put my hand on her shoulder and, instead of a hesitant shift of weight, I get a full step back.
Alexandra Kurland, Riding With The Clicker
If you would like to read more about clicker training and riding with the clicker, contact Amanda, or visit our shop…..www.smaarthorses.co.uk/Shop