“What Got You In To Clicker Training ?”

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



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