Working with pairs can be great fun, but can bring huge challenges. If both horses are already well clicker trained then it can be very easy to start working them together asking for very simple behaviours, the ones they learned first or those that have the strongest reinforcement history, and build up from there.
However, when a new horse who, does not know any clicker training, is introduced to the mix it can be a challenge. Daily chores, like poo picking, have to be done and these are usually accompanied by the clicker trained horse. But we can’t leave out the new horse.
While the new horse learns some clicker trained behaviours the thing I train the new horse is; if you can allow the training of the other horse to carry on uninterrupted then you earn reinforcement every time he does. In other words, stand and observe politely (not throwing peanuts from the peanut gallery) and you will be reinforced.
When I train this to learners what I have seen happen is that, not only do they learn to be patient and allow the training to go ahead, but they learn the most incredible observation skills. Then they decide that they would like to take a bit of control of the reinforcement and that is when mimicry begins to pop out. Just as its hugely beneficial for trainers to watch their learners, and other learners, to hone training skills, its equally important for development for the learner to watch others learn before leaping in there.