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  • Clicker training your horse

Clicker training is a tool that uses the principles of positive reinforcement. The horse is rewarded for a desired outcome or behaviour. It can be a great tool to bond with your horse. A click denotes desired behaviour, and it tells the horse that they did the right thing, and they will be given a treat.

Clicker training is useful because it blends classical conditioning (the horse connects clicks with treats) and trial-and-error learning (the horse tries to determine what type of behaviour leads to treat). Clicker trained horses are curious and inquisitive, and this form of training is a rewarding way of learning for your horse.

Many people are drawn to clicker train their horse because it is simple. To start clicker training, you need to "load the clicker," which means you need to convince your horse that the clicker's sound will yield a positive outcome. A common method to do this is to work with your horse with a clicker in one hand and some treats in the other.

Your horse will learn best through short lessons to avoid boredom or annoyance. By keeping the sessions short, you should be able to work this into your regular care routine. Your horse will learn that the sound of the click means a treat is coming.

How this training can be used once the horse is clicker trained

If your horse does something you like, you can mark that moment with a distinctive click. The click is paired with something the horse wants, usually a treat.

The click enables you to communicate with your horse and lets them know what he or she did that earned the reinforcement. Your horse will then offer the behaviour more often to earn the click and get more of the reinforcer.  By gradually increasing the reasons for which we click, we can teach the horse to do almost anything he is physically and mentally capable of doing.

Discuss with your vet

Some horse owners use clicker training when struggling to solve behaviour problems rather than addressing undesirable behaviors and underlying motivations. Ignoring underlying issues can yield further problems. Also, poor training can cause irritation, aggression, and inappropriate behaviors in horses. We recommend that you speak to your vet before embarking on clicker training.

To learn more about clicker training, please click here