Clicker Training in Training Horses

by Heidi Edris

Clicker training which originally came from the scientific term operant conditioning, is a slang name. It was originally used to train aquatic mammals, has continuously becoming more distinguished in training horses with its positive reinforcement.

An animal learns a particular behavior or a task using the concept of operant conditioning in psychology where positive reinforcement is given after the action that the trainer wants the animal to repeat has been carried out successfully. However, the undesirable behavior or actions done by the animal aren’t rewarded and it will be ignored. Therefore the horse is more eager and quick to learn because they know rewards are given for the right actions.

Clicker training is such a great tool where you can embrace it with other training methods. What you have to do to start is get yourself a clicker, some treats, and a container for the rewards. Your horse is now on its way to follow your instructions once you have got them. Actually there are no given rules to follow when using the clicker training, but with the following guide below, you can use this method to your advantage.

The sound of the ‘click.’ must come with a condition

Firstly, try to click your clicker for several times and then reward it with a treat every time your horse hears the sound. Why we are doing this? This is a process to let it know that the sound ‘click’ means that a reward is coming. Repeat the sequence of clicking followed by treating Later after about every 10-15 minutes. Some horses can easily get accustomed to the clicker training after three sequences, but some horses may need more sessions.

Pushing your horse too hard should be avoided

It will be better to train for more than 10-15 minutes, because it will be more effective. However, try to uphold short sessions that are broken into several days than having a long one in a day. That is the reason why you must know not every horse is the same in its readiness and ability to absorb new task.

Using a target is compulsory

Why is it important? It is used for the horse to aim at. Let this be the first assignment that it needs to perform when applying positive reinforcement. Hang a plastic bottle, for example, you can ask it to bump it using its head and later reward it every time it does it correctly.

Timing is very important in clicker training. Click each time the horse successfully bumps the target then give a reward. You have to repeat it until the behavior is reinforced.

Go on to the next step

After it has learned to bump the target, move on to the next level. Then, guide your horse to pursue the target then head bob it before you give it a reward. This is some sort like a revision to test your previous training and will tell whether you have properly conditioned your horse to respond to the ‘click.’ Each session should be conducted in short periods and you have to be patient. Not all horses will learn in the same manner, you need to remember that.

As soon as you have completed this basic clicker training for it, you may proceed to more advance training. You can employ this method to compliment your other trainings to make it easier for you to teach and your horse to learn.

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