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Training Horses With Clicker Training

Jun 18, 2008
What is Clicker training? It is actually a slang name which was originally from the scientific term operant conditioning. It has become progressively more prominent in training horses where positive reinforcement is used, though it was in the beginning used to train aquatic mammals.

Positive reinforcement is given when the action that the trainer wants the animal to repeat is done properly. The concept of operant conditioning in psychology is where an animal learns a particular behavior or a task where reward is given for accomplished action. However, for the undesirable behavior or actions done by the animal aren't rewarded and ignored. Therefore by giving rewards for getting things right make these horses more excited and fast in their learning.

Clicker training is a great tool to embrace other training methods. All you need to be started is a clicker, some treats, and a container for the rewards. Once you have got them, your horse is now on its way to obedience. There are no set rules to pursue when using the clicker training but the following will guide you to use this method to your advantage.

Condition it with the sound of the 'click.'

Let it know that the sound 'click' means that a reward is coming. Try to click your clicker for several times and reward it with a treat every time it hears the sound. Later after about 10-15 minutes, repeat the sequence of clicking followed by treating. There are horses that easily get accustomed to the clicker training after three sequences, but some horses may need more sessions.

Don't push your horse too hard.

It is important to consider that every horse differs in its readiness and ability to learn new tricks. It will be more effective to train for more than 10-15 minutes. Try to uphold short sessions broken into several days than having a long one in a day.

Using a target is compulsory

By using a target, it will be much easier to train your horse and it has something to aim at. Apply the positive reinforcement when appropriate and let this be the first task that it needs to fulfilled. The simplest thing is by hanging a plastic bottle and ask it to bump it using its head. Having done it successfully, you must reward it not once but every time it does it perfectly.

Nothing is more important than the right timing in clicker training. If the horse successfully bumps the target, click each time and then give it the reward it deserved. You have to repeat this process until the behavior is reinforced.

Proceed to the next level

Once it learns to bump the target, move on to the next step. Let your horse pursue the target then head bob it before giving a reward. This will test your previous training and will tell whether you have properly conditioned it to respond to the 'click.' But one think you have to remember is that you have to be patient and to conduct each session in short periods. You also need to realize that not all horses will learn in the same manner.

Once you have completed this basic clicker training for your horse, you can proceed to a more advance training. The advantage is that you can employ this method to compliment your other trainings. This will make your teaching easier and your horse to learn.
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