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Discover Horse Clicker Training

Jun 27, 2008
Clicker training is a slang name which originally came from the scientific term operant conditioning. Formerly used to train aquatic mammals, it has become progressively more distinguished in training horses using positive reinforcement.

Using the concept of operant conditioning in psychology, an animal learns a particular behavior or a task when positive reinforcement follows the action that the trainer wants the animal to repeat. Eventually, the undesirable behavior or actions done by the animal aren't rewarded and ignored. Hence, giving rewards for getting things right make horses more eager and quick to learn.

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.

The sound of the 'click.' is very important

Your horse has to know that the sound 'click' means a reward is coming. First try to click your clicker for a few times and reward it with a treat every time it hears the sound. After about 10-15 minutes, you must repeat the sequence of clicking followed by treating. Some horses may need more sessions, but there are horses that easily get accustomed to the clicker training after three sequences.

Don't push your horse too hard.

It is going to be more effective to train your horse for more than 10-15 minutes. However it is important for you to know that every horse differs in its readiness and ability to learn new tricks. Try to do short sessions broken into several days than having a long one in a day. When it is tired, you can't expect much.

Using a target is compulsory

Use a target for it to aim. Let this be the first task that it needs to accomplish when applying positive reinforcement. For example you can hang a plastic bottle and ask it to bump it using its head and reward it every time it does the right thing.

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.

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.

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.
About the Author
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