What is Clicker Training


Clicker training involves using a "marker signal" to say to your horse "YES, that was what I wanted, treat coming up when I can get it out of my pocket". We use a small plastic box containing a piece of spring steel (called a clicker, originally a kids toy and now sold in pet shops for dog training) when we start and move onto making a similar noise with out tongues once the horse has learnt the meaning of it.

It's based on the scientific principals of "Operant Conditioning, used with positive reinforcement. If  you want to know more about the history and science of clicker training then there is a section on our links page dealing with that. There is a nice summary of the history and principals in this Wikepedia article.

The ethos of the training is "positive reinforcement", ignore bad behaviour, unless it's dangerous in which case find a way of preventing it happening such as "protective contact", and reward good behaviour. The marker signal provided by the click (or in the case of dolphin trainers the whistle) indicates that the behaviour that was happening at the time of the click is what was wanted and that reinforcement (a reward) is coming up.

Generally we use food as the reinforcement, a few pony nuts works well for most horses. You can however use whatever reinforces that animal, be it apples, carrots, or mints.

For more details of the initial exercises we teach click here