When Zelador and Zeloso were six (2010) Allen Pogue (www.imagineahorse.com) conducted a clinic at Winsong Farm. At the same time we met Rick and Sue Parker (www.canadianwrangler.ca ). They live about twenty minutes from Winsong Farm. Both of them helped Allen. During the clinic the words “Clicker Training|” came up. The Parkers train all types of animals for TV, movies, commercials, photo shoots. They’ve been using Clicker Training for years and introduced us to it.

In the weeks that followed I found several books by Karen Pryor (www.clickertraining.com) including “Don’t Shoot the Dog” and “Reaching the Animal Mind”. I was intrigued by both titles and ordered her books. They’re GREAT! My research also led me to Alexandra Kurland (www.theclickercenter.com). Alexandra pioneered clicker training with horses. I found her books and DVDs online and ordered many of them. They’re amazing. This woman has such an interesting approach to teaching. One of her comments goes something like this, “Each day your horse will tell you what it needs to work on.” I agree. All I need to do is observe my horse and little things that aren’t totally clear to him pop up. That’s when I stop what I’m doing, abandon my agenda and help the horse.

Clicker training teaches me to think positively. It also helps me find one segment of the thing I’m trying to teach and to present that segment to the horse. When you “click” you can only click one element at a time. When I’m thinking about something I want to teach I mentally break it down into small learning steps, then present the first step to the horse. That’s when I realize I’ve not started at the first step! Invariably I’ve missed one or more previous components…and that’s AFTER carefully planning my approach.

Clicker Training gives me the tools to teach anything to the horse. Sometimes I think back on “the old way” of training where people are known to push the horse, hit him, yell, demand…the list goes on and on. None of these “techniques” are part of Clicker Training. It’s up to the teacher to create (or find) an excellent learning atmosphere and to teach the horse one tiny step at a time by accentuating the positive and eliminating any negative feedback to the horse.

As far as I’m aware of there is no program teaching Clicker Training that people can buy. This is a good thing. With Clicker Training the person and horse follow their own, unique path. With “programs” people progress through the ranks (because that’s what people love to do) and the horse really doesn’t understand each step.

In my research I’ve learned that Clicker Training is also being used to teach people. On Karen Pryor’s website I found a fascinating video with a girl being taught the Fosbury Flop (the track and field high jump technique where the athlete goes over the pole with his back near the pole). Apparently it sometimes takes months for an athlete to learn this technique. In the video the girl is clicker trained (referred to as TAG when working with people) and does a lovely Fosbury Flop in fifteen minutes.

I can’t say enough good things about Clicker Training. I carry a clicker in my pocket at all times. Because…I never know when someone might want to learn about this amazing teaching tool!

(I got it from Karen Pryor’s website, it “clicks” in any position…even upside down AND my thumb nail doesn’t get pinched under the edge of the clicker!)

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