Clicker training uses positive reinforcement to obtain desirable behaviors or movements. A hand-held device is pushed to produce the click sound, which signals to the horse they did something desirable.
The trainer and horse develop a meaningful relationship without the use of harsh, painful devices or methods. It’s easy enough for even beginner horse trainers to try.
The clicker pictured above can be used to begin training. You’ll also need bite-sized treats. It is wise to invest in a book, video, or some sort of educational material. The training happens in two phases: teaching the behavior, and shaping it. Your horse will remain interested because he will get his favorite treats throughout the process.
Teaching the behavior can be simple. Start with getting him to touch a target, such as a jolly ball. Hold the ball in front of his face. The moment he touches the ball with his nose, click and reward with a treat. Ask this a few more times, then begin moving the ball up, down, left, or right to change its position. He should consistently seek to touch the ball with his nose no matter where you place it. Don’t forget the treats this early on!
You can increase the difficulty by shaping the behavior. Now, wait for him to put the jolly ball in his mouth. Immediately, click and reward. You can slowly progress till he brings it to you or swings it up and down. The important thing to remember is to be patient and wait for the desired response.
Timing is essential in clicker training! A click must be done as soon as the behavior is preformed. This ensures he connects the click and treat with the action.
There are so many things you can teach him through this training. It’s not all tricks either. Many useful actions, such as shifting his body to the left or right, picking up his feet, or even standing still can all be taught through this positive reward system. Be patient and you’ll enjoy amazing results.