Guest Author - Kim Wende
Clicker training is a method of behavior modification using positive reinforcement. During the training session you use a small metal box that makes a click sound. The click sound instantly marks the behavior you desire followed up with a food treat to reinforce the behavior.
It is a scientifically-proven reward-based training method that uses positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is simply rewarding the animal for a behavior that you want. It was first introduced to marine mammals. When training a mammal if they were unwilling to learn they could swim away. If they chose to stay and offer the desired behaviors they were rewarded with food. This motivated the mammal to continue learning.
Positive reinforcement or clicker training is used by professionals and Olympic-caliber riders as well as amateur riders. This type of training dramatically accelerates the training process for any breed or discipline by unlocking a horse's natural desire to perform. It can be done from the ground or in the saddle and can be used for everything from basic ground manners, to despooking and upper level dressage movements. Clicker training will complement any other training method and once you know the basics you can start using this valuable tool right away.
Other training methods use what is called negative reinforcement. This method of training is based on the horse moving away from the release of pressure or discomfort as a reward. When using negative reinforcement if you don't get results you have to keep going up on the level of discomfort or pressure and you can only go so far.
With clicker training it allows you to pinpoint and reward the desired behavior without force, fear or intimidation. With clicker the horse offers the behavior you want they are rewarded and the undesirable behaviors are ignored unless it is dangerous as you do not want to ignore that. With positive reinforcement horses become very eager students and lessons are quickly learned.
To begin clicker training with your horse you will want to get a clicker because of the distinctive sound it makes. The clicker is a small plastic box that has a metal strip inside. When you push on the metal strip you will hear a click. The clicker is also consistent in the noise it makes and is faster than your saying Good boy or girl.
Clicker training is very effective so make sure you have a good understanding how to use this tool properly. Your best bet is to work with a professional clicker trainer. You can accomplish amazing things with clicker training in a short period of time.