Clicker Training for You and Your Horse

Clicker training is a special training method that is particularly popular in dog training. But you can also practice wonderful tricks or certain behaviors with other animals in this way – like horses, chickens, dolphins, etc. Are you interested and would you like to try it out with your horse? Great, we have selected a few exciting clicker exercises for you and your horse to get started!

What is Clicker Training?

Clicking describes a training technique that works with positive reinforcement. A so-called clicker is used, which triggers a click sound when pressed, whereupon the animal is immediately given a treat. With the help of this method, it is possible to confirm the desired behavior with pinpoint accuracy – timing, therefore, plays a major role.

The real highlight, however, is that you are not explaining to your horse the exercise that it is supposed to complete. Rather, you think of an exercise and let your horse offer behaviors. If there is an action that comes close to the desired behavior, you click at that very moment. Your horse can then orientate itself on the success frequency and will keep trying until the desired behavior has taken the right form at some point. You can surely imagine that this will put a lot of cognitive load on your horse. But first, your horse has to learn that the click is something great so that it is worth participating in the actual exercise.

The Structure – 1st Exercise

If your horse has never seen a clicker, it is important to first condition it so that it understands: click = treat, which in turn triggers a good feeling.

The easiest way would be to stand next to your horse in a quiet area and just click once and immediately give your horse a treat. You repeat this a few times and you will probably quickly notice that your horse is eagerly awaiting the next treat. Your horse has not yet solved a task, but you have created the following effect on him, namely that the click makes him feel good.

The Advantages

Undesired behavior can be partially redirected by confirming alternative behavior instead. If your horse shows misconduct, think about what it should do instead and shape the behavior in the desired direction.

If your horse offers you behaviors that unfortunately do not match the exercise at all, you ignore this. There is no click and no treats are given. Wrong behavior is also not punished. This ensures that your horse can learn stress-free.

Clicker training promotes creativity. If your horse realizes that it can make suggestions and will have these consequences, it will become more creative and offer you more. This way, one or the other horse can also get out of its comfort zone. You notice that clicker training can be used in a variety of ways, not only for the mental utilization of your horse but also for fun and training. Your horse will be spiritually encouraged and will certainly quickly understand what you want from him – after all, horses are intelligent living beings.

Basics – 2nd Exercise

Has your horse now understood that the click triggers a good feeling – and only then, please! – it can go on. After all, from now on your horse wants the magic box to click more often. In the second exercise, your horse learns something very valuable again, namely to respect your space instead of pushing you because it wants your treats in its pocket.

Your horse should give way backward and thus enlarge your personal space. A wonderful lesson especially for excited, nervous horses who like to get cocky at the prospect of food and are difficult to calm down. By walking backward, they learn that the fastest way to get the coveted treats is the opposite.

Stand in front of your horse and just wait and see. The less help you give now, the trickier the task is for your horse. You should already be holding the clicker in your hand. It may well be that it is now trying to move its head towards the hand. But you don’t react. If it withdraws, it is clicked immediately and there is a treat. At first, you notice that it was a minimal step, not the finished exercise – but that would be too difficult. Hence small pieces – keep in mind that your horse does not have your plan of exercise in mind.

Basics – 3rd Exercise

The third exercise is great if you want your horse to show alternative behavior instead of nervously tripping back and forth, climbing, or. Alternative behavior gives your animal security in a moment of uncertainty.

Start by pointing to the floor, for example with your hand or a target stick (which should be conditioned beforehand). If your horse lowers its head to the ground, you click and the reward follows. It would be ideal if the exercise for your horse is associated with calm and a feeling of safety that you are safe. If your horse shows fear – for example during training – this task can give him peace and security.

The exercise is a little faster if you have completed target training beforehand. You can use your hand or a fly swatter or something similar to do this. Hold this in front of your horse’s nose at a small distance. If it turns its face towards the target, you click. In the course of time, you will be able to shape the behavior in such a way that the horse touches the target with its nose. Then you can also use it as a pointing stick to be touched.

Tricks and Fun Exercises

If your horse has understood the basics of clickers and is familiar with the principle, you can of course increase the fun factor and teach your horse tricks such as bowing, holding or picking up an object, or stepping on a pedestal. There are no limits to creativity, as long as your horse enjoys the exercises and you are sure that it is still motivated to cooperate.

After some time working together in clicker training, you will definitely notice how your horse and you grow closer and closer. Teamwork strengthens your bond and your trust in one another. If something doesn’t work out as hoped, don’t lose heart and just continue working in smaller steps and give yourself more time. Do not let yourself be influenced by outsiders – as long as you believe in your work, you should not let your joy and mutual success take away!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *