Clicker training which originally came from the scientific term operant conditioning, is a slang name. It was originally used to train aquatic mammals, has continuously becoming more distinguished in training horses with its positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is given when the action that the trainer wants the animal to repeat is done properly. The concept of operant conditioning in psychology is where an animal learns a particular behavior or a task where reward is given for accomplished action. However, for the undesirable behavior or actions done by the animal aren’t rewarded and ignored. Therefore by giving rewards for getting things right make these horses more excited and fast in their learning.
Clicker training is a great tool to embrace other training methods. All you need to be started is a clicker, some treats, and a container for the rewards. Once you have got them, your horse is now on its way to obedience. There are no set rules to pursue when using the clicker training but the following will guide you to use this method to your advantage.
Condition it with the sound of the ‘click.’
Your horse has to know that the sound ‘click’ means a reward is coming. First try to click your clicker for a few times and reward it with a treat every time it hears the sound. After about 10-15 minutes, you must repeat the sequence of clicking followed by treating. Some horses may need more sessions, but there are horses that easily get accustomed to the clicker training after three sequences.
Avoid pushing your horse too much
It is important to consider that every horse differs in its readiness and ability to learn new tricks. It will be more effective to train for more than 10-15 minutes. Try to uphold short sessions broken into several days than having a long one in a day.
Using a target is compulsory
By using a target, it will be much easier to train your horse and it has something to aim at. Apply the positive reinforcement when appropriate and let this be the first task that it needs to fulfilled. The simplest thing is by hanging a plastic bottle and ask it to bump it using its head. Having done it successfully, you must reward it not once but every time it does it perfectly.
Nothing is more important than the right timing in clicker training. If the horse successfully bumps the target, click each time and then give it the reward it deserved. You have to repeat this process until the behavior is reinforced.
Go on to the next step
Once it learns to bump the target, move on to the next step. Let your horse pursue the target then head bob it before giving a reward. This will test your previous training and will tell whether you have properly conditioned it to respond to the ‘click.’ But one think you have to remember is that you have to be patient and to conduct each session in short periods. You also need to realize that not all horses will learn in the same manner.
You may continue to a more advance training as soon as you have finished this basic clicker training. You can employ this method to compliment your other trainings to make it easier for you to train your horse and for it to learn.