Common Criticism About Equine Clicker Training
AND why they aren't even true!!!
I know that some people criticize clicker trainers
saying that we are just spoiling our horses by
giving them treats. Or, some may say that it
teaches horses to bite or be "grabby" about treats.
These people obviously do not understand clicker
If applied correctly, horses actually learn to be
more respectful, more patient, and more
intelligent. My horse Que knows that he does not
get a treat unless I offer it to him. He realizes that I
do not give him a reward until I am ready and he
needs to wait.
Another thing that these people do not realize is
that you eventually "phase out" the clicker and
treats once the training is established. You will not
need to use these tools indefinitely.
You can also use praise in the form of a pat, a scratch, or a verbal reward instead of treats. However, a nice
refresher course for the horse now and then involving treats or a treat at the end of many behaviors is a nice
reward for all of his effort. And it keeps your horse motivated.
After all, would you want to go to your job if you never got paid? How about if you got a "thank you" now and
then from the boss as your paycheck? Maybe your boss is really demanding and you don't even want to go to
work anymore. Would you continue to go if you didn't get paid?
Some of you may be thinking right now - my horse does get paid. I feed him and provide him shelter. While that
may all be true, your horse does not have the ability to understand it that way.
Treats are your horse's paycheck. They provide instant gratification. They help keep your horse motivated. It
encourages him to work with you and be willing to try new things. It can help him overcome distraction, anxiety,
or maybe just increase his attention span and willingness to cooperate.
Another criticism is that we are not teaching our horse who the "boss" is. This is not true. In clicker training
your horse, you need to teach him that you are in charge of what goes on. You do not allow your horse to beg
for treats. You only reward good behavior. You are telling the horse what to do. But, you do not need to be a
bully to be the alpha horse.
Even though clicker training is a positive training method, you will still have boundaries and limitations to what
your horse is allowed to do. You will be motivating your horse to try harder. You are not allowing negative
I hope you will enjoy this video from Van Sturgeon about how you can phase out the clicker and the treats as
your horse moves into more advanced training.
Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not intended
to replace professional opinions or recommendations.
Consult your veterinarian for advice about any medical condition or
treatment needed for your horse