What is Clicker Training
So, just what is clicker training for horses?
The short answer is a positive training method that
helps your horse to understand very clearly the
difference between "yes" and "no". Clicker training
is the easiest way to help your horse understand
exactly what you want him to do.
Research shows that animals (and people for that
matter) will repeat behaviors that result in a
pleasant reward. For horses, that can start out as
food and then can be transitioned into verbal
praise, pats, or scratches.
These rewards are called positive reinforcement. I
will discuss this further in the next section on
equine learning theory.
For now, just know that we will be using positive reinforcement to encourage your horse to exhibit the desired
behavior. We will encourage this behavior through "baby steps". This is called shaping.
The name "clicker training" comes from the fact that we use a "clicker" to communicate with our horse during
A clicker is a small plastic device that makes a distinctive clicking sound. You can use a word (such as "yes"
or "good") or click your tongue if you really don't want to use a clicker.
However, at least in the beginning stages, a distinct noise - such as an actual clicker - can get a better result.
Horses are so used to us talking around them that they don't really listen anymore. Once your horse
understands clicker training and you have their attention, you may transfer the "yes" reward marker to a verbal
one if you like.
You will use the clicker to tell your horse "Yes". You will pair this "Yes" signal with a reward. This will
encourage your horse to offer that behavior again. Each time your horse offers the behavior, it will continue to
get better and better. The final result being a horse that is offering the behavior you want with a happy,
I don't know about you, but I like to think that my horse enjoys his time spent with me. I don't like to feel like I
am forcing him to do things all the time.
I know there are times he just needs to comply with my wishes, but I have a lot more fun with him when he is
working with me and is participating in the training.
In this video, you can see a pony that is only on its third session of clicker training. I think you will be
impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity and how quickly she learns using positive horse training methods.
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