Part 95 – Meeting the Clicker Community at Clicker Expo!

I left off my story at Part 94 – A Special Funeral…  .   It was January 2014 – my mother had been laid to rest with my dad – and I felt relieved they were together again.  Now I could focus on the horses – and I could start to plan for the upcoming Five Go To Sea cruise in the Caribbean in April 2014.

I was in a very strange place – I still felt like I was living in a fog.  It was the planning for the journey which kept me focussed.

Most nights I would dream….  I’m back in the nursing home…. one of the workers says to me ‘Where have you been?  Why haven’t you been visiting your mother???’  I say ‘But she died!!’  They reply ‘No she didn’t – she’s alive and well and has been crying for you every day!!’  At that point I normally would wake up in a sweat – relieved it was a dream…  But my heart would be racing..

Now – nearly five years on – I still have that dream – but not very often…

Doug and I planned to go to USA together.  I was first going to Clicker Expo in Norfolk, Virginia – then we were going to fly to Costa Rica for two weeks to have a much needed holiday together.  After that I was heading back to Florida for the cruise – and Doug was heading to Mexico to look at plants!

There was a lot to research and I was so excited.  I also had to find housesitters.  The horses had enough grass in the paddock at that time of year – so it was a matter of someone keeping an eye on them. I didn’t really want strangers trying to handle them.   I had a friend who would check in on them also.  My mind was kept busy….

Finally we were off!  First stop would be Clicker Expo.  I was about to meet other clicker people…. and not only that – I was going to meet people I had only either read about  or communicated with on line – such as Alexandra Kurland, Karen Pryor, Ken Ramirez, Kay Laurence, Jesus Rosales Ruiz etc…

Clicker Expo is a huge event in USA.  It is held twice a year and there are a series of amazing lectures from animal behaviour experts in many fields.  It is well worth a visit.    I was in awe!

Many of the lectures went over my head – but it was so exciting to realise there was a whole world of animal behaviour to explore!  Here are just some of the topics that were on offer…. “On Extinction” – Karen Pryor  –  “What a Cue Can Do” – Kathy Sdao  – “Missteps, Myths & Mantras” – Ken Ramirez  –   “The Art of Practice” – Kay Laurence  –  “So You Want to Train a Horse?” – Alexandra Kurland  –  “Using Resurgence to Your Advantage” – Jesus Rosales-Ruiz  –  “Effectiveness is Not Enough” – Susan Friedman  –  “Exotic Animals Taught Me to Be a Better Dog Trainer” – Ken Ramirez  –  “Breakthrough! – Clicker Training Humans” – Theresa McKeon…………….  and so much more!!!!

My head was spinning!  But I was so excited!  I was also meeting so many people…. and what was so exciting was that I finally met Alex and some of her clicker coaches – which included Cindy Bennett Martin – finally after communicating on line and having Cindy also support me through the terrible times of the previous year – we were meeting in person!  Here is a photo!

clicker expo 2
L to R – Jane Leslie Jackson, Me!, Alexandra Kurland, Cindy Bennett Martin

I also bought many books – too many!  There is time set aside for book signing at the Expo – and as Karen Pryor was signing her books for me, she asked what animal I train.  When I said horses, she said “Good…. they need more clicker trainers – they are the most misunderstood animal”.

I felt so fortunate to attend – there really was a whole new world out there to explore.  I remember smiling to myself and thinking how far I had come from the whole Kert saga – and reflecting on this very long road I had taken.  Yet I was only at the very start – but finally it looked like I was going to have a much clearer run!

Little did I know at the time that clicker training has such a depth to it…. but I knew I was heading along the right road after all these years.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the way forward – no more gurus, no more cowboys, no more horse whisperers……..

However…… I will soon be telling you a story that made me doubt myself again….. but first…..  Costa Rica – and Five Go to Sea in the Caribbean!!




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