Part 16 – Clicker Training – But I Want a True Connection!

I’ve heard that before. If you feed them treats, it’s never a true connection…..

So – what IS a true connection. ? What is it that makes you think your horse is connected to you?

Do they hang out with you and follow you everywhere? Do they willingly take part in the training time – or the together time? If so, congratulations – sounds like you have an amazing bond and they obviously trust you and enjoy your company.

But what about for the majority of us? I’m sure at some stage we have all struggled to either catch a horse – or get our horses to do what we would like them to do. Many of us have wondered if our horses like us. I used to wonder this a lot.

Before I started clicker training, I would often hang out in the paddock with the horses. I’d take a chair, sometimes a book. They would come up to me, check me out, then often go back to their munching. I never saw it as a connection – they were just curious and they didn’t see me as a threat.

I want to add here that once again I have used video from YouTube. I am not singling out anyone in particular. I am merely posting what comes up if you type in ‘connect with your horse’. This is one of the videos that came up.

Connecting with your horse?

This looks like some of the things I tried with Magnum early on. I didn’t have a roundyard so we were just in a paddock. I would try using body language, moving away etc. It certainly didn’t achieve a connection.! And what IS a connection? Is it the horse coming to you or is it more? I would say it’s so much more!

So, from a quick look at videos on YouTube, there are a variety of ways people are suggesting to connect with a horse. One is the old Join-Up routine by Monty Roberts. Others suggest you need to be a good leader to achieve a connection. Then other videos are about sitting or meditating with your horse. I like the last idea the best!


There seems to be confusion over connection and catching …. hmmmmm…..

Have a look at this clip and I will then tell you a story….

Join Up Style

Now the video above is like a Join Up style. We don’t know how long the horse has been running around the roundpen. When it is able to stop, it goes to the human and follows her around – looks impressive doesn’t it………..

Here is my little story!

Over 10 years ago, I used to often go to the local sales – the same sale where we bought Magnum… Each horse would come into the ring frightened, run around for a bit – there was a guy standing in the middle of the pen with a stick- and each horse would go to him and follow him around – just like above. The “connection” was the horse seeking safety and comfort. I’d watch it over and over. This was before I knew about behaviour – but even then I knew that Join Up was exactly the same. It made me sad…. needless to say, I just can’t go to the sales now – I would be tempted to save all the horses!

So – back to the word ‘connection’. When we say we have a connection with another person, what do we mean? I think it means that when we are with that person we feel very comfortable. We think alike, we are listened to, and we enjoy the time we spend together. We are on the same wavelength. We come away from time with that person feeling inspired, rather than drained of energy!

Now – transfer that to connection with a horse. The horse needs to feel comfortable with you. It needs to feel safe and it trusts you. In other words, in the horse’s eyes, it has enough history with you to know that the majority of time spent with you is all good. Your horse comes away from time spent with you with no need of seeking relief elsewhere.

There may be a small amount of time when it isn’t pleasant being with you. Say you need to tend to medical issues – or you need to force your horse to do something in an emergency situation, or to keep yourself safe for whatever reason.

But you have a healthy trust bank account – which has built up over time. And time is the key element here.

I will continue the connection theme in the next post. I also want to explain why I’m showing more videos of others from YouTube – it goes back to ‘the promise’.

Until next time!



One thought on “Part 16 – Clicker Training – But I Want a True Connection!

  1. Yes good thoughts about that. I feel that i am not good at that and i know this because i can see it in my horse it makes me sad to see this. Its hard to know when to do more or less. I find clarity and being as quiet as possible helps and for me keeping things simple as i dont have the knowledge yet. Thanks Jack

    Liked by 1 person

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