Part 18 – I Tried Clicker Training – It Didn’t Work for Me!

I’ve heard this quite often and I so understand! The thing is – it didn’t work for me the first time! Magnum would grab and run after doing the required movement. I was overwhelmed, I didn’t understand the details…. and at that point I didn’t want to. I was still looking for a quick fix!

When I finally embraced it I was determined to take the time to learn. I found it to be completely different to anything else I had come across in the horse world. I wasn’t just wrapping my head around a new set of skills, I had so much to learn about how behaviour works! In fact I’m still learning and will continue learning forever!

Not so long ago, clicker training was frowned upon – and in some circles it still is! It is misinterpreted as trick training, as being mechanical, as bribing the horse – and as cheating. In comparison to natural horsemanship and other types of training, it is still not widespread. And I am sure this played a part in me abandoning it the first time.

At the time I was following the most popular methods around. The little glimpse into clicker training was like jumping out of the flow of the river and exploring the riverbank. It didn’t take too long until I felt uncomfortable and wanted to enter the flow again.

As I said previously, the thing that made me abandon the flow altogether is that I lost faith in all the mainstream methods. It was time to get out of the big, endless river of popular horse training methods and gurus. I wasn’t brave about getting out – I was angry. I had been conned big time by the supposedly most famous horse master in the world (so he said) and I was ready to get on that riverbank and do whatever I had to do.

This is human nature at work. Most of us conform – until something happens to steer us onto a different path. We tend to be swayed by conventional wisdom. And if we are getting results there is no need to look elsewhere! The ones that do not conform are often the creative thinkers – they don’t care what the general population are doing – they are too busy thinking outside the box!

Thank goodness for them!

Monty Gwynne’s pony Snowy – teaching me about clicker training!

Clicker training has its own river now – but as it has developed there continues to be lots of exploration on the river bank. That will continue, because science doesn’t stand still – it keeps moving along – people keep exploring – and maybe one day there will be something better!

It may not be physically hard work – but mentally it can be. It is both a science – and an art. There are skills to be learnt as well as a mindset change. When you start to dig into it, you realise you are in amongst complexities you never knew existed!

In fact, you are learning a new language!

And it’s not just a straightforward language! It changes with each horse! So you are constantly modifying and adapting to find the best fit.

Now I want to say more about this language, but I think it deserves a new post.

See you soon!

IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS STORY, PLEASE START AT THE BEGINNING HERE – Part 1 – An Introduction

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4 thoughts on “Part 18 – I Tried Clicker Training – It Didn’t Work for Me!

  1. I tried clicker training as a way to connect with my horse while i was injured. I quickly realised that it was the first time I was able to have a proper dialogue with her. We had a ‘conversation’. It was transformative for both of us and has changed the way I deal with my horses forever. I now feel much more confident in listening to what they are ‘saying’ and going with , rather than against them. It has also really helped in dealing with a ‘problem’ horse that had been more or less given up on by others. She won rosettes this summer after gaining her confidence back.

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  2. Reading this made me miss and remember my horse Tesoro. Clicker training with him allowed us to form a deep bond and connect in a way that would not have been possible with any other method. I am so grateful to Alexandra and her teaching and to Tesoro, for helping me learn to “talk” with him.

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