"Thinking of your horse as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your horse as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help him through his distress."- The Concordia Connection

May 6, 2016

I had the pleasure of teaching in Ottawa this past weekend. There were a great group of ladies with many, many years of combined horse experiences, but only a few who had been exposed to clicker training, and most of those through the dog world, so it was very exciting to see all of them get excited about the possibilities with the horses.

As the weekend unfolded and they could see just how fast the learning occurred they got very excited about all the possibilities for their horses.

The horses we used in the demos were a good cross section with regards to exposure to the clicker work.

It went all the way from Carter who was a rescue and Anne his owner did a lovely demo for us all of all the work she had done using the clicker to get him from a horse referred to as dangerous into a lovely confident fellow who lo...

March 19, 2016

As an aside for those of you playing the Tim Horton’s online no need to buy anything roll up the rim game, I found it to be an interesting experiment in reinforcement schedules. I played for a while and even managed to get badges that earned a ballot to a draw for a bigger prize and two free cups of coffee, whoopee. But I stopped shortly after the rate of reinforcements in the form of free coffees or tickets took too long to get. This is often what happens when training our horses; they suddenly stop doing the behaviour we were getting before.

There can be several reasons behind this:

1. Like in the Timmy’s example, often the rate of reinforcement or the amount of reinforcement (size of reward) is not enough to keep the horse ‘in the game.’

2. There may be a behaviour that you ask for after this first behaviour...

August 23, 2014

I’m hoping you checked out my article “Resistance-free Bridling” in the September/October issue of Horse-Canada magazine, where I talk about teaching your horses to bridle himself. It utilizes the foundation lesson of targeting. If not, be sure to pick up a copy to get all the details on how to teach this!

I use behaviours that I have taught not only as useful behaviours in and of themselves, but also as a monitor as to how my horse is feeling about the work we are doing and how he is feeling in his body. If Icaro, who normally eagerly takes his bridle, suddenly is less eager or won’t take it at all I can use this as a ‘red flag’ to tell me something is going on that I need to have a closer look at. Is the work we did yesterday too hard? Causing too much mental or physical stress? Is his body sore from th...

May 6, 2013

Now, let’s look at the horse you have and make a list of all the things he does that you would need to change to have him be your dream horse. Most of us would say “I don’t like it when my horse ………” When we look at behaviours most of us tend to focus on the things we don’t like.

I want you to take all those don’t likes and rephrase then into the positive statements on your wish list. For example: “I’d love my horse to stand still when I get on.” I’d love my horse to run to me from the far end of his pasture.”

Now, take all those “I don’t like to….because” statements and change them into positive statements. Change the “I don’t like to ride alone because I’m afraid of my horse running back to the barn” to “I like to ride alone because my horse behaves so well.”

How about some different wishes? How about: “I will...

March 4, 2012

Q: I am having a hard time bridling my horse. Can clicker training help him to get better at it?

A: Well, what would you think if I told you that I don’t bridle my horses - they bridle themselves?! So, can clicker training help you out? You bet. First, I will refer you to my past Saddle Up articles, as those foundation lessons will definitely get you set up for success at bridling. You especially need the targeting lesson before starting this lesson. As always, you should first check for any physical issues that may be causing the bridling issues. Are his ears or mouth sore? How about his teeth? And how are your bridling skills? Do you fold his ears over or bang his teeth with the bit? Was he always hard to bridle or is this a recent development? Let’s assume there are no health issues and that he has always b...

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