I work with dogs and can't say enough amazing things about clicker training. It's a common misconception that clicker work is only good for basic manners, handling, or tricks (and it is excellent for these things). But I can tell you that I've used clicker training to treat dog-dog/dog-human aggression in dogs with fantastic results. The possibilities with a clicker are truly endless.
Clicker training started with sea mammals a few decades ago, and caught on with horses about 20 years before it ever became popular with dogs (fairly recently). If you're curious about it I would get my hands on anything by Karen Pryor, and particularly "Don't Shoot the Dog!" Don't let the title fool you, the book isn't about dog training. It's all about how we use reinforcers in our every day lives (i.e. work relationships, personal relationships, parenting, etc.). It's fascinating and eye-opening.
I know that horse training is somewhat traditional. I see a lot of corrections-based methods described in posts, and while I don't claim to know anything about horse training, I am 100% sure that all mammals (humans included) learn the same way - with reinforcers. The four quadrants of the learning theory are (and I'm going to get really geeky here):
Positive Reinforcement: Rewarding good behaviours (clicker training applies here).
Negative Reinforcement: Removing a punisher (anything the horse doesn't like) when the desired behaviour has been achieved.
Positive Punishment: Applying a punisher to eradicate an unwanted behaviour (anything from an ear pinch all the way to abuse).
Negative Punishment: Removing something the horse does like (i.e. treats, attention, etc.) when they display unwanted behaviours.
Once you understand what these quadrants are, and how to use them in everyday training, the possibilities are endless. With dogs, I use primarily positive reinforcement and negative punishment. Most of the methods I see described on this forum fall under Negative Reinforcement and Positive Punishment, with a fair bit of the other two quadrants mixed in. All of my training is force-free and I believe this can work with horses just as well. It already has been for decades. Can't wait to get my hands dirty with clicker training and horses!
EDIT: I'm not arguing what's right and wrong with this post. I definitely don't claim to know any better than those who have been riding and training their whole lives. I'm just trying to explain the science behind how animals learn, and how we can use this in our relationships with horses.
Last edited by Meatos; 05-06-2012 at 10:22 PM.