thats the point I don't get, why the click. Do I really have to click while im focusing on jumping a 4 ft fence and holding the reins and holding a crop and steering and staying balanced over my horse ? That is so much more complicated that staying out of my horses way, which im sure she appreciates more ! I don't understand why the click can't just be left out.
Horses can associate something that has happened in the last couple seconds, same with dogs, talk to a dog trainer. I trained dogs professionally for 3 years, I know how and when to reinforce behaviors. You can't wait long, but you for sure have a window of oppurtunity.
This is also why pressure and release works so well, it happenes very quickly and there arent so many steps for the horse to put together. Just one, I move = no pressure.
The reason the click can't be left out is because
you don't want the horse to think that getting to other side of the fence is the most important thing.
I teach my pony unmounted agility, he's too small to ride and has an old rib injury preventing a small rider from riding him. I want to pony to approach the jump at the gait I want, I want him to pick up his knees and go over the jump properly and balanced, and I want a calm landing. If I were to just shove treats in his face after the jump then his whole goal would be getting from one side of the jump to the other side as fast as possible. If my pony approaches the jump at the wrong gait he doesn't get his click and we turn around and approach again. If he drags his knees he will not get his click (of course this all happened in stage and progression). When he lands I expect him to come out of it calmly - if he gets worked up no click. While I wouldn't typically click for them landing calmly it was an issue and he got excited so he needed to learn calm is better.
He is gradually moving up to jumping a series of obstacles. The Click clearly marks the action I want. If I just fed him treats when he's landed the jump, how will he know it's because he trotted this time? Or tucked his knees better this time? The click says 'yes' right this minute that's what I want.
As for your comment "o I really have to click while im focusing on jumping a 4 ft fence and holding the reins and holding a crop and steering and staying balanced over my horse ? That is so much more complicated that staying out of my horses way, which im sure she appreciates more !" I hope that's not how you actually jump. It takes a little more work than just getting out of their way. And no you
don't need to click, because you
don't like CT. But if I were to be teaching my pony to jump well and I was on his back, yes I would click when he did it better - or I'd have a friend on the ground click at the right time to make sure to mark the correct behavior. Also if your concern is about carrying a clicker while riding, yes that's difficult - I don't use a clicker at all I use a smooch noise I make myself so I don't have to carry anything.
Pressure and release does work well. I'm not arguing that - All I'm saying is CT works also, if you have good timing and reinforce the correct behavior. Pressure and release is often screwed up too, it's not a fool-proof training method. I used to work at a hunter barn and at their barn I work with their horses their way (of course). They tell me to back a horse up with a rope halter on and standing in front of him and shaking the rope vigorously. They weren't happy with how vigorously I was shaking the rope until the horse's head was all the way in the air, he was backing aggressively and desperately looking for a way out. He got this treatment everytime he invaded the leader's space. While this method works I found it to be much calmer and more relaxed to teach a horse to back up calmly and quietly. I like my animals to be relaxed and unafraid. Not saying all pressure+release trainers work this way - my point is just that like any training method it can be screwed up too. Also at this barn, it's quite interesting, they put down the idea of clicker training, but they tell me the only way to lead one of their horses from his stall to his paddock safely is by carrying a carrot in front of his nose to make him follow it. They also have a horse who kicks the wall whenever he runs out of food, because it's annoying they give him food whenever he does it. This has obviously taught him to kick the wall more. Positive reinforcement - even unintentional.
There aren't many steps for a horse to put together with CT, just like a release of pressure the click is a clear marker of the word 'yes' the difference is not all things can be taught with release of pressure. Like targeting.
No one is saying you can't use Pressure+release, it works. The difference is the people who have actually tried CT and done it properly have realized how eager and motivated it makes horses to learn. When I do CT at my rescue I work with 1 pony at a time in a herd of 3, 2 of them are my projects the 3 is a project for a little girl I'm teaching. When I go in I take the one I'm working with the a corner and start - not 2 minutes I the other 2 will be over offering skills to me. If I ask my pony to back up, the other 2 will be backing as well. If I'm not asking anything they'll offer skills, backing up, holding up a hoof, searching for my target, any number of things. It makes me happy to see my horses wanting
to learn. I love to watch their wheels turn as they figure out what it is that I'm looking for. Teaching my mare to Stand was a ball. I would stand out in front of her and say stand, then back away gradually, she would watch me SO intently, looking for what she was supposed to be doing. The click was a surprise to her when she didn't do anything xD. When I stepped to the side and began circling her she'd turn and face me, and not get a click, she was trying SO hard. If I stepped to one side she'd turn, so I'd step back, ad she'd turn back. It was adorable. Now we've reached a good solid Stand. I can be walking her say Stand and she'll stop even if I keep going
Here is yet another great video to show just how effective and useful CT can be :)