Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Clicker is a wonderful and powerful tool to have in your toolbox, and horses seem to pick it up very rapidly. Just one caution, from dog training, where clicker has a huge following: clicker, like all other training techniques, has limitations.
The two main ones are first, that you are dependent on being able to provide a more rewarding environment than anything else available. This is usually pretty easy, but clicker-trained habits are not going to trump primal drives. Many people get into big trouble not having a back-up strategy for when those kick in. That's why dog training in areas that harness primal drives like hunting and herding don't use clicker. For horses probably the biggest primal drive you will normally encounter is panic and fear. Clicker is not going to help you control a horse who is afraid. For example.
The other issue is, in pure clicker theory, the animal must GUESS the right answer before rewarded. This gets the animal mentally engaged and highly motivated to "offer behaviors" in hopes the one of them will pay off. Then they are very apt to offer it again. The down side of this is that if they can't guess it, they'll get frustrated and give up, just like a person would. Many purist Positive-Only trainers fail because they refuse to help if it means being "negative". In the real world, learning is full of both reward and unpleasantness. It's like a game of "hotter colder" where there's no colder. Twice as hard!
But clicker is really fun for horses. Go for it!
Short horse lover