equine clicker training

using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people

Chapter 1: What is clicker training?

This page lists additional resources for the book “Teaching Horses with Positive Reinforcement.” I will be adding to this page as I have time. 

Aurora waiting at the gate for her training session.

Recommended reading/viewing

Organic Training: In this article, Kathy Sdao compares good training to organic gardening. Good trainers nurture the behaviors they want, allow time for them to develop, and avoid using aversives that can damage relationships.

Lads Before the Wind by Karen Pryor: If you want to learn more about the early days of applied operant conditioning as used in animal training (outside the lab), this is a great book. Karen is an excellent writer who is knowledgeable, interesting, and easy to read.

Reaching the Animal Mind by Karen Pryor: This book was published in 2009 and takes a broader look at what we have learned about clicker training, how animals learn, and other advances in positive reinforcement training since the early days of clicker training. The book has its own website: http://reachingtheanimalmind.com/

Clicker training and TAGteach: This article in the online magazine, “The Horse” describes one of the newer applications of TAGteach (clicker training for people), which is teaching surgeons how to use surgical tools. Sharing information about how the principles of clicker training can be applied across all species can be a good way to encourage people to give clicker training a try.

Karen Pryor at ABA: The Art and Science of Animal Training has made available the speech that Karen Pryor gave at the Association of Behavior Analysis International Convention in 1992.  The speech is titled “If I Could Talk to the Animals: Reinforcement Interactions as Communication” and offers a glimpse into what behavior analysis was like in the early 1990’s. A lot of the points that Karen raises are still important today, and you may find that some of them are useful when you are trying to explain why you choose to train with positive reinforcement.

The Education of Will by Patricia B. McConnell. The subtitle for this book is “Healing a Dog, Facing my Fears, Reclaiming my Life.” This is Dr. McConnell’s latest book (I recommend all her books) and describes how she had to come to terms with her past experiences in order to help her young dog overcome his own issues. It is a compelling (and at times distressing) story that is both thought provoking and heartwarming.

What can you do with clicker training?

Here are some of the more unusual applications:

Train Rats to Detect Mines and Tuberculosis: If you want to learn more about the use of rats to detect land mines and tuberculosis, you can go to the Apopo website.

Train a guide horse for the blind: Ann Edie, a student of Alexandra Kurland, is legally blind. When her old guide dog retired and she had difficulty finding a new one, she and Alex decided to train a miniature horse to be her guide. Alex has chronicled the training on her website www.theclickercenter.com.

Using clicker training for conservation: At the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference in 2016, Ken Ramirez shared notes on some of the more unusual projects he has participated in. Topics included re-introducing wild animals, managing exotic animal populations, and using clicker training for management and husbandry with exotic species.