equine clicker training

using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people

Chapter 5

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

Chapter 5: Training Sessions

Training tips from Bob Bailey
  • What is training? Making it worthwhile for the animal to change.
  • Animals are learning machines. It is what they are designed to do.
  • Learn to SEE what the animal is doing – no interpretations
  • The only behavior you can change is your own
  • Ask yourself, what do I want? What do I have? Train the behavioral pathway from have to want
  • Behavior is anything an organism does
  • Training is simple but not easy

More tips can be found in my notes on the talk “What did Bailey Do and Why? A Training Potpourri,” that he presented at the 2013 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference. You can also find notes on some of Bob’s other presentations if you search under the conference notes.


Problem solving?

In the book, I write about how to address unwanted or “problem” behaviors through an approach that combines identifying possible causes, management, and teaching alternate behaviors. When you are new to thinking about problem solving in this way, Dr. Susan Friedman’s “Humane Hierarchy” can be a helpful guide as it ranks each procedure in terms of the level of instrusiveness and the use of aversives. The goal of the trainer should always be to find the “least intrusive, minimally aversive” solution to her training problem.

The graphic below shows the order in which Dr. Friedman ranks each training procedure and also indicates when you should proceed with caution. You will note that some of the exits have speed bumps (slow down and think – get help, consult others), and some have caution or stop signs (proceed at your own risk). Note that the Humane Hierarchy can be used for any type of training, not just problem solving.


Recommended reading/viewing

Ken Ramirez on “Problem Solving.” – Blog that I wrote based on my notes from Ken’s presentation at the 2018 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference. Ken listed 8 causes of problem behaviors – a useful resource if you are having difficulty training new behaviors or reducing  unwanted behaviors. 

Warm-up Routines and The Power of Habit: Blog that I wrote about Rosie’s warm-up routine and how having a very structured routine at the start of the training session led to more relaxation and focus in the rest of the session.

The Misunderstanding of Time: Blog by Nancy Tanner. This is for anyone who struggles with finding time to train or struggles with students who wish that training could be done just a little bit (or a lot!) faster.

Equiosity podcast #4: In this podcast, Alexandra Kurland and Dominique Day talk about the foundation behaviors. Alex explains why she chose each one, what it teaches the horse, and what you can do with them. It’s a good overview that will help you understand why it’s important to have foundation behaviors. You can find the podcasts on itunes, or go to www.equiosity.com.