Training with the “Soft Whip” cont

Traditional circus type training, with whips and restraints, has been around for centuries but when it was applied to dolphins in the late 50’s, it had very limited results as the dolphins simply swam off or sank to the bottom of the pool and eye balled the trainer!!! No surprise! Would you want to spend time with someone that confused the daylights out of you and then inflicted pain when you offered some response, no way!!

Thus the beginning of an era of behaviourists and trainers that understood the science of operant conditioning and started applying it to the animals in their care. Magic happened, and dolphins were leaping around excitedly and doing amazing things in military operations. Finally this training method has started spreading to other species over the last two decades. Many dog trainers are already using it in P.E.
So how does one start learning this training technique?
* Attending courses
* Watching and talking to other clicker trainers
* Reading books
* Checking out the web, there is lots of info on clicker training and there are a number of free monthly newsletters available.
* Practice and play with the clicker
* Get out there and have fun with your horse

The sound of the clicker is simply a “yes, that is what I want you to do” cue to the horse, it basically means, “right answer, you are going to get paid for a job well done”. Clicker training is not, and I must reiterate this, NOT treat training. When horses are bribed or baited to do something they don’t learn the behaviour we want. All they learn is to be pushy, and often end up biting the owner! Clicker trained horses understand that they need to perform the action (do the work) before they get the reward. It makes perfect sense to them once they understand it. The horse’s attitude becomes one of “what next” and “what do you want me to do”. And all this without the use of a whip or riding crop to beat the animal!! You will notice clicker trainers do use whips, but in a completely different way. The whip becomes an aid and a cue, the way it should be used! Not as a means to make the horse do something it doesn’t want to do, usually because it is scared or doesn’t understand what it is being asked to do in the first place.