Clicker Training For Dressage Horses

Learn how clicker training can be used for dressage horses

Clicker training for dressage horses is becoming more popular. In her masterclass program ‘Principles of horse training‘ Jody Hartstone shares what she has learnt and applied to her own horses and those of her clients.

Timing is everything when it comes to teaching horses new things. Understanding how horses think during the process is critical too.

Jody runs us through how she has used clicker training to help fix unwanted behaviours. As well as how it can be applied under saddle when teaching new movements like piaffe and passage.

Clicker Training For Dressage Horses

What is clicker training?

According to wikipedia “Clicker training is an method of animal training based on a bridging stimulus (the clicker) in operant conditioning.

The system uses conditioned reinforcers, which a trainer can deliver more quickly and more precisely than primary reinforcers such as food.”

The term “clicker” comes from the noise the clicker trainer makes when you press the device. You can pick these up for a few dollars at any pet store and its handy to have a few around the stable.

The key with the clicker device is it creates a very distinct click that the trainer can use precisely when teaching animal new behaviours.

When training a new behaviour, it’s all about timing and while treats can be good, they are really hard to deliver at the precise moment.

So the use of a clicker helps the animal to quickly identify the precise behaviour that results in the food treat or a pat/rub. The timing and delivery of the click and treat teach the horse.

The technique is most common with dog trainers and you will find many books and/or dvds on it for dog training.

However, it is just starting to be used more for training horses. It’s becoming a powerful way for horse and rider to really form a positive relationship.

How does clicker training work?

Clicker training also known as positive reinforcement training. And when a trainer uses this they are able to press the clicker at the exact moment and then follow with a reward such food or a pat/rub.  

This then helps to train the horse that the click means good behaviour. This training method helps them learn new behaviours quickly, easily, and enthusiastically.

Why is clicker training effective?

When the horse intentionally does a behaviour in order to bring an desired action like the reward, they learn through ‘operant conditioning.’ This is something Jody delves into through her online program ‘Principles of horse training’.

Horses also can associate an action with a consequence whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. This type of learning is called classical conditioning also covered in Jody’s training program.

Clicker training uses a combination of classical conditioning and operant conditioning once the behaviour is learnt.

Many believe that there is a real difference between an animal that behaves with purpose through positive reinforcement, rather than just habit.

Clicker trained or operantly conditioned animals generally try to learn new things, they are motivated to do so.

Why use clicker training for dressage?

When it comes to dressage we can’t make noise when competing. So you may be wondering why on earth would you want to use clicker training for dressage.

The most useful way to use clicker training is when you are teaching your horse a new behaviour. Or you are after a better response to an already learnt one.

Then once the behaviour is established and reliable you can phase the clicker out as you head towards your competitions dates.

Once your horse has securely learnt the new behaviour you won’t then need the click in the arena, you can, however, use a rub or pat if you need.

Here is a snippet of the video ‘Introducing Clicker Training To Dressage Horses’ with Jody and her young mare who hasn’t tried it before.

To access this full video and her entire series join us here and take your Dressage Training to a new level by learning from the best. We hope you enjoy it.

Get access to the full video plus over 4 hours of Jody’s teaching with her online training program ‘Principles Of Horse Training.’

Want more information on the Principles Of Horse Training with Jody Hartstone? Check out these articles below that give you an insight into what is included.

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