Training your horse is an essential part of owning a horse and good training starts with an understanding of how animals learn. One of our best sources for information on how animals learn is behavioral science. This is where clicker training comes in! Clicker training is a nick name for a method of training animals that involves marking a behavior we like, followed immediately by giving the animal something they like. It's often referred to as 'mark and reinforce' or 'click and treat' or 'positive reinforcement training'.
Reputable zoos and aquariums all use behavioral science to help them teach the animals in their care. It's not called 'dolphin training' or 'tiger training' but instead it is all simply 'animal training'. And horses are animals too! If other trainers can have phenomenal success training their animals using behavioral science, so can we when training our horses!
“Animals deserve the best care we can possibly provide. Training should not be considered a luxury that is only provided if there is time; it is an essential part of good animal care.
Just as one would never consider developing an animal care program without a veterinary component, a nutritional component, a social component, and an environmental component; nobody should consider caring for an animal without a behavioral management component integrated into the program”   Ken Ramirez – From the introduction to “Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement."
Attention to training, or behavioral management, gives us our best chance for safely and humanely meeting the needs of our domesticated horses.
Alongside the responsiblity of developing a training program for basic handling like vet care, trailering, leading, and foot care, we also have a responsibility to create a shelter and pasture environment that best mimics the lifestyle they have evolved to thrive in.
|"I don’t want my horses so programmed to a narrow set of responses that they lose all their individuality and seem more like machines than sentient beings. I want to see a horse’s expression change as he considers his options and makes a choice that will earn him praise and comfort. " Stacey Kollman Desert Horse Equestrian Services|