Experiences of Clicker Training Anyone?

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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Perthshire, Scotland
Just gathering info to start some serious groundwork over the winter when it's too dark to ride after work and am interested in finding out more about clicker training as I often hear it suggested as an option for ironing out issues. I did a little bit of clicker training with my dogs when they were young, is there a difference, what have you used it for and is someone able to offer a idiot's intro and some best websites/books to read?
Many thanks
 
Last edited:

jovi_y2k2

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Apr 5, 2002
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I did some when I had Star, not really to do anything but have a bit of fun and engage his brain during the rubbish winter months at Uni when we had no turnout. He loved it, although when I first pressed the clicker he :poop: himself and ran off! :rolleyes:

I like to think it gave us a bit better bond and it was just something different and fun for him to do.

I do have a good book, can't remember who it's by but I don't use it anymore so if you like I can dig it out for you? I have a clicker too which is just gathering dust
 

rosehip

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Aug 13, 2010
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I have started using Clicker training on my mare. its a long story but to put it briefly- 6 very sucessful trainers have said she is untrainable, crazy and needs to be put to be pts, she was even used in a Monty Roberts demo 2 years ago. last winter after many ckecks for physical problems (there are none) even my vet said she should be destroyed because she had become so dangerous and agressive.
However, I couldnt give up and using Clicker we have had so much progress and huge huge changes. i can catch her, pick up her feet, groom, etc. I am even taking her for walks and will start lunging and long lining soon. I am hoping if we keep making progress I'll be able to ride her!!!

It has made all my horses so much more willing and interested in what they are doing because they have to think more for themselves and the best bit is its so much fun! you can teach basics or advanced schooling and also silly things... im teaching mine to kiss me at the mo! another great thing is that it works best if you do it in short but regular chunks, really great for the winter months when light is scarce.
I am learning with my trainer who used clicker for everything up to very advanced levels of dressage and she recommended I look at the "clicker center" website. you could also try Zen Clicker horsemanship site. I also spent some time on Youtube looking up clicker videos. or you could search on Amazon for a good book. To be honest thiugh, one youve got the idea and have taught your horse the basic lessons you can make it up as you go along and teach all sorts of things.

Sorry for the marathon reply!
Good luck with it and have fun!
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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Perthshire, Scotland
Thankyou Jovi that would be really kind of you if you could dig it out, I'd be really interested (and of course I'd give you some dosh for it).
Rosehip it sounds like you've had quite a time of it with your horse, well done for getting so far and I really hope it works out for you both. I can't believe it can be used for riding - I tried to give Flip a treat for mounting once in the saddle but unfortunately I wear a bp so am like a stiff old woman and Flipo is incredibly unflexible so seems like a stiff old man.
Overall I just don't feel my horse is very responsive to my groundwork aids and want to see if food will help. Also I hope that at some point I could use it to help loading - we've had a few issues lately.
With dog clicker training you use the clicker and pair it with food to help the dog associate the clicker with a reward and then slowly you remove the food and the click itself becomes the reward. Is this the same for clicker training a horse or do you always pair the food and click together?
 

tubby

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Sep 30, 2003
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Yes FM it's the same & you can also use CT for ridden work too.You start off with getting your horse to touch something & rewarding with a click & a tiny sweety.It's worked wonders on my Highland under saddle,he's more co-operative & moves forward more freely.Now this will please you most you can CT him for mounting we've got my friend's 5 yr old standing with reins hanging loose on his neck while she gets on & it didn't take long !
 

Louby*eko

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Jun 19, 2008
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Berkshire/Hampshire border
I thought Clicker training was suposed to be good for greedy horses, so i had a go with Samson. I dont know if I did something fundmentally wrong but it was a disaster!
He just cannot focus on anything if there is food around! He completetly blanks out, he treat free for this reason usually.
 
Y

Yann

Guest
Even the experts will tell you there are horses that are best not clicker trained with food, especially if the horse finds value in something different like a scratch. I think you need to be 110% clear and disciplined introducing it to a muggy horse, it can work though.

I've used clicker training on and off for quite a while now, initially to improve Rio's groundwork without having to increase the amount and type of pressure I was using, something that worked really well. I'm also using it to try and overcome her needle phobia, and we've made good progress so far.

I didn't think it worked with Tess when I first tried it, but that turned out to be because the treats I was trying to use were too boring, so there was no incentive for her to try and get any more. That was soon sorted and I've been experimenting with using it under saddle. Again, the results so far have been impressive, even with my limited technique, and we've suddenly made progress on quite a few small schooling issues we had become stuck with. The beauty of it is that you don't need to click and treat forever, you phase it out but still get the behaviour you trained.

I do genuinely think changes their attitude to you and whatever you're asking them to do and gets them actively thinking. The moments where they work out what you're asking for can feel very good for both of you :)
 

tiga

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Oct 29, 2007
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I thought Clicker training was suposed to be good for greedy horses, so i had a go with Samson. I dont know if I did something fundmentally wrong but it was a disaster!
He just cannot focus on anything if there is food around! He completetly blanks out, he treat free for this reason usually.

Izzy is the same. I didn't try actual clicker training but tried using treats when we had a mounting issue. It just didn't work. Izzy knew I had treats and couldn't think of anything but the food.

He gets a treat when bridling now but all other treats go in his feed bowl or on the floor.

Greedy b***er!:giggle:
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Those of you who are skilled in this training method, is it possible to use it under saddle? I am struggling with stopping Ziggy when we are out hacking (particularly homeward bound) and am wondering if voice and clicker for "Whoa" might be the way to go. Any thoughts?
 

tubby

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Sep 30, 2003
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Yes it is J&Z the friend who has her youngster standing so well now has used it on a ride as a calming method ie if he does as asked like passing something scary or slowing instead of fizzing she clicks & treats.I read the blog of a lady with a pony behaving just like my Ben & she clicker trained him so I did with Ben & lo & behold worked a treat :smile:
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Thanks Tubby. I've looked at the clicker center website and I see the point! It sounds good, but I notice that timing is really, really important. At present Ziggy "winds down" to a halt (when he halts at all) - slower, slower, slower, sort of stop, stop-ish, stop...

If I were clicking him to get a crisp halt - when exactly should I click?
 

tubby

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If you click him when he reaches halt & follow it with a treat ( linseed lozenges are ideal ) you'll find the halt gets better & better , in fact next thing you'll wonder what your problem was.It's just important to reward even a small try so just keep at it & it might get to Quarter horse sliding stops next :wink:
 

Skippys Mum

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Nov 25, 2007
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I used CT for mounting issues - he is now rock solid. We did try it for other things but I never ever quite got control of the treat and he used to get a bit stroppy. This was my fault, my timing was out. For those who say it didnt work because the horse was totally obsessed with the food, they are in the same boat as me. The first thing you have to do is teach the "no mugging" exercise and if you dont get that right then nothing else will work properly.

Capalldubh (who used to be on here) uses CT exclusively with Jackson. She trains using a lot of Alex Kurlands methods (and goes to her annual clinics in Aberdeen). Jackson is a pleasure to watch and the bond they have is amazing.

Its a great method to use even if you just use it for one or two specific things - really helps you and your horse interact happily:D
 
Y

Yann

Guest
Those of you who are skilled in this training method, is it possible to use it under saddle? I am struggling with stopping Ziggy when we are out hacking (particularly homeward bound) and am wondering if voice and clicker for "Whoa" might be the way to go. Any thoughts?

It can be very effective for that sort of thing but there is a proviso, if adrenalin has kicked in then it's not going to provide you with brakes there and then. The behaviour needs lots of training in situations where the horse is responding calmly before you have a chance of it making a difference when they aren't quite. That's my (limited) experience anyway.
 

nicolaj

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Mar 8, 2005
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I've tried it with my mare, just over the stable door, getting her to bump her nose on a 'target', which was a plastic plant pot. She picked it up very quickly and seemed to enjoy it. At the time she had very little trust in me or other humans for that matter, and I think CT did help with her attitude towards us.

I would say make sure that you use something like a waist pouch and keep the treats in that, rather than your pockets.

There are some very good books out there, especially those by Alexandra Kurland.

Good luck!
 
Y

Yann

Guest
Had a nice little clicker success tonight :) Tess has always been a little bit reluctant to take the bit when being bridled, but I've been working on it in a small way while we've tacked up over the last few weeks and she put her head down and took the bit herself for the first time.
 

carla7

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May 2, 2007
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I'm new to this method and having so much fun, call me stupid but how on earth do you click and reward on top of your horse on a hack if timing is crucial?
 
Y

Yann

Guest
It's only the timing of the click that's critical, not the treat. It's not actually that difficult to hold the reins and the clicker at the same time, though having one with a wrist loop helps. You could also use a tongue click or cluck, but I'm not very good or consistent at it, which makes a difference.
 

Lemme

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May 22, 2008
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I bought a clicker and attempted it, was me couldn't get hang of it, I replaced it with clicking my toungue for groundwork for in hand showing, one click walk 2 clicks trot then back down again, no more need for voice commands and he can hear what the judge can't , don't mean to say we get it right all the time 'little s***' can be and often is heard, but when he gets it right its good to see.......... have dug clicker out from where I threw it as daughter might give it a try on Welsh A- she may have more luck than me.
 
Y

Yann

Guest
You'd normally use something else as a cue, and then mark the behaviour with the click so they know what you were asking for, rather than making the click the cue :) The idea is that you gradually fade the click out until all you have to give is the cue and you get the behaviour with no clicking or treating required.
 
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