I chose not to use the term ‘clicker training’ deliberately, since this implies a method or rigid way of doing things. I first began using a clicker in horse training in 1999, at a time that few people had even heard of it, and even fewer were applying it to horses. I began training others to do the same shortly after, and ran my first ‘Introduction to the Clicker’ in 2004.
Over the last twenty years, this approach has grown in popularity, and unfortunately with that come lots of problems, most of which arise through a lack of understanding of how the clicker really works. At the end of the day, it’s just a tool, and can only be applied well if the trainer has a good grasp of learning, motivation, emotion and behaviour. Good training is good training, no matter what tools the trainer utilises.
I like to teach what I call good Horse Sense. This involves helping horse people understand how learning really works in the context of how the horse feels, and through that, the skilled application of the Clicker.
Correctly used, the idea of using a clicker, or any other kind of marker signal, can enhance training, leading to happier, safer, more engaged horses.
I utilise this a lot with my clients, helping them to see how it can be integrated into the training they currently do, without them having to make huge changes.