A Bit of Clicker Training History
Clicker training is a training method that uses positive reinforcement (operant conditioning or trial and error learning) to encourage the animal to perform behaviours that you want. In other words, it is rewards based training.
Body Aware Horses
This simple teaching concept begins to develop a horse who is not just wonderfully responsive, it develops a horse who is body aware. The overall result is enhanced physical and emotional balance (a must have for a spooky or anxious horse).
The use of positive reinforcement as the most ethical way to train animals was initially defined by B. F. Skinner in the early 1900´s. He defined the way that animals learn in terms of reinforcers (which encourage desired behaviours) and punishers and he also stated that the most ethical ways to train were using the reinforcers.
Many trainers went on to adopt this method of training due to its efficiency and its ability to produce very reliable and accurate behaviours in response to a cue (or instruction).
A famous couple who were behaviourists and trainers, the Breland-Baileys, trained with B. F. Skinner and, among many other significant achievements in life, were commissioned by the US Government to clicker train bomber pigeons in WWII.
Bob Bailey continues to share his knowledge with trainers and is famous for his chicken training (training schools where the animals being trained are chickens). They move so quickly you learn good timing skills very quickly !
All of the animals that you see at Sea World, The Shedd Aquarium, etc are trained using positive reinforcement (clicker training) and more and more professional animal trainers are turning to Clicker Training, a faster, more effective, force free training method that is fun for both the trainer and the trainee.
The reason it is called clicker training is because we use a small plastic box with a metal strip in it which, when pressed, makes a clicking noise. This click marks the moment that you want to reward, or you want to say ´yes´ to (it is called a bridging stimulus). For the dolphin and whales that we see in the aquariums, a whistle is used as this is audible for the animals, but it is the same training method.
Clicker training has become so popular with professional trainers and pet owners alike that an international training conference (continue professional development course) called ClickerExpo is held each year in the USA.
If you would like to learn more about clicker training with your horse using positive reinforcement and rewards based training, contact The S.M.A.A.R.T. Horse Company.
For updates and articles about horse clicker training, visit our blog – S.M.A.A.R.T. Horses Blog