Sunday, February 17, 2008
Click! She Got it
Siete’s bored. I’m sick. We’ve got at least six to eight week before there’s decent weather here. Click! I tried something new with my little horse. Today, we began “Clicker Training”.
Clicker training is a technology based on a behavioral science known as operative conditioning. It has been used successfully for many years to train dolphins, whales, zoo animals, and last but far from least, dogs and horses. You use a little noisemaker that clicks to indicate behavior that is reinforced while it is occurring, followed by a reward.
In our first lesson, I held a plastic lid from a feed supplement jar and motioned to Siete to touch it with her nose. She did, so I clicked and gave her a bit of carrot. I lowered the lid and motioned for her to touch it again. She did, I clicked, and she got another carrot bit. Then, she tried to stick her nose in my pocket for more carrot. I didn’t let her and instead lowered the lid. She touched it with her nose before I even motioned. Click, you got it, little horse, so here’s another piece of carrot. The goal of the lesson was to reach the point where the lid was on the ground, and she would touch it with her nose. No problem. She got it. Click and treat. Good job, Siete.
I’m following the lessons outlined in Alexandra Kurland’s book, “Clicker Training for Horses”. It’s enjoyable reading, and I really like her point of view. She’s not a “my way or the highway” type of person. Kurland wants you to try incorporating the clicker into your current training program. “Training is a creative process in which flexibility and creativity are the keys to success.” She says, “ Horses tell us what they need to learn. It’s up to us to notice and give them the lessons they are asking for.”
Siete has been practically begging for something to do. We’re going to see if we can have some fun with this and some groundwork exercises until the weather cooperates. Last night, I felt so down and miserable. I remembered that misery breeds from a loss of perspective. Siete and I opened our world to something new today. It only took about fifteen minutes, but it gave us a bigger view of what we could achieve.