Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Here She Comes!

It's the little things that just make my day. I needed to get Siete from the pasture so I could rinse her off and put some aloe on her belly. She was off in the far corner eating grass. I clicked once with the clicker and called her name. Bang, zoom! Here comes my little horse flying across the field.

I can't get over how handy this little clicker is. I use it for any kind of training issue that might cause resistance. What's most amazing is that after we do something with it for a few times, the behavior sticks, and I don't need the clicker or a treat anymore to get the response that I'm after.

How often can you say that you truly love a training tool-- especially one that costs less than five dollars!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like a handy tool to have, it's good that she comes on command. It is the little things that make our lives easier and happier.

Pony Girl said...

Victoria, where did you get the clicker?

the7msn said...

Early on in my clicker training with Alan, you suggested I get a real clicker, and I did. It definitely made a difference. Thanks again for the tip, and for leading us down the clicker-training path. The farrier is coming this weekend and we're ready! Who would have thought?

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, my friends - You can get a clicker at most pet stores. They're very popular with dog trainers. There's something about the sound that is more distinct than if you just use your tongue to click. When I want to teach something new to Siete, I break all the actions down into a series of very small steps and use very small rewards, like little pieces of cut up carrots.

billie said...

It's wonderful you're having such success with the clicker!

smellshorsey said...

They use clickers to train the alligators at the zoo and other animals. Amazing!

I bought one but lost it. Your post may inspire me to do a search and rescue.

Esther Garvi said...

I have got to get a clicker myself - I'm sure Sahara (who is such a vocal horse) would love it!

AnnL said...

I just need to stick my nose in here and point out that the clicker is supposed to be a marker for the desired. When done correctly, the clicker indicates to the animal that what it is doing right at the time of the click is good and is going to get her a reward.

Now, in this case, it may not be such a bad thing. She was just eating grass when you clicked. But, think about it from the animal's point of view. Next time you come to get her, she's going to think "Hmmm, last time Mom came to get me, she told me I was good to be eating grass in that far corner." So, when she sees you comming, she might head off to that far corner to eat grass and see if that gets her another treat. If you click again to get her to come, she'll really think that this is the right thing. Before you know it, you could have a horse who runs every time she sees you coming. Not exactly what you want. :-)

A better thing to do would be to wait until you see her give you some attention--perhaps just an ear turned in your direction. Click that. Click that ear the next few times you go to get her. Then, up the ante and wait for her to turn her whole head in you direction, etc.

This is a very common mistake, especially in dogs. The power of the clicker is that it, first, helps the HUMAN understand how animals learn. That breaking things down into teeny, tiny little steps is the best way for them to understand what it is you want. Second, it helps communicate to the animal at the exact instant that they're doing a desired behavior that this is what you want and that they're going to get a reward for it.

I highly recommend Karen's Pryor's books. 'Lads Before The Wind' and 'Don't Shoot the Dog'. Karen is the person who developed the clicker training, originally for dolphin training. The book really goes into the psychology behind the click and really helps you to understand how animals learn and think.

Have fun with it. I've never done clicker with my horse, but my dogs love it. They get so excited when they see me take out the clicker! They think of training as a fun game, which is the way it should be. :-)


Simply Marvelous said...

Ok, that's it ... I'm out to get a clicker. Have seen amazing things with clicker training. There is a clicker trainer in Santa Barbara that does shows and clinics. Just amazing.

Now, about that photograph ... what a treat to see all that wonderful green and those magnificent trees!