Would you like to know about the most common mistake clicker trainers make using positive reinforcement to teach their horse to move? It can be a challenge to exercise your horse with clicker training. It’s because it’s so different from traditional/NH training. Here are some pitfalls most people fall into.
Pitfall #1 Mindset
They think and approach training in their mind (still) in a negative reinforcement way. They think that moving, getting their horse in shape means starting with 30-60 minutes exercising or 20 minutes lunging. That’s traditional thinking and that doesn’t lead to results when using a different training method (R+/positive reinforcement, aka clicker training).
They try to get their horse to move for 20 minutes at liberty or use a reverse round pen. They struggle, they get disappointed and feel like a failure because their horse doesn’t want to exercise that long (yet!). They might get one or even 2 laps, but when they had 20 minutes or 20 laps as goal, so they feel they failed. Their horse stops, expects a treat and if they ask too much their horse walks away or ‘tunes out’.
The reason is that we simply cannot succeed with R+ in an R- setup and R- mindset!
What do traditional trainers do when their horse doesn’t want to go forward? They use their stick, a whip, their rope or another threat or aversive and make the horse go, until they decide it’s good enough!
What if their horse doesn’t want to go to the arena? They make their horse go!
What do we-clicker trainers do? We ask! We don’t force! That’s what makes it very different!
When we get a “NO thank you” from our horses, we need to be creative and show the horse it’s worth it, we have to make it very interesting and rewarding for them to say YES. Since most of us have a traditional background (even when it’s ages ago) we don’t know HOW to do this! That’s exactly what I help my clients with.
Change your training setup, your training plan, and your mindset to R+ first, so you actually can succeed!
Most of all, you need to change your expectations: When a horse doesn’t want to move (because exercising is aversive and hard for your horse) traditional trainers don’t teach, they force or threaten! That makes it easy to get immediate results. In clicker training we have toteach our horses to move first, so they start to like it before they will do it. A step that is often overlooked.
That’s the biggest difference in mindset!
Be honest with yourself
Ask yourself this: Have you been expecting ‘traditional results’? E.g. a horse trotting around the reverse round pen for many laps or for about 10-15 minutes? Is that realistic to expect in clicker training? Or do you now realize you were you lumping (making the steps too big, or had too high expectations?)
Change your expectation to more realistic ones for R+ and focus on teaching your horse what you want. That doesn’t have to take long, but it will take a wee bit more time at first than just waiving or using a whip (remember that doesn’t even work on all horses! 😉 ).
I will share more pitfalls in the next blog! Stay tuned (make sure you get updates on my blog).
Join my September Program!
In my brand new September program I teach how you can use positive reinforcement to get your horse to move and get him in shape.
It’s aimed at overweight horses, since their owners struggle the most. Exercise is aversive when it’s (physically) hard and I teach you can help your horse overcome that.
In this program I give participants a training program, help them tailor it to their situation and share R+ training techniques to teach your horse to move so you can get him into shape with 100% clicker training! How does that sound?
If this is what you need, then book a short (free) Zoom call with me. I’m interviewing people right now so I can tailor the content of this program exactly to your needs.
I’m only offering this to a small group so everyone can count on individual coaching in our group. We start Sunday September 12 with coaching over Zoom and then I will coach you for two more weeks online.
The 14-day program includes:
- Live class on Zoom
- Facebook support group
- Feedback on your training videos
- Tailored advice
You can >>book your call by clicking here.<< If timing doesn’t work, let me know and we’ll figure out a time.
Happy horse training!