Protective Contact (PC) is when you’re working with a barrier between you and your horse: a stall door, a paddock gate or the arena fence of the outdoor arena.
Your horse or you don’t have to be new at clicker training to benefit from this very useful and powerful technique! Even advanced trainers and clicker horses can improve theirs skills with PC.
Benefits for your horse
- Trust. They know you’re behind a fence and can’t reach them. They can simply step backward or slightly raise their head and they feel safe and in control.
- Being in control of their environment (that includes the trainer!) gives the animal power. Which is very reinforcing!
- They can use subtle body language. The more they feel heard, the more subtle body language they’ll use. The more communication there is, the better you’ll understand each other. Your relationship will greatly benefit from this. <3
Benefits for you
- You can pay full attention to your horse’s body language and communication: is he (even slightly) moving his head away or just out of reach? That can tell you a lot about his feelings in that moment!
- It will keep you and your horse safe!
- You can test your training skills: are you teaching (training) your horse to choose and move towards what you want (target, halter) or are you still doing it for him (he keeps his head still, or you move the target to the horse instead of the other way around)
- Get clarity: did you really train what you thought you trained
Try this simple test
Halter your horse over a barrier (protective contact) and pay attention to what happens.
Is he: 1) moving towards the halter and puts his nose in? 2) Keeps his head still and let you halter him? 3) Does moves his head ever so slightly away from the halter (or steps out of reach)?
No worries if he does the latter: this is just feedback and it gives you a great chance to increase the relationship with your horse!
Here is how protective contact will strengthen the bond with your horse
This is a very simplified Shaping Plan to get a self haltering horse:
- Start click and treat him for moving towards the halter
- Click and treat for putting his nose in the nose band
- Reinforce lowering his head
- C/t for keeping his head down while you close the halter.
- Repeat until you have a self haltering horse
Giving your horse control over the situation and listen to what he has to say will help enhance the relationship you have! He’ll be grateful that you listened! Here is is what that can look like. watch Punky’s results in only 11 Training Days:
Want more clicker tips? Let me know! Here is our Facebook group. Today Karen answered my poll “What’s a Clicker Training Tip that you’ve wished you’d learned sooner or would like to learn about?” She gave me the idea for this post! Thanks, Karen!
Happy Horse training!