Even when you’re the only one at the barn.
I’ve always been lucky because I’ve managed to find mentors. I also managed to find fellow clicker trainers to share my positive reinforcement journey with. How can you keep your motivation high when you don’t have a friend to discuss your training with? Here’s how you can find like-minded clicker friends, even when you’re the only one!
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Of course the obvious answer is to surround yourself with like-minded horse people. It really helps if you have someone who understands the challenges you’re facing at the moment.
Image that you have someone that can help solve our problems by sharing R+ solutions and approaches with you. Or if you can find someone that helps you become a better trainer.
Most common reason that holds you back from finding fellow clicker trainers
Most people can’t find a mentor/coach or fellow clicker trainer because one of these common reasons.
First one is that their schema is that ‘there are no clicker coaches around here’ or ‘there are no other positive reinforcement trainers’ at my barn. If your conception is: No one else is like me, no one else understands equine clicker training or no one else is interested, then you cannot find anyone! Why is that? What you focus on (your schema/conception) determines what you ‘see’ (or ‘let in’) in your world.
Your beliefs, determine what you see. I used to think Canadian horse people weren’t ready for R+ training. I thought they were not interested. So of course I didn’t meet any people who wanted to learn clicker training. I didn’t meet people who were already using positive reinforcement in their training.
My schema was: It’s hard to find equine clicker trainers here. Until I changed my mind (literally!) and started to focus on finding those people. Can you see that I couldn’t find other clicker trainers when I was convinced they didn’t exist? How much effort do you think I was putting in finding like-minded people? Right! None…
It was only when I changed my schema, things changed. I started to tell myself: They must be out there and I am going to find them, indeed I was right (again!). I did find other equine clicker trainers. Yes, I did put in the effort and I didn’t stop looking until I found the first person. Then the second, and the third. I now have a whole of Canadian clicker trainers in my community!
The second reason is that people tend to stay in their conventional way of thinking. Once they get out of their comfort zone and start to think out of the box, they discover that there are more ways to connect with like-minded horse owners.
Nowadays we have the Internet through which we can connect and feel part of a community. Once you’ve find a fellow clicker trainer you can decide to meet each other in person. It doesn’t matter if someone lives 50 or 100 kilometers away. Once you’ve met in real life, your connection becomes stronger.
You don’t have to meet weekly, but how about you visit here once a month? Then next months she’ll visit your horse or your barn. That way you only travel 6 times a year to her, but you’ll have clicker meetings once a month.
Imagine if you have someone you can discuss training with every four weeks. Can you see how much your motivation could improve? If you know you have someone that keeps you accountable. When you find someone to discuss your challenges with? In between meetings you can decide to call each other or keep in touch over email, WhatsApp or social media.
If someone lives really far from you, you two can decide to meet at a yearly clicker convention or conference. I made friends on conferences and we meet in person every year. It’s so great to know many people, all with their own specific knowledge and experiences. You can pick and chose who you want to discuss a specific topic with. I know R+ vets, vet assistants, coaches, horse owners, donkey and other equine owners/trainers.
Third reason people can’t seem to find like-minded horse people is that they don’t really know what they’re looking for. Once you’ve realized what it is you want and expect, it’s way easier to find your fellow clicker person.
Are you looking for a friend that is interested in clicker training? But you want that person know a little less than you do, so you feel more confident?
You really like to explain training and concepts. You want to find someone that is interested in what you’ve to say about it. Or you want to find someone that can confirm your ideas and way of training. That way you would become more confident in what you’re doing.
Maybe you want to find a fellow training nerd. Then you could endlessly discuss all kind of training concepts. You want to be challenged a bit on your training ideas. The hours of discussion would be something that you would really value and enjoy very much.
Or would you like to find a friend that can help you train your horse. You want to train certain behaviours, like trailer loading. Now you really want someone that understands R+ that can assist you.
You just want to have someone ‘on your side’ at the barn. You feel often the odd one with your targets, mats, treats and cones. Someone that helps restore R-/R+ balance at your barn.
Maybe you have your horses at home and you’re looking for connection. You’re the only one that trains and ride your horses. You wish you had someone to ‘just talk horses’ in a R+ way. Or someone who wants to join you in the pasture observing horses. Doing ‘nothing’ but connect with horses.
It really doesn’t matter what you want. Just know this: The more you know what you want, the easier it is to find. So do a little soul searching to find out what you’re looking for in a fellow clicker trainer. That will really help you find the right person for you. Maybe you would like to have all of the above. Consider finding multiple people to fulfill all your desires.
A less obvious reason some equestriennes can’t find like-mined horse people is fear.
They are really conflicted about finding like-minded people. They want to have a friend, and at the same time they’re worried. What if:
- That person knows more than them?
- They get to know a fellow clicker trainer that would undermine their position at the barn?
- They find a clicker trainer with an unpleasant personality?
- That person would point out that they were doing something wrong (we all sometimes have the fear that we don’t do it right, that we’ve messed up or made mistakes in our training).
Awareness and clarity are key in finding your fellow clicker training friend.
Clarity: Ask yourself what you want
If you can’t seem to find other clicker trainers, ask yourself what your beliefs are about finding them, what kind of friend you would love to find and determine if you have some kind of internal conflicts about finding a fellow clicker trainer. Maybe you just want someone to go to events with, because you find it hard to deal with you see is happening to the horses. You also know that you can find a lot of non-training knowledge at events that you do enjoy and don’t want to miss out on: learning about nutrition, special horse breeds, building barns and special deals.
7 Tips to make online connections personal
Having an online clicker friend doesn’t necessarily give you the same feel as an in-person friend. Here’s how you can add that personal touch to an online friend:
- Watch the same training videos online and discuss them
- Phone each other or do facetime
- Go to the same events and meet
- Share your training videos for feedback and help each other
- Participate in the same online course
- Train the same behaviour so you can support each another
- Send your friend a postcard with snail mail
A community or a clicker friend can really help you motivated. It can help so much if you know you’re not the only one who thinks X, Y or Z can be trained with positive reinforcement.
Having someone that helps you figure out your next step or helps you find the pros and cons of your current approach and helps you improve your training is invaluable. That’s one of the reasons I started a R+ community. I also find it important to share knowledge and experiences. I maybe know 20 ways of training a horse to lift his feet, but other people have different experiences that can help me solve just that specific challenge I’m dealing with.
Like-minded people help you grow
I love the group coaching sessions in the HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy: We are all using positive reinforcement, we all love our horses, we all use positive reinforcement and understand that the more R+ you apply, the better you’ll learn to listen and understand your horse and the better your relationship with your horse will be.
We might not all use the same amount of R+ in our daily interaction and training, but what counts is that we all share an important common belief: positive reinforcement enhances the horse-human connection and if properly used it improves the communication.
What are some topics we talk about in the Academy? Everything! In our last live online group session we answered the following questions & topics:
- How does shedding influence training?
- Do seasonal changes influence training/behaviour. If so how do we handle these?
- How to disconnect the association of the horse between food buckets and the trainer holding them?
- We talked also about resource guarding and what we as trainers can influence that behaviour and possibly can help fade it out.
- What to do when a horse gets overly excited about going to the paddock with grass/pasture and how to prevent high excitement as bucking or even breaking loose and run towards the grass
- In the last half hour or so we talked a lot about how to teach your horse to lift his feet, how can we help the horse understand the order of the feet and making in predictable for them in order to make it easier. We also talked about a lot of ways we can train this behaviour of leg lifting and what strategies we can apply to help the horse when the farrier is actually there. Very interesting!
Related post: Tips to feel more confident in your R+ Training
Join the HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy!
Every month we have one, or more group coaching session for members. They are not only useful for finding solutions to your most pressing training challenges, we do this also to connect and have fun. I find it very important that every member feels valued. Discussing a specific topic together can help people realize that they already know a lot and most often they know more than they think. Reflecting on training and approaches with others can help you feel.
When you want to join us, because you would love to have a like-minded community, find out more here.
Enrollment of the HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy is only open a few times a year! I will always welcome people in need.
Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, BSc
Teaching horse people to connect with their horse in training so they get the relationship and the results they want.