Key Lesson Targeting is a wonderful and versatile tool to teach lots of other behaviours

Start using Targeting as a Training Tool

In my Zoom class this morning for the course Clicker Training Mastery I explained how clicker trainers can use the 6 Key Lessons, the keys to success in clicker training, to get maximum results in their training. Targeting is one of those tools that most people don’t use enough. In this blog I give you examples how to start using Targeting as a Training Tool, so you can become more effective in training, give your horse more clarity and get results faster.


At first these simple (read: not-complex behaviours) are your goals, but when you master them, that’s where the FUN part happens!

To me it’s magic because training these basic behaviour that make a great foundation, they really come in handy to teach other behaviours! Yes, you can use the Key Lessons for Horses as Training Tool.

Key Lesson Targeting is one of the basics in HippoLogic Horse training

For example, once your horse masters nose targeting, you can use the targeting as a way to explain gaits. Ask your horse to follow a moving target and click and reinforce “movement” instead of touching the target. That’s an example how you can use targeting more effectively. Targeting becomes your Training Tool to teach behaviours like walk on, trot and even canter.

In this video you can see how Key Lesson Mat training become my training tool to teach “Whoa” and “Walk on” . Because of the context (rain and wind!) I get a bonus: trot.

Aren’t mats a way better training tool than whips or training sticks? Click with your horse in training.

Use targeting two times more effectively

Wait, there’s more! Once you’ve trained all Key Lessons and used them to teach other behaviours, your horse masters them well enough to use those Key Lessons as Strategies in your training. I teach all horses all 6 Key Lessons, before I teach anything else. I found that every horse and every situation can benefit from mastering these 6 basic behaviours first. Once you have laid the foundation with the Key Lessons, you can start using them as training tools and teach your horse more complex behaviours, using the Key Lessons, like targeting.

In this video I show 20 behaviours you can train with Key Lesson Targeting. These are just the top of the iceberg. Targeting is such a great training tool to explain your horse what you want.

When you horse learn these Key Lessons, he doesn’t only learn that specific behaviour (Manners, Patience, Targeting, Mat training, Head lowering and Backing), he also learns tons of other things! Every time you click they get reinforced for using their ‘Table Manners’ (safe behaviour around food and treats), they learn what a click means and how they can influence the click (and the frequency of treats) and they also learn to offer behaviours and think with you!

20 behaviours using Key Lesson Targeting

Read more about HippoLogic’s Key Lessons (incl step-by-step training plans)

  1. “Table Manners” for Horses
  2. “Patience”
  3. Targeting
  4. Mat training
  5. Head lowering
  6. Backing

Key Lessons for Trainers

I also developed 6 Key Lessons for Trainers and just like the ones for horses they are first your goals. New habits to help you get insight in your training and to get a compass that leads to your goal.

No goal is too big! Dare to dream big. ~ HippoLogic

Just like the Key Lessons for Horses, they start out as goals, then they become valuable training tools and eventually you can use them as strategies to help you excel in training! Learn more about them in the Clicker training Mastery (starts in September), my 8-week online course. This course helps you to implement your knowledge into your daily training and riding, makes you a better trainer and helps you avoid pitfalls most clicker trainers fall into.

How have you used targeting to teach behaviours?

Let me know in the comments if you’ve been using targeting to train other behaviours and inspire the readers.

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Sandra Poppema BSc and her horse Kyra. Sandra tamed and trained this wild horse in 3 weeks with clicker training

Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I make training a win-win.

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