What makes some equine clicker trainers more successful than others?

Do you think that some horses are better suitable to learn with positive reinforcement than others? I know there are people out there that say ‘Clicker training doesn’t work for my horse’ or they say they’ve tried it but it didn’t work out. It caused all kinds of problems, so that’s why they’re back to square one.

Key Question

mugging is easily solved with hippologic clicker training

Have you ever asked yourself what the difference is between people who create ‘cookie monster horses’ (muggers) and people who turn their cookie monsters and muggers into well behaved horses?

Are there one or more things that successful clicker trainers do differently?

What do you think makes one clicker trainer successful and another makes things worse when they train with treats? Do you think successful clicker trainers have something in common? If so, what do you think that is? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Smart people ask themselves these questions so that they can avoid falling into those pitfalls.

Common reasons positive reinforcement horse training fails

All living horses seek pleasure and avoid pain. Positive reinforcement is using something pleasurable (appetitive!) to strengthen a behaviour. The horse wants to receive the appetitive and wants work for it. So therefor I don’t think it’s the horse when clicker training doesn’t lead to desired results. Although in real cases of learned helplessness using positive reinforcement to teach new behaviours can be really challenging or maybe even impossible.


The most common reason people don’t get desirable results with clicker training is that they don’t understand the principles of learning and motivation well enough.

Or, they don’t apply these principles in their training. That’s Key Lesson number 1 for Trainers in the HippoLogic Horse training method: understanding what motivates the learner and how we -trainers- can use that information to make training a win-win.

Most common mistakes I see in equine clicker training are:

  • The reinforcer has not (enough) value
  • There is no clarity in the training so horse and trainer get easily frustrated and confused
  • Timing is off and other than the desired behaviour is reinforced

What do you think?

Most horses don't value verbal praise and therefor it doesn't work in training
What do you think?

I would love to hear from you about this topic! So please share what do you think is the difference between people who are successfully applying positive reinforcement and who doesn’t?

Can you give examples? Why do you think people turn horses into ‘cookie monsters’ with clicker training and what do you think we-as R+ community- can do to help others?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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