Clicker Foundations

The SEVEN PILLARS OF EXCELLENCE are built on a foundation of clicker basics.
Everyone who teaches should have a solid understanding of these basics:


Clicker training is a method of positive reinforcement based upon behavioural science. Behavioural experts studied how animals learn, and quite simply found that if an animal found something rewarding, then they would WANT to do it again.

It was first introduced to marine mammals, which if unwilling to learn, could simply swim away.
A sound was conditioned to mark a correct response or action, and when reinforced with food, motivated the creature to want to learn.


As clicker training is a direct form of communication, it eliminates confusion and frustration for the horse, makes learning easier, and gives faster results.

It gives the horse a WAGE, [the click] which in turn creates motivation.

The need to increase pressure for a desired result is reduced, or even eliminated from the training regime. By allowing us to break down the end result, we teach the alphabet, so that we can then teach words and sentences, thus making learning as easy as ABC. 

Clicker Roots:

For getting started with clicker training: "Don't Shoot the
Dog", "Lads Before the Wind" by Karen Pryor,  "Clicker Training For
Your Horse" by Alexandra Kurland, and The Click That Teaches - Step by Step by Alexandra Kurland

  • How do you get started with the clicker?
  • The Principles of Training.
  • Setting goals: Chunking down a lesson plan into small steps.

The shift in teaching:                                                                              Focus on what you want your horse to do, not the
unwanted behavior.

Safety first:                                                                                          Pay attention to food delivery, mugging, and emotional control.

The clicker training "baby steps"
Get Behavior: Shaping:

The Three Foundation Lessons of a Clicker Trained Horse:
Targeting, Head Lowering, Pressure and Release of Pressure.

Going beyond targeting to create emotional control and
polite manners.

  • Stabilizing behavior: Stimulus Control.
  • Developing excellence: training by priority.
  • Developing both duration and quality.
  • Variable Reinforcement Schedules and Beyond.

The Pre-Ride Checklist for Safety: What every horse should know before you get on, add speed or distractions.