Yes you read that right “My Horse acted like a Robot”! In 1995 I got involved with PNH (Parelli) and I worked with him for 5 years using only the Natural Horsemanship methods which is what some call negative reinforcement. I understood it to be pressure and release.
A few months ago I started working with him using Clicker training and what I found is that he had no clue how to think on his own and offer behaviors as he was waiting for me to tell him what to do which was very sad to me. Using Clicker training has been an eye-opener for me as I see now, that he was only doing the things I asked because in my opinion from his past experience it was out of “If I don’t do it I will get whacked.” It took him a couple of days before he offered the disengagement of his hind quarters on his own and also the backing. I love it now that he is offering on his own the disengagement of his hind quarters and the backing. Now that he is doing very well on these things I’ve added the cue back in which has made a huge difference to him and I see that reflected in his eyes.
Now let me say that I am NOT a pure clicker trainer because I believe that the combination of Clicker and Natural Horsemanship is a great combination of training/teaching tools. There has to be pressure used when training as this is something that occurs naturally when horses are together without humans. Horses use pressure with each other by doing such things as kicking, biting, striking and even the dirty looks or pinning of the ears so if we as humans leave the pressure out we are doing an injustice to our horses.
In closing I will say this “I want my horse to think of the task on his own because I believe that when he does the thought goes from his brain to his feet and it is then hard wired which makes all the difference in the world. I’ve used clicker training now on several horses a mule and a donkey and it is the same with all of them.
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Copyright © 2011 Kim Wende – All rights reserved