When you tell people that you clicker train your horse you get (well meant) ‘advice’ not to do it. What makes me sad is that most often that advice is coming from people that:
1) Haven’t tried it and have zero experience in what the process is like.
They base their opinion on what they think would happen to them. Keep that in mind next time you hear a warning about positive reinforcement horse training. If it’s a warning, it’s based on fear or wanting to protect you (because they are fearing something bad will happen). The opposite is also true: if people are enthusiastic about it, it’s because they get amazing results and they would love to see you experience the same!
2) Have tried it and base their opinion on their experience. If you keep that in mind, you know how well that went… Just like when people want you to try it: it’s also based on their experience.
What have people told you about clicker training your horse?
I asked on my Facebook page. This is what people said they were told:
- It doesn’t work with a particular breed, age, etc
- You’re making a beggar out of your horse
- Your horse only likes you because you have treats
- He’ll only do what you want so long as you have treats
- I’m bribing my pony and teaching him to bite
- Causes them to bite
- It’s using bribery to get respect
- Than horses will work only if we have food and they’ll become very dangerous
What have you heard about clicker training your horse? Share it in the comments below and ask yourself what the other person’s experiences are and what they fear.
How to handle critique?
Then there’s people who have no problem pointing out what’s wrong with your training, or worse, with your horse. It feels like an attack if you know you’re in the middle of a process or maybe even at the beginning and what they see is not the goal. It’s just a stepping stone.
We all go through that, no matter how well of a trainer you are: the start, middle and end of a training process all look different. So if someone base his or her opinion on what they see, it might not be on what you get at the end. You can explain that what they see now is not the end goal.
Another way is to hear people out. The secret of people is that they all want to talk about themselves. If someone is voicing their opinion about your way of training, simply ask “How would you do it?” That’s it. Let them talk…. You’ll be amazed what you’ll hear. It’s fun.
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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
Helping horse people to bond with their horse and get the results they want.