I find myself falling into two different types of training mindsets, and these are interchangeable. In one style of training session I will go out to the horse with a goal and I will gear my training plan for it. So if I’m going to train a horse to pick up a bucket, I break the behavior into small steps and shape each step, maybe starting with targeting the bucket, then touching the lips to the bucket, then putting the open mouth on it, etc. until I have the completed behavior.
There are other times though, when I go out to the horse and have a completely different agenda. I might start out with a goal, but usually I can look at what the horse is giving me and I shape and train a behavior out of what he’s giving me in the moment. One might liken this technique to Karen Pryor’s “101 things to do with a box.”
It’s worth noting that if I go to train and have an agenda in mind, I’m just as willing to set that aside, especially if I think the horse is starting to offer something I can really use or shape for a different activity.
I’m sure people have their own training style, but I think it’s kind of fun to mull it over, analyze what we do and see if we need to make any changes and just examine our own routine as clicker trainers.