Those of you who know me know that I have long since questioned human constructs in our training. By that I mean I do not think words like “respect” belong at all in our training. Why? Because respect is not a behavior which can be defined or measured.
Instead I prefer to train specific behaviors such as stopping two feet away when the horse approaches me or waiting for a release cue before eating. (I have plenty of diatribes on “respect;” if you’d like me to post links, I can)
There is another human construct that I see creeping into clicker training and it concerns me for the same reasons; it does not provide the horse with clear attainable criteria. With a construct, or human concept, we forget to find a physical offering and we subject the horse to the frustration of finding a criteria that changes with every effort.
That is why I cringe when people start to train their horse for “attitude.” What about “attitude” is measurable? Is it in the ears for one click and then a head lowered for the next? Is it standing still or moving forward quickly? Or worse, sometimes people expect all three at once, never having trained specific behaviors.
As clicker training becomes more prevalent, I’m hoping people will also learn the true power of the method, which to me is CLARITY of communication and training of goals and desired behaviors. When we use the precision of the click, we are using a scalpel to isolate a singular movement. We can be so precise as to mark a muscle twitch.
So please, take a look at how we set up our horses. Click for measurable behaviors and leave the human constructs on the wayside.