The only way you know if your training is effective is if the animal repeats the behavior.
OK, I know this sounds so basic that it could be disregarded, but take a second look at how you train. I know many people who think they’re clicker training, but they don’t know how to get the most out of this important training concept.
When starting a NEW behavior, the purpose of shaping is to mark small amounts of behavior offered by the horse. The FOLLOW UP is to see if the horse immediately repeats the behavior! So good shaping means you click, watch for the same behavior and click again. If it doesn’t repeat, don’t raise the criteria. In fact, you want to get several quick repetitions before you raise the criteria. That’s how you can build a strong behavior; the repetition inherent in the learning process makes it strong.
I’ve seen people click for something, then decide they like something else the next step, click for that, then change again two steps later. I’m sure the horse enjoys the treats, but that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s being trained to do, especially if it’s a behavior in training.
That’s like saying 2 + 2 = 4, then 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 3. The animal never knows the right answer because we change the rules of the game before they’ve learned what we want.
So when you train your horse a new behavior, learn to watch for what the horse is repeating, because THAT is what you’re really training.