Training in Balance

Here's the scenario: You're a first-time clicker trainer who is discovering how SMART your horse is. When your friends ask their horses to back up, the horses look as though they are prying their feet out of cement. But after just a session or two, your brilliant horse is backing up twenty feet to the back of his paddock—all for just a click and a treat. You can hardly wait to show your friends!

You invite them over for a trail ride, but first head out to the barn to show them what you've taught your horse with the clicker. You're sure they will love it! Your horse obliges by backing up as soon as he sees you. Your friends start out impressed, until you try to saddle the horse. He's backing up every time you look at him—oh, no! Have you ruined your horse with all this clicker training? That's what your friends are saying as they smugly saddle their horses and leave you behind, still trying to get the saddle on.

Don't worry. You haven't broken your horse or ruined his training. You have simply let one behavior get out of balance with all the rest. For every behavior you teach, there is an opposite behavior you must teach to keep things in balance.

This talk looks at how that training mantra can be used not only to solve this problem, but also to bring all the behaviors you’ve taught your animal into balance. Whether you're working with a horse, a dog, or some other species, the concepts covered will apply.

Alexandra Kurland

Alexandra Kurland began her instructional career as a dressage rider and teacher and as an accredited TTouch Practitioner. In 1998 she launched the rapidly growing field of clicker training for horses with the publication of her first book, Clicker Training for Your Horse. Alexandra teaches clicker training geared to any horse need or sport—including developing a gentle and companionable riding horse, halter training foals, training advanced performance horses, and reforming difficult and unmanageable horses. She travels widely, giving clicker training seminars in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. Several years ago, Alexandra trained a miniature horse, Panda, to serve as the guide animal for a blind owner.

A graduate of Cornell University, Alexandra has written The Click That Teaches: A Step–By–Step Guide in Pictures and has also produced The Click That Teaches DVD lesson series and is presently at work on new books and videos.