This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.

Bella, Grace and Jack

Bella aged 6

Bella aged 6

Treat Delivery

Jack aged 7


Monday, 10 November 2008

I have become a bit obsessed with rein back. Bella and Jack reined back quite well before 'Riding with the Clicker', but it never felt anything like this. There is no tension, no bracing, the softest rein contact imaginable and they never come against my hand. It feels just wonderful.

I have been playing a game with them for the last few days where, once we have warmed up, I ask them to halt and then they have to guess whether I want them to walk forward or rein back, just by the way I am sitting. I have tried to make it as subtle as I can, just the slightest pelvic tilt forwards or back, and the only penalty for guessing wrong is no click and treat, just a rub on the neck for trying and another chance to guess. Jack has guessed wrong twice and Bella once, in perhaps 50 attempts each. If only I was as clever, sensitive and focused as they are there would be nothing we couldn't do!!!

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!