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

‘Riding with the Clicker’.

‘The Click that Teaches – Riding with the Clicker’ is a complete training programme for horse and rider, from the ground and from the saddle, which Alexandra Kurland has developed, incorporating ideas from many sources, including Bettina Drummond, John Lyons, Sally Swift, Mary Wanless and James Shaw.

I feel mean writing what I am about to, because I have already got so much from this programme, but if this is to be a completely honest account of my journey then I have to say it. When my ‘Riding with the Clicker’ book arrived I immediately flicked through it looking at the pictures (as you do) and I was a little concerned. I have a very clear idea of how my perfect horse looks, and most of the pictures in the book weren’t quite it. There were elements of my perfect horse in all of them – horses working in a totally relaxed, tension free manner, willing and enthusiastic partners in harmony with their riders, trying their hearts out, and many of them had been problem horses, but the overall pictures weren’t quite my ideal overall picture. Could I still use the programme to try to train my horses to look and perform like my perfect ideal?

Alexandra Kurland emphasises the need to train by priorities, to have a very clear idea of what your own ideal horse looks like and train accordingly. If the pictures in the book weren’t quite my ideal, then that just meant that their perfect picture wasn’t the same as my perfect picture, and their priorities differed slightly from mine. What you click you get more of, so of course I could use the method to work to achieve my own ideals, just by clicking for slightly different things.

Alexandra Kurland also says that if you can dream it then you can clicker train it, so, on the basis that everything else she has said is working well for me, I confidently predict that this is how Bella and Jack will look and perform in the not too distant future (well, if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big!):

Now if I can just find someone who can clicker train me to ride like Anja Beran........

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