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, 1 December 2008

I have to put this on here, Alexandra Kurlands 10th Anniversary message - ten years on from when her book 'Clicker Training For Your Horse' was first published: com/watch? v=IG7DJjIxHYg

It really brought it home to me; how much clicker training and 'The Click That Teaches' has done for me and for my horses, and in less than one year! Roll on the next ten because the sky is the limit now, if I can just get my riding good enough not to hold them back too much!!!


  1. Thanks. Very impressive images!

    Long life to Alexandra. I think she is a genius!

  2. Technical questions!
    Today I worked with Cutter in-hand. I use a Portuguese Cavesson, which is quite tight.
    Do you use a caveson for working in-hand? If yes, how do you treat your horses, my cavesson has to be tight, and won't allow Cutter to eat. How do you manage?

    Cutter did some fantastic shoulder-in in hand for the first time with me. I asked for a couple of steps then halted him and praised him. Would it be the correct sequence? I was not sure if I should stop him. But when You are "clickering" you seem to stop quiet often> Is it right?

    Love your post on the other B. But I thought It would be more relevant to ask teh question on thsi blog. Let me know where I should post questions ...^-^

  3. Hello Muriel,

    Usually I just use a headcollar. I do sometimes use a cavesson but it's an SRS one and doesn't need to be very tight to stay straight. Other than that I use a bridle, or nothing for liberty work.

    The thing with the clicker is that you can mark the absolute best bit, so that you get more of that next time of asking. You're telling the horse that whatever he was doing when he heard the click was spot on - yes, do more of 'that' - so I try to click the very best stride (I usually try to time the click with the greatest activity of the inside hind, for shoulder-in, as that is where my top training priority usually is).

    The stop is the result of hearing the click, so the horse can claim his reward. If you're not clicker training and halt the horse, then praise him, he might think that the praise is for the halt, rather than the shoulder-in. I think that is part of the problem I had with Jack, pre-clicker; he thought that praise and rewards were all tied in with stopping, so that was all he wanted to do.

    That's the problem with conventonal training - praising on the move is not so easy (apart from verbal praise, which may or may not mean much to the horse)and what it's actually for can be less clear cut. That's where clicker training wins out every time, because there's no room for confusion - the horse understands that what you wanted was exactly what he was doing when you clicked him, so his motivation is all for doing more of that.

    Thank you very much about the post. Please feel free to leave questions or comments where ever you want to - it's lovely to have them and to talk to you.

  4. Thanks Helen, very good point about praising after!

    Where did you find a SRS cavesson???

  5. It's from Albion Saddlemakers SRS Kollection. It was horrendously expensive but it is beautiful and fits perfectly. They are made in collaberation with The Spanish School, to the design that they use in the School. I'll give you a link but I don't think I can make it work in 'comments'. Perhaps if you copy and paste it, or Google Albion Saddlemakers and click on the SRS Kollection box on the homepage.

    There are some lovely things in there. You'll recognise the saddlecloth from some of the photos of Bella, and I have the bodybrush, in hand whip and bandages too, thanks to 2 birthdays and 1 christmas!

  6. Beautifull tack. I had an Albion Klaus Balkenhol Bridle for Linda. Beautifully craftmanship.

    This cavesson looks very similar to the one I use??
    Have you got a photo worn by one of your cute ponies ^-^

  7. Hi Helen,

    What a lovely face Jack has and such a kind eye.

    If you feel moved to read the Pure Horse website

    just apply to join the site,[similar to joining this one }

    Thanks for all your help,i really do'nt know if I

    shouldn't have posted it on here as it's not about Dressage.

  8. Thank you very much Janette, and thank you for the link. Dressage is only good horse training. As AK says, "everything is everything else". It's lovely to have your comments and to talk to you. Please do leave them, and wherever you like!



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