Click on these links to read page 1 of each section.
This course is designed so that you can go through it at your own pace. You don't have to wait for a class to start up. If you hit a stretch of weather that makes it hard to work, you don't have to worry about falling behind the rest of the group. This is your course. You can take all the time you need for each section.
If you should need some individual coaching, I can connect you to some great teachers who can give you that extra support.
These are all people I have known for years. I've seen them develop their own clicker superstars. I've watched them teaching others. I know they are both good trainers and, just as important, good teachers of people.
Some of you may be working with particularly challenging horses. You may need additional coaching support as you go through the course. I strongly recommend that you make use of the coaches. They are here to help you succeed.
Frequently Asked Questions: How do you register for a coaching session? Email me at email@example.com and I will help you to connect to a coach who can help you on-line.
Mary with her thoroughbred Newby: Liberty Lunging on the beach.
Jen Digate http://www.wildcanine.com and http://spellboundhorses.com
Jen Digate is a certified pet dog trainer who believes animal training should be accessible, positive and clear. She trains dogs professionally, specializing in aggressive dogs. In addition to her family of horses, she has a houseful of dogs - fourteen at last count. Jen is a student of learning theory, and classical dressage, but she has not lost her connection to horse magic. For the past three or four years she has opened her home to the clicker clinics. The clinics are always a wonderful blend of good science, storybook horse connections and laughter.
My name is Jen Digate. I have been teaching humans and animals together, both as a dog behavior consultant and horse clicker trainer, for over 13 years. I still wake up eager for the day to begin. I live on a farm with 8 horses, 15 house dogs, 2 parrots, 3 cats and a human partner, Sara. My animals are my family and I believe they should be trained in ways that enhance our bond. Clicker training embodies ethical, creative, and modern training to me. I first began my serious study with Alexandra when I was having trouble starting my young, enormous Friesian cross, Dragon, under saddle. You can read his whole story here: http://spellboundhorses.com/dragon/ Once I had Dragon going well and training sessions felt lighthearted and collaborative, I decided I wanted more horses!
I have two main passions: behavior work and classical dressage. I have adopted three mustangs: one partially tamed but mishandled and terrified, two wild caught and blank slates, naive. I adore the awareness required to read a mustang’s body language in the moment, and make good training decisions in real time. All my taming is done using the clicker and positive reinforcement. No drag lines, no round pens and no roping. The horse is free with the choice to leave and it is up to me to teach them in a way that makes them want to stay. With my mustangs who have been handled by no one else but me, the trainer I am is reflected plainly. Any mistakes are mine. What they do well, I taught them. I adore teaching them and seeing them move from fearful wild horses to educated, tame horses who love to work under saddle. They love to be ridden because they love learning with the clicker.
I study classical dressage because to me achieving such balance and subtlety of communication is the closest you can become to being a horse. Centaur-work. Real transformation. Through TCTT, I understand more about balance than I ever did before. My horses are now very body aware and as a 5 foot woman, it’s lovely to have huge horses who want to move beautifully to earn a click than have to push them around with my tiny frame! My other great joy is helping people teach their horses to be safe, happy and engaged. I love to come in and help folks who are struggling with horses who are afraid of fly spray or don’t stand still or don’t feel safe to lead. I love seeing the horse and human learn their foundation work together and gain confidence in one another. I can feel the emotional tone change from stress and anxiety to relaxation and it’s addicting! I write a blog, called: Spellbound @ www.spellboundhorses.com
I chronicle my horses and client’s horses clicker work there, complete with video.
I am very excited to be a coach and a part of this community of modern, animal friendly trainers.
Sue Bennett Sue has a barn full of gaited horses - all beautifully clicker trained. Sue has organized clinics for me at her home in Indiana, and she runs the Heartland Clicker Group. Sue is a fabulous teacher. She brings not only great clicker skills to the mix, but also a depth of knowledge in nutrition and foot care. If you are puzzling your way through a challenging situation where it is clear health issues are part of the training puzzle, Sue is a great resource.
You will be meeting Sue in Unit 10: Rope Handling. She was my assistant in explaining the clicker-compatible rope handling skills you'll be learning about in that Unit.
Here's how Sue describes her horse background:
Sue having a play with Panda during a visit to my barn.
Katie will be well known to many of you who are regular readers of the Click That Teaches email discussion group. Her web site, equineclickertraining.com, contains a wealth of information in her training articles.
Katie has been a regular attendee of the Groton NY clicker clinics for over ten years. I watched her develop first her thoroughbred, Willy, and then her Dutch warmblood, Rosie into clicker superstars. Katie has five children and seven horses. She does some private teaching but most of her time has been devoted to her family and her own horses. She's a creative trainer as these pictures suggest. Her main riding interest is in dressage.
You'll meet Monty and her wonderful Andalusian, Icaro, in Unit 1. You'll also meet two of her many ponies, Snowy and Flash. Snowy was originally purchased for her daughter. Monty's ponies always make me smile. Monty's passion is classical dressage. When her daughter outgrew the ponies for showing, instead of selling them, Monty went right on training them.
Monty brings over forty years experience breeding, training and showing horses, including many years spent breeding and training Tennessee Walkers.
Kate does not have a web site, but she does have super horses. Her first clicker star, Lucky, is featured in Unit 1. Kate and Lin Sweeney have been organizing the Groton NY clicker clinics for over twelve years. I've watched Kate develop several generations of horses and clicker students. A lecturer in economics at the New York State University at Cortland, Kate brings a tremendous background in teaching and the use of on-line instruction to clicker training.
Note: Kate has a very heavy teaching load at Cortland this year and she is not currently available for coaching.
Monty and her Andalusian, Icaro
Monty with Snowy, a pony who always makes me smile!
Charlotte Eaton Harmer
Charlotte is based in the UK. She came to clicker training via natural horsemanship. Her quarter horse, Hylo, has had many balance and health issues which clicker training has helped to resolve. Her own health issues forced her to retire from the corporate world. She now trains dogs professionally as well as coaching riders in clicker basics.
I'm Charlotte Harmer and I'm based in Surrey, England. I have 2 dogs and 2 horses, one of whom has probably had the most to do with taking me through more emotions than I ever knew I had. Hylo is an QH who is an ex-Parelli horse from the US - he was my dream horse who arrived, sad and sorry, into my life one October evening at 11.30pm. My supposedly dream horse just, well, wasn't. He had 2 years off whilst I worked with my other horse, as he was so stiff and unhappy.
I had picked up a clicker with my first horse, Tig, who I got as a supposedly rising 5 appaloosa mare; perhaps rising 4 barely broken might have been a better description!!! Being unable to either put on or take off a bridle without taking it apart, I somehow found Alex's first book and taught her to target the bit. Problem solved, I went down a natural horsemanship route. The clicker gathered dust in the drawer until a few years later. Watching Tig hoon around on the end of a lunge line completely out of balance I realised the clicker might just be able to help me. Indeed it did; she was a complete natural and clicker junkie - we had a lot of fun playing with it until sadly she had to be retired very young owing to operations on her face and arthritis.
Into the forefront, therefore, came Hylo, and I tried to use the clicker with him. Nope, he said, the treats are all good but no, I'm not that keen. Frustrated, I continued with a better natural horsemanship trainer who at least understood balance, but I just hated the feeling of Hylo's lack of interest and desire to play with me. A friend suggested that I give clicker training another go with him. I took him to a clinic with Alex. That was the year the clinics were focused on microshaping, and it was the year our relationship changed forever. Its not been easy. Hylo has been a veritable smorgasbord of physical issues as well as poisoned cues, but I don't think I'd change it for the amazing learning he has given me.
My other horse is actually Hilary Cross's Lottie - the Highland pony who is featured in the Lesson 10: Microshaping DVD and also on some of the others because she's just so pretty!!! She is a challenge in that really she'd rather stand still, so quite typical of many of the native ponies in the UK.
My passion has to be getting a horse rehabbed, balanced and understanding his or her body. My horses live at a very traditional barn and riding school, so I understand the trepidation and worry about being 'the odd one out'!
In my 'real life' I am now a dog trainer, having been at various points a management consultant, programme manager and service manager in the hospital. I am also undertaking canine clicker trainer, Kay Laurence's 2 year dog training course. My business name is Cleverclix and you can find me at:
Cindy organized the Monterey CA clinics until she relocated to Arkansas. Cindy brings an interesting background to clicker training. The equine sport of choice for both Cindy and her husband is fox hunting. She is a professional dog trainer with years of experience managing the hunt kennels with over forty resident dogs. One of her horses is a head shaker, a medical condition in which a horse shakes its head uncontrollably. To work with him Cindy has truly had to learn how to tease behavior apart into miniscule steps. Cindy is a regular contributor to the Click That Teaches discussion group. She is well respected for her clear, easy to follow and very practical advice. Years of working with fox hunters, horses that work hard at a job, has given her a tremendous background to bring into clicker training.
My name is Cindy Martin. I first learned about clicker training from an Equus magazine article, probably in 1999. I purchased "Clicker Training for Your Horse" and was inspired. I have never liked the confrontational aspect of working with horses. "Make him do it! Show her who's boss!" Sometimes I failed completely when trying that approach, and sometimes, the horse or I got hurt. It never felt good.
I dabbled a bit with targeting and used clicker training periodically for husbandry and troubleshooting "problem areas," but I found it difficult to apply clicker training more broadly until Alex released her DVD series. In 2006, I attended a clinic at the Magic Center and was impressed by the participants and horses; finally I could see how to use clicker training without just layering it over traditional horsemanship. It was a whole, new perspective on teaching horses.
A grey Thoroughbred gelding named Porter taught me to fully EMBRACE clicker training. We had a terrible relationship; he was spooky, reactive, and worrisome to ride. "Get rid of that horse!" I was told.
But he was the foal of my first horse, and WHO WOULD WANT HIM THAT WAY?? For sentimental and welfare reasons, we went back to square one and are working our way forward with the clicker. Our progress is glacial, but we do make progress. He is a willing participant in our sessions and is calmer, more focused and safer than before.
My riding background: I fell off a horse when I was five years old, suffered a concussion, and was forbidden to be near horses. That ban lasted until I was eleven years old. Then I became a "barn rat," at a hunter/jumper stable near Seattle, WA , grooming and saddling lesson horses, and riding anything made available to me.
University kept me from horses; I stumbled back into riding via the sport of foxhunting, which fulfilled my love of horses, dogs, nature and non-competitive riding, but I've always been a Dressage Queen at
heart. The notion of working "in harmony" with a horse, of riding a horse in a physically beneficial way, has always appealed to me.
In February 2013, my husband and I relocated from California to northwest Arkansas. We have 72 acres, and have built a 72 X 144-foot covered (but not fully enclosed) arena. We will host clinics, offer clicker training lessons and enjoy riding, whatever the weather.
My non-horse background is varied. I studied Geography and Russian language at University. A year as an exchange student in Finland taught me many valuable lessons about communication and people. I
worked as a bookkeeper at my husband's business for 16 years, served as Master of Foxhounds for our hunt club for 9 years, and worked a number of clerical and administrative jobs after my husband retired.
Most influential was time spent with an autism specialist, learning about the concepts of emotional regulation, social communication and transactional support for individuals who do not view the world they way most humans do. I also worked two years at a small animal veterinary clinic, providing behavior coaching services for the clients. In March 2012, partnered by our 10 year old English Bull Terrier, Scarlett, I completed the Karen Pryor Academy professional dog trainer program, earning the title of CTP or Certified Training Partner.
Jane Jackson will be well know to many for the posts she writes on The Click That Teaches list and for her very wonderful Bookends Farm blog. She is a KPA graduate (Karen Pryor Academy) and a Level Two TagTeach instructror. Here's how Jane describes her background with horses:
A very lucky girl born into a horsey family, I always had my own pony. Many happy memories from childhood are times spent with ponies and horses- grooming them, taking care of them and just spending time in the barn with them. Improving the lives of the horses and people by teaching them how to safely and happily be around each other is my goal.
I was fortunate to be able to try different equestrian sports and training methods, coming to love eventing best. But I believe it all comes back to the relationship with the horse, regardless of the style of riding. The basic skills of horsemanship, equitation and communication are the same for all of us. I have taught people of all ages as well as those who ride western, and those who aren’t interested in competing. As an instructor for the United States Pony Club, I love to share Positive Reinforcement methods with upcoming generations.
I first held a clicker 13 years ago when I took a puppy to obedience classes. I chose the class after reading about Clicker Training on the Clickryder yahoo group. Having had horses all my life and been through the traditional routes, it was a long and bumpy transition into being a clicker trainer (as opposed to training with a clicker). In addition to trying different sports, I worked at a race stable, a breeding farm, for an Olympic eventer, a vet, etc. I "knew" horses needed to be disciplined, "could not get away with bad behaviors", and "needed to know who was boss". I had a lot to shed and I sympathize with others who are on this journey.
I have had three homebred foals, and with the first, decided that the foals would be clicker trained- no more crossover. Well it was a nice idea but I still had much to learn so the first was a guinea pig in helping me learn just what it takes to do everything with a clicker. The next foal was easier- I had learned from the first.
In 2007, we bred my daughter's TB event mare to a German Riding Pony. In July of 2008, Perseus, aka Percy, Percy Pants, my little red pirate, etc, was born. Originally a sale prospect, I fell for him hard and decided early on he was MINE. Oh, what a learning opportunity he has been. His mummy is "hot", but I thought with clicker training I could turn this smart, athletic and sensitive creature into a quiet little riding horse. He keeps me on my toes, reminding me that this isn’t a formulaic, one-size fits all approach. Observation of the individual we start with is key.
Percy ADORES Alex. We recently moved to a new farm the weekend of the annual Vermont Alex clinic. On that trip, he got on the trailer but instead of going to the clinic, we came to the new farm. I swear he spent the first week looking for that fun lady in the hat and was sorely disappointed when she never showed.
Alex also introduced me to TAGteach. I loved it and over time became a Level 2 TAGteacher (and am the moderator for the TAGteach yahoo group...join us!). I use it with everyone from adults to Pony Club kids to friends and family. It is as informative as Clicker Training.
I'm looking forward to being part of this coaching team.
Amanda Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://www.smaarthorses.co.uk
Amanda and her horse Brody are featured in many of the videos you'll be watching in this course, so you'll have an opportunity to "meet" Amanda. Amanda knows how to teach good balance and cadence. She engages the horse both physically and emotionally, creating a willing and enthusiastic partnership.
Here's how she describes her background and her work with horses:
My background is definitely not horsey, I’m the only one in my family who is horsey. When I was 3, I had my first encounter with a horse and that was me smitten. I spent as much time as I could around horses and riding and then went off to university where I studied first Physiology (and bits n bobs of a few other sciences) and then did a postgrad degree in Forensic Science. Then when I was working in the pharmaceutical industry doing medical/drug research I came back to horses and finally bought my own horse; Classic.
Classic was a young colt whom I was intending to keep entire and breed from. What I was desperate to avoid was Classic becoming that stallion who was kept out of reach, came with warning labels and you heard coming before you saw him. In looking for a ‘training programme’ to help me teach him how to be the quiet, calm stallion who could live in a herd and in a stable in the general community in a barn, I came across Alexandra. It just made sense, her philosophy made sense to me. Thanks to finding that work I definitely had the horse that I wanted, and I would never have had the confidence to do all that I did with Classic if it had not been for Alex creating her books and DVDs.
I then went on to study equine behaviour and continue to keep my learning going with regular attendance at Clicker Expo and other +R and learning theory seminars that are happening. I’m also CAP 2 certified (level 2 clicker training for dogs) with Kay Laurence.
A few years after I got Classic, I bought Brody. Brody is featured in many of the videos in the course. Brody's background is not what a young horse's life should have been. I know as a foal he was taken to Appleby horse fair. Appleby Fair is a massive gypsy gathering in England where the traveling community from all over the EU gather to do business, catch up with family, and find wives/husbands. There is a huge amount of horse dealing (as well as other wheeling and dealing) that goes on at it.
Brody was a 5-6 mo old foal when he was taken to Appleby Fair with his dam. He was sold at the fair. I can only assume that that was how he was weaned. He was taken to Scotland with his new owner who kept him in a field out of sight of all other horses except an ancient mare who hated every horse who came near her. So poor Brody missed out on an awful lot of learning about being a horse. In that 6 mo period he was trained using a natural horsemanship approach. When I got him at about 11-12 mo old, he was in a state of learned helplessness. I clicker trained him from day one. As you'll see in the course videos, he loves clicker training. He’s definitely my ‘over-achiever’ and can get a little enthusiastic at times. He is such a sweet horse to work with and has taught me an enormous amount as well.
I’ve been out teaching Alex’s work for a few years now. I use quite a few ways to teach; I have my own short online course that is designed just to get people started, I do video and email consults and I teach lessons and group clinics. All work well depending on what people want from me and where they are based geographically. Having all those options means I have something to suit everyone’s style of learning.
Mary Concannon is a Horse Sport Ireland coach and a Click-that-Teaches instructor. Mary came to horses later in life. Like many others she was looking for a way of working with horses that recognized their intelligence and sensitivity and that was fun for all. She spent several years working with Natural Horsemanship methods until she met her match in a young thoroughbred with a huge buck. That sent her searching for more answers and she turned to Clicker Training for a solution. She has not looked back.
Mary brings 30 years of experience as a teacher and lecturer at the University level to the clicker training world. She has a Ph.D. in Microbiology, so she very much understands and appreciates the science behind Clicker Training.
Kate in her "other job" as a University instructor.
Those are our coaches. Now for the questions:
If you would like some individual coaching, email me at email@example.com. I can help you to connect to one of the coaches for some on-line help.
1.) Make a short - five minute maximum - video of a training session. Even if you don't have a video camera, most digital photo cameras can take short video clips. The video doesn't have to be fancy, but a picture is worth a thousand words. You want your coach to be able to comment on a training session.
2.) You can send your video to your coahc using wetransfer.com. It is a free service. Or you can upload your video to youtube or vimeo.
3.) If you use youtube once your video is uploaded, set the privacy settings to unlisted. This means only the people you give the link to can watch the video.
4.) Choose a coach you'd like to work with from the list. With so many great coaches to choose from this is going to be hard, but here are some things to consider:
If there's a coach near you, that's the best choice. You don't have to worry about time zones, and there's a possibility of arranging for some direct face-to-face lessons. If you're an early riser on the east coast of the US, you might want to pick one of our European coaches. Their schedules may fit better with yours.
If you have gaited horses, you might want to pick Debra Olson Daniels, Monty Gwynne, or Sue Bennett. They all have experience with gaited horses. If you have a stallion, Amanda Martin or Marla Foreman would be a good choice. If learning theory is your interest, Michaela Hempen would be a great fit. Those are just a few suggestions. As you read through the bios, you'll find the person who seems like a great fit. No matter who you pick, or for what reason you'll be getting a great coach.
5.) Arrange for your coaching session. Email Alexandra Kurland at firstname.lastname@example.org. I suggest you send the name of the coach you'd most like to work with, plus two back ups just in case your preferred coach already has a full schedule. I'll contact the coach you've selected to ask if they have time in their schedule for a coaching session. If they do, I'll connect you via email.
6.) You can then contact your coach and set up a session. All payments for these sessions will go directly to the coach. Once I have made the connection, I am no longer involved in the process. This is something you set up on your own. So you can arrange for whatever coaching sessions you feel you need.
Make use of the coaches
Once you've completed your session, you will have begun a dialog. Your coach has met you and your horse. I strongly recommend that you keep the conversation going. It's fun to share clicker success stories. And it's also good to have someone monitoring your progress.
You and your coach can arrange additional sessions that fit your individual needs and your budget. You can decide on a format that fits your learning style. That can mean email exchanges, skype calls, additional video coaching, or even, if distance allows, some direct one-on-one lessons.
The coaches are all independent instructors. They are all free to arrange with you whatever additional coaching you feel you need. The coaching fees vary depending upon the services provided and the time each session takes. The cost of living varies from one location to another so not all coaches charge the same hourly rate. You can ask your coach about the on-line services, workshops and lessons she provides.
7.) If you wish to consult with more than one coach, you can arrange for an additional introductory video/skype session.
8.) Enjoy your coaching session.
Note: The coaches I have listed here are all people I have come to know through the clinic process. I've seen their work, and I know them to be good trainers and teachers. But they do not work for me. Each one is an independent instructor. Fees for those coaching sessions are set by the individual coach and can vary from one person to the next.
Marla has been a long-time attendee at the Toutle Washington clinics. Marla wears a lot of "hats". She's a vet, and she also a professional trainer and riding instructor. Her primary interest is in eventing. When she pulls in at the start of the clicker clinics, I never know what current training project she's going to be bringing along with her. Her primary training project is her anglo-Arab, Beauty, but she has also brought thoroughbreds, warmbloods, mustangs, paints, and arabs. Marla enjoys a challenge so these are always horses that stretch us both to learn more about clicker training.
Marla Foreman and her Anglo-Arab, Beauty competing cross country.
Michaela is based in Europe. She attended clicker clinics in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Italy. Her interest is in Classical Dressage and she currently has her young Andalusian in training with Anja Beran.
Michaela brings a scientist's perspective to clicker training, as well as that of first time horse owner trying to find good training solutions for her horse. Like so many people Michaela came to clicker training because of a horse she was struggling with. Here is how she tells the story:
I’m Michaela. I am German, currently living and working in Italy. I am addicted to horses since I can remember. As a young girl I rode other people’s horses and treated them as if they were my own. Because of my love for animals, I went on to study veterinary medicine in Berlin. For my PhD, I spent six wonderful years in West Africa. Coming back to Europe, I moved to Italy and finally bought my first horse. With very little knowledge of Italian, I searched and found my beautiful Arabian cross Asfaloth, 10 years at that time. After a year of getting to know each other, I started taking lessons in Classical Dressage. During one of those lessons, it was a very cold evening in February 2010, my instructor asked me to push my horse beyond his limits. He bucked, which he normally doesn’t. After the 3rd one I fell off, landed on the frozen ground and broke my scapula.
This was actually a good thing, because it gave me time to start with Clicker Training. I had already started reading Alexandra’s books and was intrigued by the science behind it. Since I could not ride for a month, I had the ideal opportunity to get started. Both of us immediately loved it and have never stopped since then. With Clicker Training I was able to develop a fantastic relationship with my horse in a rather short time. Asfaloth changed from being a very nervous, fidgety, sometimes aggressive horse into a calm, sincere and very eager partner. When I got him he could not stand still for grooming and would sometimes bite when I was around his head. Now, he stands not only calm, but actively offers trained behaviours during the grooming as a warm up for riding. He now enjoys being petted on his head and being groomed.
In 2012, I bought a young Spanish mare named Graya. I got her directly from the field as a two year old. My plan for her is to train her in Classical Dressage using Clicker Training. I am very lucky that a very renowned German Classical Dressage Trainer, Anja Beran, accepted to assist me training Graya. In 2013, Graya was at Anja Beran’s Gut Rosenhof for three months, where she was started under saddle.
I am so excited about being part of this course and look forward to the experience.
Miriam Barattoni Miriam is part of our international coaching teach. She has attended clinics in Ireland, England, and Italy. Based in Italy she has been teaching clicker training for several years. When I gave a clinic in Italy, she served as my translator which gave me an interesting perspective on her understanding of the work. She was truly finishing my sentences for me. And I got to see the excellent training she's done with her personal horse, a very difficult thoroughbred who came into clicker training with many physical and emotional issues.
Here's how Miriam describes her journey into clicker training.
I'm Miriam from Italy. I've been clicker training horses from 1999 or 2001. (Though some of the training I did with my family cat in my childhood and teen years would really look quite positive reinforcement ). I came to clicker training for horses because it was "natural/obvious" for me, I stumbled on it in the internet, tried it with the mare I was riding at the time and I have stuck with it ever since. I was very lucky. I had a few years of experience with clicker training working with easy horses before stumbling on my first really "difficult" horse, Schitan. (I think I have a diary somewhere on the internet about those years).
Schitan was quite the teacher, challenging all I knew about training at that time and making me search for solutions and new things to teach and made me meet with: Alex's books and videos, classical dressage both Karl and Portuguese versions, learning how to actually ride and how to correct my seat, body awareness, saddle fitting, stretching for horses and a lot of other stuff (anything from the most esoteric to the most scientific you could find on the web at that time). He forced me to learn and improve my English, French, Spanish, old Italian. He wanted me to learn Russian at some point but I vetoed it (google translation was not really working well at that time).
More or less in those same years (2003 or 2004 I think) I started with a website for clicker training in Italian. Italian people started writing or asking me to go and visit them. That went very well, with friendships that continue up to now.
I attended my first Alex course in Ireland late in my clicker life (probably 4-5 years ago?) , I was quite unsure that my english knowledge would be enough to understand what was said (and in fact the first couple of years were quite a challenge). Teaching is a great learning experience, and I really enjoy doing it, both with kids at their first lesson and with experienced riders that want to learn.
I was quite lucky, I started with an old school "caprilli natural method" teacher when I was a teenager. During the last ten years, I have been: a groom, a (unprofessional) barefoot trimmer, a horse massage student, a trail ride guide, working for loads of different stables: endurance (both competition and breeding), show jumping, vaulting, horseball, modern
dressage, and also carriage horses. Mostly I've been a horse riding instructor. Now I teach exclusively through clicker training.
My normal working life which I alternate with my horse working life consists mostly in IT jobs: programming, and websites building.
Ann Edie (email@example.com
Ann is the co-owner of Thinking Horses LLC, the barn that my horses call home. Ann and I have been friends for almost twenty years. We met when she came to the lesson barn where my horses were then living. Ann has had a front row seat to the evolution of clicker training. Her senior horse, Magnat, was one of our early clicker superstars. Her two Icelandics grace the cover of the Step-By-Step book. And then there's Panda, the miniature horse I trained to be her guide. Panda has been Ann's guide horse for over ten years now.
All of this has given Ann a unique perspective on clicker training. She has watched the evolution of clicker training and she knows the joy that it brings to equine partnerships.
Ann and Panda: A great working team!
The Clicker Center
Here's How Katie describes her clicker training background.
I started clicker training in November of 1999 when I read Alex’s first book and went out and tried to see if it would work with my horses. Yes, it did!
I was particularly interested in trying it with my young horse (Rosie) who was very aggressive towards people, including me. For the first few years I spent a lot of time using clicker training to build a relationship with her that was based on understanding and accepting each other.
I worked on my own for about a year and then attended a clicker clinic with her in Groton, NY which was hosted by Kate Graham. I’ve been going to clinics and working on improving my own skills since then. For the first few years I took Willy, my black TB gelding, to the clinics. He is featured in the Step-by-Step book. After that I starting bringing Rosie and she is on the Lesson 18: Loopy Training DVD.
In 2003 I started my website www.equinclickertraining.com which I have been adding to ever since. A few years ago I added a facebook page where I post odds and ends about clicker training (what I am doing, events I have attended, books I have read, etc…). It’s been a nice way to stay connected with other clicker trainers and contribute a bit toward spreading the word and educating people about clicker training.
I grew up in Carlisle/Concord Massachusetts in a non-horsey family. I started riding when I was about 6 and when I was 9 my parents asked if I would like to continue taking riding lessons or get a pony. Ah….tough choice…. I have had horses and been riding ever since. Over the years I have done some local hunter/jumper shows, low-level eventing, and dressage. We moved to our current farm in 1995 and started acquiring more horses. We currently have 8, all clicker trained. A few of them are ones I started from babies and trained to be riding horses.
For the last few years I have been focusing on dressage with Rosie: trying to figure out how to take a clicker trained horse and ride her in lessons with non-clicker trainers. I have also learned a lot about barefoot trimming and am working on getting certified as a Masterson Method practitioner. I do a little bit of local teaching and on-line coaching.
I am looking forward to working with this people through this course. I am still amazed at how horses can be transformed physically and mentally by this work and am happy that I get to participate in this wonderful project.
I'm Sue Bennett. I live in West Central Indiana with horses, hounds and husband.
I came to having horses of my own later in life under the dubious cover of convincing my husband John that our two children really should have riding lessons. Their interest lasted about six months. The horses however, were here to stay. We have four gaited horses in various stages of training -- Shadow, Becca, Kalli & Cutter. When I bought our first horse, Becca, I used natural horsemanship methods with her, but never really felt very good inside about it.
It wasn't until I brought Shadow home and learned what it must feel like to ride a camel that I found Alexandra's work while researching online. The first thing that drew me to her work was the promise of balance in body and carriage. I knew that Shadow was very hollow backed and high headed, and that those characteristics were going to be detrimental to long term soundness. The man who sold him to me tried really hard to make him into a racking horse with a tom thumb bit and a great deal of rein pressure. The result of that was a very hard lateral pace that was bone jarring to ride.
So I bought Alex's books and tapes and watched, read and played with the "kids". Then I drove 12 hours to my first Alex clinic in Groton, NY to see if I was anywhere close to having it right. Since then we have hosted Heartland clinics in St. Louis, here in Indiana and in Columbus OH, forming a core group that was closely modeled after the group in Groton. Whereever I go to a clicker event I've found that the people who are drawn to clicker training have wonderful hearts, open minds and a eagerness to learn and share. And in the process of my learning curve, Shadow has developed a lovely walk which has been the foundation for all other gaits and a quiet elegance that takes my breath away. Over the course of the years, one of my favorite images is one of three horses standing at the fence, ears forward, watching and waiting for their turn to play while the fourth is working with me. Not only have we fixed the camel in our family, but we have thrown open the door to honest communication and participatory learning.
My journey with horses has also lead me to barefoot trimming (because Shadow had separation issues my farrier didn't know how to address), equine nutrition (because Becca is insulin resistant) and Masterson integrated equine bodywork (just because it's really neat stuff). My day job is in agriculture.
I am so excited about this course and the opportunity to work with people around the globe to continue turning the equine world to positive reinforcement training.
I always love hearing Mary tell the story of her journey into clicker training:
I came to horses later in life, despite longing for and pleading to have a pony as a child. We got our first ‘family’ pony when I was almost 40. That was Misty who has been an amazing asset to our family for the last almost 18 years. We got her as a 2 year old and with the bliss of almost total ignorance, I started her with a traditional training book in one hand and a lunge whip in the other. She was a wonderful pony for our family but as the kids went through pony club and to other competitions, I began to see a lot of practices that I didn't like. I started to ride a bit myself and spent a lot of time looking for a way of working with horses that recognized their intelligence and sensitivity, and that was fun for all. I subsequently spent several years working with natural horsemanship methods through various ponies that we owned/loaned. When my troops outgrew Misty, it became my turn to take over and we competed in dressage, show-jumping and eventing.
Enter Newbie bought as an almost starving 3yo living on a cold hill ostensibly for my eldest daughter (the following month she was given a 4yo ready to-go by a friend and Newbie became mine). He was wretched with rainscald and protruding bones but we couldn’t leave him. The dealer assured us that nothing had been done with him, despite the fact that he was a thoroughbred (with no papers….should have raised suspicions)! We paid our money and as we loaded him in the trailer, the dealer said he was ‘a bit ansty when you tightened the girth!’ ….so much for untouched!
Long story short we did fine when I worked with him (many months later) until we got to the dreaded girth whereupon he bucked violently for close to an hour without me being able to get near him. I tried a variety of gear around the girth area over the next few days and everything produced the same reaction Eventually he had lost all trust and I couldn’t get near him at all, so went online to look for a possible solution and found clicker training….We haven’t looked back since!
I have been going to clinics with Alex, initially in the UK and laterally in Ireland and the UK for 8 years now and love the clicker training approach and Alex’s particular blend of balance work and improvement of the horses’ spine.
Horse Sport Ireland is the Irish certification body for coaching and I have done that qualification.
My non-horse qualifications are in the Science area from a certificate to PhD and I have over 30 years’ experience as a researcher/teacher/lecturer. This background allows me to appreciate the science behind Clicker Training and the learning theory it enshrines.
For the past few years I have been teaching some clicker training and trying to promote it in Ireland. My website is www.irishclickercentre.com
I’m very excited to be part of this team of coaches.
I grew up with horses on a ranch in New Mexico. In college, my roommate and her family rode English and so I learned to ride English and fell in love with jumping and dressage. I started eventing when I graduated from veterinary school. In 1997 I bought an AngloArab mare named Beauty as a training project. (Beauty is in the Lesson 12: Riding on a Triangle DVD, in the just for fun section at the end.) She was very nervous and quick, and I did some clicker training with her after I read Don't Shoot the Dog. I also played around with clicker training with other horses and my dog.
In 2001 I got an Irish Sport Horse gelding, Dublin, who was the exact opposite of Beauty – he did not want to put any energy into work although at times he could put a LOT of energy into play. I think it was in April of 2003, I first went to Alex's clinic at Toutle, WA. I was very impressed and brought Dublin to the next clinic. I made it to all of the Toutle clinics from then on with a variety of horses.
When Beauty injured her tendon, she got to start going to the clinics because the caretakers at home did not want to be responsible keeping my high-energy horse safe during her daily hand walks. The focused and organized clicker training with Alex helped me take Beauty from a very nervous horse who was in constant motion to successfully competing in Intermediate eventing. In her retirement from active competition she has become a great school horse for my better students to work on their position and aids.
For the past 19 years I have just worked with horses. I have had a part-time equine veterinary practice, taught students and trained horses. Competitively, I concentrated on eventing, but also tried endurance, cow working, dressage, jumping, trail riding (lots), liberty work and whatever else showed up. Beauty got to do all of those things (her favorites were the cross-country jumping and working cows). Last year Beauty injured her leg and is mostly retired from riding although she is still working every day to teach people what can be done with clicker training as she plays with everyone who enters the arena.
I now ride my 6 year old 3/4 TB mare that I bought as an unstarted (but not unspoiled) 3 year old and a 10 year old TB gelding that I was given 4 years ago and have been working to rehabilitate his mind and body. Currently I have taken a training position where I am getting lots of experience with stallions.
I am also a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor, an ICP Level II (eventing) instructor and a level 1 TAG teacher.
I started riding once a week when I was six. I was born and raised in Banff, Alberta Canada. As a reward for good behaviour I got to go for an hour trail ride at the local stable. I got my first horse when I was 10, a grade mare with just a few issues..lol but she was a great teacher. In Banff we could only have horses there in the summer and there were no instructors so I read everything I could get my hands on and tried it all..guess I started my "tool box" at an early age! I was always trying to find a better way to do things even back then.
I was not from a horsey family and everyone said it was just a passing fancy..well several decades later it is still my passion.
I have a BSc in Agric and a BEd. I taught junior high for several years and trained horses at the same time. After getting married and starting a family I stayed home and trained full time for other people. I showed a lot, and did well. I have shown and trained many different breeds in just about every event out there. I was even fortunate enough to be coach for team QH and also teem TWH at Spruce Meadow's Battle of the Breeds.
I have always managed to 'produce' quiet safe horses who enjoyed their work but after discovering clicker training I couldn't believe the difference..ponies running to me to be first to get played with! and happily volunteering very difficult behaviors.
I have quite the collection of ponies here, most left over from my daughters and several rescue ones too including a mule. Our farm in Cochrane Alberta ( near Calgary) sells hay and I have a few select boarders who almost all are clicker trainers.
I have been helping get clicker training out there with articles for a magazine called Saddle Up. I've been writing for them for three years. Recently was asked by Horse Canada Magazine to write for them as well. My web site is www.theponyfairy.com for anyone wanting to check out the articles ( and to find out why I am the pony fairy).
Alex's balance work and her great knowledge of the classical inhand work has allowed me to go places I only ever dreamed of and get there in a way I love and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
I can't remember exactly how I learned of Alex having a clinic up here but I do remember it was nasty nasty freezing rain and snow and a long drive to get there but for some reason I wanted to go so braved it. (Perhaps it was issues I was having with my body. I knew I had to find a softer way to train). I saw some things that intrigued me enough for me to sign up for the next clinic..this was 14 or 15 years ago.
High school dressage has always been my love but the keys to get there had eluded me and I was not about to train them the way I had seen them trained. I've gone to every clinic I could and eventually the clinics were held at my farm. My first clicker 'experiment' was Snowy my daughter's shut down minimalist pony (as her pony club coach called her..she would only do as much as needed). There were some errors in judgment on my part about what to teach first in those days ( so to all out there - Spanish walk is probably not a good early behavior!) But clicker turned a minimalist into a pony who will readily offer her version of passage next to anyone walking through her paddock ( well not everyone..my guys seems to know when to turn off the interactions when 'normal' folks who would not appreciate this go through..quite funny to watch actually!). For my 20th wedding anniversary I was given Icaro, my lovely Icky as he is know..a PRE from Spain who is the love of my life. He came with a lot of Spanish baggage but has come a long way. Both Snowy and Icky are featured on the Lesson 17: Hip-Shoulder-Shoulder DVD, and they are both part of this course.
Listening with Dragon, a Friesian/standardbred cross.
Beautiful Dragon in aware self-carriage
Jane Jackson with Percy and her canine clicker family.
I started with horses at the age of 6 riding every Sunday at a local trail riding stable. By age 10, I was leading trail rides as a guide for the same stable. I received my very first horse on my 11th birthday, a beautiful sorrel 6 month old colt name Harley. This made for a lovely story, however what a bad idea. I was a pre-teen itching to ride and didn’t have the skill or patience of starting a colt, nor did I want to wait 2 years. After a major growth spurt on my end, I made the hard decision to trade my small now 2 yr old colt in for a 4 year old Appaloosa named Nacho.
Natalie has spent the last 20 years working in animal welfare agencies. The most recent 15 years have been at the Wisconsin Humane Society located in Milwaukee WI directing the behavior department and serving as a pilot and research shelter for life saving programs. As a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine- CBCC-KA and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- CPDT-KA, she understands the science behind clicker training and brings years of teaching experience to this work. Natalie came to clicker training looking to improve an already successful all around show horse. What she found and continues to help build is an entirely new life and community where we value horses and the lessons they share with us.
Nacho and I tackled the trails, game patterns and the show ring for an amazing 13yrs together until he was diagnosed with ringbone and was no longer able to carry a rider. I was able to give him a wonderful retirement and he stayed with me until the end; buried on our farm in 2013, he was 30 years old. Nacho and I followed “traditional methods” of negative reinforcement, although I did not have a clear understanding of criteria or training for that matter.
When I purchased my 2nd horse shortly after Nacho was diagnosed in 2000, I wanted to do everything right. I wanted to show hunt seat and western pleasure, I wanted to go to local and Appaloosa breed shows.
I loved the idea of clicker training with horses right from the start. I struggled with clicking and treating my dogs yet lead shank popping my horses. It just didn’t sit well, but I wasn’t sure what to do.
That’s when I stumbled across Alex’s initial video series. I started using the clicker in 2001 with my 2 yr old Appaloosa colt Scout. I used the clicker initially for husbandry work and then piggy backed it on to round penning and finally riding.
We continued on this path of piggy backing the clicker onto our natural horsemanship training for 9 years and had a closet full of ribbons, trophies, hi points, various awards and offers to purchase.
During our 4 year winning run Scout started to have hock soreness, suspensory tear and started “acting out” in the ring. He had numerous hock injections and I enlisted the help of a professional western pleasure and reining trainer to help tune him up. Initially it seemed to help like most positive punishment does and then it slowly fell apart.
I went to my first Alexandra clinic in 2010 looking for ways to teach my horse western pleasure in a clicker paradigm. I love Scout and as a fully crossed over positive reinforcement dog trainer by now, I knew it was possible to teach anything. I wanted to see the same sparkle in Scout’s eye that my dogs have.
I came away from that first clinic with so much more than just clicker training. For the first time, I understood what a healthy balance for the horse looks like.
Previously I had thought “why are those horses’ heads always up in the air, they look so strange. Get their heads down or you will never win”. After the clinic, that was it; I was done in the competition world. I could no longer reinforce behaviors that were literally breaking down my horse. While I was talented enough to teach the behaviors: the slow on the fore hand jog, the crooked sideways 4 beat lope and the nose chest level no matter what; I no longer wanted to teach what was winning in the show ring and ruin my horse physically and emotionally.
He tried to tell me early on with the tail swishing, mouthing me before a 360 showmanship spin, taking the wrong lead when “he knows how to do it” I had thought. I had not yet learned to listen and frankly I was not quite ready to hear what he had to say.
In spring of 2011 we started over unpoisoning cues, with no goal, agenda or trophy waiting in the background. It was the hardest and best choice I could have made. I also purchased a 3rd horse in December of 2010, Harrison. Together the three of us started our journey for balance, choice for the horses and we never looked back.
I am looking forward to sharing this work and helping others begin their own journey.