Pitfalls in Clicker Training Your Horse (Solution to common Pitfall #3)



The 3rd common pitfall is when people focus too much on outcome. What happens is that you forget to include steps that your horse needs, in order to understand what you want.

A second problem can occur when horse owners have a goal and directly aim at the outcome, or worse: what the outcome suppose to look like. They know what they want, and have a vision what it looks like. Without realizing it, they try desperate to go from 1 to 100 in one go. The pitfall is that they forget paying attention to the journey to their goal.

They forget about the steps, that are leading to their goal.

How to tell you’ve fallen into this pitfall?

You know you’ve fallen into this pitfall when reaching your goal seems

  1. Unreachable (frustration has kicked in), or
  2. Isn’t as satisfying as you thought it would be (and that’s hard to admit. Even to yourself)
  3. You feel something is missing. You’ve got the Results, but missing the Relationship with your Horse in the process


When we forget about guiding our horse to our goal step-by-step, we are ‘lumping’ instead of ‘splitting’ behaviour.

  • Find someone to help you split the behaviour. Just talking it over with someone will help you get a fresh view on your training
  • Watch your goal behaviour on video (find a YouTube video of the behaviour)
  • Watch the behaviour in slow motion (YouTube settings “playback speed” will help you)
  • Find an experienced R+ trainer. Splitting behaviour is something really important in positive reinforcement training and therefor I recommend finding someone who has done this before successfully.

Example: Training Movement with Positive Reinforcement

Imagine you have an overweight horse and your vet recommends: ‘No more treats!’ and ‘Exercise/Lunging’. That happened to me when Kyra got EMS when she turned 8 years old.

I wanted to lose weight, but I refused to do that with coercion (which would feel like punishment to her after 7 years of R+). So I had to find ways to motivate my overweight horse to move.

I had to start where Kyra was at: about zero. She could (barely) walk, she was so sore in her feet. Yet, she had to! So I used positive reinforcement and I paid close attention to her feedback: fast or slow, hard surface (road) or soft (arena) etc.

I went for a 30 minute hand walk, but at first we would only get to the corner of the road. She stopped so often… I waited it out and clicked for all ‘forward movement’. It didn’t take long before our 30 minute walk was actually 27 minutes of movement! We took it from there and here is the result. When you want to know more, contact me: I have a course about this.

Just starting where your horse is at, is the most important in clicker training. Then take your horse by the hand and guide him gently through the steps towards your goal. The better you do this, the quicker your horse learns.

Need help clicker training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy
HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters


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