Clicker Training Video

The new video tape, The Click That Teaches, by Alexandra Kurland is now available.

UPDATE: There are now 4 videos available!

Alexandra is author of the book, Clicker Training for Your Horse. The following is a note from Alex on the most recent video, #4:

As many of you already know, Lesson 4 in "The Click That Teaches" video lesson series is now available. I finished it the end of June, but then got swept off into the next project, so this is the first opportunity I've had to announce it formally.

"Lesson 4: Stimulus Control: Putting Behavior on Cue" covers a critically important phase of clicker training. Especially for those of you who are still in the early stages of learning how to use the clicker, this tape will clarify the overall process and round out your understanding of clicker training.

Clicker training can be divided into two overlapping phases. In the first phase you get behavior to happen. You teach your horse to touch targets, to lower his head, to back up, etc.. In this phase you aren't that concerned with putting these behaviors on cue. You are more interested in establishing the basic concept of the clicker: desired behavior leads to a click leads to a treat. Cues will be evolving out of the shaping process, but you aren't yet placing much emphasis on extinguishing off-cue presentations of these behaviors.

This phase is a lot of fun. Your horse gets to show you what a smart, eager learner he is. As soon as he sees you, he'll be going through his repertoire of behaviors trying to find something that gets you to play the "clicker game". Depending upon your horse, this phase can be most enchanting, but it can also feel totally out of control. That's when you really need the second phase of clicker training. In this phase the focus shifts from creating new behaviors to bringing established behaviors under stimulus control. When a behavior is under complete stimulus control, you get the behavior promptly every time you ask for it, but ONLY when you ask for it. In the absence of your cue, your horse doesn't give you the behavior.

Stimulus control stabilizes behavior. It is the key to creating safe, respectful horses.

Lesson 4 contains some very special treats. It begins with Robin giving us a demonstration of stimulus control at liberty. I love the opening sequence where he shows off the beautiful carriage that he's developed out of "the pose". With Robin I go through the basics of stimulus control: what are cues, how do you teach them, how do you develop stimulus control? But Robin, being Robin, takes the lesson a step further. He shows so clearly that you don't have to get big, you don't have to get tough to have mannerly horses. You just have to adhere to a clear and consistent teaching process. The resulting stimulus control creates safe, and respectful horses.

Respect has become a not-always-well-defined and much over-used term in many training discussions. Lesson 4 shows us that what most people mean by respect is actually good stimulus control. When you can ask your horse to step out of your space, and he responds promptly to your cue each and every time, the result of that stimulus control is behavior we would term respectful. Lesson 4 shows you how to get to that level of control using the clicker.

Robin's lesson is just one of many treats on this video. Another is a presented by my thoroughbred, Peregrine. For those of you who don't know, Peregrine is my original clicker-trained horse. He's the horse that got all of this started. He takes us through a master class on riding. Yes, finally!!! We get to riding. Peregrine gave us a beautiful session for this video. I could not be more pleased with him.

Watching a trained horse where you can see both an end result and the steps that got you there is extremely useful. But if you're struggling with a stiff, resistant horse, it can sometimes look too easy. So Peregrine's section is followed by a wonderful lesson featuring, Nikita, a twelve year old, initially very stiff, quarter horse. Nikita's lesson covers her introduction both to riding with the clicker and to lateral flexions. Normally I realize half way through a lesson that I should have been taping. This time we actually had the camera running from start to finish. The step-by-step transformation from stiff to light is beautifully illustrated, as are some of the common pitfalls people run into.

I couldn't resist as a final treat including a training run with Panda, the mini I am training to be a guide horse. After all what better way is there to illustrate the function of cues than with a working guide? If you've been reading the Panda Project Reports on my web site, Lesson 4 will give you the latest update on her progress.

Lesson 4 is $29.95 plus shipping. It is available through my web site:


Alexandra Kurland

About the first video:


I know we all get a lot of email, so here are the quick statistics:

The video is a two hour introduction to clicker training. Like my book, "Clicker Training For Your Horse", the video is packed. It's designed to be a private lesson to help you and your horse get started with clicker training. It comes with a clicker and my booklet, "Getting Started, Clicker Training Horses". The whole unit sells for \$39.95 plus \$4.95 for shipping within the US. If you would like to order the video, please send a check to:

Alexandra Kurland
110 Salisbury Rd.
Delmar NY 12954

The Click that Teaches

That's the basic information, now for the longer description:

"The Click That Teaches" is the first in a series of lessons. On the back cover of the video I ask the question: ďWhat can you teach with clicker training?Ē The answer is: "Everything!" In this series I want to show you how to use the clicker to create the horse of your dreams.

This is more than a video. Itís an in-depth private lesson. Suppose you could call me up and arrange to have me come to your barn to help you with your horses. That would be a great way to get started with the clicker, and thatís essentially what Iíve done with this video lesson. I canít actually travel to your barn, but with the video I can show you the nuts and bolts details of clicker training.

Since we ride the animals we train, good handling skills are probably more important than they are for any other species. Make a mistake with a dog, and you have a rude pet. Make a similar mistake with a horse, and it can get you both hurt. As a teacher, it isnít enough simply to introduce you to clicker training. I want to provide you, lesson by lesson, with the skills youíll need to create an outstanding partnership with your horse. My goal for this series is to create as close a substitute as I can for my actually coming to your barn and working directly with you and your horse.

Most videos are produced by professional production companies. That means that all the filming is done over a very small block of time. The result is a very narrow view of training. What a horse presents on any given day is what you see. I wanted something different. I want to help you train your horse, and for that you need to see real training occurring over a period of time. You need to see not just the basic outline of a lesson. You need to see all the little details that make a difference, and you need to see what happens when something goes wrong. Training is not all smooth sailing. Horses are like toddlers. They have days when they are perfect, and days when they can drive you crazy.

Training is also a matter of balance. For every behavior you teach, there is an opposite behavior that must be kept in balance. If you teach your horse to stand still, you also need to teach him to walk forward. If you teach him to drop his nose to the ground, you need to teach him to lift it back up. To truly master an exercise you have to bring it into balance with the rest of your horseís training. This first video is part of a series that will teach you how to do just that. In a sense this is not a video at all, but the first in a series of lessons.

Thanks to the hi-tech world weíre living in I have access to professional-quality digital cameras and editing equipment. That means I can film horses over extended time lines and show you training in action. As a teacher I can focus in on the details of a lesson that will help you to be successful. Thatís my intent with this series.

The first video, ďLesson 1: Getting Started With The ClickerĒ is a two hour presentation. The first half is a treat for those of you who have read my book. I know from my mail that for many people the story of the aggressive thoroughbred mare, Fig, was their favorite part of the book. People ask after her all the time, so I visited her with my camera. You get to see both how we worked with her, and what the results so far have been.

When I first met Fig, she was a total nightmare to be around. She was an aggressive biter and kicker. You couldn't tie her. She didn't lead. You couldnít groom her or pick out her feet. You name it, and she had every bad habit in the book. Under saddle she was just as difficult. She'd rear, spook, spin, and buck. She was a totally dangerous, out-of-control horse.

With the clicker training we changed all that. As youíll see on the video, Fig is now the calm, well-mannered horse her owner originally thought she was buying.

The video reviews all the many steps in Figís training, beginning with her initial introduction to the clicker. Because Fig started with so many problems, we couldn't skip any steps. Her segment gives a great over-view of clicker training. It shows both how to solve many common behavior problems, and how to develop an outstanding riding horse. Fig's owner does a beautiful job working with her horse. Everything is soft, quiet, and purposeful. Itís a wonderful visual contrast to the forceful training so many of us have been exposed to.

The second hour focuses on step one of clicker training: introducing the horse to the clicker and getting control of the treat pockets. I used two horses for this, an Icelandic stallion, and a Friesian mare who were both new to the barn.

My intent with this part of the video was to address some of the problems people encounter in the early stages of clicker training. Often people are starting with horses who come to the training with a lot of baggage. These horses never really learned how to learn, and their emotional control is fragile at best. They have no tolerance for mistakes. They frustrate easily. They get pushy around the food, or they become angry when they canít figure out how to get their human ďvending machineĒ to work.

Their owners often compound this problem by being unclear in their requests or inconsistent in their timing. Training is a mechanical skill. While targeting is a very simple exercise, there are many details in the handling that can make a huge difference. The video clearly shows this. The owner of the Friesian mare makes some very common mistakes, and you'll see the effect this has on her horse.

On the tape you'll see how something as simple as placing your hand well away from your body to feed your horse can have a tremendous impact on your horseís manners. The Friesian mare's owner wasn't consistent in this. By allowing her horse to rush the food delivery, she lost control of the pace of the lesson and intensified her horse's frustration. This is a common problem for many people. The tape shows both how problems can develop and how to resolve them. The end product is a calm, mannerly horse who clearly understands the clicker game.

Even people who are well past this first stage in the clicker training will enjoy watching this segment. It drives home the importance of good mechanics. It doesn't matter what you are teaching your horse, it's timing, timing, and more timing that matters. When you are unsure of your lesson plan, or inconsistent in your handling, your timing will be off. The tape clearly shows how this effects the horse. And it also shows how flexible clicker training is. As the handlerís timing becomes more consistent, all the frustrated pawing and other unwanted behaviors disappear. In the process of teaching her to touch a target and then expanding on that behavior to get her to retrieve a cone, her owner was really teaching her horse one of the fundamental elements of all good learning, and thatís patience.

The video is a lesson. That means that I'm not trying to cover every aspect of clicker training all on one tape. The first hour with Fig shows you many applications for clicker training. In a sense these are chapter headings for each of the more detailed lessons I plan to present in up-coming videos.

For example, with Fig we show head-lowering and discuss it's importance both in stopping her aggressive biting and in creating a relaxed horse. You can see the result and it's role in the training, but I don't show you step-by-step how you teach this to a naive horse. There simply isn't time for that on this first tape. Instead, I'm planning a separate tape just on head-lowering. It's that important. As I said, I want to make this series as close as I can to a one-on-one private lesson for you. Think of it as though I were coming out to your barn every week to work with you and your horse. In our first session together we'd be introducing your horse to the clicker. The next week we'd move on to other lessons such as basic ground manners and head lowering.

This first lesson/video comes with a clicker and the booklet, "Getting Started: Clicker Training Horses". Adding the booklet makes this a very complete information package. The whole unit sells for \\$39.95, plus \\$4.95 for shipping. You can order it from me by sending a check to:

Alexandra Kurland
110 Salisbury Rd.
Delmar NY 12054

I've posted this information along with some pictures from the video on my web site at:

If you have any questions about the video, please feel free to email me at:

Alexandra Kurland

Below are a some short video clips from the new video, viewable via Windows Media Player:

Opening the Mail



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