This is Part 1 of the email from Alexandra Kurland
published in her Yahoo Group and in her blog, Dec 2012
The question about mugging is such an important one because clicker training is only fun when the food issue is settled. You can have the cleverest horse in the barn, but if in between doing all his cute tricks, he’s after your pockets for treats, the appeal of clicker training will disappear fast. This is why I place so much emphasis on the foundation lesson I refer to as: “the grown-ups are talking, please don’t interrupt”.
Grown-ups isn’t something you do a couple of times in the start-up of clicker training and then forget about. Grown-ups is your glue. It ties everything else together. Canine trainer Steve White has a great image he uses for teaching core behaviors. He refers to them as tap root behaviors. Grown-ups makes a great tap root behavior. You ask for grown-ups – click/treat. Then you do a couple reps of a different behavior. Click/treat. Now it’s back to grown-ups to establish that your horse can still show you calm, good manners, even with the treats right under his nose. Each time you return to grown-ups, you strengthen it. Just like a tap root, it grows bigger, stronger, deeper. Select grown-ups as your key, core tap root behavior, and over time your horse’s manners will become world class.
I’m going to describe the basic starting point. This will be a review for a lot of people, but review is always useful. There are always new details to highlight. And then because it’s the holidays I’ll share couple of stories. (I know what some of you are thinking – I don’t need the excuse of the Holidays to share stories and that’s very true!).