Letting go of former tools, now what?

Hi, world!
It has been a while since I wrote my last blog.
How are you all?


Today, I want to introduce my mentor, share one of her great quotes, throw some questions and expand more about it with my thought on it.

I attended Clicker Expo at Cincinnati on March, 2016.
It was a worthwhile, meaningful, educational, inspirational, happy, fun and unforgettable conference!

At this conference, we had a horse track!
The lectures were not only about dogs, we had great lectures on horse training!!!

My mentor, Peggy Hogan, gave great lectures on what she had done in the past and is doing currently.
Peggy Hogan is the person who welcomed and guided me to the world of horse clicker training and suggested me to learn the science of behavior change, applied behavior analysis.
Without any doubt, I took her advice and transferred to the University of North Texas.
Since then, I feel that I was born to study this field.
I love every single word that the professors use to describe the relationship between behavior and environment and I love how they change behavior with the analysis of environment.
I love the way behavior analysts view behavior and do science out of it.
I cannot appreciate more what Peggy has taught me and shaped me to go to the direction I am heading to.

Thank you so much, Peggy.



Let’s start out discussion today!
At the Clicker Expo,
Peggy started her lecture “Trailer loading: Load up with fun” with…


I took my hands off of the lead rope and decided to work at liberty.
Now what?
How was I going to get the behavior without using the familiar tool of pressure?

Before we go on to discuss more on this quote,
I have some questions to you 🙂

1. When you train, what kinds of tool do you use?
(List all tools you use for any training)
2. Why do you use them?
3. How do you use them?
4. When you use, what kinds of effect do those tools have on your behaviors as well as your animal’s behaviors?
5. What do you think she meant by these sentences?
6. Do you think that this quote is a transitional question?
If you say yes, how can this be a transitional question? From what to what?
If you say no, why do you disagree?
7. Do you think this is a great question to ask before you use any tools to your animals/learners?
If you say yes, why do you think this is a great question?
If you say no, why do you think this is not a question to ask?
8. Do you think there are alternative ways to train without using a lead rope?
9. Have you ever thought that there are alternative ways to train which is different from your current training methods/tools?



Great job!!! Thank you for reading and answering the questions!!!
Have a cookie or something you like for answering those!


When I heard Peggy say this, the quote made me think a lot.

I think, being aware of what tools we use, why we use them, how we use them, the effect the tools have on animal’s behavior, all of these are extremely critical to think when train/teach animals or people.
A little background information of Peggy Hogan:
In the past, before she used clicker training or positive reinforcement training with her horses, she had used negative reinforcement training, well known as Natural Horsemanship.
Simply put, it is a pressure and release technique. A trainer puts a pressure on a horse to get a behavior that the trainer asks for. If the horse does desired behavior, the trainer immediately releases the pressure, which will reinforce or strengthen the exact behavior. The removal of the pressure is called a negative reinforcer, which reinforces the behavior that removes the pressure, thus, the behavior is more likely to occur in the future in a similar situation. In a scientific term, this is called negative reinforcement.
At that time, Peggy used a halter, a lead rope, a whip to get the behaviors that she wanted from her horses.

When she started to use positive reinforcement in her training with her horses, she let go of almost all of her former tools.

I think this quote is a great transitional question that implies the shift from negative reinforcement training to positive reinforcement training.

When she let go almost all of the former tools, Peggy found another method of training.
She started to use a technique/approach called shaping.

Instead of letting go all the former tools she used, she introduced new tools into her training, a clicker and treats.
(Clicker is a devise that produces a “click” sound, which marks an exact movement. It functions as conditioned reinforcer since this click sound is paired with food. Treats immediately follow the clicker so that it function as primary reinforcer.)

She used these tools (a clicker and treats) and shaping to train her horses at liberty.
She allowed her horses to offer a behavior which earn them something good. From there on, Peggy has been using shaping in her training.Peggy said: “It definitely challenges our skills both for getting behavior and putting it on cue!!”

It is challenging, but she continues to explore and discover the possibilities of what clicker training can provide to her horses.


An approach that Peggy had embraced since she let go of her former approach.



If you want to know more about Peggy’s work and learn from her, I put links to her website and her web-store for her online class on the “Links” page.
I have taken her online class with Jackson, it was so educational.
It is hard for me to apply the concept of behavior analysis into technique, but when I took her online classes, I could connect the techniques she taught me with the materials I learned from UNT.

To sum up for today’s blog…


Take a look at the tools you are bringing/putting to your animal.

Are these necessary?
Are there alternative tools/ways to train the behavior you are trying to train?


I think these are great questions to think about before you introduce/put the tools to your horse 🙂

Thank you so much for reading.
I hope you enjoyed reading this.

I want to keep finding out better ways/technique/tools to train and communicate with Jackson to enrich his life and improve my training skills.


What about you?