Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Natural than Natural Horsemanship?

Late last night I finished reading Karen Pryor's newest book, Reaching the Animal Mind.  I bought it as part of my renewed interest in clicker training.  I thought it would be a fun read and get me psyched up to fool around with CT and Cricket.

Boy howdy was I wrong!

If you've ever been even remotely curious about clicker training, read this book.

It starts out very anecdotal - Karen tells stories of her various experiences with clicker trained animals, weaving through out the stories the benefits of clicker training over conventional or traditional methods.

And just when you think this is a cute book about some cute animals, she introduces the science that simply blows your mind.

Clicker training accesses the deep, primitive structures of the brain: the amygdala, or "reptilian brain" and the hypothalamus, part of our emotional center.  Learning in these two structures is different than the more evolved cerebral cortex.  Clicker training taps into the more immediate, permanent learning of the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

Could it be that clicker training is more natural than even natural horsemanship?

I wish I could explain it as eloquently as Karen laid it all out in her book.  I simply cannot recommend this book enough.

I understand, now, the light in Cricket's eyes when I pull out the clicker and the treats.  It's not the food (read the book and you'll understand why!).  It's something so much more than that.  I cannot wait to get this started again!


Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks for the recommendation! This sort of info is EXACTLY what I've been gleaning from books like "The Brain That Changes Itself." The science is very similar for humans as well. I'm trying to find someone willing to clicker train me. ;-) (I've tried explaining to my new boss that I respond best to "praise, recognition & material things" but he looks at me oddly..)

Lisa said...

Not read that one but I'll check it out. I am so fortunate to have a "partner in crime". The person who introduced me to CT is also a PNH L3 graduate AND she's my Pilates instructor. When i get back into Pilates she's going to use CT during our session. I'm so excited! I'm going to try to get her to come out and do a riding lesson with the clicker - for ME not Cricket!

inchwormwv said...

How cool! You (and Clare) have inspired me to rethink clicker use. I trained our dog with the clicker and it was incredible how much it motivated him to seek communication with me, and then with other people. Hmmm, how interesting!

Lisa said...

Tenley - read Karen's book and get to the part about SEEKING (it's all caps for a reason). Clicker training taps into a primal part of the brain designed to "look for new things/have adventures." It's part of the reason CT is so engaging for both the teacher and the learner. It's totally fabulous!

Mad Dog Ranch said...

You CAN clicker train humans. It's called TAGteach. Go to www.tagteach.com and learn more about it.