On Your Mark, Get Set, Start Button

As positive reinforcement trainers we search continually for ways to create partnerships with our horses. However, there can be a huge difference between simply gaining an animal’s cooperation and giving the animal true choice! “Start Button” behaviors are behaviors that are taught to an animal partner to direct the pace and progress of another behavior or procedure. Start buttons are an integral piece within the training philosophy, highlighted in the last few years through Animals In Control and other Sessions at recent ClickerExpo conferences. They provide greater control to the animals themselves over aspects of the training process.

In this Session, which combines lecture, personal examples, and videos, Peggy introduces ways of teaching horses to “give you permission” to proceed or to indicate that they are “ready” to participate in an activity or procedure. She will also move to the next step, actually teaching the animal to signal or “invite” you to continue.

Encouraging horses to enter into this type of dialogue lets you be more aware of and responsive to a horse's body language. Start buttons can be taught and used in a wide variety of applications. You will see illustrations that range from husbandry to riding behaviors.

This lecture will benefit anyone who wants to learn techniques to reach the place where you and your animals are harmonious participants in a teaching and learning process.

Peggy Hogan

Through her business, The Best Whisper is a Click, Peggy Hogan provides clicker training lessons, clinics and online coaching, all focused on horses.

A horse-lover since the age of three when her sister put her on a pay-per-lap pony ride, Peggy loves all animals and has a passion for training. She has studied natural horsemanship in depth and immersed herself in the teachings of Peggy Cummings, founder of Connected Riding. With inspiration from Alexandra Kurland, Peggy fully embraced clicker training and positive reinforcement.

Learning from clicker trainers of other species, Peggy has investigated ways to add more shaping, capturing, luring, and targeting to her clicker training for horses program. Horses offer complex behaviors freely if given the choice, behaviors that apply to environments that range from agility to freestyle to medical procedures. All of these freely offered and shaped behaviors create wonderful riding horses. Peggy has worked with clicker training techniques in the area of horse rescue as well.