Horse in field with Blue Cross team member

How to introduce clicker training to your horse

Clicker training can be a useful aid for teaching your horse. If your horse is new to clicker training, be patient and provide plenty of breaks from training sessions.

You may have heard of clicker training when it comes to dogs, but it’s also a positive way to train horses too. A clicker helps your horse to link the desired behaviour with the reward.

Clicker training can be carried out alongside your current training to improve results, as it helps to make communication between you and your horse much clearer. Once you and your horse are comfortable with clicker training, you can use it to guide and train your horse in a variety of situations.


If you do not have a clicker or have your hands full, you can also click with your tongue or use your voice for an enthusiastic “yes!”.

What you’ll need

  • Clicker with a wrist strap (optional)
  • Treats (treats)
  • Bum bag to place the treats in and to keep your hands free (optional)

When clicker training your horse, you’ll need to use their favourite reward. This ensures they have a positive experience during training sessions. Some horses may prefer a good scratch on the withers, while others may be more motivated by food. If you’re using treats, be sure to feed your horse away from your bum bag so they cannot steal any.


When giving your horse treats, ensure they are a suitable size to avoid choking. Carrots or other vegetables cut up into discs can easily become stuck in the oesophagus.

How to start clicker training your horse

Teaching your horse how you’d like them to behave during training is a great way to ease into clicker training. It’s important for your horse to not nudge or sniff at the treat bag. Instead, they should look straight ahead and politely wait for the treat to come to them.

When you click and reward this behaviour, you’ll help your horse to understand that the clicker is used for training and is not just associated with food.


Keep training sessions short to prevent your horse from getting bored or frustrated. Stick to no more than 10 minutes and ensure your horse has a sufficient break after training.

  1. Stand to one side of your horse by their shoulder. This is so that you can easily move out of the way if needed.
  2. Take a treat from your bum bag and hold it in your hand. In the other hand, hold your clicker.
  3. Every time your horse tries to get the treat from your hand, ignore them. Make sure they do not get the treat.
  4. As soon as your horse gives up and looks away, click using your clicker and instantly give them the treat.
  5. Repeat the previous steps, making sure to switch sides of your horse. This will help them understand that you want them to wait for the food come to them, not that you just want them to look straight when you stand on a certain side of them.


If your horse is getting bored or frustrated, stop the training session and give them space. If they do not understand what you’re asking, go back a step until they are more confident in the objective.

How to continue clicker training

Once your horse understands the basics of clicker training, you can begin to introduce the clicker to your normal training routine.

This will take some careful thought about what you want to teach your horse. Another simple way to use clicker training with your horse is by teaching them to target an object.

Once you’ve decided on your next goal, you’ll need to break down the training step by step. For example, if you want to teach your horse to target you can:

  1. show your horse an object, but do not touch their nose with it
  2. when your horse touches the object with their nose, click and reward them
  3. repeat step two until your horse is confidently touching the object with their nose
  4. hold the object at different levels once your horse is confidently touching the object at nose level. Add the verbal cue “touch”.

More on target training

If your horse is more familiar with clicker training, you can use it to guide them through unfamiliar situations, such as loading onto a trailer.

Page details


• 27 March 2024

Next review

• 26 March 2027

Approved by
Grace Shayler

Horse Welfare Supervisor (Training)