Best Books On Horses For Beginners (2022)

Reaching the Animal Mind is the book you should read if you have ever wished you could communicate with your pet in some way. (And if you think I’m completely insane, well, maybe you’re right, but check out NBC News’ recent article, Time to Learn to Speak Animal Languages?, which provides a summary of the astounding new research on animal “speech.”)

Reaching the mind of an animal is the key to communicating effectively with your horse. The Use of a Clicker and What It Teaches Us About All Different Types of Animals, By Karen Pryor

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Best Book Reaching the Animal Mind By Karen Pryor 

Unifying and empowering! THANK YOU! – There are several ways to train your pet, but there is only one best way–Positive Reinforcement training using a behavior marker, like a clicker. Karen Pryor details the history of positive reinforcement clicker training, the science behind it, and its practical uses of it. She fills this book with myriad anecdotes that make the training make sense to the reader. If you want your pet, horse, mule, fish or octopus, any animal, to be afraid of you and only work for you because he has to keep from getting in trouble, use the old militaristic, lure and bait, shouting and correcting forms of training.

Don’t get me wrong—if I could somehow communicate with horses, I totally would. One of those calm, mysterious men or women who appear to have a magical connection with horses, one of those desert-eyed sages who merely thinks, “It’s a bit warm today,” and finds her horse cantering eagerly to her side bearing a silver platter with iced lemonade on it.

I’m afraid that’s not the case. During the first fifteen years of my life spent around horses, I spent the majority of my time chasing ponies as they joyfully galloped away from me across their 25-acre pastures. I also spent a lot of time watching various lesson horses vanish in clouds of dust while I heaved myself up from the trail or the arena floor and dusted off what was left of my deteriorating dignity. Things were not significantly improved when I first brought Pegasus home with me. I had the distinct impression that I was simultaneously holding the titles of “Hay Dispenser” and “You Again?”

Despite this, I cherished the fiery spirit of my horse, as well as his quick intelligence and kind heart. I wished that there was some way that I could communicate with him or that there was some way that I could get in touch with him. And no, not just talk to him. Oh, I was so hoping that he would get what I was asking of him and actually do it! On the other hand, I also had this crazy dream that I was talking to him, that we were actually doing things together, that we were having fun, and that we were friends.

I am aware; it was simply not possible. That is, until it wasn’t. The day I learned about clicker training was also the day I started to learn how to communicate with my horse.

The fundamental tenet of clicker training is that it is an approach to shaping an animal’s behavior that is entirely based on positive reinforcement. You teach the animal that engaging in particular behaviors will result in an immediate reward for him or her, and the animal, in the process of figuring out this new “game,” works joyfully and intently to figure out – and do! – what you ask of it. Over the course of time, you will be able to teach the animal new and additional behaviors while also putting the behavior on cue and decreasing the value of the reward. Some animals have even developed the ability to create new behaviors on their own. They do, in fact, offer creative opportunities.

Clicker training, on the other hand, facilitates a different mode of communication between a person and their pet. A conversation can start with a simple game, and from that conversation, a relationship can develop. Because of clicker training, dear Pegasus now trots to the gate when he hears my car in the farm driveway, graciously does (most of!) what I ask, and joyfully offers ideas and invitations to visit, communicate, and play. I may never be able to “whisper” to a horse, but thanks to clicker training, he now does all of these things. We’ve developed into more than just horse and rider; we’re good friends.

Now, the creator of clicker training, Karen Pryor, has published a detailed instruction manual for the technique. Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us about All Animals is a book that explains the principles and techniques of clicker training. It also offers moving true stories and video diaries about the bonds that people have forged with dogs, cats, and other companion animals, horses, and even exotic animals like macaws, dolphins, and one chimpanzee who was so intelligent that he began clicker training his trainer.

Visit Karen Pryor’s website, Clicker Training, to learn more about clicker training, and make sure to read some of her other works as well, such as Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training, a comprehensive yet actionable guide, and Lads Before the Wind: Diary of a Dolphin Trainer, her lyrical autobiography, which details her experiences as a dolphin trainer. Do you want to zero in on horses in particular? Visit Alexandra Kurland’s website, The Clicker Center, and take a look through the horse-focused training books and DVDs that she has available there.

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