In this video we look at the process of using clicker training to teach a young horse to respond to rein aids by basic flexions. Rein aids are the primary means of communication when riding, so it's important to establish them before actually getting in the saddle.
The basic flexions are forward, back, head up, head down, turn on the forehand (indirect rein), turn on the haunches (direct rein).
The flexions are clicker trained using rhythmic cues. Initially the horse gets clicked for their very first movement, which builds quick, light response to the cue. Later we can click for duration, smoothness of movement and other criteria.
These flexions are the basis of any under saddle communication including reining, dressage, hunter/jumpers and endurance.
Because we are using positive reinforcement (clicker training), the process is really enjoyable for the horse and trainer and we avoid the fights that often arise when working on subtle cues and small movements.
While we are training rein aids, we begin in the halter because young horses have a tendency to throw their heads when starting this work. As the horse begins to understand and respond calmly to the cues, we will add the bit to fine-tune communication.