Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

My first presentation!

On Saturday, October 4th, I am very excited to be presenting my first talk and demonstration called Introduction to Clicker Training - force-free training for all species!

I intend to cover both the art and science behind positive reinforcement training - the how's and why's of what it's about.  If the weather is nice (it's supposed to be) I'll do some demonstrations with the donkeys, if not, I'll just give the talk indoors.

Here's my write-up:

Introduction to Clicker Training - force-free training for all species!  
Saturday, October 4th at 1 PM.

I had my first glimpse of clicker training at a conference in 2004 and my curiously was definitely peaked!  Seeking out presenter and horse-woman, Ilse de Wit, I had a couple of private sessions in Millarville AB and was introduced to the basics.  Ilse’s mentor is US-based Alexandra Kurland, the pioneer of clicker training for horses.  I attended my first of three clinics with Alex in Cochrane AB at Monty Gwynne’s ranch. Monty (www.theponyfairy.com) is herself a horse clicker trainer and long-time student of Alex’s, having come to clicker training via more traditional methods.  
Monty has since come to Denman Island twice to work with me and my donkeys as well as other horse owners. 

I have also had several training sessions with Sola Wolff, (www.equinerevelation.com) an amazing young trainer living in WA who works with horses and mules.  And I’ve been back to train with Alex, at clinics in Cochrane AB and Toutle WA. I was even able to attended an equine clicker training conference in the UK last Fall!

Alexandra Kurland is on faculty at the Karen Pryor Academy’s Clicker Expo - bi-annual conferences held in the US.  So naturally, I longed to attend and was able to go to two that were held in Portland.  These conferences are an amazing series of lectures, presentations and dog-training “labs” given by some of the world’s most renowned trainers and behaviour scientists.  It was there that I was able to see and hear about some of the extraordinary things that have been taught to animals ... on farms, in zoos, marine environments and private homes, without force, without punishment! 

Through Dalhousie University, I was accepted to be a “beta-tester” for a soon-to-be offered on-line course.  Once launched, I enrolled and completed Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis, earning top marks.  The course required weekly video submissions of our work with our chosen course animal, as well as tests on theory and practice. Currently I am enrolled in Alexandra Kurland’s on line course through www.theclickercenter.com.

Why do I keep studying?  The more I learn about the principles and applications of clicker training, the more passionate I become, realizing that this process is both accessible to all of us and deeply layered.  Best of all though, I love working with animals, my donkeys in particular, and clicker training has had a hugely positive impact on all of us. 

Clicker training principles, understood and practiced, can enrich the lives of our companion animals and ourselves so that a willing partnership, based on mutual respect and trust is established. 
It is a very lively, creative technique, adaptable to any species.  You can teach anything that an animal is physically and emotionally capable of doing and you learn so much about yourself in the process … how to be non-reactive, how to solve training puzzles, deal with basic husbandry needs and so much more!

I will share all of this with you and more during an informal presentation and demonstration on Saturday October 4th at 1 PM sharp.  Although the session is free, I will have a donation jar for the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, should you feel moved to contribute.  Everyone interested is welcome!

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