I recently finished reading Getting to Yes by Sharon Foley. What a great book! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to learn more about clicker training and positive step-by-step methods to improve their horse training.
I bought this book over a year ago and have used it from time to time as a reference. However, while I was on a car trip in August I took the time to read it from cover to cover. Getting to Yes is informative and a fun read. I am definitely adding it to the list of books I recommend to people looking for information about clicker training with horses.
Why I Liked Getting to Yes
In Getting to Yes, Sharon Foley presents a clear and straight forward approach to clicker training. The book is heavy in the beginning on foundational information, including the whats and whys of clicker training and how to begin clicker training your horse. Then, throughout the following chapters, the book builds on these foundation exercises to progress to round pen work, in hand work and even some advanced riding exercises.
The book makes it easy to see how and why early foundation lessons are essential for later training. For instance, the Look at Me exercise is used later when teaching the horse to follow a feel and even later when working on lateral flexions and getting the horse’s attention under saddle.
Horse people sometimes want to skip over the basics to get to more advanced concepts. Sharon Foley does a great job of showing how many advanced concepts are just elaborations on the basic building blocks.
Let’s Have Fun, But be Safe!
Getting to Yes is written for people who already have some horse handling skills. However, even experienced horse people sometimes get themselves into trouble when they start clicker training and add food rewards to their training program.
The first chapters in the book emphasize good manners, including how to train your horse to take food politely and how to train your horse to be attentive to you while staying out of your space. The early lessons, such as teaching your horse to target, also include plenty of troubleshooting tips that cover many common questions.
Sharon Foley emphasizes practicing clicker and food delivery mechanics before starting with your horse. She also includes a great explanation of how to play the training game and the “no” game with another person before you start training your horse. These are great exercises for people new to clicker training or for someone who has been clicker training for years.
The Clicker Training Mindset
Getting to Yes is filled with practical applications for clicker training with horses. (There’s a great chapter on using clicker training to teach your horse to longe.) The book isn’t just a practical how-to guide, however. Sharon Foley also does an excellent job explaining the underlying science behind clicker training and why it works so well.
Sharon Foley’s underlying philosophy is that the “horse would be doing what was asked of him if only he were clear about what was wanted and was confident that he could do it.” Our horses aren’t trying to be brats or challenge us or make us angry. However, they often don’t understand what we want or why they should be doing what we are asking.
The goal of good training should be clear and precise communication between horse and rider. In Getting to Yes, Sharon Foley shows us how to break training down into small steps and show our horses exactly what we are asking. By doing this we can build a mindset where we work with the horse, rather than against him, and help the horse be right every step of the way.
The methods in the book are simple enough to help someone new to clicker training solve training problems and create a better partnership with their horse. However, the more advanced chapters will help even those already familiar with clicker training refine their skills. I would highly recommend Getting to Yes for anyone who is interested in clicker training their horse. As well, Sharon Foley’s website is a great source for more information on clicker training with horses.