Joyful Horses: Table of Contents

In my previous post I explained how my book, JOY Full Horses, came to be written.  Then I left you hanging while I went off for a week to a conference.  So here, finally, is the first installment of the book.  I’m beginning, as books do, with the Table of Contents.

As you scroll down through the Table of Contents, I hope the chapter titles excite your interest.  I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by a sudden flood of articles into this blog, so my plan is to publish a block of material once or twice a week.

Before I begin, let me share with you what this book overall is about, and what it is not.  In clicker training we learn not to focus on the unwanted behavior.  We want to focus on what we want the learner TO DO.  So it seems odd to be saying what this book is not.  It is not a “how-to” guide to clicker training.  I’ve written those books, produced those DVDs, written that on-line course.  If you are new to clicker training and need the nuts and bolts of how to get started, I will direct you to those resources.  You can find them all via my web site:

So what is this book?  And who is it for?  The second question is easy to answer.  It is for you – especially if you have animals in your life, and you’re interested in training.  Over the past twenty plus years I’ve been pushing the boundaries of what can be done with clicker training.  How do we use it?  How do we think about it?  What is our current understanding of cues, chains, reinforcement schedules, etc., and how has that changed over the years? In these articles we’ll be going well beyond the basics of clicker training.  I want to share with you the differences that make a difference – that transform you from a follower of recipes into a creative, inventive trainer.  Play is the transformer.  In the articles that I have collected together to form this book, you’ll discover what I mean by that.

Alexandra Kurland   January 12, 2016

Joy Full Horses title page cover

Here’s a look at what’s coming:



Chapter 1: Mammals Play
Airplane Reading
Why Do Animals Play?

Chapter 2  Animal Emotions
Is Your Training Fun?
Animal Wise
Outdated Belief Systems
Affective Neuroscience
The Seven Affective Emotional Systems
The SEEKER System
A Courageous Mouse
The Cat Dilemma

Chapter 3: What Neuroscience Teaches Us About Play
The Archeological Dig Through The Brain
Clicker Training and the Seven Affective Systems

Chapter 4:  Inside the Trainer’s Brain
The Neuroscience of Training
Recognizing Play?

Chapter 5: What is Play?
Defining Play

Chapter 6: Being PLAY FULL
Play Full
Playing with Horses
Playing with Behavior
Playing with Play

Chapter 7:  Training Playfully Mixed with a Little Science
The ABC’s of Training
Reinforcement Variety

Chapter 8: Cues and Their Connection to Play
What are Cues?
Explaining Cues to a Beginner – Your List
Explaining Cues to a Beginner – My List

Ten Things You Should Know About Cues

Number 1: Cues are not Commands
Chapter 1: Asking Versus Telling
Paradigm Shifts
Playing with Cues

Number 2: Non Verbal Cues
Chapter 1:  Shh. Don’t Talk.  I’m Listening To Your Body
Clever Hans
Unintended Cues

Chapter 2: Turning being PLAY FULL into a Habit
The Power of Habits
The Effect of Cues
Unexpected Habits
Emotional Habits
Traveling Outside Your Habits
The Structure of Habits
Changing Habits
Bad Habits
Forming Habits – Good or Bad
Changing Your Habits
Do You Believe?
The Power of Community
Keystone Habits
Small Wins or Big Fights – You Choose
Brick Walls
Dismantling The Brick Walls
Patience and Persistence
“They Don’t Feel Pain the Way We Do”
The Evolution of Belief
Balance – The Core of Everything
My “Salt Box”
Learned Helplessness
Standing Up For Our Horses
Force-Based Training
What Good Trainers Have In Common
Speaking Out For Our Horses

Chapter 3: TagTeaching – You Can’t Train My Child Like a Dog!
Tag Points
WOOF Criteria
The Focus Funnel
The Focus Funnel Applied to Horse Training
Constructive Feedback
Tag Teaching and Keystone Habits
Forming The Record Keeping Habit
Forming a Journaling Community
KeyStone Habits for Life

Number 3: The Environment is a Cue

Chapter 1:  Emotions and Environmental Triggers
Environmental Cues
Guide Horses
Goose Neck Trailers
A Trainer’s Play Ground
The Herd Horse Advantage
My Cue Trumps Your Cue
Intelligent Disobedience
Horses as Guides
Evidence in Support of Intelligent Disobedience
Trusting Intelligent Disobedience
Teaching Traffic Checks
Testing the Training – How Strong are your Habits?
Guide Work: Yes She Can!
But, But, You MUST Need to Correct Her

Chapter 2: Using Environmental Cues
Every Day Environmental Cues

Chapter 3: The Time Has Come the Walrus Said to Talk of Many Things: Premack, Asking Questions, Mats, Airplane Runways and Creativity
The Time Has Come
Behaviors as Reinforcers
Turning Mats Into Tractor Beams
Feldenkrais Work
Asking Questions
The Translation to Horses
The Lead Tells A Story
The Runway
Give Them What They Want
Stopping on Mats
Constructional Training
Mat Manners
101 Things
The Opposite of Flooding
Playing with Language
Transforming Horse Training Into Play
Using Props
Playing with Images

Number 4: Cue Communication

Chapter 1: Dr. DooLittle Knew How To Listen
Everything You Need to Know About Cues
Cue Communication
Everyday Conversations
Animal Trainers – The Ones to Really Learn From!
A Well-Trained Human
Behaviors Become Cues
Mounting Blocks as Cue Communication
Trust Your Horse, Trust the Process
Capture the Saddle
The Why Would You Leave Me? Game
Walking Off Casually and the Why Would You Leave Me? Game
Capture the Saddle – A Target Game
Pre-Ride Safety Check List
“Grand Prix” Mounting Block Behavior
Listen To Your Horse
Detective Work
“Just Tell Me How You Feel”

Chapter 2: Finding “Yes”
Saying “No”
The Horse As Teacher
The Conversation
Fixing the “Fixers”

Number 5: Cues Evolve

Chapter 1: Cues Evolve Out Of The Shaping Process
Head Lowering
Keeping Things in Balance
There’s Always More Than One Way To Teach A Behavior
Not A Forward-Moving Exercise
Moving the Hips
Backing in a Square
“Walking and Chewing Gum”
Dynamic Food Delivery
Mapping Out The Dance
Reading Your Dance Partner
Cues Evolve – Adding the Lead
Cues Evolve: How Light Can Light Be?
Who’s Not Showing Respect?
Starter Button and Constant On Cues
The Horse’s Perspective
Soap Box Time
Backing with Starter Button Cues
A Change in the Game
More “Being the Horse”
Heating Up a Behavior
Priming The Head Lowering Pump
Head Lowering from Backing in a Square
Calm Down NOW!
Heading Toward Lighter Than Light Cues
Playing with Cues
“How’d you do that?”

Number 6: Getting What You Want When You Want It: Stimulus Control

Chapter 1: Getting What You Want
More About Cues
Cues and Our Eager Clicker Horses
Stimulus Control Version 1.0
The Four Criteria of Stimulus Control
Speed Bump: Teaching with Extinction
Through “the Wardrobe”

Number 7: Stimulus Control and Play

Chapter 1: Even Play Has Rules
Balancing Cues
Building a Repertoire of Behaviors
Base Behaviors
An Equine Ostrich
Clicker “Drill Sergeants”
Laughing with our Horses
Playing Safe
Remember To Laugh

Number 8: Cues Can Change and Be Changed

Chapter 1: Cues Evolve
Change Happens
What Comes Before What Comes Before
How Light is Too Light?

Chapter 2: The Cue Transfer Process
Changing Cues
Basic Manners
Tap Root Behaviors
Saying Please and Thank You
Good Manners are a Good Habit
The Grown-ups Really Are Talking
Great Service
Over-eager Students

Chapter 3: New Cue – Old Cue
Creating New Cues
Sleight of Hand Magic Tricks
Understanding Pressure
Play and the Transferred Cue
The Transfer Continues
Sleight of Hand Magic – The Trick Revealed

Number 9: You Can’t Not Cue

Chapter 1: Using The Cues Your Horse Discovers
Collecting Gems
Clever Hans
Working WITH Your Own Clever Hans
Canine Teachers
Selecting from the Menu
Use Your Cues
An Accident Waiting To Happen
All Work and No Play . . .

Chapter 2: What is Clicker Training?
What Clicker Training Means To Me
Defining Clicker Training
Creating Stepping Stones

Chapter 3: Are You A Clicker Trainer or a User of Clicker Training?
Are You a Clicker Trainer?
Why Clicker Train? The Science Foundation
Three Blind Men and the Elephant
Modern Animal Training
Using Clicker Training
The Clicker Super Glue
Using Clicker Training
The Clicker Umbrella
Just Because You Can . . .
More Questions
Levels of Analysis
Adding a Question Mark – Feldenkrais Work
Asking Not Telling
The Questions

Chapter 4: What is the lesson? – Playing with Cues
The Teachers We Get Are The Teachers We Need
One Day At A Time
Innovations Come From the Outside In
Following Antennae
The Joy of Discovery
Ready To Teach
Change Makers
Change Our Beliefs, Change the World
Detective Work

Chapter 5: Stepping Stones
More To Learn
Remembering Play
Getting “Yes” Answers
Training Choices
Building Clean Loops
Sequence Matters
You Never Know What You’ve Taught.  You Only Know What You’ve Presented
Using Your Head
Moving On
What Could You Find? What Could You Release?
Posing the Questions
Adding the Click
Tactile Communication
Cues Evolve
Cue Communication
Adding in Lateral Flexions
Do Not Enter Signs

Number 10: Playing with Chains

Chapter 1: Cues Evolve into Chains
The List of Ten
Creating Change Through Chains
The Story for Poco
Poco’s Learning Loop
What We Say
The Meaning of Words
Negative Reinforcement
Procedure versus The Emotional Effect
History Matters
The Emotional Spectrum
It’s Not Your Fault
Changing Expectations
Hidden Motivators
What Triggers Change?
The Fluid Nature of Language
How Words Are Used
The Power of Play


Chapter 1: The Many Forms of Micro
Why Micro
Outcome Versus Reaction Pattern
Base Behaviors
Tossing Treats
Dynamic Food Delivery
Precision and Play Go Together
What Does the Click Do

Chapter 2: How Clicker Trainers Play
Five Go To Sea
“Riding” the Ocean
The Conference
Reaction Patterns

Chapter 2: Regression
Reverting to Past Behaviors
Extinction Reveals Your Horse’s Past
Well Behaved or Shut Down?
Leaving History Behind
Data Collecting
Tuning Up the Handler’s Skills
Building Your Repertoire
The Animal Emotions
The Emotions of Extinction
Extinctions Emotional Pattern

Chapter 3: To Love a Horse
Extinction and Shaping
Regression and Resurgence
Extinction History
The Catalyst, Not the Cause
Extinction Reveals the Past
The Equine Version
Accidental Extinction
Mini versus Maxi Extinctions
Training Game Mishaps
Micro Extinctions
The Measure of Success
Using “Hot” Behaviors
Click For What You Already Have
Cues and Extinction
Teaching “Chill”
The Training Game
Mastering Extinction
Experiment One: Resurgence
Experiment Two: Regression
Mind Games
Using resurgence – Insight
What is Creativity?
Degrees of Freedom
Expanding Repertoires
Being Emotional Is Being Alive
Building Unlikely Behaviors with Resurgence
Resurgence and Dog “Yoga”
Generalization and Creativity
The “Pose”
Seeing Familiar Landscapes with Fresh Eyes
The Creative Process
Mastering Micro
Micro Masters

I Can’t Do What You Want
Finding Joy

6 thoughts on “Joyful Horses: Table of Contents

  1. I’m reading “Don’t Shoot the Dog” and “Clicker Training for your Horse”. With this interesting format I won’t be overwhelmed with another book….. I love the concept of JOY and PLAYING….. look forward to reading more!! Thank you!


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