Clickers and Treats

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Our views on their use in agility.
Just because we can train certain behaviours - should we ?
Our prime consideration should always be the ethical use of the obstacles during practice and competition, for this reason we do not promote agility as "trick training"
We do however wholeheartedly support and promote positive reinforcement.
Below are some Q & A's that will hopefully explain further our views.

 
Can I use my clicker during a competition round ?
In the interest of fair play the answer is NO - we cannot judge a competitor using a clicker against a competitor that isn't using one.
Using a clicker changes the perspective of the relationship and would require a different judging criteria.
Please note we are NOT against clicker training.
You may send us an entry using a clicker but it can be for feedback purposes only.

 
From the judges perspective.
As a judge I am looking for a constant flow of communication exchange.
This exchange should be via your body language, physical cues and most importantly an energy exchange that shows the equine is reading and understanding it.
This must be a two way communication, handler to equine, equine to handler.

 
Can I use food treats as a reward ?
This is definitely a yes and no answer.
Yes you can AFTER the requirements for the obstacle have been met.
NO if it is before you have finished the obstacle.
We do not encourage the use of food treats as they are not suitable for all equines.
We would prefer to see the food replaced with an appropriate positive reinforcing scratch.

 
From the judges perspective.
As a judge I am looking to see the equine seek reassurance and confidence from the handler.
This is shown through the body language of the equine, looking to the handler, touching the handler.
From my perspective, I need to be able to define this behaviour, is the equine seeking reassurance or seeking FOOD.
This is very much two different behaviours.

 
Summing Up !
The ethos of agility must always be "Partnership above Performance"
Promoting trust and understanding.
Building confidence and relaxation.
Encouraging softness and feel.

Most importantly, we want to see a partnership that is authentic in its participation.