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Suggested Reading





    I have divided this page up into two sections. I will still have "Katie's Bookshelf" which is a look at what I am reading, but I wanted to make a section that was just clicker resources that I recommend. This will enable new clicker trainers to find good resources without having to wade through books on other topics.  When I first wrote this page, there were very few clicker resources (especially for horses) out there so I listed them all.  Now that there are more resources, I had to decide whether or not to list everything, which would mean including books with different implementations and philosophies about clicker training, or to only list those resources that were consistent with my own teachers (Alexandra Kurland, Karen Pryor Clicker Expo faculty).


    Because this list is my own personal recommendations, I decided it would be better to just not include books and videos promoting alternate methods of clicker training that I have not tried. So, for this reason, I am limiting the list to those books that I have read and personally found useful. 




Clicker Training Resources




Katie's Bookshelf


This section is called "Katie's Bookshelf" as it is consists of a listing of those books that I have found really helpful in my journey into clicker training and dressage. I am primarily a dressage rider so many of them lean in that direction, but I read about other horse topics too. I am always looking for good books that are compatible with the clicker philosophy. If you have some suggestions, please send me the title and author of the book and a short description of it or why it was helpful to you and I will take a look at it. I would like to have a section on videos tooPlease note that my intention is not to review or critique books and videos.  It is more to provide some information about content and flavor so you can choose a book that might be right for you. 



Katie's reading (2007-2008)


This winter I divided my time between reading some more technical books on operant conditioning, learning and behavior and reading horse training books. Since there are not that many books on clicker training horses, I felt like the best way to get new ideas was to pull information from both sources and see if I could come up with some new training ideas or a better idea of how to combine some traditional horse exercises with clicker training.


Excel-erated Learning by Pam Reid.  I wanted to learn more about how animals learn and some of the more scientific terminology that people use when describing training strategies and setups.  This book was clear and easy to read while explaining about classical and operant conditioning, schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, extinction, punishment, and common behavior problems (the book is geared to dog owners).  If you want to become more fluent in some of the technical jargon or understand more about the science behind clicker training, then I would recommend this book.


Learning and Behavior by Paul Chance.  This is a textbook and covers the same material as Pam Reid's book, but in more detail. I found it helpful and it was actually a pretty interesting read. Don't be scared by the fact that it is a textbook. I picked this textbook because someone recommended it to me, but on one of her DVD's Kathy Sdao says that she collects old (and new?) animal behavior textbook because there is a wealth of information in them from descriptions of research studies to historical information.


Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt.  Leslie wrote this book to describe the exercises she uses in her "Control Unleashed" classes which are classes for dogs that are easily excited, aroused, or distracted and find it difficult to work in a regular dog training class or in an area with high distractions.  Her classes are set up to progressively challenge the dogs so that they can work in other situations or move on to more standard dog training classes or activities.  She also teaches the owners some ways to help their dogs learn to calm down through various relaxation protocols.  The book is set up as a guide to teaching a  "control unleashed" class so it has suggested activities for each week to create a 7 week course.


      I found out about the book on a dog list and was interested enough to read it to see if some of the things that worked with dogs could be applied to horses that are easily distracted and have a hard time focusing in certain situations.  Rosie loves and feels the need to look at and keep track of everything around her which can sometimes make it difficult to keep her attention. There is a lot of good information in here. Some of the activities are set up to help dogs deal with the distractions of other dogs. I keep my horses at home and usually work alone so I did not try out those exercises although I think some of them could be easily modified to work with horses.


Teaching Dogs, Teaching People by Dani Weinberg.  Of all the books I read this winter, this was one of my favorites. I read it in one sitting while stuck at a horse show and highly recommend it to anyone whether they are teaching, interested in teaching or just learning.  It gave me some insight into teaching from the trainer's point of view and it gave me some good tools to keep my own training fresh and keep the enthusiasm.  The book is divided into sections on students, how to reach them, common misconceptions and assumptions they might have, and how to decide what you want them to learn (the bigger picture beyond teaching the dog to sit). In the section on instructors, she writes about such basic things as setting up a good training place and structuring classes but also covers her toolkit for maintaining self-esteem.  If there was one thing I got out of this book, it was that teaching is very rewarding but also very hard and as an instructor, you have to look out for yourself so that you can do the best for your students. 


Dancing with your Dark Horse by Chris Irwin. Chris Irwin is always an interesting read.  This book is about the changes in his life after a negative encounter with a difficult horse and how he had to re-evaluate what he was doing and where he was going. I think he is tackling a difficult problem for horse people which is what to do when our emotions and egos get tied up in horse training.   This book reminds me of Linda Kohanov's books (The Tao of Equus and Riding Between the Worlds) because it is about how horses can change us, heal us and make us better people.  I found this book thought-provoking and while I am not sure I agree with everything, I thought he had some great insights. I liked his description of riding and training as being a spiral process where it seems like we are going in circles but we are really just revisiting common themes and adding new layers and details.


Clicker Training: Colt Starting the Natural Horse by Leslie Pavlich.  If you are new to clicker training or new to horses and want a step by step guide to starting your young horse with clicker training, you might find this book useful.  Leslie has started over 50 young horses and she has carefully recorded each step from some basic liberty work, to handling and grooming, introducing tack and leading skills and early rides.  The book has a definite Natural Horsemanship flavor but you don't need to know a lot about Natural Horsemanship to follow her instructions. She does have a section in the beginning on the basics of clicker training and her philosophy but if you want to know more about the science behind clicker training, you will want to find some additional reading.


On the lighter side, I enjoyed reading


The Parrot's Lament by Eugene Linden.  A collection of stories about animal intelligence and creativity. 




Know Way, Know How by Kathy Sdao.  This DVD was taped during a weekend seminar that Kathy teaches. It covers the science behind clicker training with lectures mixed in with some dog training. The dog training exercise is basic targeting and I think Kathy does a great job showing how important it is to get the rate of reinforcement up and get the dog excited about the game in these early training sessions.  It is long (18 hours) but I found I could watch it in little sessions and easily pick up where I left off.


Advanced Clicker Training by Kathy Sdao.  This is another weekend seminar by Kathy Sdao. It covers some more advanced topics and the dog exercise is about object discrimination. In the lecture part, she starts with a review of the basics and then moves on to more advanced topics such as cues and behavior chains.  If you could only buy or watch one of these sets, you could probably start with this one as long as you had some clicker training experience.


The Click that Teaches: Overcoming Fear and the Power of Cues DVD by Alexandra Kurland.  This DVD shows how she used the cue for head lowering to help a horse overcome its fear of saddling.  The DVD follows the training of an icelandic mare who had a bad experience with a saddle and now wants to run when the saddle is presented. By teaching the mare that she can drop her head to make the saddle go away, the mare learns that she can control the situation which leads to acceptance of the saddle. There is really a major change in her attitude toward the whole saddling process which nicely illustrates how powerful cues and clicker training can be in these situations. In addition, Alex has done an excellent job of editing and presenting the material with slow motion sequences and narration to explain exactly what is going on. It is just like being there.


The Click that Teaches: Microshaping DVD by Alexandra Kurland.  This is one of the more recent DVD's in her series that accompanies her books.  She introduces the microshaping strategy of alternating an easy activity (targeting) with the new harder activity (learning to isolate and active specific muscle groups).  There is good footage of the changes some horses make both emotionally and in their physical shape. If you want to train your eye to see small changes in a horse's posture, this DVD has some sections that show what Alex calls "equine pilates" in close-up.



Katie's reading (2006)


My reading time this year has been limited... But I read and enjoyed:


Of Life and Horses by Ann Nyberg Bradley.  This is a book about the author's experiences with training horses and learning to work with them to create a positive relationship. I think anyone would enjoy this book, but for those of you new to clicker training who are coming from a traditional "make them do it" background, I thought this was a great book to help make the mental shift that needs to happen before you can really use clicker training optimally.


Animal Training by Ken Ramirez.  This is a big book and it has a lot of information that does not seem to apply directly to horses but I found that there were nuggets of useful information tucked in all over the place, so I read the whole thing. I think that as horse trainers who want to use clicker training, it is important for us to be aware of how trainers are using clicker training with other species. It makes it easier to have conversations and sometimes I can get good ideas from someone who is approaching training behavior from a different direction.


Katie's winter reading (2005/2006)


My horses, my teachers by Alois Podhajsky.  This is not a techical training book, but more an account of the different horses he has worked with. I found it an enjoyable and easy read and he is really a wonderful trainer. He uses many of the same strategies as clicker trainers and I picked up lots of little tips from reading the book.


Riding from the Inside Out by Lisa Champion. I am still working on this book as it is a collection of exercises and takes a while to work through them all. I liked how she has very clear explanations of how to improve posture and alignment by figuring out the underlying issues in your riding. She also shows how to use "posture dots" to help target certain areas.


Horse Owners Guide to Natural Hoof Care by Jaime Jackson.  Learn about how your horse's hooves are supposed to work and their basic anatomy and function.  Learn about the natural hoof in wild horses and how trimming and shoeing techniques can interfere with the natural functioning of your horses feet.


Making Natural Hoof Care work for You by Pete Ramey.  Even if you are not interested in trimming your own horse's feet, this is a great book to teach you about hoof anatomy and how to recognize a good trim and problems in your horse's feet.


Getting to Yes: Clicker Training for Improved Horsemanship by Sharon Foley.  Sharon is a dressage instructor who has also spent time with Harry Whitney and this book shows she adds clicker training to her training program through a system of progressive exercises to create a light, soft and happy horse. She has sections on the basics of clicker training, horse behavior, safety and manners, liberty work, learning to follow a feel, longeing, in-hand work and starting to ride. I really appreciated her section on common clicker training misconceptions. If you are new to clicker training and having trouble explaining it to your friends, or responding to their questions, this section will give you some useful information to clear up any misconceptions.



Katie's summer reading (2005)


Here are some new books that I have enjoyed and you might too.


Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin: if you are interested in animal behavior and trying to understand why animals react to things so differently than people, then you will find this book enjoyable. It is easy to read and packed with references to lots of scientific studies on animal behavior combined with the author's own experiences. I'm not sure I believe everything she says, but it was fascinating reading and definitely thought provoking.


Simplify your Riding by Wendy Murdoch: if you are interested in improving your position and effectiveness of your aids, then this book may be helpful. She has a lot of diagrams and pictures of how the rider's skeletal alignment affects the horses balance and ability to carry himself. She also explains about the timing of the aids and how to teach a horse to use his back correctly.


Ride from Within by James Shaw: I am still working on this book, trying to do a new exercise every few days. Alexandra Kurland uses a lot of his exercises in her clinics to teach riders to access parts of their bodies and to teach them how to move their bodies in fluid and powerful ways.


The Simplicity of Dressage by Johann Hinnemann and Coby van Baalen: At first glance, this is a thin book with lots of pictures and I wondered if it would have enough content, but I found it very interesting. They concentrate on a few keys points in each section and I thought the pictures showed dressage horses being ridden and working extremely well. There are also a lot of comments about the horses in the pictures which gave a sense of how individual dressage is for each horse.


The Bit and the Reins by Gerhard Kapitzke: an in depth look at bridles and bits and other devices and what is appropriate for horses at different stages of training. While this book concentrates on bitting, it is very clear that it is about how to use the correct bit and technique so that the power of the hind legs goes through correctly to teach the horse to carry his front end with expression and ease.


Effective Teaching and Riding by Eckart Meyners: Have you ever wondered what makes a good riding instructor or how to improve your own teaching or riding? This is a very comprehensive look at how to be an effective teacher and how to be a good student.


Bodysense by Sally Tottle: A good introduction to Alexander work and what it can do for you. It is not meant to be a "how-to" book but more a taste to see if Alexander technique would be helpful to you.


Clicker Training (horses and general):


Clicker Training for Your Horse – Alexandra Kurland. This is Alex's original clicker book and is still the best introduction to clicker training for horses that I have read. This is a book that I reread on a regular basis. As I become more experienced, I pick up more details.


The Click that Teaches: A Step-by-Step Guide in Pictures by Alexandra Kurland. This book and has a progression of exercises to teach clicker training basics and more complicated behaviors to your horse.  Order from her web site (


The Click that Teaches Video Series by Alexandra Kurland. Videos demonstrating the lessons in the Clicker Training and Step-by-Step books. If you can't find someone to come demonstrate Alex's work, these will be very helpful.


Riding with the Clicker by Alexandra Kurland. This is the new book on how to carry your clicker groundwork over into your riding. It builds on many of the exercises in the Step-by-step book and shows how to teach an inverted, stiff and tense horse into a soft, willing and confident riding partner. Order it from her web site,


Don’t Shoot the Dog – Karen Pryor: This is a must read for anyone interested in clicker training. It lays out the principles of operant conditioning, how to use it to teach and modify behaviors and how it is working all the time in the world around us.


Lads before the Wind – Karen Pryor: if you are interested in how trainers work in real life, this account of Karen's work with dolphins will interest you.


On Behavior – Karen Pryor. This is a book of Essays and Research, mostly from Karen's work with Dolphins.  It includes topics such as the Creative Dolphin and other fun training experiments.


You can Teach your Horse to do Anything! Shawna and Vinton Karrasch – the focus is on targeting, but you can get some ideas for how to break down behaviors


Smart Horse by Jennifer McLeay.  I ran into this book in the tack store and just skimmed it, so I can't describe it in detail, but it looked like a very good first book for clicker training your horse. She explains about operant conditioning and the power of positive reinforcement and how to apply it to your horse training.


"The Clicker Journal" a bimonthly magazine.  Articles by prominent clicker trainers on a variety of subjects. Go to


Click and Reward LLama videos by Jim and Amy Logan.  These are a ton of fun and informative too. They will teach you about clicker training and inspire you to go out and teach your horse some fun things instead of just working on more traditional horse training.


Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement by Ken Ramirez.  Ken Ramirez is the head trainer at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. He is a very experienced animal trainer and regular presenter at Clicker Expo's.  I have not read this book, but it has been recommended to me. More information on it is available at


Dog Training:


A Clicker Cookbook – step by step guide to beginning manners by Shirley Chong


Clicker Fun – Deborah James – dog tricks. This is a good description of how to get started clicker training and fun tricks you can teach your dogs.


Clicker Training for Obedience – Morgan Spector, especially the beginning. If you are not into training dogs, the details of each skill can be overwhelming.


Clicking with your dog – Peggy Tillman. A very simple and straightforward set of exercises to start clicker training with your dog.


Culture Clash – Jean Donaldson. This book will make you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about dogs, and other animals too. If you are new to clicker training and are still struggling with making the mental shift of training for positives, this is a great book to read.


Power of Positive Dog Training – Pat Miller


The other end of the Leash – Patricia McConnell. Along with Culture Clash, this is another great book to help change your mental approach to dog training and animal training in general.


A list of suggested books is also available at


There are also a lot of dog videos available which are great for learning about basic clicker training and shaping.


Learning and Animal Behavior:


Learning and Behavior by Paul Chance. This was recommended by Anna N. on the clickryder list.  She says it is informative and easy to read.



Training: educating green and young horses,

these books show methods that are compatible with clicker training, also look under Dressage


Bringing up Baby by John Lyons. A good set of exercises and lesson plans for working with your weanling. His exercises combine really well with clicker training.


Right from the Start – Michael Schaffer - I read this book when it first came out and was able to take some lessons with Mike Schaffer himself and I consider it a valuable resource for understanding how horses learn to find their balance. I keep coming back to it again and again when I have a problem. And usually if I make a discovery in my own riding, I can go back to the book and find it written there. This is a book to use as a regular reference. I will mention that Mike's use of the reins and aids differs slightly from that presented by Alex in her riding book, and I do not agree with everything he presents, but I still recommend this book for people who are trying to understand that dressage is about more than getting a horse to put its head down and do certain movements.


Lessons in Lightness - Mark Russell - This is another book that I use as a regular reference. It has very clear exercises that show how to educate a green horse and help him/her learn to work in balance and lightness. It is very compatible with Alex's riding book and work.


True Horsemanship through Feel – Bill Dorrance.  If you have a young horse or want some groundwork exercises to improve your feel, this book is very helpful. It contains a series of exercises to teach your horse to respond better to the lead or reins and to teach you to recognize when the horse is trying to respond. 


Dressage in Lightness – Sylvia Loch.  I recommend all of Sylvia Loch's books if you are interested in dressage and classical riding. She has a very clear and articulate writer and explains how your weight and aids affect the horse. She emphasizes how to set the horse up to succeed by preparing for each movement. She has several other books and a series of videos, all of which I would recommend.


Ten Golden Rules - Bruce Nock: Want to improve your basic understanding of training and why horses react as they do? This is a great book for improving your training skills and basic horse handling.  It is not a clicker training book, but many of his rules are the same principles used in clicker training.


Training: (both technical and philosophy)


A good Horse is never a bad color – Mark Rashid. All 4 Mark Rashid books are written as stories of horses he has worked with and training problems he has solved. They are easy and fun to read and will give you a lot of insight into how to solve real life training problems and when you are done, you will probably realize that horses are a lot smarter than most of us give them credit for.


Bombproofing Your Horse by Rick Pelicano.  Recommended by Anna N. from clickryder. I have skimmed this book and it looks very clicker compatible and has great examples of ways to make your horse safer around spooky objects.


Considering the Horse – Mark Rashid

Horses Never Lie – Mark Rashid

Life lessons from a Ranch Horse – Mark Rashid


The Faraway Horses – Buck Brannaman. An autobiographical account of his journey into horsemanship


Horses don’t Lie - Chris Irwin. His philosophy and training practices and how they developed. He also has a video titled "The Round Pen Revisited", which is a look at why people have problems with round pen work and how he teaches it and addresses these issues.


What your Horse Wants You to Know by Gincy Self Bucklin.  A look at horse behavior and how to solve problems with various techniques, including clicker training. A great resource for looking up specific issues such as biting, hard to catch etc...


How Your Horse Wants You to Ride by Gincy Self Bucklin.  Similar to her previous book, this one looks at training issues under saddle and rider fixes.




I have lots of dressage books that explain the basic training of horse and rider from beginning to Grand Prix. These are valuable resources if one is interested in pursuing advanced dressage, but I have not listed them all here. Each one had little pieces that I found invaluable in adding to my dressage knowledge, but they are not all compatible with Alex's progression for using clicker training to teach dressage. So, I have listed here those that seem to combine the best with her work.


Balance in Movement – Suzanne von Dietze.  This is a position book. Want to improve your riding position, Suzanne has lots of exercises and insights into how to correct position flaws, and why it is worth doing.  She has an accompanying DVD.


The Classical Seat – Sylvia Loch. Another great book about how to find the correct dressage seat. There are videos to accompany it.


Riding Toward the Light – Paul Belasik. This is his first book and it is about his journey to become a better rider. I found it very inspiring reading as he is very candid about journey and its ups and downs, including mistakes he made.


Exploring Dressage Technique – Paul Belasik. This is his second book and is look a a few specific problems that are encountered when teaching a horse dressage movements. It can get very technical but contains lots of useful biomechanical information.


Songs of Horses – Paul Belasik. The third book in his trilogy, this one is more of a historical account of dressage, but without names and told in a story format.


Dressage for the 21st century – Paul Belasik. A more traditional how to ride dressage book from the basics to upper level.


Dressage for the new Age – Dominique Barbier. This was the first book I read that introduced me to the French School of Dressage.  He explains basic training to advanced work but with an emphasis on lightness.


Dressage in Harmony – Walter Zettl.  A good resource for exercises for training horses and understanding how dressage horses develop correctly. This book explains what exercises to use, and how they help the horse. He has an accompanying set of videos called "A Matter of Trust." 


Ethics and Passions of Dressage – Charles de Kunffy. If you are interested in upper level dressage or competition, you have to read this book.


For the Good of the Rider – Mary Wanless. Mary Wanless has a number of books on rider position and effectiveness of the aids and how they influence the horse. She has ways of explaining how to use your body correctly using imagery. She also has a book called Ride with Your Mind Essentials which condenses a lot of her teaching down into a more condensed format.


Horses are made to be Horses- Franz Mairinger. Franz Mairinger was at the Spanish Riding School and I read this book about 10 years ago but remember liking it very much. I think I am due to reread it again.


Dressage as Art in Competition by John Winnett. This is a great book. John Winnett has a great writing style, informative but practical and realistic. He presents what has worked for him, not hard and fast rules for how things have to be done. He does a great job of showing how one can ride a horse with harmony and joy and still create a competitively sound horse. 


Work in Hand I: a video by Bettina Drummond. Alexandra Kurland studies with Bettina Drummond and a lot of her groundwork comes from her work with Bettina. I found this video helpful in expanding my ideas for what to do with groundwork and what Alex was working toward.


Work in Hand II by Betttina Drummond: second in the video series. This one focuses on more advanced work such as piaffe and airs above the ground.  I enjoyed watching it and learned a few things about more advanced work. I think it is worth watching even if you never intend to train to that level.


Another Horsemanship by J.C. Racinet.   A good explanation of the French School of dressage and how he trains horses. I read both of J.C. Racinet's books when I was first studying with Alexandra Kurland and found that they offered a different look at dressage and how we teach horses to balance than what I had been previously taught. They gave me more insight into the basis of some of her training methods, not because she uses the same methods as Racinet, but because some of her work with Bettina Drummond comes out of the same tradition of French Dressage.


Racinet Explains Baucher by J.C. Racinet. More on the French School with an emphasis on how he interprets the work of Baucher.



NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)


It’s Not Just about the Ribbons – Jane Savoie. Practical ways to use your  mind to help your riding


Schooling Problems solved with NLP – Wendy Jago.   What is NLP?  Wendy Jago writes " The way people make sense of their experiences and the way this 'sense' is held in the 'languages' of the mind and body."  She teaches strategies to help program your mind to correct riding problems in position and mental focus.


Solo Schooling – Wendy Jago.  This is a great book for people who ride alone most of the time. She has lots of examples of ways she has helped students overcome riding problems by using NLP.  This is the second book in her series.


Horse Wellness


For the Good of the Horse – Mary Wanless. A book describing ways to help your horse with body issues with chapters on acupuncture, herbal medicine etc...


Pain Free Back and Saddle-fit Book - Joyce Harman. This is a very comprehensive and detailed look at fitting saddles, and evaluating horse's back types and saddling needs.


Horses and People:


Living with Horse Power (2 volumes) Rebekah Ferran Witter. Stories of people and their horses and how their horses changed their lives.


The Tao of Equus – Linda Kohanov (really makes you think about horses and how they affect our lives beyond something to ride)


Riding Between the Worlds - Linda Kohanov. The sequel to The Tao of Equus, more about how she uses horses to help heal people.


Journal of a Student:


Taking up the Reins – Priscilla Endicott (I really enjoyed this book as an account of what it is like to be a new student again, even after riding for many years. I could really relate it to trying to reprogram my horse habits as a clicker trainer).




Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, the original version.  Anna Nicholas: who says “reread it as an adult, it is  a book about how people deal with horses, and why. Still true today  120(?) years after written. As an adult you don’t just weep for Ginger, but for Skinner's desperate cabmen....”