Clicker Training and Behaviour Science Summer Camp 2019

with Alexandra Kurland, Jesús Rosales-Ruiz and Mary Hunter

29 July to 1 August 2019 in Calestano, Italy and excursion to Venice on 2 August

This summer camp offers the unique opportunity to take a deep dive into the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and its practical applications in clicker training. A small group of 16 participants will explore in depth how research findings from the field of ABA can explain what we observe during our training sessions and, vice-versa, how objective observations of our animal's behavior can question established beliefs and identify need for further research.


During the summer camp, we'll be exploring different questions with an open mind, ready to deviate from a given path, in order to follow a more interesting question. We'll be guided by well-renowned academics and lecturers, very experienced and highly skilled practitioners and teachers, by our peers, and the best teachers of all, our horses!


We'll make use of inspiring lectures, dynamic discussions, engaging PORTL games, enlightening body awareness exercises, guided Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons, delicious meals and adventurous campfires to broaden our horizon, deepen our knowledge, and ignite our curiosity. And we'll ask our horses for feedback. Are we on the right track or do we need to go back, look at a certain question from another angle, explore another approach?


This is NOT meant to be another conference where you just sit and listen. We will all explore, discover, learn and teach. YOU will shape the course content, based on your questions and your discoveries. And the most knowledgeable persons will be right there with you, providing their experiences to inspire even more questions. 


You always wanted to know what stimulus control actually means? Jesús will be answering with a description of the scientific definition and a practical example.

You would like to know more about errorless learning? Mary has done a lot research on that, both academic and practical teaching, and she will be explaining the concept in great depth.

You wonder how all this fits into practical training and why this is relevant? Alexandra is the best person to explain the relevance of these questions as she is keenly following the research with the practical application in mind and how this can help horses and handlers.


We will also teach each other with the help of PORTL. Jesús and Mary will guide us through some beginning steps of the game to get everyone comfortable with it, and then they will let us loose to explore those concepts that interest us the most. You want to explore variable schedules of reinforcement, go ahead! Really interested in the effect of extinction? Go try, but only with a resilient learner :) Always wanted to know if a jackpot works, have a go! 


We will also explore balance which is so fundamental to horse training, but not exclusive. We will not only talk, but FEEL balance in ourselves and how this affects horses. Alexandra will guide us through body-awareness lessons and connect this to our interaction with the horses. In addition, we will by guided through Awareness Through Movement lessons by Feldenkrais practitioner Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe.  




We want this experience to be exploratory and dynamic, not needing to follow a rigid programme. Instead, the programme will flow with and develop in response to the discussions that arise during these days. 


To give you flavour of what's in store, we have pin-pointed these topics for the Summer Camp. But we may explore many more, as everything is connected with everything else!


Click on the titles to find out more! And you may find that indeed everything is connected to everything else!


PORTL Body awareness Passive vs active shaping Stimulus control horse training foundation non-linear errorless cues


On 2nd August, we will take the discussions to a different environment, to the beautiful city of Venice!


Venice is a 3.5 hour drive from Calestano. We'll travel together in a small bus using the travel time to continue our discussions. In Venice, we'll meet our private tour guide who takes us through the city and around the crowded tourist traps into the beautiful corners of a marvelous city built on water. 


The last day is set up as an optional day as some of you may not be able to attend the excursion while others may consider extending their stay for a few more days to visit this exciting place. 


Remember to book the excursion day separately, in case you would like to join us on this adventure.

Our speakers

Alexandra Kurland and Panda, clicker-trained guide horse
Alexandra Kurland and Panda, clicker-trained guide horse

Alexandra Kurland

is a pioneer and leading voice in the development of clicker training for horses. 

2018, marks the 20th anniversary of her first book and the “official” introduction of clicker training to the horse world. Since then, Alexandra published books and articles on clicker training, a DVD lesson series and an online course (click here for details) and is a regular speaker  at animal training conferences.

She publishes regularly on her blog theclickercenterblog in addition to the weekly equiosity podcast with Dominique Day.



To find out more, visit her very informative website

Jesús Rosales-Ruiz


is an associate professor at the University of North Texas in the Department of Behavior Analysis. He is one of the few scientists in the world studying animal training from both the theoretical and applied perspectives. He, along with his students, has greatly contributed to the understanding of the science and practice of animal training. Jesús also studies the antecedent control of behavior, generalization, behavioral cusps, fluency-based teaching, treatment of autism, teaching of academic behavior, rule-governed behavior and contingency-shaped behavior. 


Jesús is a regular speaker at animal training as well as scientific conferences, as both communities can benefit from each other.


Jesús was invited several times to the Equiosity webinars organised by Alexandra Kurland and Dominique Day. You can access the recorded webinars here

Mary Hunter and Jesús Rosales-Ruiz
Mary Hunter and Jesús Rosales-Ruiz

Mary Hunter 


is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. She also provides dog training services and behavior consultations through her company DogTrainingology and publishes regularly articles about positive reinforcement dog training, the science of dog behavior, and clicker training on her blog Stalecheerios.


As if this was not enough, Mary also serves as the president of The Art and Science of Animal Training (ASAT), a non-profit organization that exists to improve relationships between humans and other animals through educational programs that increase the understanding and use of behavior analytic principles. Mary organises, very successfully, the annual ASAT conference, which brings together academics from the field of behaviour analysis and practical trainers.

The 11th conference will be held 23-24 February 2019, in Dallas (TX). Check out the programme and you will realise why this conference is selling out so quickly. 

Our Feldenkrais teacher

Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe
Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe

Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe has made a career as a professional ballet dancer, on stage together with Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and others. As a choreographer, she has very successfully guided gymnastic athletes at national and international level, as far as the Olympic games in Syndey, Athens (where they won a silver medal!) and Beijing.


Nathalie began studying the work of Moshe Feldenkrais in order to improve her teaching and thereby helped her students to experience more awareness and less pain, providing the opportunity to explore new ways: “learning to learn”.


Impressed by the positive effects, Nathalie became a Feldenkrais practitioner to help others to improve wellbeing and movement and to develop flexibility in body and mind using new pathways. Her students are athletes, musicians, equestrians, and individuals who suffer from injury or disease.


Nathalie on stage
Nathalie on stage

The organisers

Michaela and her PRE mare Graya
Michaela and her PRE mare Graya

Michaela Hempen holds a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine and an MSc in equine science, specialising on equine behaviour. She is working as a scientist which made clicker training especially appealing to her. She studied with Alexandra Kurland since 2010 is now one of Alexandra’s Click-That-Teaches coaches. She runs the German version Alexandra’s online course and provides coaching support. Apart from clicker training, Michaela has a strong interest in classical dressage, particularly inspired by Anja Beran, applied behaviour analysis, and the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, all which are closely interlinked with Alexandra’s work.

Giulia and the Bardigiano stallion Orfeo
Giulia and the Bardigiano stallion Orfeo

Giulia Gaibazzi is our generous host. Giulia and her husband Eugenio have created this paradise for horses and humans (and cats, dogs and bees) in the Apennines, where deer and wolves live. The place is truly immersed in the forest, providing our little herd of five an exciting environment to be horses. Giulia has a university degree in biology, specialising on equine behaviour.

She is a professional classical dressage instructor, takes horses in training, gives clinics and writes monthly articles on dressage and husbandry in Italian equestrian magazines. 

Visit her website to find out more

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You wonder why a classical dressage workshop is linked to a clicker training camp? Good question. It is not just any dressage workshop but a visit to Anja Beran, a classical dressage rider and trainer whose underlying values are very similar to those of Alexandra Kurland and her students. Our aim is help horses feel good in their body and mind, to help them find balance, ease of movement and live a long and healthy life. We share the approach of breaking lessons down into small steps and make sure they are successful. Clicker training adds the precision of the marker and enables us to teach our horses remarkable things. Read on here...


As in 2018, Alexandra Kurland and Michaela Hempen will be attending Anja Beran's Classical Dressage Workshop in 2019 and we would like to invite some of you to spend this week with us. At the end of the dressage workshop we will travel together to Italy and directly continue the adventure at the Clicker Training and Behaviour Science Summer Camp! What a treat!


In Episode #21 of the popular Equiosity Podcast, Alexandra Kurland talks about her visit at Anja Beran's in July 2017 and invites me to explain why I am so fascinated by Anja's work.



Heather Binns joined us for this visit and wrote about her experiences in her well read Horse Magic Blog

Alexandra Kurland and Michaela Hempen (and Heather Binns behind the camera) at Anja Beran's in 2017
Alexandra Kurland and Michaela Hempen (and Heather Binns behind the camera) at Anja Beran's in 2017

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Past clinics with Alexandra Kurland organised by