Very interesting about the mother mare!!! I have never heard about that before
I worked for a couple of years for a horse breeding farm. Watched a lot of mares with foals. I had over 15 years in professionally at that time and yet those mares taught me more about horse communication than anything else I'd ever learned.
Carla: what are you focusing on when you click him? Maybe you should only focus on distance and your safety until that is okay.
The behavior you get is the behavior you reward, so if he get more pussy he get rewards for being pushy.
So first thing you have to make is some roles for when you give rewards. Give yourself the handicap that its impossible to give him anything at all when he does something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Start with exercises like go back. Then move away and stay. And I donâ€™t mean move far away and stop having contact, but move one or two meters and wait, focusing and look at you. I the beginning you just ask him to go back, when that work, you ask him to go back and stay for a second, and then longer and longer time till you can ask him to give you space and wait as long as you want.
The other thing is when you have clicked him. He can come to you or stay where he is and you come to him. But he canâ€™t take the food out of your hand. When hi come to get the candy ask him to stand in a comfortable distance, ask him to take a step back if necessary, if he is stressing and want to you to give him the food fast, you are going to be slooooow. And you stop the movement if he is uncomfortable. If he behaves well, he gets the food fast, if not he get the food slow. If really bad he donâ€™t get it at all, and you live and he have to stay and be bored.
I tend, with pushy horses, to push first. That is I never let then come to me or reach for the treat. I'm afraid that if I've sufficiently "charged," the clicker with giving a treat and then don't give it I could make my horse resentful and anxious, and possibly, with a horse as is being described, very pushy about the treat I'm withholding.
So I tend, just as the Mother Mare, to be generous and give rewards even for behavior less than perfect. then look to my delivery system to improve it. In other words, I"m not rushing that treat into his mouth quickly enough and need to speed it up. I hold off for a very long time, until I fully have his trust, confidence, and the ensuing calmness before I ever teach this kind of horse to come to me for a treat.
A few times correcting myself by getting that treat to him right after the click and he begins to expect my generosity and calms expectantly.
I would have the food with me at all times, and so much that itâ€™s always more, but if the he donâ€™t behave good he donâ€™t get it.
That would not work well for me. Some of the horse's I've worked with learn very quickly to be aggressive about treats, and often they learned this from others. I also make it a point to have times there are no food treats at all involved and I'm there to give grooming and other personal care. Those, in time, can be and often become the "treat," as ear cleaning is becoming for Bonnie. She loves when you get down there and dig the gunk out of her ears. She's turn her head to help you get deeper.
A other exercise that is nice two start with is, head forward. You stand by his shoulder with candy in your hand; he turns around and tries to get it. You just follow by his shoulder (if you have one hand on him its easier to stay in place). After little time he will turn his head forward. You click and give him the food. When he has learned two stands with his head forward you move a little closer to his head. And it al starts again. In the end you can stand beside his head with food in your hand and he doesnâ€™t try to take it. Most horses get this in 5 to 15 minutes. Later when you click and he gets pushy, you move to the shoulder and help him remember what works.
Yes, two well known authors on clicker training recommend that the next (really the first) thing you teach a new horse, after you have charged the clicker is how to accept the food reward.
Still, now and then, one will have a grabber despite all the careful training. Usually it's not that they strike like a snake, though I've seen that, or a starving dog, but that even though they hold position, and wait for the signal, as they take the treat there's just too much "tooth," in it, a kind of aggressive snap.
I use the same method to cure this that I learned to help dogs learn to take treats from the hand gently and carefully, even daintily.
One holds their flat hand, with out the food in it, with the back facing the animals mouth, and puts the treat between the finger, kind of like shoving it through a picket fence.
There is something about bumping the end of the nose that both dogs and horses slow down from.
Can't say why horse's do, because their nose is so tough, but they do slow down the taking of the food, even working it out of the fingers with the lips.
It's quite a job to help a horse overcome these more dangerous bad habits, but as you point out, it can be done.