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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:44 pm 
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Teaching yourself and your horse how to deal with foodrewards

When you want to start working with foodrewards, you can do the following exercises to prepare him on what the foodreward is for, when he can expect one and when not, that he shouldn't mug you and that he should use the rewardsignal as guide towards the right behavior.

It teaches you to be consequent when handling treats, and also teaches you to reward your horse with the right timing - by giving him the rewardsignal exactly when he's doing something great, and not after it.

Rewardsignal
The first thing you need to do is: think about what rewardsignal you are going to use: it has to be a sound that from now on always will be followed by a (food)reward, so your neighbour shouldn't be able to say it over an over again without treating ('good boy' probably isn't wise because of that reason). So choose a specific signal that others won't use around your horse, and choose a signal that's short so that you can use it with very precise timing.
Examples: the click of a clicker, a tongue-cluck (not the same as you use for riding!), a kissing sound, a whistle, a word like 'Perfect!' 'Exact!', 'Good!'.

Set-up
You start teaching your horse this signal behind a fence, so that untill he has learned that he only gets a treat after the click (or whatever other signal you use) and never without, he won't be able to physically mug you for treats. You prevent him from making the most obvious mistake, so that you don't have to correct him for that either. It makes the entire learning session both much faster and also more postive for him.

Another great thing about working from one side of the fence while your horse is free on the other side, is that your horse can walk away from you whenever he wants to. And he will probably walk away after 5 to 10 minutes in order to process all the new ideas he is getting and the new principles he's learning. So let him walk away from you!

Walk away from the fence yourself and take a break untill your pupil positions himself next to you again. That will probably be within five minutes. Then you can start to practice again - first by doing something very easy in order to remind him of what you both have done (just click + treat for a few times for example, then touch an easy target) and then continue where you left.

Another break your horse can take, is a mental break: your horse won't walk away, but suddenly ignore your exercise, or give wrong responses to an exercise that he did perfectly only a minute ago. It means that he's internally processing his thoughts, without physically leaving you. Give him the same break. Take a little distance in order not to bother him with more signals, and let him process everything untill he turns to you again and seems interested to learn more.

When introducing a horse to clickertraining during a clinic, I usually work for 30 to 45 minutes with the horse (and trainer of course!) in which the horse is totally at liberty and can walk away whenever he wants to. Whenever he takes a break, we take one too. Generally, during such a training session, the horse takes about 3 breaks, which each take about 2 to 5 minutes - to give you a general idea.

You can start teaching him three important things in that first session:

1. That your signal is a reward signal (I'll write click from now on, shorter 8) )
2. That he should earn that rewardsignal plus the treat by doing things: targetting for example
3. That mugging never will be rewarded with a click+treat, and that he will only earn a click+treat if he stays away from the food.

So in practice:
1. Teaching the rewardsignal
Stand on the other side of the fence where your horse is standing, click (give your rewardsignal) and immediately push a treat against his mouth. He should have the treat within half a second after your click in order to be able to associate the signal with the food.
Just repeat that in quick succession over a few minutes, untill you start to see that your horse responds to the click by apprehending the reward (turning his head/ear/nose to you). If he starts to react to the click, you know that he's realising that this is a rewardsignal. You can already start to click only when he turns his head away from you or lowers it to the ground: you only click when the nose moves away from you, and not when it's pointing at you/your foodbag. This already teaches him a valuable lesson about being polite around food.

Continue clicking + rewarding for a couple of times, and then you can move to the second idea: work for food. 8)

2. Targetting
The idea behind targetting is very simple: choose an object, hold that in front of your horses' nose and as soon as he touches it, you click+reward. By doing this you teach him that you from now on will reward (spontaneous) movements from him, and that he can do things in order to earn the click+treat. If he understands (usually within 5 clicks) that touching the target is a good idea, you can slowly make it more difficult for him by moving the target a centimeter further to the right/left/up/down and then let him touch it. Yuo can also start to introduce a cue that you will later use to ask him to touch the target.

Once the horse gets the idea that doing something for food is great, then you can also teach him to target your hand on cue. It's very simple: you stretch your hand towards your horse, snap your fingers Once (repetition of cues only works against you!) and then stretch your fingers and hand flat in that same spot so that they become a sort of card for your horse to touch with his nose. As soon as he touches it, you click+reward.

The great thing about this hand-targetting, is that your handtarget is empty: your horse already learns that he's not supposed to follow food or things like that, but instead use his brains and target empty, foodless things in order to get a rewardsignal and then to get a treat out of your hand. It teaches him that your hands most of the time are empty, so that mugging just has no use.

If your horse really understands that he can earn clicks+treats with his movements, and that the timing of the click really tells him which behavior is right, then you can teach him a new thing: don't eat food untill you're clicked. ;)

3. Don't eat
Yuo're still behind the fence, and now you put a little food in your hand, then make a fist of that hand and stretch your arm, placing your hand in front of the horses'nose with your knuckles up.

As soon as he moves towards it in order to grab it, you say 'No'. If he halts his movement for only a millisecond, you immediately click+give him the reward immediately!!! Because this is exactly the behavior you want to see.
If your horse is at your hand already or ignores the 'no' and starts getting physically interested in your hand, you say 'no' again and if he still mugs your hand, you can give him a small but clear snap against the lip/nose (whatever is getting fysical with your hand ;) ) by flicking your wrist upwards. If he ignores that, then just continue with these taps untill he moves away from your hand only a millimeter. Reward immediately!! Because this is exactly what you wanted with this correction: to tell him to move away from the food.
The result you're looking for is that when you offer your horse food without click, he will stay away from it, hangs with his nose calmly over it without eating, or turns his head away from it - for longer and longer stretches of time.

The important thing with this positive correction is that you should NOT hit your horse, not go after him and hit him when he's already retreating, not get angry, aggressive or physical with him!!!. If it's too hard and he's all over you, just take a step backwards (so that it's harder for him to reach your hand) and try again. You only tap him (soft to sharp, depending on how aggressive he moves to you) from your wrist and not with your entire arm swinging up towards him, because when your arm/wrist stays in place, it will be very clear to your horse where he's not allowed to come: near that hand. Another thing is that if you only flick your wrist, you won't be able to touch him when he's already moving away - so you won't be able to correct him for the good behavior!
If you just fling your entire arm at him, it is very unclear for your horse where he's not allowed to come (as your arm is all over the place), and your physical correction gets a very bad timing and will scare/hit the horse even when he's already retreating.

Instead of giving him a small fysical correction, you can also correct him for going for the food by drawing your hand out of his reach when he gets too close. The good thing about this is that your horse doesn't get a positive (physical correction), but horses do have a tendency to actually follow things that are moving away from you, so it might be a bit harder for him to understand in the beginning. Whatever you do, make sure you connect a vocal correctionsignal to your correction (for example 'No' before your correct him/turn away from him). That enables him to anticipate on your upcoming correction even better, and your aim is not to correct your horse, but to stimulate him to avoid those corrections and show the right behavior!

If you repeat this and reward immediately as soon as he moves his head away, he will very soon understand that in order to earn the food, he has to move his head away from it. The funny thing is that horses realise this after 10 to 15 no's already and then immediately love doing this exercise - that is, if you are very honest in your correction, keep it to the minimum and reward as soon as he responds correctly to that.



-----

Once your horse understands that he shouldn't go to the food, but stay away from it in order to earn it, he'll be safe to work with within the fence. Just repeat the exercise every now and then (also because he will love it 8) in order to remind him of this basic law.

Now your horse knows:
- treats only come after a specific signal
- the signal is given precisely when the horse does something good (and you won't click for mugging)
- the horse shouldn't focus on the food and how to steal that from you, but instead focus on what he can do in order to earn the treats.


Then you can safely enter the paddock and play with him, giving him his foodrewards with great timing and without any confusion about what he can/can't do in order to get treats.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:40 pm 
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Hi Miriam
Thanks for sharing, it has great information.
But I already learned alot about clickertraining in your book. But this is a great add to it.
Thanks
greetings

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:20 am 
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Well, these are actually the same exercises as are in the tricktraining book I wrote. 8)

Probably also the reason why I didn't post them before, because it just wasn't that inspiring to type the same for the Xhundred time again :roll: :wink: But as it's important to introduce foodrewards in such a way that your horse really understands them, it was time to publish it over here too! :)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:21 pm 

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Very clear indeed, and very useful, thank you for the step-by-step description. But as a beginner in clickertraining, I still have some stupid questions :scratch: : I suppose that once the horse has understood that "click" means he has well done, we aren't supposed to treat after each click any more, right? And if so, do we have to click to tell the horse he's right, and add another signal to tell him that a treat is coming? Or does it "work" without this food-signal?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:26 pm 
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No, with clickertraining you always reward after each click.

You start to ask for more movement by postponing the click further and further. For example, when teaching your horse the Spanish walk, first you click+treat for only one step. Then after a while you don't click for that one step, but wait for a second step before you click+reward. In the meantime you can of course encourage/reward your horse just with your voice in order to tell him that he is on the right track - but that in order to get the click+reward, he just needs to go a little bit further/higher/lower/faster/slower. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:35 am 
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Oh I had the same question actually. Thanks for clearing out.
Cause I have done it sometimes like this, give a click but no treat. I thought she knew that she did wel :oops:
Thanks Miriam

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:49 pm 
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Of course it's also possible to not reward after each click (like is done in SATs/B&T), but when you start teaching the meaning of the rewardsignal, you always reward.

For me the reason to reward after each click is that then they always really want to earn that click. And if a movement is great, but not good enough for a click, I have a lot of other words to praise them for that too, so I personally don't really need an 'empty' click next to that. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:19 pm 
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Miriam wrote:
And if a movement is great, but not good enough for a click, I have a lot of other words to praise them for that too, so I personally don't really need an 'empty' click next to that. :wink:

That is a very good idea, thank Miriam. Because lately I only used the click and not much of verbal praise anymore.
Thanks this is really helpful.
You are full of great ideas :D

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:31 pm 
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I have a clicker, but also sometimes use a verbal "click". I say GOOD! and the boys always get a treat after that word, just like a click. Trouble is, I sometimes say it when I mean "that's wonderful, keep doing what you're doing", but accidentally say "good". So, a pact is a pact, and I must then give a treat.

My keep going, is "very nice" , or "yes". But my brain isn't always in gear :D


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:05 pm 
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Karen wrote:
I have a clicker, but also sometimes use a verbal "click". I say GOOD! and the boys always get a treat after that word, just like a click. Trouble is, I sometimes say it when I mean "that's wonderful, keep doing what you're doing", but accidentally say "good". So, a pact is a pact, and I must then give a treat.

My keep going, is "very nice" , or "yes". But my brain isn't always in gear :D


I have the same thing. Sometimes I want to say 'good' but I click, I didn't give her a treat because it wasn't my intention (bad me :oops: ). And then I say 'good' and give her a treat.
I need to work on this :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:08 pm 
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About the clicker: I don't use the actual clicker either with the ponies, only when introducing new horses to clickertraining.

At home with the ponies I click with my tongue. Well, I don't really cluck, but it's like saying 't', but then instead of pushing the air out, sucking it in between your tongue and palate. It's quite soft, but for some reason the ponies never have any problems hearing them... :twisted: :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:19 pm 
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Miriam, it's common here to spell that sound as "tsk" (even though it's more of "tst" sound). It's the same sound a grandmother would make while wagging a finger at you and thinking what a bad, bad child you are :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:21 pm 
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Miriam wrote:
About the clicker: I don't use the actual clicker either with the ponies, only when introducing new horses to clickertraining.

At home with the ponies I click with my tongue. Well, I don't really cluck, but it's like saying 't', but then instead of pushing the air out, sucking it in between your tongue and palate. It's quite soft, but for some reason the ponies never have any problems hearing them... :twisted: :wink:


Good idea if you don't have your clicker at hand. Because I must admit that sometimes I strugle. I can have a leadrope in my hand, a whip, the clicker and candies, and I only have 2 hands Help :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:40 pm 
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Karen wrote:
Miriam, it's common here to spell that sound as "tsk" (even though it's more of "tst" sound). It's the same sound a grandmother would make while wagging a finger at you and thinking what a bad, bad child you are :wink:


Amazing! I always thought that the English 'tst' was the Dutch 'tsss'! And then you really make the S by pushing out the air. But I think you are right, what I make is the grandmother-sound indeed in the Netherlands too! :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:18 am 
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Nice explanation Miriam! So when are we going to see the rest of your book translated into English. :wink: :D

Quote:
For me the reason to reward after each click is that then they always really want to earn that click.


For me personally, I've found with Sunrise that it works just the opposite. When I tried rewarding with every "click", she was less concerned about earning the "click".... despite that she's a little piggy. It seemed to be just too easy for her.
When I went back to treating on a variable schedule, she became far more interested in earning the click. I've also found that her behaviour becomes calmer and more thoughtful, and the performance more precise.... So I'm dusting off my SATS manual again now.
Different strokes for different umm.. horses, maybe?

Quote:
And if a movement is great, but not good enough for a click, I have a lot of other words to praise them for that too, so I personally don't really need an 'empty' click next to that


I don't use an "empty click" for that either. The "click" is saved only for the moves that are great enough to earn a reward... and usually they do.. but sometimes they don't.
(I think I behave the same with my daughter. I always tell her "Great", and occasionally I tell her "Great, Lets go get an icecream!" I don't need to give her food every time I want to encourage her for good performance or behavior. So, I don't think that it makes her, or the horse, feels nervous or insecure, once they understand the process, trust me, and have some degree of self motivation.)

For things that are great, but not good enough to earn a "click" I also have other words that convey my meaning, so that we can avoid confusion.

Karen, I used to use "good" too. And got myself in a total tangled mess :oops:
Now I've just changed it around, and for some reason it fits much better in my head..
I use YES! for the "click" as this is not something that I generally just spout out as I'm going along, the way that I do with good, and it's quicker and more emphatic, and really seems to sum up the emotion I feel at the moment that I see what it is I'm looking for.
I use good, good girl, as praise and encouragement, and it becomes a kind of reward because it's often teamed up with other things like the food or the scratch.
And I use the S S S S S S S S of the yes as an IB, or kind of KGS.

Off jogging!
Sue

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:02 am 

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Hi All, I just wanted to clarify something with SATs, there still seems a misunderstanding regarding reinforcement.
A reinforcement follows the TB it is food that is random not a reinforcer.

One must be creative in finding what motivates each animal but the Tb gets a reinforcer after it, just not food after every one.
That's it :)

and we do condition the bridges with food but once conditioned, we begin to teach the horse or animal more of the details. :)

For the most part, my horses are like Sue's Sunrise, they are more interested.

Thanks
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:31 pm 
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danceswithmanypets wrote:
A reinforcement follows the TB it is food that is random not a reinforcer.

One must be creative in finding what motivates each animal but the Tb gets a reinforcer after it, just not food after every one.
That's it :)


But that's the same as with clickertraining!

After a click you can give your horse a small, regular treat (be it food, or a scratch on the withers), and after an exceptional movement you can give him more rewards, longer scratching, more food or extra special food (a banana for example 8) ).

In CT you also vary what you give after the click, from something very small (pat on the back) to something enormous (two bananas 8) ). But you always give some attention to your horse after the click, be it food or not - that totally depends on what the horse wants like Sue wrote.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:26 am 

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:lol: the differences are the targets, the naming and explaining, Perception Modification, the intermediate bridge, which is very hard to explain in words, you know it is unique to this method when you start using it the way Kayce instructs.

And, the varied reinforcers start as soon as the bridges are conditioned with the primary reinforcer. So, I never gradually go to varied, I start that way.

:D I think it is more difficult being creative with horses than the dogs and birds.
The bird does seem to need more food reinforcement at times. :shock:

The dogs, will go all day without food as a reinforcer, my Dobe will work just for the sake of working or the opportunity to be involved.
The pitbull Peewee , isn't as into work as Raven is.


So, yep pretty much how Sue uses various reinforcers. I get alot of training done in about 5 minutes just as the youngster comes in from outside, this seems to be the time he is really motivated for some reason??? He leaves his hay and grain to learn. :?: :D

He did a baby half pass today, by following two targets. In the last week, he has had a major learning spurt. :lol:

It is all so much fun when they enjoy the interaction too!!!
Carrie

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:13 pm 

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Wow, thank you Miriam for sharing this :D

Lately I have started teaching Arpis spanish walk with foodrewards, but without any clicker.. The next day after first try he did nice stretching his frontleg. I am bad teacher, so I think he is very intelligent horse :wink: :lol: I just wonder, maybe I'll buy a clicker... You swayed (good word?) me to using foodrewards and clicker ;) But Grandomther-Sound is also encouraging :lol:

Well.. You all have got some animals to experiment and to learn how to use clicker.. horses, dogs, cats, birds...
I haven't got a horse (but with Arpis I think I will try).
The only animal I have got is... turtle.
Do you think it is possible to do some CT with a turtle? :lol:

Tuptus wants to say hello to you all! :D
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:38 am 

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Hi Ola, I had a red eared slider that I taught to follow a target and my marker was a small flash light.
They feel vibrations....also I taught frogs to follow target too but didn't have a bridge, wild frogs are very sensitive little creatures.

My parents have pics of my little frog friends.
My turtle, Smeagle, got out of my turtle enclosure and I couldn't find her . Sliders are notorious for escaping... :(
So I just enjoy my wild eastern painted turtles in my big pond now.

your turtle is very cute

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:24 pm 

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I wonder how I can do that.
Click-sound is different in the water and in the air.. My turtle is also red-eared slider and he lives and eats in water, but sometimes he climbs on a cave he has got.
What tricks I can teach him, following the target and what else?
Your turtle was also living in water, wasn't he? How did you give him foodrewards and what kind of FR?
Tuptus likes meat and fishes.. He is predator.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:36 pm 

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Hi Ola, If you like I will right something on my introduction page so that the forum of food rewards doesn't have turtle training on it :lol:
Look in intro under danceswithmanypets
Carrie

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:23 am 

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Just curious... what if I were to ask my horse to perform an exercise and I didn't have any treats to reward him with? Would he still be eager to please me? I feel as though, by using the clicker+treat method, his only motivation in doing what I ask of him would be food.

This is not an attack on using such a method, but I am wondering if it is possible to train a horse to perform exercises without food rewards? Ultimately, I want my horse working with me because he truly wants to, not because he wants treats.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts--I have never clicker trained an animal before, so maybe I am just misunderstanding.


Last edited by rayne on Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:44 am 
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Hi Rayne! Welcome to the forum!

Please don't feel bad -- it is a great question, one that I struggled with a lot myself. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was all right to use food rewards in my situation, but I won't try to summarize my lengthy thought process here. :) If you go to my diary (The Journey -- Hannah and Caspian) you can read my pages of thoughts on the subject!

As far as working without treats, I actually did a long session of that today, out of necessity in what we were doing (a photo shoot). My gelding, Caspian, still did great, even though we didn't have treats.

Again, welcome to the forum!

Blessings,
Hannah

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:57 am 

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Makana-

Thank you for your response--it is very encouraging! I will definitely read your journal and see what your experience has been with food rewards. :)

My horse is being kept at an older couple's house right now, and they treat him like their puppy, feeding him apples and carrots all the time. He has never been "mouthy" with me (I don't feed him treats), but because he associates them with food, he's always digging his nose in their pockets, nudging their hands, etc. Thus, "mouthiness" is already a learned behavior of his, never having been discouraged (but rather reinforced!) by this older couple, and I feel as though I might be opening a can of worms in this area by clicker+treating him. Your thoughts?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:18 pm 
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Tammi lives with us now 2 days and so far I did never give food/treats with my hands, but always from the ground - to prevent any mugging for food to start.

Tammi is veery food oriented it appears. I guess it comes from having been a riding school horse. I did actually not plan to work with food rewards :roll: But now I was thinking, that this introduction of food rewards might help her to not look at every passer-by as a food source :D

Luckily not to many strangers walk by to give the horses treats through the fence - but would that actually work for the horses not to eat from the hands of others?

Then I was wondering, many here have also two or more horses in the same "training area". Do you use the same signal or two different ones. If the same signal, how do you prevent confusion?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:05 am 
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I have two horses in a paddock and when I train I always carry my little pouch full of hay pellets (their daily ration is less since I know I'll also be feeding while training).
I taught them, one on one not to invade my space. Of course they're always trying but I have a hand signal when they get too close which tells them back off and they do (I've been doing it for about 6 months now).
I only treat when I'm teaching them something. Otherwise, they get a good hug, or a nice stroke or a scratch.
when I'm training, I know they're doing it for the treat and not for me (at first). But that's their nature. But the important thing for me is that they know that I'm their friend and I'm asking them to do something new and when they do, they'll get a reward. Once they know what I'm asking, then they'll get a stroke, no more food reward but always trying to teach them something new or asking a little more.
I have one horse who is very food oriented so he's willing to try anything new but the other one is not so food oriented so sometimes he'll just leave if he doesn't want to do something in particular.
That is what makes it so exciting. I have to find interesting things to teach Magik otherwise, away he goes.
Anyways, before I started, I thought it would be an issue but the important thing (in my opinion) is to teach them not invade my space and treats are given only when I'm teaching them something.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:30 am 
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horsefever wrote:
I have two horses in a paddock and when I train I always carry my little pouch full of hay pellets (their daily ration is less since I know I'll also be feeding while training).
I taught them, one on one not to invade my space. Of course they're always trying but I have a hand signal when they get too close which tells them back off and they do (I've been doing it for about 6 months now).
I only treat when I'm teaching them something. Otherwise, they get a good hug, or a nice stroke or a scratch.
when I'm training, I know they're doing it for the treat and not for me (at first). But that's their nature. But the important thing for me is that they know that I'm their friend and I'm asking them to do something new and when they do, they'll get a reward.
...



So, how do you feel when someone show you they like being with you AND THEY TAKE YOU OUT TO DINNER?

Me, I think I've got a friend I want for life. And if they ask me to do something ... well, I'm very likely to do it. With or without a dinner.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Donald R.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:20 am 
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Yeah' I think it's part of developing the relationship. Once it's there, then you have their trust, and you can ask the world of them (the only problem I have is asking them so they understand but I'm working on it). :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:59 am 
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horsefever wrote:
Yeah' I think it's part of developing the relationship. Once it's there, then you have their trust, and you can ask the world of them (the only problem I have is asking them so they understand but I'm working on it). :wink:


Then there's the premise that we must learn horse language and all will be hunky dory.

Problem with that is that we want to ask them things they have no symbol for in "horse."

The obvious answer?

Teach them a language.

One based on our wants.

Something AND members do routinely.

However, others do this as well, but grimly.

A language made up of what to the horse are threats and confusion and not based on horse perceptions of their universe.

The perfect language between us is highly personal. I might not be able to create the symbolic language for play with one horse, but can with another. Yet I might be able to create such a language for the greedy horse, but not the one content to ignore food.

If there is a single characteristic of horse (and of humans) that might provide a universal shared symbol, one with the same meaning in human and horse, it would be, I think, curiosity.

With it even the horse that has developed reactive violence, such as kicking, biting, etc. can be reached.

I am always teasing horses. Not mean teasing, but playful teasing. A month ago Altea still would not stand for her lips, tip of her nose, and her mouth to be handled. She still resists a bit but it's almost playfully. She pulls away, but not completely away. She backs up, but only a step then stops to be "annoyed."

In fact, I think the little sneak likes it. Likes to be pestered .

She shows the same signs that humans do when they have been isolated with little human contact and suddenly have one or more humans in closer contact. A dancing away, then advancing toward, routine.

These are the tools for communication. This play. This appeal to curiosity.

Horses that we are working with that have not bonded to us yet should be compassionately and lovingly "tolled."

Yes, it comes from tolling of a bell. What do the people do when the church bell "tolls?"

Amerinds used to draw Antelope in close enough to bring down for food and other use, by laying down on the plain, and waving a small skin, usually light colored, overhead on stick. The antelope could NOT resist the lure of this odd thing in their environment and would work their way in.

Currently there is a dog, a retriever, bred to 'toll' ducks. Nova Scotia is the location they are from as I recall.

It's all about appeals to curiosity.

I toll horses with two fingers. I simply wiggle them. Sooner or later, especially if I click them in, they will come and smell and touch my hand. In fact, I consider clicker training a subset of tolling.

I toll horses to follow me in the pasture, to catch them up.

I don't follow them, I pass them so they, out of curiosity about where I am going, and instinctual response to follow not only other horses, but even other animals that might move past them (chase the tiger, anyone?). It's just another form of tolling in.

Making the horse curious is what leads, eventually, to making the horse a safer companion. It feels safer, and you feel safer because it does.

When Dakota touched the rotten deerhide for the first time, it was because he'd been "tolled," into touching whatever he was afraid of or anxious about.

Now he knew they, the feared things, of course were not food, but treats became associated with them almost from the first time he heard the click and got the treat.

And now why wouldn't that be a curious thing in the horse's phenomenological world?

"If I touch EVERYTHING that scares me will I get food?" You could hear Dakota's gears grinding.

And for a long time he was going round touching everything in sight that had the least bit of "anxiety" charge on it. "Scares me, touch it, eat treat." "Now isn't THIS a weird thing my human is doing?"

Curiosity can do what pressure cannot.

Donald. R.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:25 pm 
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Thank you, Donald, what a great post. I especially liked the last line:

Donald Redux wrote:
Curiosity can do what pressure cannot.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:01 pm 
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Wonderful post Donald. That should be a sticky somewhere!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:31 am 
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I split the topic about what treats you use and moved it to the Research Material section: What treats? :smile:


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:26 pm 

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I seem to have a problem. Maybe it has been answered somewhere in the forum, so you can just guide me there then or maybe I have just missed something...but: My horse takes the "don't mug me" thing as a totally different exercise from all the others. She performs it with excellence, turning her head away and not mugging me and so on. But as soon as I start asking something else or give my attention to another activity, she is sure to mug me again. And again I repeat the "don't mug me" exercise with outstretched hand or pull myself away from her and she turns away like she is supposed to...and again, as soon as I try to to anything else - she tries to mug me. And I always go in front and ask her to stand straight before treating (as I am not rewarding mugging and I don't let her get the treat herself, but I give it to her). She is persistent. Any ideas?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:37 pm 

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Quote:
She performs it with excellence, turning her head away and not mugging me and so on. But as soon as I start asking something else or give my attention to another activity, she is sure to mug me again.


Here you can see the incredible power of positive reinforcement on a variable schedule. Once a behavior is established it is very hard to extinguish. The mugging may have been learned by the horse having gotten just one piece of food through mugging, possibly by someone else feeding her a treat without your knowledge. Your horse still has the hope that if she just keeps trying long enough, eventually she will be successful. A little negative reinforcement for her mugging attempts is a price she is probably willing to pay. The easiest, although somewhat time consuming way of dealing with this is to set the situation up to where she physically can't get to you (fence) and gradually increase the time where you ignore her. When I say ignore her I don't just mean to not give her treats, but also ignore her in any other way: touch, eye contact, moving in her direction etc. because all of these could have taken on the meaning of conditioned reinforcers (bridges) that in her mind are connected with food. If you can wait until she gives up (the attempt to mug) and then throw her a treat you will be successful.
If you find out that she can distinguish between situations where she is behind a fence and where she is not you may have to use many repetitions, at least 100, and at least several times over the course of several training sessions of throwing her food whenever she moves away from you, while at the same time pushing her out of your space whenever you did not ask her to come in.
Hope this helps, maybe someone has a better idea, this is the best way I know to deal with this. :smile:
Birgit


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:38 am 

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Hi Iida,
I just found your introduction and realized that you have not been on here for very long. I'm wondering if I may have assumed too much about your being familiar with training terminology in my previous post and not explained what I meant very well, so please feel free to ask if something does not make sense. Also, this is just one perspective, there might be other ways to address this. :)

Cheers,
Birgit


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:23 pm 
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iidala wrote:
I seem to have a problem. Maybe it has been answered somewhere in the forum, so you can just guide me there then or maybe I have just missed something...but: My horse takes the "don't mug me" thing as a totally different exercise from all the others. She performs it with excellence, turning her head away and not mugging me and so on. But as soon as I start asking something else or give my attention to another activity, she is sure to mug me again. And again I repeat the "don't mug me" exercise with outstretched hand or pull myself away from her and she turns away like she is supposed to...and again, as soon as I try to to anything else - she tries to mug me. And I always go in front and ask her to stand straight before treating (as I am not rewarding mugging and I don't let her get the treat herself, but I give it to her). She is persistent. Any ideas?


I can think of a number of approaches but from your description only, one thought occurs.

Some horses are anxious about food when it's used for treats. Not that they are especially hungry (but that can be a factor) but that slowing or withholding delivery after the terminal bridge (usually your click or key word that says they are about to get a treat/reward) can get them into an anxious state of mind.

It's sort of like mom calling us to have a snack, and we get to the kitchen only to discover she's just started to prepare it. We get rowdy waiting. :funny:

With other horses, and on rare occasions with Bonnie our yearling, this happens occasionally and I know to run a little series of asking them for things I know they an do (so there's no reason for a slowdown) and I really shove the treats quickly into their mouths.

I can almost hear their sigh of relief. It tends, as food did when we were tiny babies with our mommies, to create a trust and attachment bond between us.

I try not, with these horses, or even with very easy to handle Bonnie, to do training of any intensity when they are hungry.

Donald, Altea and Bonnie

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~~~~~~~~~
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:55 pm 

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Location: Estonia, Tallinn
Thank you for your answers!

I think that the key is hidden in repetition. I have to be more persistent than she is and take the "no mugging" as a number one goal in every exercise I do for some time. Today it was already getting better. Less mugging, more honoring. And Birgit, I might be new here, but I understood every word you said. : ) Thank you for your help! I also changed a habit today. My horse is used to getting carrots (0.5 kilos on them or so) after the training-session. I used to give them to her from hand.Today I cut the carrots and put them into a bowl and gave them before and not after the session. She felt more relaxed, like she didn't have to worry anymore about the carrots. And I think it's good to have a habit that only carrot that is received from my hand comes with a click. Other carrots are received from the bowl. Tho the "after session" carrots were also never received by mugging, but she only got them when she stood 1m away from me. She is really good at respecting my space if I ask so. Nice. Thank you for getting my brain to work over this issue...I was a bit stuck for a moment. :)

And this horse being hungry can't really be the deal here, i think, cause' she is always free to eat. The food is always there. I've seen her so hungry that she is not interested in training only twice and then she just walks away and starts eating then.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:52 pm 
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Hi there:

Lots of great advice here -- just wanted to add my proverbial two cents...

First thought:
My beautiful golden one, Circe, figured out that if she mugged and then she stood like an angel in a beautiful ramener, she'd get a treat for being good. So she would be bad and mug me so she could then be good and get a treat.

Clever little munchkin! (She's smarter than I am!) :funny:

We did essentially what Birgit suggested to change this -- when she'd mug, I would walk away, arms crossed, and ignore her. That wasn't any fun at all, so she shifted gears fairly quickly.

Even now, when she forgets and goes for a mug (which she does some times), she gets the funniest look on her face as she pops into ramener like "oh, I hope she didn't notice I reached for her pouch, I'm just standing here, doing nothing,...." :angel:

Second thought: like Donald, I've used the 'super fast treat dispenser' method as well -- I've learned that I can control our rhythms by speeding how fast I give treats way up and then back down again. This is actually, I think, a really fascinating thing to experiment with. It began to give me some really interesting insights about how each of us can control our rhythms, much more than i had been aware of.

Enjoy!

Best,
Leigh

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