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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:31 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:39 pm
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Hi, Ive not yet introduced ,myself but have been lurking for a while. Ive been using clicker training with my 4yr old dalesX pony 'Ted' and have recently began to use AND as well. He's been doing great, things he has learnt are spanish walk, "waving" (which I think has another "proper" name in dressage :D ) spanish trot, fetching things, back crunch, the bow, ramener, smiling, stepping on a platform, targeting and yesterday I taught him to go to a target at the back of his stable. Ive come across a bit of a problem, 3 times he has shown agression to me, (every time he has been at liberty or loose in a stable) it seems to come out of frustration, twice he has done a mini rear sort of into me, (this was in the field when training) and yesterday in his stable, he was doing really well touching the target, then he put his ears right back and sort of run at me and tried to bite me at the same time, I was cornered by an angry horse! I smacked him in the chest to get him away, asked him for ramener which he did, to get his head away from me, calmed him down for a minute then went out and stopped training. He obviously wanted to carry on as he kept going to the target and waiting, so I carried on and he was fine. When playing at liberty in his field, he joins in readily but sometimes gets too close and pushy. I tried to play chase the tiger the other day, and boy did he try to kill it! I felt like I needed a longer whip to put the tiger on, as he was getting too close. I stopped in the end as I felt like I was going to get injured. He isnt an agressive pony normally, he is bottom of a herd of 3 and never challenges any horse. He will only chase the tiger in his own turnout field, in any other field he just eats the grass and ignores it. He seems a bit less pushy with a halter on. Am I doing something wrong to make him behave this way? or is it some sort of food related agression? Also when he does this behavior whats should I do? My instinct is to get him away, defend myself and tell him he is too close, wait till he is calm and invite him back, otherwise stop training and walk away. Is this correct?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:57 am 
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I think you have done excellent! you have every right of defending yourself :)
And then you redirected his anger, calmed him down and ended the session with a positive training. :clap:

I deal a lot with pushy, agressive horses lately, one of which my own (Inocencio).
Whatever their reasons... often it is due to past experiences related to living with humans as opposed to living in a natural herd (where this behaviour would probably not occur and if so, not be tolerated.)

What triggers this with your horse... it can be a million of things. But almost all horses living with humans come across antisocial horses in their youth, so I think it is a wonder that so mnay horses have social skills towards horses and other animals (incl. humans) at all.

It can also be playfull, it can be frustration about himself, impatience over something etc.

So, I do not worry so much, when I get agression.
I find out what 'scares this particular horse off' and use that to chase him or her away as soon as I feel treathened. I only chase them out of my space, never follow them. As soon as they clear out of my space, I direct my energy with myself again, not looking at them.
Then I end the session right then and there. "Wanna play with me? Okay: Behave."
Turns out they ussually want to play.

For Ino, the thing that gets him off me is a plastick bag. :funny:
For most horses simply a rope which you throw around yourself.
I never get angry, just defend myself and then calmly leave without giving them an other glance.
Behaviour like that is not worth of my attention, sorry :green:

Has worked like a charm so far.
Hope it helps you two :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:40 pm 
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Welcome to the forum! Josepha has wonderful advice for you. I don't have direct experience with this odd type of aggression that seems to pop up out of nowhere :huh:

There are other good examples you can read up on here. One is Eileen with Gaucho. "My Horses, my friends, my teachers"

I'm putting the link to the first page of her diary:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1287&start=0

Another one is Romy with Titum who is a big sweetheart, but who also gets a little emotional from time to time: This link is the most recent page...you might back up a bit to find where he first charged her. He seems to be set off by running games.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=341&start=720

And this is the diary of Heather and Sanni. Sanni can go off a bit too.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2637&start=45

You will also see that others, too, are working through some thoughts on this whether they have experienced it directly or not.

Spending time experimenting and learning about our body language is always helpful. As Josepha mentioned, she has the ability to focus within herself and take all focus off the horse (making herself very small...Josepha, I got the mental picture of Alice in Wonderland when you first mentioned this, working with "Dangerous"...you are magical!). Many people, including myself of course, don't always realize how strong our focus is when we look at a horse and we can make them very uncomfortable and reactive without realizing it, even when our intention is the very best toward them. So I am constantly working on my own body language and learning to control myself in order that I can learn to communicate with horses better.

In the clicker world, two things you can do to stay safe for the short term is to A) work on simple behaviors from behind a fence or gate or stall door and 2) teach the horse to back up away from you as your primary behavior so they become very used to yielding space without turning their butt to you.

Something else you might do is to work with him for now with a halter and lead line and work directly on yielding space at your request...turning the head away, and yielding the ribcage (bending). With the leadline you can help direct him to the correct answer in case his issue is merely frustration at not finding the answer or getting his reward soon enough. With your softness and patience, you teach HIM softness and patience.

I love Josepha's idea of the plastic bag. Something that makes noise that can tend to bring a horse out of whatever "zone" they fall into when they react like this. Josepha, if you were to use the bag...can you describe how? And where is your focus when you use it? I'm assuming you do not directly challenge the horse when using the bag (ie, look right in the eye)...or do you? Or is it situation specific? Can you explain more please?

I know someone who will use a large red plastic child's baseball bat...they are thin plastic and hollow...so they do not cause any physical harm, but are over size so they can be easily seen and if they do connect with the horse, they are quite loud and can "snap the horse out of it".

I'm glad your boy isn't overtly dangerous...but it must surely be disconcerting to have this popping up.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:59 pm 
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I never get angry, just defend myself and then calmly leave without giving them an other glance.
Behaviour like that is not worth of my attention, sorry :green:


Completely agree with this. The power of being emotionally neutral. You've got every right to defend your space and yourself. (As we do tend to be breakable :green: ). So unwanted behaviour, send him of and invite him again when he's behaving.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:06 pm 

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Thanks everyone, glad its not just me experiencing this then! I will have a read of the posts you suggested and see if anything else pops up. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. I get the feeling he thinks he has got it right and Im in the wrong for not telling him he has and clicking/treating, He never shows agression when he has a halter/rope/bridle on, just when his head is totally free. I will work on backing up , which he does do, and giving me more space, which he isnt that good at yet.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Quote:
Spending time experimenting and learning about our body language is always helpful. As Josepha mentioned, she has the ability to focus within herself and take all focus off the horse (making herself very small...Josepha, I got the mental picture of Alice in Wonderland when you first mentioned this, working with "Dangerous"...you are magical!).


:blush: You're making me blush Karen. :)
But I have learned this from Jamie very well and after Jamie thought me (it took many years...)
I saw horses doing it over and over to each other.
Even more so, the alpha mare is the least 'present' in the herd when all is well.
I can't wait to set up a herd to study (plans... tell them some other time).

Quote:
I love Josepha's idea of the plastic bag. Something that makes noise that can tend to bring a horse out of whatever "zone" they fall into when they react like this. Josepha, if you were to use the bag...can you describe how? And where is your focus when you use it? I'm assuming you do not directly challenge the horse when using the bag (ie, look right in the eye)...or do you? Or is it situation specific? Can you explain more please?


Oh yes, of course, I always forget to explain what I am doing. It's a common problem I have which irritated Ralph sometimes. When I see something in me head, I fail to grasp that others do not see that :blonde: :green:
With Ino, I use the bag when he comes up to me. I know from experience I can not get him away from me anymore, once to close, and then it gets dangerous (don't tell Ralph, or else he won't let me train alone with Ino... :green: ). I have to make sure that when he does come close, it is all on my terms.
So when he comes up to me I hold the bag in front of me and let it make as much noise as possible and then jump up and down a little towards Ino while looking straight at him with my eyes wide open, all my energy turned towards him and pushing him off.

When he starts walking I stop jumping, let my eyelids 'hang a bit' like I am sleepy and watch the spot behind him, I keep my breath low and deep. The bag is just there, but not in action.
I reward with my voice.

When I want him to walk (I normally do not pressure a horse into walking, but in Ino's case he has to on doctor's orders) I do the same thing as above but then from behind and with the bag on the end of a lunge whip. I direct my gaze to his hind quarters as soon as he starts moving.
As soon as Ino moves, I reward and do the same, with the lazy eyes and lower energy, but keep walking with him, so there is enough energy for walking, but he does not need to be stressed.

When he fals into a relaps of fear of being chased or for pain while walking, I could whip the lunge whip with bag behind him untill eternity. So I don't. It would only make him go deeper en deeper within himself and then without warning, attack.
Instead, I put it in front of him. As soon as he changes direction he snaps out of it and walks again while I reward.
After 3 sessions it gets better and better.
I can ask Ralph to film it... but I am inclined to think: Don't try this at home.
You really have to have a certain intention, with this sort of thing and this type of horse. You have to exectly know what you are doing and why. Reason and intend is everything with horses and especially with those like Ino and Dangerous.
When trying just to chase them off for getting 'above them' as is normal within a lot of NH methods, will get you in serious trouble as I have seen over and over.
These are the sensitive, intelligent, troubled, experienced horses, that demand an explanation, pure heart and clear intend.

Quote:
Thanks everyone, glad its not just me experiencing this then! I will have a read of the posts you suggested and see if anything else pops up. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. I get the feeling he thinks he has got it right and Im in the wrong for not telling him he has and clicking/treating, He never shows agression when he has a halter/rope/bridle on, just when his head is totally free. I will work on backing up , which he does do, and giving me more space, which he isnt that good at yet.


Well, it may very well be that (from his point of view) you are mistaken. But there are other ways of expressing that. Simply ending the session makes him see that very soon, I am sure :green: I think you are handling this very well.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:22 pm 
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Hi there and welcome!

I loved what Josepha and Karen and Gea suggested, and just have a couple of other thoughts for you.

I think that when we take off halter and lead rope and such we change the rules of the game fairly dramatically, in wonderful ways.

One of those ways, I find with my horses, is that we do really seem to be engaging more as equals than when they're all geared up in traditional 'horse control' gear.

Lots of fabulous things happen when this equality kicks into gear -- one of which, I discovered, is that I was getting responded to far more like another horse than I ever had been before. The down side to that was that they'd play various horse versions of games like "bowling with Leigh" and kick up and out and nip and keep away and tag and even occasional professional wrestling body slams (this is my filly Circe's specialty -- she LOVES this game). So I've needed to remind them that I am, indeed, a heck of a lot smaller than they are, am breakable, and am liable to get really cranky if I get slammed... ;)

My response has been to think of myself as Mama Mare who gets tired of the children rough housing and shuts it down. The tactics I've used have been a bit different, depending on what I'm suggesting isn't a good game. For example, when Circe got really bad about body slamming, I finally grounded myself so she couldn't knock me over and stuck out a fist so she ran into my arm when she came to knock into me -- that didn't feel good! She apologized (lots of lip licking) and we made up pretty much instantly. But regardless of the specific technique, the intention is the same -- as others have suggested and you've been doing -- no anger, just a "nope, that's not okay."

(I also, by the way, talk to my guys all the time -- I think their language acquisition skills are higher than we'd think. And I use images of what I'd like -- how far away I want them to be, how they need to get over excited and/or aggressive away from me, rather than towards me, etc. This really does seem to help, too.)

And, lastly, when they're particularly worked up, i carry a dressage whip with me and that becomes our spacing tool -- it's how far away they should stay from me when we're running together. (I also have used windmilling arms and even elbows stuck outwards when in a pinch!) ;) But the dressage whip is a good visual for them.

Generally if they do something that feels aggressive in this moment they're usually really excited, and aren't actually looking to hurt me. Remembering this has been helpful -- keeps me from getting mad at them and also helps me watch for signals that they're getting extra wound up so I can either bring the energy down or just make sure I don't leave myself open to get chomped or stomped on... :funny:

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:07 pm 

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You already have good answers.
I have tried being a "jack in the box" springing up suddenly with my arms high as they will reach.
I have tried windmilling my arms.
I have tried waving a crunchy plastic bag, this got far too much attention, it might contain food!
Visualisation, brilliant but I can end up with a busy head and a not clear picture to send.
My instructress said I was the broadcasting television station, I had to think what I wanted and my horses brain was the television receiver set displaying the pictures. Sometimes there are a few too many wiggly lines or snow for the picture to be seen, but practice and on a good day I can manage to get a few frames across.
I am not sure my arm would be in the same County if I left it out in front of my happy bouncing at me Shire baby when he enthusiastically becomes a giant puppy running to meet me with no idea of his stopping distances. He accidently slides into other older horses, gets told off but has now realised there is no payback and he is capable of going through instead of around because he is heavier than they are. At least he is not mean or vicious but a sense of humour can be dangerous.
If all else fails I carry a metre or so of marine rope and just flick it out around me at ground level to indicate a boundary of my space.
When walking at liberty, if the boys think I might be a good soft target playmate for boisterous games I windmill the rope in front of me and if anyone runs into it, I have not asked them to and they will have stung themselves. Usually of course I forget to take the rope from the tack shed. xx

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:21 am 
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Hiya,
Quote:
I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. I get the feeling he thinks he has got it right and Im in the wrong for not telling him he has and clicking/treating,


I reckon you're spot on! You're not doing something wrong. And I'm sure you've picked up correctly on how he's thinking about it! Sounds like what you have on your hands is a really motivated learner, and he's reached the stage where he's experimenting with shortcuts... you ask him to do something, and he thinks, hmmmmm.. wouldn't it just be easier if I waved my teeth at you and you GIVE me what I want!! This is NORMAL horse behaviour in my book.. not abberant! It happens often in the beginning stages of clicker training, when the horse becomes an entrepeneur and figures out that they can push the food dispenser buttons, but they haven't quite picked up all the rules of the game yet... they just need a bit of refereeing.. a bit of time out.. A demonstration that scaring you into handing over the goods isn't going to have a result.

I've noticed it most often from horses that are lower down the pecking order.. with the beginning of CT they can go through a little period of illusion that they are actually dominating you, because you are not dominating them, and they are getting your food... In herd dynamics, that WOULD mean that they have a position in the hierarchy above you! YIPEE! So they try out what they think is their new status and attempt to just aggress you for what they want. And it's most often triggered in moments of frustration, when they can't figure out easily what you want, or you ask them to do something more physically difficulty, or you ask for more duration. Suddenly they just say "I'm going to play this MY way!"

You've been given lots of good ideas for how to deal with it. Defend yourself, give time out, carry a stick or rope to keep distance, teach "manners" behaviours first, work from outside a fence... Any of these things should help him to learn the rules and boundaries of acceptable CT behaviour. If his experiments in bullying the food off you aren't successful, he'll soon give them up and stick to methods that do work, so just be consistent.

I use mostly time out for a horse like this.. just turn my back on them.. usually just a few seconds is enough for them to realise their mistake and ask politely to participate again. Sometimes though I might have to defend myself first by driving them off a bit before turning my back (and watch them out of the corner of my eye) and sometimes for persistent behaviour of this kind I might practice some gentle rituals like driving from behind in between CT tasks to let horse understand that just because they can cause me to hand out treats, they haven't taken over a position above me. But the most important part for me is training the behaviour that I DO want! CT for the simple little things that a horse does when they're NOT misbehaving. Standing still. Taking a step back. Waiting with head low. Waiting in ramener. Waiting with head away to await a treat... all self discipline. As a general rule, if I have to give time out or defend myself once, I would want to reinforce the correct behaviour 10 x.... so ratio of positive reinforcement to punishment is 10 to 1.

One of our youngsters (who incidentally is an extremely kind and gentle boy) played around with jumping on us and rearing at us and biting us in the beginning of CT.. We used the above, and the trick of counting THREE TWO ONE before handing him a treat, so he calmed down and began to wait with patience. (There is a video of my daughter training with him and dealing with a biting episisode somewhere in the videos section - "Harlequin". Now he's definitely the most motivated learner. I've found that the horses with a propensity for doing this at the beginning are the easiest to teach new things to with CT.. and sounds like your boy is in this category, having learnt so many things in such a short time!!

The aggression during chase the tiger comes from a slightly different motivation in my experience. The above is simple resource orientated... you have food, they think perhaps they can dominate you for it, as horses dominate each other for access to food and water and space resources in a herd. Once they have won their prize, the aggression stops. Simple, I want, you give me!!!

But chase the tiger is appealing to their instinct to destroy an enemy. Horses usually flee.. but sometimes they fight. So when they begin to feel confident in Tiger Chasing, you can see a real scary side of your horse coming out.. this time horse doesn't want to just take something for himself.. he wants to pound something into the ground! And it's FUN!!!!! (particularly when the poundee doesn't really have tooth and claws and can't fight back. ) When we allow our horse to get really into playing this, we have to be REALLY sure that they know the rules of the game, can be trusted to keep it within the boundaries of game, and not forget in the heat of the moment that we are fragile and don't actually want to be pounded. I believe that NOT ALL HORSES have this level of self -control and cool - headedness... .. and not all people have sufficient speed of thought and movement to be safe playing with all horses, and not all relationships have already built up sufficient mutual trust and understanding ie: pre-agreed game rules that each partner knows the other isn't going to forget in the heat of the moment..
It's very much like watching children play fighting.... You know that at any moment one or other could get carried away and all end in tears. But there are ways to minimize the risk.

I would definitely use a LOOOOONG pole... (learnt this with my own LOVELY sweet natured mare who up til Chasing Tiger wouldn't hurt a fly..).. I would stay outside a fence even if possible and neccessary... I would definitely build in some safety switches first, such as a signal for STOP (which for us is halting with both arms upright and a foot towards my horse, reinforced with both stick to defend myself and prevent need to back up if neccessary, and treats for stopping, and a signal for "be careful" and a signal for " move away from me a bit" and practice them first. And I am always prepared to move myself out of the way if neccessary.

Here's my darling in Tiger mode... I trust her implicitly... but when she's like this I also make it my responsibility to not get in the way of her hooves.... You can see a few moments in this vid where if I happened to be in her way I'd be wearing them. But I can stop her at any moment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g94rRJ41X_M (It starts slow.. but watch the second half!) You can see a moment when she's behind me and I turn and ask her to stop. She keeps coming towards me, so I step towards her. That stop is a bit slow for comfort.. She has kicked me a couple of times in play... luckily only lightly on the hip.. So I've learnt to sharpen up a bit, and I"ve practised more mutual movements during lower energy times, so we can use more energy without hurting each other.. like martial arts opponents practice in slow motion.

:D
Sue

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:12 am 

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Waaww Sue, this is indeed a 'wild thing'.
I am not sure I would feel all that certain in such wild play... :roll:

But you both certainly seem to have fun together!

When the horse chases the dog, is that on command or also just playful?
My dogs are so much smaller, I would be scared to keep them there at such moments?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:50 pm 
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:funny: :funny: If only you knew this horse! She is really NOT a wild thing! She is generally a bunny rabbit of a horse! But tiger play brings out the firebreather in her. It's all just show though..... notice how she doesn't actually stomp the dog.. Each punch is fairly carefully pulled. Kicks to the side I have to watch though because she doesn't always judge so carefully, and I think horses kick each other in play like that, out sideways, quite a lot.. so she has to know that I don't like to play this way! :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:14 pm 
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Quote:
I reckon you're spot on! You're not doing something wrong. And I'm sure you've picked up correctly on how he's thinking about it! Sounds like what you have on your hands is a really motivated learner, and he's reached the stage where he's experimenting with shortcuts... you ask him to do something, and he thinks, hmmmmm.. wouldn't it just be easier if I waved my teeth at you and you GIVE me what I want!! This is NORMAL horse behaviour in my book.. not abberant! It happens often in the beginning stages of clicker training, when the horse becomes an entrepeneur and figures out that they can push the food dispenser buttons, but they haven't quite picked up all the rules of the game yet... they just need a bit of refereeing.. a bit of time out.. A demonstration that scaring you into handing over the goods isn't going to have a result.


Oh, this is a really good point, Sue!

Fairly early on in our treat training experiments, Circe was the Mugger, big time. So we worked on how she could only get a treat when she stood nicely with her head to the front and no gaping enormo horse teeth coming at my a) hand b) arm c) treat pouch. She got this really fast!

Then, almost as quickly, she figured out if that she mugged me, I'd correct her, and then she'd get a treat. Smart, smart, smart! She'd do the bad behavior so I'd ask for the good behavior and she'd get the yum she was looking for.

So, I began to just walk away with my arms crossed, energy in, and wouldn't play with her. (Very much like what Sue describes above -- a time out, as she says.) That helped!

But, I should make clear that this is something that we fairly regularly need to revisit. She gets so excited about everything -- food, learning, doing stuff, exploring, and she can forget to be patient. (She's still young -- only 4, and a very intelligent but still very young 4.)

For us, it's always about finding the right balance. If she's not had a lot of focused playtime, she's more wound up and more likely to forget our rules, and even when we're playing regularly, I'm always working to find the groove where we're having tons of fun and doing productive stuff -- not always as easy to find as one would think!

(Also, this is one of the places where being confident about your own energy and space and only going as far as you truly feel safe are both really important. Sue can dance with the wild one because she knows her so well and because this doesn't scare her. I find that if I'm nervous about my guys squishing me when we play hard, those are the moments where they're more likely to step on me, etc. )

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:50 pm 
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What an excellent, EXCELLENT movie, Sue! :applause: :applause: :applause: :alien:

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:53 am 

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As others has mentioned, I just think that he gets a little too excited and only focus on the food. When he does show that kind of aggression, you said it comes out of frustration? Then it is certainly because he cant figure out how to get the food, then he gets frustrated and tries to take the food from you.

So I would be careful with what behavior I reward. Take some small breaks so that you dont have to do 'something' all the time. When he gets pushy and shows bad behavior, then ofcourse defend yourself if it is needed, but otherwise just ignore him, show him that you dont want to waste your time on his bad behavior. Maybe dont use so many treats? Many horses shows aggresive behavior because they expect a treat, everytime they do something. So try to learn him that he gets a treat when he does something that YOU expect him to. But be careful when he gets a little to excited, when he does, make a break. You dont want a horse to think "FOOOOOOOOOD! GIMME GIMME FOOD!" everytime you ask for something? He has to learn, to do 'nothing', and to do 'something' when you ask him to.

But I think that you have done great, "dealing" with him, on your own :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:42 pm 

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If you do not already have a copy of Alexandra Kurland's book "Clicker Training For Horses", see if you can borrow a copy. Go back to the beginning, start with targeting to touch an object and lay out the ground rules of the game.
My horses show me when I have been indulgent instead of consistant and as a human there will be moments when a fat pony wants a bum scritch, swings into me and I notice 'what I do not want', instead of focussing on head towards, bum away, reward. I need to explain that I am willing to do as they ask, but the ask must be polite rather than demanding.
The person in my herd that needs the most training is ME. I love to treat them and they are pretty good at working out how to get me to spend ages under their tummies giving them a rub, or handing out earned sugar puffs.
Cool video Sue.
All the comments you have from the experienced AND members will help you arrive at your desired destination.
Love Susie xx

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