The Art of Natural Dressage

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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 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
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 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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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 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
Posts: 760
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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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:55 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
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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