Clicker training
 
 

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Clicker training

This is a discussion on Clicker training within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Dr andrew mclean horse abuse
  • Clicker training a horse opinions

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  • 1 Post By oh vair oh
  • 1 Post By Saddlebag
  • 1 Post By Saddlebag

 
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    04-18-2013, 11:29 PM
  #1
Foal
Clicker training

Hi! I'm looking for opinions on clicker training. Does anyone use it to start young horses or to re-educate older ones (ie not just for trick training)? It seems good in theory and I've seen it work well for teaching isolated things like float loading, crossing water, bridges etc and for desensitising purposes but I haven't seen any horses completely trained using this method on the ground and under saddle. I don't understand how it can be used for teaching movements under saddle but apparently it is and with great success according to what I've read.
What do you guys think?
     
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    04-18-2013, 11:45 PM
  #2
Started
I know some people who fawn over operant conditioning like a cult.

Personally, I think animals (especially horses) have far too many complexities to be taught one way only. They have depth to their personalities, hereditary traits that affect their personalities, some forms of emotional depth, and are asked to do complex tasks.

To me, the best way to train an animal is to use all of the four quadrants, and not sit on a single one. We acknowledge that our animals have psychological depth and nuances, and when we have the full quadrant to our disposal can we effectively deal with every situation.

I find this article interesting, especially when confronted by clicker trainers who ONLY do R+ and find any "aversive" techniques just plain "abusive". Why I Don't Believe In Clicker Training - Dog Training - Dog Trainer - Behaviorist | SamTheDogTrainer.com

Positive reinforcement, of course, is a wonderful tool. But in order to be prepared for any job, you need all the tools in your tool belt.
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    04-19-2013, 12:39 AM
  #3
Foal
Thats a very interesting article, thanks for the link Oh Vair Oh! Have you also heard of Dr Andrew McLean and how he applies learning theory to horse training? His books are very interesting too.
     
    04-19-2013, 01:25 AM
  #4
Trained
Hi Pippijo,

I like the *principles* of c/t and I also find it very valuable in teaching *people* how to train. You can theoretically teach whatever you like with this method BUT I am not a 'purist' about only using +R or such, so I'm not speaking for those people. I use a mix of +R, including food treats, and -R, with occasional +P. I find it really valuable, from training new stuff to unhandled horses, to teaching 'good manners' to 'rude' or 'spoiled' horses.

I do agree with Ohvair & that article(didn't read it all tho) in principle, but in reality, I think they're confusing the basics, the principles, with the 'purist'(you could say fanatical) few. Just because you consider yourself a 'clicker trainer' or 'operant trainer' doesn't at all mean you necessarily disagree with using anything aside from +R, that you don't believe horses have emotions, that you believe there is nothing aside from input that makes up output... that the world is flat...

It's like any other topic(especially with horses it seems) - mention a 'lable' and suddenly there are people who want to tell you how fanatical it is, because somewhere, at some time, they've seen or heard of some fanatical egs of it.

Since you brought up the name & Ohvair's link mentions 'that type', what I understand of Andrew McLean, he is a pure 'behaviourist' who believes operant conditioning is the be-all. Don't think he's into c/t or +R though.
     
    04-19-2013, 01:44 AM
  #5
Trained
Now I am wasting my time reading that silly article you posted ohvair - some rather narrow, not well thought out views there...

Quote:
They drew the wrong conclusions from the data. Once the experiments were done again they proved that the conclusions were wrong.
Curious to learn more details about that, but that person just talks in circles without telling... Perhaps the person's 'wrong conclusions' were specifically about food treats, about clickers... that they don't understand the principles behind the 'treats'... don't know. But...

Quote:
Let’s say you wanted your wife to have sex with you on demand. So every time you wanted sex, you’d say a command, after she had sex with you as soon as you were done you clicked a clicker and gave her some chocolate. How well would that work out? Could you put the behavior on command?
Isn't this effectively prostitution?? So yes, it's been done for millenia! While chocolate may not be always effective, I'm thinking most of us could think of a desirable enough +R to allow it to be put on cue! New horse perhaps??
     
    04-19-2013, 09:44 AM
  #6
Started
Sorry, I didn't mean the article to be a huge point of contention. I just happen to know of some clicker trainers who scream abuse at the sight of a crop or spur. The article I think shares the same frustrations as I do when you come in contact with these types of purists.

I see nothing wrong with clicker training or positive reinforcement, but when people go a little overboard with it I can totally see where he's coming from. I could never be a clicker "purist" because I acknowledge my horse's bad behavior and/or aggression and deal with it right there, where as some purists really don't believe that horses have the capacity to have bad behavior/aggression, that it is only the handler's fault. But we know this to be untrue, since some lines of horses have hereditary bad natures, especially in some of the cow-horse lines. I think that's what he meant about c/t purists thinking of their horses as one-size-fits-all and "robotic", because they don't acknowledge the forces out of their control in a horse's personality, nor do they recognized the workings of herd behavior. I can say the c/ts I know all believe equine bad behavior to be "behavior fallout" on the part of aversive techniques from the rider and cannot be moved otherwise.

Which I just don't agree with. I mean, I could see that happening if you only used negative reinforcement, then yes, you could have a really grumpy horse. But I think for the most part people train from all the quadrants, and positive reinforcement is usually a pretty important one. Herd dynamics is also a really important thing to think about, and how horses interact with each other. All these ideas are great, but I just caution against an "end all beat all" from any technique.
     
    04-19-2013, 11:34 AM
  #7
Showing
Pippijo, once the horse learns to touch a target and learns that the click comes first then the treat, it is great for getting a horse over a sticky issue. Care must be taken when the click is given. Eg. The dreaded spray. Starting with a water filled spray bottle, I sprayed it beside me at arm's length. If the horse's feet stayed still while I was creating the spray, not after, I clicked and rewarded ie during the action, not after. Gradually moving the spray closer I continued to c/t. BTW, he was at liberty, not even a halter. I was careful that the first spray that touched him was directed in front of his hoofs so as to barely touch his legs. He jumped away about 12'. I remained rooted. He turned and I had to laugh as he was trying to figure out how to get the c/t. It took him a few minutes to decide and the c/t won out. The same area was sprayed,c/t, then his shoulder, c/t then I went all the way around, c/t, I avoided his neck this time as he was unsure about his head. The next day, armed with fly spray, he was shown the bottle, then he allowed me to give him a good spraying c/t. So we went from many to one in one day. Because he was at liberty and dealt with it himself, he is the easiest horse to spray now. If you wish to do this, don't buy a clicker as it becomes a nuisance in your hand. I do a chicken cluck with my tongue, it works and I never lose it.
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    04-19-2013, 08:58 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by oh vair oh    
The article I think shares the same frustrations as I do when you come in contact with these types of purists.
So perhaps instead of having a rant against 'clicker training' et al, it would be more helpful if you said you don't agree with 'those types' & why. Of course there are fanatics in any walk - I could say I believe dressage riders are cruel because I've seen some of them practice hyperflexion.

Quote:
as some purists really don't believe that horses have the capacity to have bad behavior/aggression, that it is only the handler's fault. But we know this to be untrue, since some lines of horses have hereditary bad natures, especially in some of the cow-horse lines.
My take on the above is that of course horses display 'bad' behaviour, but in the vast majority of cases, it is 'bad' only to *us* because we don't desire it. In the same way that any plant can be a weed if we don't want it in that particular garden. In so many cases humans have inadvertently caused the undesirable behaviour too. With regard to 'hereditary bad natures', of course we need to accept what's possible given 'temperament'(that we've often purposefully bred), you may never make a smoochy puppydog out of a horse that's been bred to be an assertive cow horse any more than out of an Argentinian fighting dog or whatever the guy mentioned, but it's absolutely possible to *improve* the behaviour & responses with operant conditioning.

I personally feel the problem with the fanatical 'fans' is the same as with the fanatical knockers - they've taken a few ideas, disregarded, missed or forgotten the gist and run with those pieces without thinking everything through & considering the whole picture.

Quote:
I can say the c/ts I know all believe equine bad behavior to be "behavior fallout" on the part of aversive techniques from the rider and cannot be moved otherwise..... Which I just don't agree with. I mean, I could see that happening if you only used negative reinforcement, then yes, you could have a really grumpy horse. But I think for the most part people train from all the quadrants,
I do think a lot of problems people have is 'behavioural fallout' as you put it, from a range of things - IOW they inadvertently, unknowingly train their horse that this behaviour is necessary/works.

Most people I know of use predominantly, if not only negative reinforcement in training their horses. It is the universal main 'tool' of training. I don't for a second believe that it takes solely -R to make a 'grumpy' horse - heck, people even do it with solely +R.

The biggest problems I see are that people confuse -R with positive punishment, that they don't understand what constitutes *actual* +R(as opposed to praise, patting, etc) & don't appreciate the value/importance of it, and don't understand the full effects of their training, whatever 'quadrant' they use or don't. I think learning the principles of behavioural training - clicker training or otherwise - is hugely important & invaluable.

So... basically it sounds like I agree with you oh vair, that perhaps you've only had experience with the 'fringe dwellers' of c/t. I hope our discussion has helped Pippi understand better what it's all about....(??)
     
    04-20-2013, 09:42 AM
  #9
Showing
Oh vair oh, Analyzing why a horse is doing a particular unwanted action usually gets better results than going to the crop. This was learned when rehabbing horses. The behaviour often signifies gaps in the training.
loosie likes this.
     
    04-22-2013, 12:11 AM
  #10
Yearling
I'll just refer you to the clicker training thread I started and many people have added to: Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted
     

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