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Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted

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        04-17-2013, 11:51 PM
      #111
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PunksTank    
    So I'm feeling revitalized with CT again and eager to do more! I keep thinking of things to teach my horses, but when I have the pocket full of treats I can never decide which to teach now. So I've made myself a game plan with my mare.

    I want to try working with a neck strap - eventually to ride with only that. I've just recently backed my mare, she's been nothing but wonderful, she walks and turns and stops and backs up, sometimes if my energy is up I can get some trots out of her too :P but we're really just working on fine tuning things before moving on to that.
    So I figure now's as good a time as any to teach her about neck straps xD As it's dark out and she was in her stall I just tied a set of rope reins around her neck (pretty loose) and tried neck reining her left (me on the ground). With CT in about 5 minutes she was giving me a consistent left head turn, in 3 more she was stepping over with her front end. I'm very proud of her!
    Tomorrow we're going to work on turning right, and maybe stopping/backing up with it. Then I'll try hopping on once those are solid :)
    I feel very safe riding her like that - she just stops when she doesn't know what to do - so I have no concern about any of that.

    So I'll keep everyone posted!!
    I've never been able to ride with a neck strap. Now, thanks to clicker training, I've decided I'm going to train him armed with only a neck strap and my clicker. Of course, I may need to use other things occasionally in order to guide him to what I want him to do (he doesn't like guessing), but only as minimally as possible. It's been a great experience so far, and he loves getting to work! I love knowing that I literally cannot force him to do anything - he has to make the choice.
         
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        04-18-2013, 12:06 AM
      #112
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tiffanyodonnell    
    How do you go from a slow spin to a fast one? It's one move that I can't preteach on the ground. I think I just need to jackpot her when she does it quickly. That's how I got her backup to be speedier. I just need her to be a little speedier once or twice and shape that.

    Posted via Mobile Device
    I'm training my boy specifically to be a reiner. In general, my approach has been to use "normal" training methods to guide him into doing what I want him to do, and then clicking and treating when he responds correctly. I've discovered he gets very frustrated when he has to guess what I want - he wants to get it right, and RIGHT NOW! So, I do my research to see what other people have done to teach different maneuvers.

    In the case of a spin, I recently read this suggestion:
    Trot your horse to the left, then ask for a spin to the right (like a rollback). This will give you some momentum going into the spin, but put the weight back on the hind in order to turn around. However, after one or two quick steps, trot off in the direction you just spun (to the right) to maintain momentum. To practice a spin to the left, just reverse everything. As she gets better at this and gives you the speed and response you want, ask for a few more steps, then a few more, etc. until you're getting your turns.

    The trick to this for us is figuring out where the most effective "click" spot will be. I would say, at first, that it's probably after she does the quick turn and trots off a few steps. Then, as we've said before, don't click unless she gives you a few more quick steps. Eventually, you can start clicking in the spin since she'll connect the faster steps with the click.

    Another option is to really refine your cues. My boy knows to get his butt in gear when he hears me kiss - I imagine he'd speed up his spin (when we get there) if I kissed to let him know I want more out of him. Then, I'd just click and treat when he goes a little faster.

    On a final note - you can teach this from the ground. My boarder has me working with her horse and swears by Parelli, so I had to learn a few things about it from her before she was comfortable with me working with her horse for her. (I'm not entirely new to it, but I think I feel about Parelli the same way a lot of people feel about CT lol.) Anyway, one thing she had me do was to use the horses "zones" to move away from pressure. I did notice that her horses pivoted really well when she used the front zone (head/neck/shoulder) to move her horses away from her. I did try it with my boy, and, being as responsive as he is when I lift my hands, he did a nice roll-back lol. If you're quick on your feet, you could ask for more from the ground and reward for quicker responses, then have it translate into the saddle!
         
        04-18-2013, 11:03 AM
      #113
    Started
    JillyBean so glad your back! Sounds like things are going amazingly well for you Huge congrats on the new job!
    Sounds like your colt is moving forward in leaps and bounds - way to go!

    About the neck strap - ahh I'm so conflicted! I got her riding well with it in her paddock, but she's a seriously spooky horse and I just don't know if I'd ever trust to ride out without something else.
    Honestly I think this is the hardest part of using Clicker Training - the whole world is open to you, but deciding which path to take is pretty tough. So I still haven't settled on any one particular piece of tack for riding her in, I go between her Indian hackamore, her halter and the neck rope. But truthfully I haven't ridden her nearly as much as I should - work and a wedding to plan :P And my Belgian is finally healthy enough to ride, so I've been riding him instead >.<

    I guess I had a silly question - what are some good CT methods of desensitizing horses? I've done all the basics with her, plastic bags and all bits of tack. But really, rather than just not being afraid of a plastic bag I want to teach her that calmness is what I want all the time. That when she's nervous to stay still. When I got her, the only thing any human had taught her was that she was stronger than us all. She's known since the very beginning that if she doesn't want to do something she can gallop off and I can't stop her.
    I'm very proud that she's come as far as she has - particularly because I know if she didn't want to be doing what I ask she wouldn't be. She's gotten to the point now where she only spooks over legitimate things to spook over - most recently a gopher magically appeared and jumped out at her (you know those horse eating gophers!!) - the problem is that when she spooks she GOES. We were walking around the outside of the paddocks to the ring out back (which isn't fenced either) and within a second she was back up at the front gate of the paddocks.
    So I guess I'm looking for some clicker training methods to teach a horse that when they spook to stay relatively still.
         
        04-18-2013, 11:52 AM
      #114
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PunksTank    
    JillyBean so glad your back! Sounds like things are going amazingly well for you Huge congrats on the new job!
    Sounds like your colt is moving forward in leaps and bounds - way to go!

    About the neck strap - ahh I'm so conflicted! I got her riding well with it in her paddock, but she's a seriously spooky horse and I just don't know if I'd ever trust to ride out without something else.
    Honestly I think this is the hardest part of using Clicker Training - the whole world is open to you, but deciding which path to take is pretty tough. So I still haven't settled on any one particular piece of tack for riding her in, I go between her Indian hackamore, her halter and the neck rope. But truthfully I haven't ridden her nearly as much as I should - work and a wedding to plan :P And my Belgian is finally healthy enough to ride, so I've been riding him instead >.<

    I guess I had a silly question - what are some good CT methods of desensitizing horses? I've done all the basics with her, plastic bags and all bits of tack. But really, rather than just not being afraid of a plastic bag I want to teach her that calmness is what I want all the time. That when she's nervous to stay still. When I got her, the only thing any human had taught her was that she was stronger than us all. She's known since the very beginning that if she doesn't want to do something she can gallop off and I can't stop her.
    I'm very proud that she's come as far as she has - particularly because I know if she didn't want to be doing what I ask she wouldn't be. She's gotten to the point now where she only spooks over legitimate things to spook over - most recently a gopher magically appeared and jumped out at her (you know those horse eating gophers!!) - the problem is that when she spooks she GOES. We were walking around the outside of the paddocks to the ring out back (which isn't fenced either) and within a second she was back up at the front gate of the paddocks.
    So I guess I'm looking for some clicker training methods to teach a horse that when they spook to stay relatively still.
    When riding with the cordeo, I would only ever do it with JUST the cordeo in a confined environment like a round pen, arena, or (in my case) his own pen. In fact, I haven't moved into the arena or round pen because he seems much more relaxed and confident in "his" space, and I'm somewhat nervous about being somewhere where I'm closer to fencing in case something did happen. His pen is wide open, so if I do go off, I most likely won't hit anything but the ground haha. When going out on trail rides, I plan on riding with a sidepull or even a bridle once he has some practice in one, but I shouldn't have to use any direct reining since he should respond to neck raining and leg pressure after so much work in the cordeo. That's ultimately the goal since I want him to be a reining horse - using almost no pressure at all to get quick responses. If I only ever train him with a cordeo, then I'll never have to "wean" him off of direct pressure to teach him to neck/leg rein. Rather, he's going to be reining from day one - made possible through clicker training. I never want to pull on his mouth, and it's looking like I may never have to!

    As far as not riding as often as you should - if I planned to do what I normally considered a ride, I don't know how often I'd get out there. But that's the beauty of clicker training - by keeping our sessions very short and ending with a "jackpot", I'm able to work with him for about 10-15 minutes each day and make wonderful progress in a very short amount of time - by spending a total of about 2 hours with my horse over the course of the last two weeks, I've gotten farther with him than I've ever gotten with a horse, period. Like I said before, I've NEVER been able to have the trust and responsiveness to ride a horse with a cordeo, much less starting from square one with it and skipping "direct reining" as you would normally have to do first!

    And now for desensitizing - in general, I go by the rule of thumb by taking anything he doesn't like and doing it until he's comfortable with it. With clicker training, it's one of those things that I wouldn't necessarily worry about preventing a spook so much as rewarding your horse for doing what he's supposed to be doing when presented with the opportunity to spook. So, I'd recommend asking your horse to do something he already knows how to do and is very consistent with it. I find that if you focus on "desensitizing", my horse has no idea what I'm asking him to do by flapping scary things around him. Instead of trusting me, he starting thinking I was giving him a cue to do something like go away and actually became more sensitive. Instead, it's worked better to ask him to do something he knows how to do in the presence of something he might want to spook at.

    Here are a few examples:

    The stand game - reward him for listening to you and standing still, even when things are being flung around him. Someone even talked about throwing bike tires at their horses!

    Leading/riding - walk past scary things and reward him leading the way you taught him to be led and going past the monster calmly. This could be something as simple as a tarp or blanket laying on the fence (step it up with wind or a trash bag). Get creative with this one! Put out tarps with empty plastic bottles on in that make noise when he steps on it, get some noise makers, and don't forget to account for how scary livestock can be!

    Targeting - simply ask your horse to target what he's afraid of. Suddenly, that monster becomes a treat dispenser!
    jaydee likes this.
         
        04-21-2013, 11:06 PM
      #115
    Yearling
    A quick update about riding with a cordeo - after some trial and error, I figured out a safe way to achieve my goals. Ultimately, my goal is to ride without any contact with the bit. I'd really like to be able to ride him tackless and/or with only a cordeo. Rather than beginning with a bit and forcing him to turn through direct reining (and then having to wean him off of that pressure), I began riding instead with a side pull, moving quickly into a cordeo. With the cordeo, it's impossible to pull on his mouth and he's learned to move off light cues willingly. With such light pressure, it would be difficult to use "traditional" training since there's hardly any pressure to release to begin with. Rather, clicker training has made it possible to signal "yes" - something that my horse now readily and eagerly works for.

    To put it simply the steps I took were:
    1. Halter break to give to pressure.
    2. Begin riding with the cordeo, cuing with my legs and the cordeo, but also have a halter with reins attached to give a "hint" for what the cordeo and leg cues mean.
    3. Get him consistently moving off the cordeo cues - right now, we're just doing the basics, like walking off, turning both directions, and stopping - and eventually remove the halter.

    Today, I added the next step. Now that I've got him moving off of light light, non-forceful cues, I finally rode him in a bridle. Here's how it went:

    Last year, when group-breaking, I taught him to open his mouth on cue (for taking a bit/medicine/etc.) as well as to take a bridle and bit, so he was very calm and obedient when I first put the bridle in. However, since I've only asked him to wear a bridle a few times and it's been quite a while since we did so, I also think that clicker training has taught him to be willing to do whatever I ask him to, because it usually ends up being a fun and good experience for him, like a game. I've seen this become more and more evident in other behaviors as well since I've been working with him at least a few minutes daily for the last week or two.

    He's not used to the bit, so he chewed on it a lot (it's a nice 3-piece bit with a big, copper bean in the middle). He wasn't sure of what to do with it, but he's not fighting it either. I didn't worry about that today. However, I also avoided pulling on it, and I think that's what made today a success for both of us.

    Rather than trying to direct rein with the bit in his mouth, I used 10-ft loop reins and threw on his cordeo. I held both in my hands comfortably and used them to steer. They're both made from the same material, which has a good weight to it, so he caught on immediately. When he didn't respond immediately to my cue, I used more leg and pressure with the cordeo rather than pulling on his mouth. In addition, to lengthen our rides and have more "direction", I set a goal of making it around the outside his pen once. I figure this will help give him a goal of what he's supposed to do, since he's sometimes getting confused about where the heck we're going and turning in circles or "over-responding" to a cue. Plus, as I'm still clicking and treating after every few "maneuvers", it also gives me the opportunity to ask more of him before clicking and treating. More or less, since he knows the individual cues, we're just trying to put it all together now into a "ride". It seemed to work very well - we went around one time, and he earned his jackpot. Then, I exercised another horse for probably an hour or so, and then we did it once more. He did so much better the second time that we made it around twice before his "jackpot" reward! I'm so proud of him!

    To those interested in training your horse to ride with a cordeo - maybe this would be a solution for you? If you ride with the reins and a cordeo at the same time, you'd still have a "safety net" if something went wrong and you needed more control. You could do it more or less the opposite way from what I've done since your horses are already trained with a bridle and bit - ride first with both the cordeo and reins in your hand to get your horse associating the cordeo cues with how they're supposed to respond, then try dropping the reins and cueing with only the cordeo but still being able to use the reins for "hints" or emergencies, and eventually getting you and your horse confident enough to ride with only the cordeo. It's a thought!
         
        04-21-2013, 11:49 PM
      #116
    Yearling
    Oh, and one last thing. I've been working on teaching Flash to stop with just squeezing my thighs and butt, which he's doing very consistently right now. I'm clicking and treating for it every time, though, because I want stopping immediately to get REALLY "solid" in his brain. My boarder was watching me the other day and mentioned she'd hate to have a horse that expected a treat every time he stopped. OOHHH that bugged me, especially after some of the comments I've seen on here. But I realized how blind she was to all the things he was doing without clicking and treating that were already solid and that I no longer clicked and treated for. For example - he was moving out at all three gaits with, stood completely still while I jumped/wiggled on him bareback (he's getting taller!), leading perfectly and walking exactly where I wanted him to, standing tied, coming when called, longing.... the list goes on. Not to mention we went for a trail ride last fall when my horse, on his very first trail ride and dressed up in a consume, he had to lead the way for her much older and professionally trained horse. I responded by explaining he only gets a click and treat for new things we're working on and for things he's still uncertain about (since we're always working on adding more and more new things as he's in training, it might seem to someone else like he's getting clicked and treated for everything). I also added that he never, ever grabs for a treat and that you won't find a more polite horse!
    jaydee and Anatopism like this.
         
        04-22-2013, 10:55 AM
      #117
    Super Moderator
    I really liked your last post - the fact that many people can't seem to see the difference between force feeding a horse treats for no reason and using them as a reward for a new learning experience and then gradually removing the treat once the learning is established.
    I also can't see how this could be seen as bribery - bribery is something promised in advance of the 'act' and I really don't think that horses can understand the concept of 'If you do that I will give you this' in human language.
    I'm perfectly fine with people who want to train their horses without treats but not fine that they feel they have the right to dictate to those who do or question why they do it.
    None of my horses are demanding or 'rude' where treats are concerned and none of them bite. Its even possible to establish ground rules using them, the fact that I can give them rewards and yet still have respectful. Willing, happy horses that want to work for me and with me must say something.
    PunksTank likes this.
         
        04-22-2013, 12:23 PM
      #118
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    None of my horses are demanding or 'rude' where treats are concerned and none of them bite. Its even possible to establish ground rules using them, the fact that I can give them rewards and yet still have respectful. Willing, happy horses that want to work for me and with me must say something.
    Since my boy is so young, he was still figuring out how to take a treat politely. He'd never mug me or ask for treats - I wouldn't even say he "expects" a treat like he's entitled to it, but rather he knows that he has to earn them. However, he'd try to use his teeth rather than lips. After getting a finger caught in those teeth once, I pulled back the treat the next time he reached with his teeth. He hasn't tried to use his teeth since. In fact, he almost seems nervous about loosing his treat again and VERY tenderly reaches for the treat when I offer it - sometimes I even have to remind him he's allowed to take it!
    jaydee and PunksTank like this.
         
        04-22-2013, 12:41 PM
      #119
    Showing
    At the prospect of getting a treat my walker starts flapping his lips as he reaches for my hand, then ever so gently removes it by pulling it into his mouth with his top lip. We humans understand reward and are motivated by someone saying "well done". Clicker training confirms to the horse that what it is doing is correct and the resultant reward motivates. Why food works well for horses is because they have no idea of when they will get to eat so are willing to do what it takes to receive food. What is the horse thinking about on a two hour trail ride? Food and getting eaten.
    jaydee likes this.
         
        04-22-2013, 01:28 PM
      #120
    Started
    Great points everyone.
    That's probably one of the biggest reasons I couldn't board my horses anywhere but home.
    I work at two other barns that aren't my own - one is completely hostile about CT, so I don't even mention it.
    The other is the rescue I co-run, the owner allows me to CT some of the rescues. She's seeing how incredible it is, but being an older horse lady she's having a hard time accepting it completely. Sometimes she feels like it's bribery and sometimes she thinks it makes the horses rude, but then she watches the horses that are being trained with it and is truly impressed.

    Honestly, I think the hardest part of clicker training is deciding what to focus on. There is NO limit to what you could teach a horse, so deciding where to go with it is pretty tough!!
    jaydee likes this.
         

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