Originally Posted by quintessence
Thanks for the welcome and Happy New Year everyone:)
My mare is catching on very quickly, at the moment I am doing everything at liberty without even a halter, I think its pretty cool that she will leave her dinner which contains some of the carrot/apple pieces I use as treats to come and play. The reaction from the other horses is so funny - they all stand at the fence line while we play. My daughters pony who knows some tricks and stands there the whole time nodding his head 'Yes'. My gelding stands watchign us twisting his head and neck while pulling all sorts of faces and my daughter mare stands right at the fencline presenting us with her bottom to show her disapproval at not being involved.
I am teaching Tessa the Spanish Walk from the side (standing at her girth). I use two cues - lifting my leg up and touching the back of her leg, and yesterday I introduced the verbal 'step' cue. I don't want her flinging her front legs around from an accidental cue or whenever she wants, so using multiple cues seems a good way of teaching this, and she has had no problems accepting multiple cues as most other things we do on the ground and under saddle use physical and verbal cues.
Yesterday she offered the first beautiful lift and point with her left leg rather than just raising the leg up. We are not as far along with the right leg as I havn't spent as much time on it, although she understood the cues to lift the right foot from the first try so it won't be long.
I've been watching as many youtube videos as I can on teaching Spanish Walk and many of them seem to encourage pawing to the point it becomes striking behaviour. I don't want to do this as its a dangerous habit that I won't tolerate and actively discourage in my horses.
Although Tessa hasn't tried to paw or strike the ground, can anyone clarify the steps I would take to discourage pawing fi she tries to? It seems counter-intuitive to me to allow the horse to energetically paw the ground, then try and restrict to a single well controlled lift and step. I don't mind if it will take longer to teach in a more controlled manner.
I'm presuming only rewarding a single leg point and touching the ground once only and ignoring multiple strikes to the ground would be the way to go? Or would it be more effective to teach her to target something in front of her with her hoof or place her foot on a mat or pedestal?
I always reserve skills like spanish walk, kicking objects, biting objects (to pick up), laying down, rearing up - Any skill I don't want to see without a cue - for when my horse is VERY clicker savvy.
The first few skills you teach a horse will be their favorite one to go back to when they're unsure of what to do. Which is why standing still and facing forward is always the first skill I teach a horse, then targeting with their nose.
"stimulus control" means the skill is only ever done on cue, never offers it without a cue or with the wrong cue. Double cuing is great for horses to be more versatile, but it really doesn't make it any more "safe" as they'll likely perform the skill if any one of the cues are given. Normally people double word cues "walkwalk" so that horses don't respond to casual conversation - I haven't ever found that to be a problem though.
I would put several simple skills on strong stimulus control before moving on to something potentially dangerous.
That being said, yes, a good way to avoid pawing is not rewarding pawing, rewarding them picking and holding up their leg. Another option is using a farrier's pedestal and teaching the horse to target it with their hoof - then cue the behavior without the pedestal when the cue is solid. This will show her the purpose is to pick and hold her hoof up, not pawing or striking.