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Clicker Training Horses

This is a discussion on Clicker Training Horses within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

     
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        07-18-2008, 03:22 PM
      #11
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iridehorses
    I realize that there is a clicker being used but it seems that the clicker is telling the horse that he did a good job and a treat is coming . I would have thought that the clicker is the cue to do the trick not "get ready for your treat".

    Nice job on what the trainer said was a real problem horse concerning his security around people but I particularly do not like the idea of hand fed treats. That leads to a lot of problems in itself down the road. .
    I can't agree more about the treats. SOOOOO many horses I trim get hand fed treats and they are by far the hardest ones to work on. They tend to become spoiled and wiggle more, so they get treats to stand stil. :roll: IT backfires! I'd rather work on a green horse that's never had his feet picked up before, at least he's got his mind on me instead of the next cookie.
         
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        07-18-2008, 03:33 PM
      #12
    Weanling
    [quote="loosie"]

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by My2Geldings
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iridehorses
    I realize that there is a clicker being used but it seems that the clicker is telling the horse that he did a good job and a treat is coming . I would have thought that the clicker is the cue to do the trick not "get ready for your treat".
    ....particularly do not like the idea of hand fed treats. That leads to a lot of problems in itself down the road. .
    Yes, the clicker(or whatever 'bridging signal' you use) tells the horse he did something right. No, the clicker is not the cue.

    Hand feeding treats does not cause the problems. Reinforcing a horse with anything *without establishing consistent rules & manners* or when you're not conscious of exactly what you're teaching(you don't understand the principles you need to use) is what can lead to problems. Treats are generally an effective and strong reinforcer, so therefore they work well to strengthen whatever behaviour you teach, be it good or bad. Many people have no problems teaching 'bad' behaviour without the use of treats too :roll:

    Food treats are also not a necessary part of 'clicker training', neither is the clicker. The principles are the imperative 'tools'. There are other effective positive reinforcers, it's just that food treats are generally the most effective & handiest.


    I disagree with this particular detail. I prefer that the clicker always means the horse gets a reward(again, not always food). Behaviourally speaking I'm not sure if there's a difference, whether either way is more or less effective. As the behaviour becomes learned, I lessen the frequency that they get a click and treat instead. I think that especially while riding & the likes it is inconvenient to continue clicking for any longer than absolutely necessary. However, I do also use 'good' as a bridging signal and do tend to say this for every 'right' response, regardless of follow up rewards. Therefore, with my animals, click = you WILL get a treat & "Good" = you MAY get a treat.

    I have to disagree..food can and DOES cause problems. Not with all horses, no. But many become pushy and most people that are willing to try clickers/food rewards are kind hearted and tend to cave at the wrong moments. In fact, I have a horse that if he gets ANY hand fed anything becomes a pushy jerk. The other, it doesn't matter how many treats he gets, he's a gentleman.

    Why does there have to be clicker sound to reward? I can keep my hands free to hold reins or whatever and say a verbal "good boy" or in most cases, the cessation of a cue is the reward. My boys work fine with nary a treat in sight. I am not saying a treat is always bad, but if you really want to treat your horse, put it in his bucket just for fun, not for training.

    I think food training CAN be useful in some situations, like gaining trust from a timid/wild horse, but better results can be used by good consistent handling and a "good boy/girl" now and then.

    I can see it working for people,but if you're that successful with your horse,that he doesn't gets spoiled, you probably don' t need the clicker OR the food in the first place.

    Besides, seems all those snacks probably aren't the healthiest thing anyways..lots of sugar/carbs so if your horse has metabolic issues it's like giving candy to a diabetic kid.
         
        07-18-2008, 03:52 PM
      #13
    Showing
    I found this site on clicker training which explains why food is used, how much to use, and when NOT to use it. Interesting. http://www.angelfire.com/az/clickryder/intro.html
         
        07-18-2008, 03:55 PM
      #14
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barefoothooves
    Why does there have to be clicker sound to reward? I can keep my hands free to hold reins or whatever and say a verbal "good boy" or in most cases, the cessation of a cue is the reward.
    The clicker sound is just a signal of "yes you're doing it correct" at the exact moment the action is done correctly. The food or the "good boy" is the reward after its done.

    For example...you can teach a horse to do free jumping with clicker training. So at the exact moment of the bascule (completely in the air over the jump) you would click. The horse would then come to you for his "good boy."

    Or for example...to prepare for a farrier...you would pick up the horses foot and click while the foot is being held in the air. Every so often you would click to reinforce that the horse is still doing correctly. Then when you put the foot down...they would get the reward "good boy." Click means your doing what your supposed to be doing...reward "good boy" or treat means you've done what you were supposed to do. Make sense? It's kind of hard to explain but it does really work.

    And when done correctly is fantastic for pushy horses (treats and all). That's why I started it with my horse. One of the first things the horse learns with clicker training (atleast with the program I learned) is the "away" cue. Which means to get the click they have to back out of your bubble (atleast an arms length) and look away from the treat hand. Once you click...they are allowed to come back to you and get their "good boy" or treat.

    It's one of those things that isn't for everybody...but it has its moments. I did all of my stuff completely at liberty. I don't know that it could translate well to riding work...even though the clicker trainers say it can
         
        07-18-2008, 04:02 PM
      #15
    Weanling
    Hotreddun,
    I undestand the click is the "good boy" but why fill your hands with a gadget, when you can say the words faster and more naturally for you than squeezing a little clicker? I like to have my hands free.

    And again..out of all the horses I trim, I'd rather NOT work on "clicker trained" or food rewarded horses in general. Most people do not seem to master the training skill and it backfires, and , my point is that if you are that good with teaching your horse, you are probably good enough to not need the food reward in the first place.

    Like I said, I can see how it CAN work, just that in general, it doesn't quite work out for the average person that attempts it, good intentions and all. Plus, what happens when you forget to buy the treats or the clicker breaks?

    Just saying I'd not recommend the method, personally, as I've had to trim too many spoiled brats that it weren't PROPERLY trained with food/clickers. Not everyone would do it wrong, I realize, but most do.
         
        07-18-2008, 07:07 PM
      #16
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barefoothooves
    Hotreddun,
    I undestand the click is the "good boy" but why fill your hands with a gadget, when you can say the words faster and more naturally for you than squeezing a little clicker? I like to have my hands free.

    And again..out of all the horses I trim, I'd rather NOT work on "clicker trained" or food rewarded horses in general. Most people do not seem to master the training skill and it backfires, and , my point is that if you are that good with teaching your horse, you are probably good enough to not need the food reward in the first place.

    Like I said, I can see how it CAN work, just that in general, it doesn't quite work out for the average person that attempts it, good intentions and all. Plus, what happens when you forget to buy the treats or the clicker breaks?

    Just saying I'd not recommend the method, personally, as I've had to trim too many spoiled brats that it weren't PROPERLY trained with food/clickers. Not everyone would do it wrong, I realize, but most do.
    Hey...it's how they teach Shamu the Killer Whale...it has to be good stuff
         
        07-18-2008, 08:18 PM
      #17
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kirsti Arndt
    M2G please keep me informed on how this goes-it is really interesting and I think Sonny might respond well to the clicker-i have to be really careful tho with treats as he gets really seriously pushy when he is hand fed- which I like doing-now he only gets a carrot at the beginning of a session and after he is back in his stall-
    Thank you for the links I will read more on this
    All animals respond well to 'clicker training' in principle. It's the nature of the game. Some don't like the actual click tho - most horses need to be desensitised. In some situations a food treat is not the most appropriate reward either. But these things don't matter, because it's not the specific 'tools' but the technique that's important.

    Treat training is fantastic for teaching animals to have some manners & respect your space. They push because they feel entitled to it & that's the way they'll get what they want. If you are consistent about that behaviour never working, and especially if you teach them something opposite to that behaviour, like 'say please' by taking a step back, the 'rude' behaviour won't last long at all. They also learn that you are in control of all the Good Things and they must *earn* them from you. I think this is a great attitude which helps them respect your leadership accross the board.

    I start with a really rude, pushy horse on the other side of a fence or stall door if you're worried about standing your ground & staying safe. It also minimises the need for punishment. Teach him some basic manners such as stay at arm's length from you & don't mug before you do the same in the paddock.
         
        07-18-2008, 09:11 PM
      #18
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barefoothooves
    I have to disagree..food can and DOES cause problems. Not with all horses, no. But many become pushy and most people that are willing to try clickers/food rewards are kind hearted and tend to cave at the wrong moments.
    Oh, I think I get what you mean & agree - treats don't of themselves cause problems with horses, but they often enhance the problems that humans have(or cause) But again, people are pretty proficient making training mistakes without treats too. Like I said, people often aren't fully conscious of exactly what they're reinforcing.

    Quote:
    Why does there have to be clicker sound to reward? I can keep my hands free to hold reins or whatever and say a verbal "good boy"
    It's not a reward, but the reason that something such as a clicker is more effective than saying 'good boy' is that it is a short, sharp, unique sound. Often words don't come out of mouths in as timely a fashion and often 'good boy' & the likes may be weakened by constant use other than as a bridging signal, for eg.

    Quote:
    or in most cases, the cessation of a cue is the reward. My boys work fine with nary a treat in sight.
    No, the cessation of the cue is NOT a reward(addition of something desirable). It is a negative reinforcement(removal of something undesirable). If I asked you personally to work without any kind of a reward(praise, recognition, money...) and only for -R(cessation of being ordered, punished, badgered, bullied...) you might find reasons that you should also be rewarded :LOL: Seems to me it's the difference between working for a dictator, a slave driver & working for a respected, respectful boss or friend, or in best cases, playing a game with a friend.

    -R is definitely a great way of teaching IMO, and the way horses are predominantly trained. Some 'purist' c/t-ers disagree with using any punishment or -R whatsoever, but I as most, use it in combination with c/t.

    Quote:
    I can see it working for people,but if you're that successful with your horse,that he doesn't gets spoiled, you probably don' t need the clicker OR the food in the first place.
    I agree to a large degree. As I've said, it's about the principles, not specific tools. I think using an actual clicker or such is a great way for training the *person* too, to have great timing and concentrate on what's *right* with their horse's behaviour. Many get hung up on what's 'wrong' & ignore the horse(dog, kid, husband... :roll:) when he's 'right'. Many notice good behaviour, but the only thing they do is quit hassling the horse. Bit of a backhanded compliment.

    While food is a universally important reinforcement, it's not necessary & not always the most appropriate at that time for that animal. But many times, especially it seems with horses, other 'rewards' just aren't much chop. To the horse, 'good boy' is just a noise. A pat is just a light slap. These things can be linked to an actual reinforcement(often not positive tho) so the horse will learn from it, but they are not primary reinforcers themselves. Often even 'nicer' grooming is not very reinforcing. I've met lots of horses that just don't care much for human grooming for one reason or another, so how else would you reward them? On the other hand, with the help of treat training I have got horses to actively like to be groomed. My first horse for eg would put up with any handling, but never actually enjoyed it, until we discovered c/t. He ended up being so keen for a good scratch that I could then use it as a +R instead of food treats, where I couldn't have before.

    Quote:
    Besides, seems all those snacks probably aren't the healthiest thing anyways..lots of sugar/carbs so if your horse has metabolic issues it's like giving candy to a diabetic kid.
    I agree that lots of 'lollies' aren't good, but who's to say you need to feed lollies, or much quantity? I use a pelleted horse feed as my main training treats and the horse usually gets about 4-8 pellets (a pinch) per 'right' answer. I often go thru about a double handful in a session, if it's intense. I use chopped up(.5" cubes) apple or carrot as 'jackpot' reinforcers, when they do something extra good.

    Hope this has explained some of the common misconceptions of c/t that you have pointed out, barefoot. I'm definitely one for 'each to his own', but I hope I've helped properly inform people before they make up their minds against it.

    Respectfully
    Loosie
         
        07-18-2008, 09:23 PM
      #19
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barefoothooves
    Just saying I'd not recommend the method, personally, as I've had to trim too many spoiled brats that it weren't PROPERLY trained with food/clickers. Not everyone would do it wrong, I realize, but most do.
    I've had to trim(and otherwise deal with) 100s of 'bratty' horses who weren't clicker trained too. I don't think this is a valid argument for being against other training methods tho. I disagree that most do it wrong. The evidence is world wide. Perhaps you live in a bad area for it, with lots of beginners who aren't fully educated or skilled. Would those uneducated beginners necessarily be any better at training their horses without rewards?

    Have you guessed yet that you've hit one of my passionate nerves?? :roll:
         
        07-18-2008, 09:37 PM
      #20
    Green Broke
    I'm not big on the clicker training. I just use a treat but then my boy has never been mouthy about his treats. He knows not to ask for them all the time.

    Here's a picture of his 'shake' trick. He'll do it only on command. Even for the farrier.



    This video is his free lunging in the pasture. At the end he does his smile trick. He was interested in the camera so he wasn't paying attention like he should but he still did it. His cue to smile is to "show his pretties"

    http://good-times.webshots.com/video...ost=good-times
         

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