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Friendship Training does work

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  • How to stop a horse from biting using friendship training

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    01-27-2012, 06:48 PM
  #21
Foal
"Pressure and release rewards the horse (via release of pressure - not necessarily even a physical touch; my fella responds to a glance and a shift of posture 9 times out of 10) for doing the right thing. I'd be very curious to hear a point-by-point comparison on that point."


Gee, I'm getting a bit out of my depth here. Certainly pressure and release methods work and that's why people use them. I agree they can be very subtle and can lead to very good relationships - that's basically the approach my riding instructor took with his horses, and they all got on well with him and did as he asked, and certainly trusted him - if they were laying down out of the wind and he walked up they felt no need to get up, but willingly come when called and so on.

My understanding of pressure and release is you apply pressure until the horse starts to do what you want (a try); depending on what method you are using it might be continuous light pressure or it might be gradually escalating pressure and repeated through several phases (ie light medium heavy, light medium heavy). Instantly the horse begins to give the correct response pressure is dropped; their reward is the release. With positive rewards in FT you ask the horse to do something with a hand gesture which is I guess to help them work out what you want - I guess that is a form of very mild pressure - and as soon as they do it you say 'good boy' and give them a treat or scratch in their favourite itchy spot. You do this in an open space where the horse feels safe and unpressured. For example, to teach my boy to back we were in his home paddock and he had no halter or lead on. I started by standing in front of him (within easy treat giving distance) and asking him to back in a conversational voice and giving a small hand gesture at the same time. I kept asking him and gesturing and didn't increase the intensity ( we must have looked a sight!). After... I don't know, thirty seconds or a minute or so, he moved his weight backwards (although not his feet); I interpreted this as a try and said 'Good Boy!' very enthusiastically and gave him a bit of carrot. After he ate his carrot I repeated the process, this time he responded faster and took a tiny step back; more enthusiastic praise on my part and bit of carrot for him. I only do the training for a few minutes at a time. Now he knows what 'back' means, and it is very handy for when I want him to move back from a gate or something; he does it willingly, doesn't get a treat if I have asked him for a practical reason (eg to close the gate)but always gets an enthusiastic 'Good boy!'. I have discovered that while he will back up for a practical reason when other people are around, if I ask him just to show off ("Hey, look at this cool thing Jerry has learnt!) he looks at me and I swear he smiles and stays planted firmly where he Is - I guess he doesn't want me getting too big for my britches...


Nothing like a horse to keep you humble hey?
     
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    01-27-2012, 06:49 PM
  #22
Super Moderator
Quote:
im sure you all think im a nob-head.
Not at all. I do that myself almost every time I'm with my horse. :) Maybe my question was not the most successful. I was thinking of the cases when a horse acts up totally different from his usual manners, let's say, a new horse whom his owner doesn't know that well yet. If the owner is mainly into FT, how such a unexpected case would be handled correctly by FT principles?
     
    01-27-2012, 07:06 PM
  #23
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saranda    
I'd really appreciate if you'd give an example of how should a person, who's doing FT with his horse, react to, let's say, a disrespectful horse that tries to show his dominance with a charge or rearing?
I'm really not trying to be overly sceptical, just interested on how this is supposed to work.

That is a really good question. There is a big emphasis in FT on keeping both the person and horse safe, and to this end you train in as big and open an area as possible so less likely to accidentally activate their flight or fight response, and also spend a fair bit of time before you start training just hanging out with the horse and sharing feed with them so they start to see you as something that might be safe - sort of a 'settling in' period, where you stop doing all the usual training with them & they hopefully start to see you as different.

As far as I understand if they are doing something that is not likely to hurt you - rearing at a distance or running around bucking or whatever, that is just them expressing their opinion and you ignore it and keep asking for what you want. If they are doing something that is threatening you - attempting to bite or kick or actually charging - you tell them no with as much force as needed and, if the act is serious enough (which a serious bite attempt or a charge would certainly be) you send them away and keep them away.

One of the people in the FT group had a very aggressive and dangerous former racehorse - I gather he was extremely dangerous and had attacked her friends and also kicked her in the head (I am hugely impressed she had the guts to stick with him), and FT turned him completely around. If I had a dangerous horse to deal with I'd be getting lots of advice from the man who runs the program.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:10 PM
  #24
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saranda    
Not at all. I do that myself almost every time I'm with my horse. :) Maybe my question was not the most successful. I was thinking of the cases when a horse acts up totally different from his usual manners, let's say, a new horse whom his owner doesn't know that well yet. If the owner is mainly into FT, how such a unexpected case would be handled correctly by FT principles?
The owner would give him time to settle in and then go through the program with him. It's hard to explain but it kind of teaches you a shared language so you understand each other. Kind of like a hearing person learning a sign language so you can communicate with a deaf person - you can still hear and they are still deaf, but you can understand each other and life is a lot less frustrating.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:15 PM
  #25
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern    
Thanks, Frances, for sharing a program that's done wonders for the relationship between you & your horse!

I can see that it's not far, if at all different, from Parelli: in PNH, the Friendly Game is the most important game, the relationship is priority, & "getting it good" on the ground is the prerequisite for each student, regardless of age! :)

Hmmm, I'm not sure - I think in PNH the goal is to become a leader? A friendly one, but still leader, and pressure and release are the basis of some of the PNH games? In FT the goal is to be more of a mentor/teacher - human still has final say where necessary for safety. And pressure is only used to stop the horse doing something that might hurt the human teacher - eg biting.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:16 PM
  #26
Showing
Or, on the other extreme from what Saranda mentioned, how would you deal with a horse that just didn't like people, didn't trust them, and had no desire to be around them or make friends at all. I only ask because I have one of these on my property and no matter how nice you are or how many treats you give him, he will take the offered treats....hesitantly, and then go back to the opposite side of the paddock and basically ignore you. He avoids you if you even think of advancing toward him.

And, just for reference, I know it is not due to mishandling as he was completely feral when I got him as a yearling and my Dad and I have been the only ones to ever handle him. He's, I think, 7 now. It is a fairly common thing for horses of his breeding to be this way. A good portion of his siblings and half siblings have never been broke because nobody can even get close to them.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:18 PM
  #27
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saranda    
Not at all. I do that myself almost every time I'm with my horse. :) Maybe my question was not the most successful. I was thinking of the cases when a horse acts up totally different from his usual manners, let's say, a new horse whom his owner doesn't know that well yet. If the owner is mainly into FT, how such a unexpected case would be handled correctly by FT principles?
sorry,
I don't follow FT religiously but in resonse to such a case I'd reckon you should just get the fritz out of the horse's way.- not much help.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:36 PM
  #28
Super Moderator
As far as I understand, it seems that I can relate many things I do and how I perceive my horse with FT, however, not purely - he's the type of guy who will often challenge you in a way that says "Hey, I feel good around you and I'm your friend, but no offense - we should be doing what I want. Right now." So I use pressure-release techniques with him and they seem to work just fine, as he seems to accept and enjoy such communication. But it's really interesting how different approaches can be used on different horses.
     
    01-27-2012, 07:45 PM
  #29
Foal
[QUOTE=smrobs;1329573]Or, on the other extreme from what Saranda mentioned, how would you deal with a horse that just didn't like people, didn't trust them, and had no desire to be around them or make friends at all. I only ask because I have one of these on my property and no matter how nice you are or how many treats you give him, he will take the offered treats....hesitantly, and then go back to the opposite side of the paddock and basically ignore you. He avoids you if you even think of advancing toward him.]


That is a really good question and again, a bit out of my league because I'm pretty new to this myself. My impression is other people have gotten through to horses like him by going through FT. Part of it is about setting a consistent pattern - turn up same time same place every day to share food & then, when you get to it, to do the training. It also works if you can't get there every day, just takes longer. Part of it is about only using pressure to stop them doing something that could hurt you. For some horses it can take a long time. Others progress quickly. Maybe check out the FT website (Friendship Training) or join their yahoo group? They are quite friendly & there are a lot of interesting discussions.

My boy didn't seem to like people at all when I first met him, although he did like me. I think most of his problem was his previous handling had been harder than was good for him, although not intentionally harsh. I recently met people who knew him as a youngster and he had been fairly spooky and untrusting then. He was 8 when I met him and had spent the previous 18 months in a station paddock where no-one could get near him.

I don't know why he liked me. I was new to horses when I met him - had only been learning to ride 3 months, and he wasn't the sort of horse I would have considered buying (I was thinking old and experienced and calm...). I had seen him jumping away when fed and not wanting to be touched by a person all the other horses got on well with and liked to be with. Later that morning I saw him looking at me and went and stood at his gate to see what he would do, and after a bit he walked up and sniffed noses and then gently pressed his muzzle against mine for a few seconds, rubbed his face very gently on my chest and let me stroke him for an hour. He blew me away, I couldn't believe it. That was it, I couldn't walk away from him after that, so I begged his owner to sell him to me and we have been on a very interesting learning journey ever since.
Northern likes this.
     
    01-27-2012, 08:00 PM
  #30
Foal
Sounds to me as if FT is just positive reinforcement training - like clicker training is.

I will always use positive reinforcement where I can - but pressure & release plays its part.

The difference between them is that pressure & release is limiting, positive reinforcement isn't and thus has greater potential to train.

In handing a horse charging or one that is challenging you, I would use my arms and body posture to challenge back, so pressure just as between horses, but would then follow up with positive reinforcement when the horse stands quietly.

They are pretty bright and soon learn that acceptable behaviour earns a reward whereas unacceptable behaviour gets them nothing.

As for the "independent" horse then positive reinforcement does work over time - my horse was like that - but nearly 4 years later she comes when she sees me, follows me around loose and we do stuff together as a partnership - not really friends, just two sentient beings that like being close.
Fargosgirl and FrancesB like this.
     

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