Originally Posted by Ian McDonald
I like the way you think. Just started on "Don't Shoot The Dog" here and am finding it fascinating! Likewise agree that food rewards are a powerfully positive reinforcer -- IF a person is disciplined enough to use them. That line is so fine..but if you could ride it!
Absolutely, it's a very fine line - I use clicker training with my horses, all my horses are taught they don't get anything by being rude. I just started with a project with just my mare, I put a target in her stall and she only gets her meals when she's touching her target- she's had it 3 days now, and when she hears the grain bin open she's got her nose quietly on her target and feet on the floor waiting eagerly!
It's funny - I work at a professional jumping barn and each of their horses have a terrible habit they developed at feeding time. Each of those habits reinforced more and more with each feeding. Several of them paw, most just yell and holler, several bite or kick the walls connecting to their neighbors, one pees, and one grinds his teeth up and down on the bars. I was amazed when I saw this and that nothing was done about it and that people continued to so strongly reinforce these dangerous and terrible habits. My horses bad habits all stopped when I gave them something constructive to do for their food, when they knew clearly what it was
they needed to do to get their food.
I'm sorry I didn't mean to hijack this thread into a new topic, I think the OP has a lot of options on how to deal with this situation, I'm eager to hear how the horse does with however they opt to train them.