Pushy clicker trained horse and alternative rewards? - Page 3

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Pushy clicker trained horse and alternative rewards?

This is a discussion on Pushy clicker trained horse and alternative rewards? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    01-31-2013, 06:07 PM
Originally Posted by jaydee    
So would you stop using the clicker when that part of the training was learned and established?
Yes and no. It depends how you look at it. One a horse understands (indicated by consistent and correct behavior with the clicker), then you add a little more. For example, when I was teaching my colt to pick up his feet, I started out by clicking as soon as he started lifting his feet at all. As soon as he understood that I was asking him to pick up his feet and was lifting them each time I asked, then he had to hold his foot there for a second or two before he got a click. Then, ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds, a minute, etc. Until I was able to clean the entire hoof. At this point, he doesn't get rewards for simply picking his hoof up, but he has to hold it there until I say so. Regardless of how long I asked him to hold his foot, he didn't get a click until I gave it back to him. If he fought with me, it was now clearly a matter of disrespect rather than confusion, so I dealt with it as such and got after him.

Then, he had to let me do two feet completely to get a click, then three, and finally four. He learned that he was goinng to have to wait longer and longer and be patient to get his click and treat, and then sometimes he didn't get a treat at all. However, he got in trouble if he acted up because he knew what was expected of him. Now, he doesn't get a click or treat at all because he knows what's expected and I deal with it how a "normal" trainer would I.e. Getting after him and making him work until he decided to behave.
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    01-31-2013, 06:11 PM
Super Moderator
Thanks for reply
    01-31-2013, 06:17 PM
Another example is that I used to click for my horse when he stood still tied. As with all babies, this was an entirely new concept for him. I had to start clicking for any moment he paused, and then standing by him and extending the time, and finally moving away from him and clicking when he stayed still. Obviously, I no longer click for standing tied - it's expected that he's not going to freak out.

Riding is another excellent example where he really impressed me and surpassed my expectations. I did minimal clicker training when putting him under saddle as I was using a sidepull and was just applying the lessons from giving to the halter to being used while I was on his back. At first, he didn't know I wanted him to move when I was on him, so I had to click for a step or two forward. When he understood what I wanted (literally a few clicks later), I just applied pressure with the sidepull. He got the concept pretty quickly, so I only clicked a few times to reassure him that he understood that, but there was no point to keep "training" giving to the direct, so then I started teaching him to move off my leg, using the direct rein as a hint. He didnt get a click until he moved off my leg pressure, and now he's neck reining and on the verge of being able to ride bridleless. However, I took him on a poker ride in the midst of this. I didn't want to worry about training, but I brought the clicker and treats along just in case we ran into trouble (I have a fanny pack with treats). However, I didn't even use it once - we went over bridges, across culverts, and down narrow trails. All while dressed up for Halloween as a cow with horns and everything and having never been ridden off the property before and without a horse to lead the way. Now, a lot of that is just his personality, but I was very impressed at he didn't need the clicker once, but the training was there and was solid. (and he never asked for one, either)
    01-31-2013, 06:27 PM

Originally Posted by tinyliny    
This question I have is that if you were doing ground work with a horse and asked them to do some manuever, which they did, and then they moved close to you, and then you backed them off in order to give them the food reward, aren't you only teaching them to back away from you? I mean, that is what they did that earned the reward, not the "manuever" you first had them do.

I give treats to my lease horse, but more or less randomly. When tacking up I give him on to distract him from the girthing irritation. I give him one after mounting (sometimes, not always) and when our ride is done, I give him one and loosen his girth for the brief walk downt he driveway. I am sure that my treat giving is not the best thing for him, but I tolerate any kind of mugging he may do, as he behaves well enough in most other respects.

My friend's horse is a bit pushy and in-your-face . When I work with him on the ground, his reward is that I set him well off away from me, lay the slack of the leadrope on the ground (a long line) and allow him to rest AWAY from me. When he is next to me, he will have to work. So, he will be happy to be out there waiting on me, but not pushing on me.
This is an awesome question!! I struggled with this thought a bit too. But then in practice I realized it's not the treat that teaches the horse it's the click. Sure click=treat, but the click marks in their mind the correct action - the treat is just the reason why they want the click. So in the case of my mare who engulfed my whole hand to take the treat, nearly nibbling fingers, she had to learn not to. I would click for whatever we were working on (I think we were working on sidepassing at the time. She would hear the click and wait for her treat patiently, but if she reached for my hand with her mouth wide open I'd take it away. Sometimes I'd let her try again but typically just took it away. She still learned the sidepass - the click told her she did something right, but she didn't get the treat for being grabby. It didn't take her more than 2 or 3 lost treats to learn to use her lips to pick it up.
As for the question from someone else about "do you need to give them treats every time they do anything - NO! This is the biggest misconception!
Every skill we teach our horses is built on another once they understand the beginnjng of a skill you just keep building only rewarding for the next step up.
So for example, teaching my pony to do his obstacle course. I started by teachinh hin to touch a crop target with his nose in his stall. Then he had to follow it around outside. He no longer needed to be clicked or treated when he touched it onky if he followed it. Then he needed to follow it over a jump at a walk, then trot, then a series of jumps, then around cones - now the whole course before he gets treats. You only need to reward what's new.
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    01-31-2013, 06:45 PM
There are those who are proficient with clicker training have polite horses. And then there are those who think they are doing it correctly and make a mess of things. Arguing over whether one should use it or not simply creates a division. It should be seen as another training tool that may need to be used depending on the individual horse.
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    01-31-2013, 06:51 PM
Tinyliny, your question about moving the horse out of your space and what the reward then would teach. That is when you have to shift your thinking. If backing out of your space is rewarded (even if it's intention was for the maneuver you'd gotten) he will become more mindful of staying out of your space. If you do this consistantly a few times he'll learn that a treat just won't happen when he's in your space. The next time you ask for the maneuver, see how quickly he will get out of your space to get the reward when you click. The click is what teaches.
    01-31-2013, 09:00 PM
Originally Posted by Beling    

To me it's one of the most fascinating things about the human-equine relationship. We see in a narrow focus, through time; horses see nearly everything in a globe around them, in a compressed, strongly (but not absolutely) now-time. We expect food to be a "reward" because to us, predators, it is. Horses more or less expect food to be around them at all times. They graze and browse.
I never thought of this before; huh, fascinating.
    01-31-2013, 10:01 PM
Originally Posted by hkfarms    
I am not against CT, if it works for you then great. It just was not for me.
And that's perfectly fine!! Don't get me wrong - By all means use the style youare most comfortable with. It's best for trainers to work with something they are comfortable with. I'm not trying to make anyone use CT if they don't want to - but I'm sick of hearing people make accusations (not you but others on here) about how horrible CT is, when in truth, it's just like all the other training styles (works when done right, terrible results when done wrong).
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    01-31-2013, 11:27 PM
Originally Posted by Beling    
The second problem is along the same lines, the concept of "reward"--do horses even think of it in our terms? I don't think so.

To me it's one of the most fascinating things about the human-equine relationship. We see in a narrow focus, through time; horses see nearly everything in a globe around them, in a compressed, strongly (but not absolutely) now-time. We expect food to be a "reward" because to us, predators, it is. Horses more or less expect food to be around them at all times. They graze and browse.

So what is this "reward"? I believe it's a shift in the whole circle of their now-environment: a time for pause, to taste and move the tongue, maybe to look around. They like the taste of the sweet; but we've all had horses who wouldn't take a treat. It's not a guaranteed reward.

I've been trying to work out WHY any of our training even works. I'm beginning to think it's because horses in general ENJOY the break, or mark, or poke, in their awareness; just the way we (or I, anyway) enjoy these moments when I'm entirely in One Time, or call it timelessness, and the sense I'm in connection with another species. Clicker training can be extremely effective, but like so many things, it's more effective when you allow it to happen, instead of trying to force it.
Let me clarify why any of this work - both traditional training and clicker training. They both function off of the same principals: operant conditioning. In fact, all behavior follows these rules and they are demonstrated scientifically over and over again.

Basically, operant conditioning says that we behave in certain ways because we expect a certain outcome to come of it. This was first demonstrated by B.F. Skinner with the "Skinner's Box" - he observed that a cat trapped in a box with a special "escape" device operated by a lever (if I remember correctly) would, by trying various methods, eventually figure out how to escape. The way to escape wasn't obvious to the cat, and the cat didn't make an immediate connection between pressing a lever and escaping. However, after a few trials, the cat did make the connection and pressed the lever in less time. Eventually, it pressed the lever as soon as it was put in the box, allowing it to escape. Even though it didn't necessarily make sense why pressing a lever would lead to escaping, the cat made a connection between a seemingly silly action and escaping, and so then began to do the action more with the expectation of escaping.

After further research, Skinner was able to demonstrate these same principles in other animals to teach them various skills. For instance, animals like pidgins and mice will press a lever or button to receive food. The theory of operational conditioning and subsequently behaviorism came four basic types of actions that can shape behavior:

Reinforcement: this is anything that causes a behavior to happen more often.
Type 1: positive (+) reinforcement means adding something that makes the behavior happen more often. This is clicker training, because the horse is given a treat (or other reward) when they do what we want.
Type 2: negative (-) reinforcement means taking something away and that makes the behavior happen more often. It is very important that you don't confuse the word "negative" to mean bad - think of it like subtracting something. This is traditional training - the pressure is removed, and the horse is "rewarded"

Punishment: this is anything that causes a behavior to happen less often
Type 1: Positive (+) punishment again means something is introduced, but it makes the behavior go away, such as a firm smack on the nose for nipping.
Type 2: Negative (-) punishment again means taking something away, but it makes the behavior go away. This doesn't have a clear application for the horse world as far as I can think of, but it's like getting the keys taken away for coming home too late.

As I stated above, ALL beings, from fish and lizards to birds, horses, and humans, are motivated by these rules. The only things that change are the motivator. Since food is a basic need, nearly all animals (it doesn't matter whether it's a predator or not) are motivated by it. If you'd like an example, I'm sure I can find a video of pigeons pecking frantically just to receive a piece of food (and they're not exactly "predators"). Sure, some animals are less motivated than others by food, but it generally works pretty well with horses. However, clicker training doesn't require food - it only requires that you pair a cue (like a click) with a reinforcement (whatever the horse will work for), and then use the cue to mark correct behavior (and generally follow it up with the reinforcement to make sure the cue keeps being associated with the reinforcement).
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    02-01-2013, 10:32 AM
PunksTank - I think I'm getting better at explaining Psych 441:Learning!

biting, clicker training, natural horsemanship, removal of pressure, treats

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