Trick training gone wrong - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 01:00 PM
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Horses DO NOT 'give' kisses. Horses go through taught behaviors that some people want to 'call' kisses. Any taught behavior that intentionally puts a horse's teeth next to a person's nose or shoulder or ??? is not a 'good' behavior.

I inherited a horse to try to save from the killer truck one time. He was a real challenge. He was an Arabian. He had been taught to take a carrot out of his owner's mouth. One day the owner stuck his head forward but did not have a carrot sticking out of his mouth. Horse's ears went back and he dove at the guy's face. He broke several bones in his cheek and pulled off most of his nose and his cheek. Several Surgeries and skin grafts later he was still a mess.

I had recently seen the guy and he had bragged how sweet and cute his horse was and how he would follow him around and give him kisses and look for carrots. I warned him about making a pet out of him and giving him kisses and treats. Next thing I know he was delivered to my house and 'given' to me if I could 'save' him.

You are not 'bonding' with a horse by making a pet out of it. It is not 'cute' to any horseman. JMHO

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post #12 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 01:08 PM
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I only allow my horses to nuzzle me for a "kiss". If he did anything more, he would get punished into next week. (Didn't want to say "beat").
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post #13 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 01:19 PM
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This is a really unfortunate side-affect of people training their horses with treats without understanding HOW to clicker train.
One big thing about food is it's a strong motivator. A horse WANTS to do what earns them food, they want to do it more and better all the time. They escalate each skill you teach them. You can use this to your advantage if you're informed and paying attention, molding skills into bigger and better skills. But if you aren't paying attention or molding the skill you're setting yourself up for failure. Feeding him for invading your space is a skill best saved for a well clicker-trained horse who has a great deal of impulse control and understanding of the language and the rules. If you aren't paying attention you can easily be rewarding behavior getting out of hand, many horses escalate touching with their nose to biting unless you're focused and molding correctly, you can use this escalation to teach them to fetch - but you don't want them fetching your nose!

All of my horses are trained with clicker training, the only one who knows any 'tricks' is my pony who kicks a football, the rest are just learning the same things that all horses learn. The clicker is a bridge signal that says "yes", once they know click=treat they need to learn HOW to take a treat. I start every horse I train by standing at their shoulder with my pouch full of food, when the horse stands calmly and faces forward, all 4 feet on the ground - I click+treat. I work on this until the horse no longer even looks in my direction to get the food. I then start walking around them - the horse needs to stand 4 on the ground facing forward no matter where I go - until I tell them otherwise. Typically I teach them to target from there and use the target to shape all their future skills.

If you or anyone else is interesting in learning how to safely and correctly use clicker training/positive reinforcement with horses please check out the thread. Please learn all the facts and science behind CT - it's a fantastically useful tool but it needs to be done correctly (just like every type of training!)
Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted

This is my favorite example of clicker training gone RIGHT! This is my mare, a previously spooky uncontrollable horse who could barely be lead on the ground without explosions. This is us now, learning about tarps this time. (I don't always ride tackless, this was just a special occasion - we were in a safe, controlled environment and I had a helmet on)

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post #14 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 01:47 PM
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I'm a fan of trick training. Done correctly it can reinforce good ground manners and give you fine control over every little movement the horse does. But, I also like to keep in mind what it is that you're teaching the horse to do. My horse came to me knowing several tricks- bow, cat stretch, the beginnings of Spanish walk, and giving kisses. I'm now working on teaching him to lie down on command. The bow and cat stretch are great. I love them.

But I can see how the kisses and Spanish walk could go awry. In teaching a horse to give kisses, he's been taught it's OK to stick his face in my face, which he will sometimes do if he knows I have treats and he's trying to figure out how to convince me to give them to him. He doesn't pin his ears when he does it, and he's never come close to hurting me, but I still consider it a bad habit because his head is big and hard and doing it just a little too enthusiastically could easily hurt me. As for the Spanish walk... well, I was told they started teaching it to him, but I've never seen him actually do it. He just pawed kind of high, mostly while standing in the cross tie- and he didn't care if there was someone in front of him or not. He managed to (lightly) kick me with this a couple times before I made it quite clear to him that not only was he NOT going to get a treat for randomly pawing the air, he was going to get a good smack instead. I might try and teach him Spanish walk again one day, but he will definitely learn when NOT to do it, too!
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post #15 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 02:04 PM
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Verona - those sorts of 'tricks' are all alright to teach, but it's best to teach important skills and get the horse really focused and responding only on cue! My pony has a list of skills he knows, when he sees me getting out the CT stuff, he runs through the whole list offering me every skill he's learned - he's working very hard to get them only on cue and giving him a base-line of staying still while he waits for the cue. A horse like him I wouldn't teach anything I wouldn't want to see all the time until I have him on tight stimulus control. Like your horse clearly responds well only when cued, not otherwise anymore (like him pawing on cross ties)

My favorite way to teach laying down is to hose them off and bring them to a sandy area :) C+T when they get ready to roll! Just make sure the horse is very good at only responding to cues, wouldn't want him laying down at the wrong time :P
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post #16 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 02:40 PM
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I keep thinking about this thread and it makes me really sad. :( most people who read this are going to think "see this is why you don't give horses treats". But when I read this all I could think was "wow see how fast treats fan train a horse!" You taught your horse something potentially dangerous and you got hurt - not because the horse was bad but because you told him to do it.
Please everyone, training with a food motivator is not dangerous when done right - just like every form of horse training. Put a kid in a round pen and thats just as dangerous, if not worse. Treats aren't the culprit and neither is the horse, the problem is people training when they dont have enough information, timing and skill to do it safely and correctly.

OP, I do encourage you to continue clicker training but please learn all about it first and learn the rules and guidelines on how to be safe.
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post #17 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 03:34 PM
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Hi PunksTank, I want to teach my horse to lay down the way you said. How, when, and what cue would you attach to it? She already knows several tricks with clicker training. :)
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post #18 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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I realize now that wasn't a good trick to teach him for his first one and I know it was my fault that I got bit! I plan on starting with the basic rules of clicker training with him and moving onto other tricks, but I don't plan on teaching anymore horses to give kisses ever again.
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post #19 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 03:43 PM
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Kaylastacy12, you could try teaching him something like smile or target, stuff like that is probably safer. :)
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post #20 of 85 Old 09-11-2013, 04:10 PM
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Definitely read the thread I linked, its long but valuable!! For teaching the lay down make sure the horse is solid on only responding when cued. Spray them with the hose and bring them to a sandy area, when they start to go down c+t do this a whole bunch and jackpot when theyre all the way down. Repeat until they go on cue. :) then you need an up cue too!
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