Trick training gone wrong - Page 6 - The Horse Forum
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post #51 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 11:34 AM
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K I didn't read all of the responses and I'm sure this has been said...

If I were you I would 100% disassociate the thought of you/humans ='s food. Period.
I'd also give him HECK the next time he did this, got in your space, or even a funny look.

Any food related trick can and most often does escalate into bad behavior. Horses are pretty nasty capitalists, big ones, with hooves.

My old gelding was taught to drink beer out of cans, bad bad idea. Not taught by me!
One time while camping DH and I went on a hike, left horses grazing around our cabin with the coolers stacked, bungied, and covered but unattended. I knew he might try, I had often had to beat him off them which was pretty annoying, but thought I had taught him to quit.
Rooster annihilated them. Ate every bit of food and drank every beer while we were gone. We had to drive 45 miles to go get more.

Granted this didn't happen to my person, but what would have happened if I turned my back and a kid was in his way? Back then he was 16+ HH and 1,500+ Lbs of pure muscle. I had to worry about him constantly when it came to drinks and food. Even when he appeared to be "broke" of this habit.

You need to stop this as soon as possible. It's already in his head.
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post #52 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 11:49 AM
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When I say all living creatures learn the same, I mean the basic principles of learning apply to all animals, maybe I should phrase it like that from now on.

A horse can learn from +reinforcement just as well as a dog, the idea of a horse being confused greatly undermines the intelligence of these animals. Honestly if they can figure out -Reinforcement they can certainly understand +reinforcement. If they can connect the release of pressure with the action they can certainly connect the bridge with the correct action. CT only leads to frustration when the trainer has poor timing or a lack of understanding of the basic principles of how to train - this is the same No matter what style of training you use. I've seen most horses in the world with -R training who are beyond frustrated with people with poor timing with their release andmost leads to aggression as well. So to say +R leads to frustration is true, but no more than -R.

The truth is -R does work in training, I do use it, I don't use +Punishment. -R is only useful if you are willing to escalate the pressure to the point of hurting your horse if needed. If a horse pins his ears when you ask for something and the horse is confused or frustrated with -R if they don't respond correctly you need to escalate the pressure until they respond, even if it means hurting them. If you, as the trainer, aren't willing to escalate your pressure to the point of actually hurting your horse if you need to you need to either get a well broke horse who isn't going to test you OR you need to find an alternative training method.

Now if you think all CT leads to frustrated horses why not look back at those pictures and videos I posted, not a single one of them look frustrated :) The one who's learning to face forward and stand calmly doesn't look frustrated, in fact he looks thrilled!

If you want to talk bad about CT please learn all the facts.
Here are some resources to learn about CT
This one applies directly tot his conversation about poor timing and feeding treats without rules and how to fix the bad behaviors:
If you give a horse a cookie… | Stale Cheerios Blog
"Food in and of itself does not cause a horse to behave poorly. However, poor or inconsistent training practices can and will encourage many of these unwanted behaviors. Most clicker training programs use food rewards in a very structured way. Food is predictable–the horse knows exactly when and where the treat will appear. The horse learns rules about when food will appear and manners about how to take food."

Here's a bunch of "Frustrated" horses, doing all sorts of useful things because they want to :)

Here's a good step by step guide with some real FACTS based on Science

This is Shawna's blog and full of useful skills and information
On The Ground : On Target Training with Shawna Karrasch

Everyone is entitled to their own training styles and opinions, but don't trash others unless you know all the facts. I'm sure there are just as many horses "ruined" by +R trainers as -R trainers, in fact probably more -R horses because more people use it. The problem isn't the style it's people who aren't educated trying to train horses beyond their capability.
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post #53 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 11:57 AM
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How I feel they differ is this way:

'Natural' horses' two most important 'hard wired' instincts are their HERD INSTINCT and their FLIGHT INSTINCT. Almost all of our training involves us controlling those two natural instincts -- either by 'using' that instinct or 'prohibiting' a horse from using it. I can offer dozens of examples for people that do not understand them and how we 'use' them.

The fact that horses are one of the fastest animals on land means that their 'flight instinct' is their most important means of escaping a predator. When given a chance, they flee. They almost always fight only when cornered and unable to flee. Their first choice is flight.

The fact that donkeys are slow, dictates that they escape being eaten by stopping and facing the predator. This is why donkeys and mules train so differently than horses. It is pretty hard to use a 'flight instinct' in an animal that does not have much of one. The fact that they stop and face and fight the predator is also why they are put in with cattle to protect them from dogs and other predators.

Having this flight instinct means that ALL horses move from pressure if they understand it as pressure. A predator that is chasing it is the ultimate pressure. The only reward the horse needs is that it is not eaten when it outruns the predator. The only reward it needs and understands is a lack of pressure.

On the other hand, predators survive when they chase, hopefully catch and eat some prey animal. They receive a positive reward when they catch the meal. It is the ultimate 'food reward' to be able to eat what you catch. Pack animals learn to use cooperation and the pack to be more successful predators as opposed to lone hunters that stalk their prey.

This predator instinct is why so many people fail when they try to use punishment and scolding to train dogs. it is also why people that try to train with rewards like food and positive reinforcement also fail at getting much done training a horse. The reward come too late and the good desired behavior is often interrupted (or punished) in order for the handler to give the horse the reward. It can really confuse a horse.
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post #54 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 12:22 PM
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Again, everyone is entitled to their opinions and choices, but the results can't be debated.

I wish people would check out my links there's a lot of science and facts mixed in there ;)

This is one that specifically answers your question about why, even though they're a prey animal, they're still easily trained with CT.
Our Equine Clicker Training Methods | Cascade Institute of Equestrian Studies

Also in the clicker training thread I keep referring everyone to, on the third page it clearly explains why CT works for all animals, not just predators.
Originally Posted by jillybean19 View Post
Excellent question and one that I've also seen come up a lot.

Bottom line, every living thing needs energy and usually devotes the majority of its life working to obtain it by consuming food in some way/shape/form. Horses are no exception. It is a simple fact of life: horses need food to survive and so they work for it - whether they're in the wild and searching for grazing grounds or domesticated and chasing the rest of the herd off their flake of hay. Since horses work so hard to obtain their food simply to stay alive, it's an easy thing to exploit as a reinforcer/motivator in clicker training, especially if you use something like enjoy eating and don't get all the time.

Where predators are concerned, I'd actually be more worried about using food with them than I would non-predators. Most predators, like dogs, are fine being given treats. However, there are a few (snakes come to mind) that like their prey to be alive and lose interest in meals that aren't moving. If you were to clicker train an animal such as this, you'd have to find something that motivates them. If squirming meals were the only thing that motivated them to work, you'd have to use that as your reinforcer!

Herbivores, on the other hand, actually need more food than predators to function and that is why they are ALWAYS eating. Plants actually do not contain a whole lot of nutrition, so herbivores eat a lot, poop out most of it, and so must continue eating more. In contrast a predator, like a lion, can get all their nutrients from one meal and some can go weeks without eating.

Which brings us to the issue of being full. Any animal using treats in training does risk getting full and losing motivation to eat (like when you have a HUGE meal and don't even wan to look at dessert! Rare, I know, but it does happen lol). You don't need a starved animal, but right after feeding time probably isn't the best time to try clicker training, either. Generally, if you work with your horse any other time than after feeding time, they should be decently motivated to work for treats since they have such high energy (food) demands. Horses allowed free-choice hay and grass are usually ok since they're getting a slow and steady food intake (as opposed to stuffing themselves once or twice a day) and should still want food when you're working with them since they're working for food all day anyway. However, you'll need to pay attention to your horse and get to know them to find out when his optimal training time will be based on the desire for food (or whatever your reward is) and any other factors that affect motivation and attention.

All of this applies to all animals for the same reasons - here are a few examples of "unlikely" animals working with clicker training, none of which are predators:

Goldfish (I don't think they're predators, and even if they are, how incredible that CT is so simple and elegant it can be used with virtually any animal!):

And, not gonna lie, this is my favorite one I found for so many reasons and I LOVE these camels! (And for us CT junkies, check out the targeting, the "stand" game aka "stand on your mat", and the camel/trainer reaction to when the camel asks for food!)

I can tell you with my own horse her desire for the C+T has helped her overcome her flight instinct. My mare who was terrified of life itself has overcome all of her fears, she's confident and eager to work - with the use of CT. I can tell you I tried -R with her and when she was afraid the level of violence it took to get her to give in was beyond what I was willing to do to an animal I claimed to love. When she was afraid of going through her gate I lunged, yielded, whipped, and backed this horse for several hours before she gave me one step out the gate. I needed to hurt her to the point she thought I was going to kill her if she didn't go through something she was sure was terrifying, but she still was sure that the scary thing she didn't know was way more scary than me. I'm not willing to hurt my animal at that level. Straight up bribery didn't work either, just leaving the gate of her dry lot open into a field of grass got her to reach out her head, but never take that step. But after a week of CT confidence building and targetting I had her walking in and out the gate and all around my property. Now she goes wherever without questions.
If you aren't willing ot escalate to the level of violence it takes to FORCE a horse to do what you ask, then you need to make them want to do what you ask. Those are your options. Some horses may only take some quiet persuasion to get them to obey, while others will fight tooth and nail, it's up to you to decide what level of aggression is more than you're willing to instill on your horse and whether or not it will actually work in the end, are you strong enough to hurt your horse enough to make them obey? If you physically or emotionally aren't strong enough maybe you should look into alternatives. CT is the other option, it makes the horse want to work for you, because finally there's something in it for them.

You don't have to use it but please learn about it before you trash it. Don't just scan my posts and slam it down, read the articles, learn the science.

ETA: If a goldfish can be clicker trained a horse can! xD
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post #55 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 02:33 PM
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when she was afraid the level of violence it took to get her to give in was beyond what I was willing to do to an animal
If you used violence, it was a HUGE mistake. That is not the kind of pressure it takes and it is certainly not what I suggested you should do. It is always the wrong thing to do. It only gets a horse 'reactive' and 'on the fight' and no reactive horse is learning anything good.

When she was afraid of going through her gate I lunged, yielded, whipped, and backed this horse for several hours before she gave me one step out the gate. I needed to hurt her to the point she thought I was going to kill her if she didn't go through something she was sure was terrifying, but she still was sure that the scary thing she didn't know was way more scary than me. I'm not willing to hurt my animal at that level
This SO WRONG. Why on earth would you do this to get a horse out of a gate? Who on earth told you to do these things? It certainly was not me. Why do your treat these bad examples of 'pressure and release' as the only kind of pressure and release. They are all BAD examples of a misused technique. If you needed to "hurt' her, you were sure not doing it right!

If you aren't willing ot escalate to the level of violence it takes to FORCE a horse to do what you ask, then you need to make them want to do what you ask.
Properly applying the right kind of pressure (never violence) DOES make a horse want to do the right thing. The handler just needs to be good at it and needs to know how to be smarter than the horse instead of trying to be bigger and meaner than the horse. This requires knowledge and technique -- not violence or a clicker. You just have to know how to teach a horse where the release of pressure is.

I have never had to hit a horse, yell at a horse or hurt a horse to get one in a trailer, through a gate, into a barn or into a stall. I have made 'house calls' only to find people that had to go to the ER, horses with whip marks, cuts and welts all over them, horses that needed to be sewn up, heads completely skinned up, trailers that had been torn up and one horse with broken withers from flipping up-side-down in a driveway. All of these horses quietly and fearlessly walked into a trailer within a few minutes of my getting there. No violence, no stress, no fear.

Technique and knowledge is everything.

I am not anti-clicker training. I have just personally never needed it. I have never found it necessary so have not had a use for it. Why would I want to use a clicker if I can get a horse to do anything I want it to do without one? I very thoroughly understand how to use pressure and release -- usually very light pressure. The people that cannot get it to work for them just do not know how to use it very well. They are usually applying too much pressure and are getting a 'reaction' and 'resistance' instead of a 'response'. Almost every horse has a point where too much pressure results in them 'getting 'on the fight'. Hot bloods and very reactive horses hit that point much more quickly than a lot of other horses.

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post #56 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 04:01 PM
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Your absolutely right, violence wasnt the right option. That was suggested to me on this forum as well as by professional trainers who helped me. CT is the tool I found to be the most helpful for reactive, pushy, or/and aggressive horses. The point of this story is to show how every style of training can be used wrong with poor results. I still use -R but only together with +R.
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post #57 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 04:05 PM
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If someone finds that something works well for them and their horse and has such good results as PunksTank has had - that mare is a complete turnaround then I can't find fault with it
I would say the same for any method regardless of if it was something I used myself or not because its the end result that matters
I can actually remember when she was told to take a much more aggressive approach with her by some Forum members and I think we spoke by PM back then that its wasn't the right way to go.
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post #58 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
This predator instinct is why so many people fail when they try to use punishment and scolding to train dogs.
Whereas I TOTALLY agree with your whole post, I had to point out how TRUE your comments are about dogs. I get NoWhere FAST with physical punishment with my BC x, "Rose." I make a big impression by ordering her to the basement, where she lays on the cement in the heat, and eats and is safe, BUT isn't fun when I, the pack leader, am outside "playing."
I also get nowhere fast if I punish her for NOT coming when I call. I am successful when I make a big fuss when she comes to a call, and she improves.
I don't know about anybody else, but I get spooky when my horses want to put their faces next to mine, beyond the occasional blow "Hello." I just don't like and won't tolerate it.
IMO tricks should be functional, like teaching them to lay down so you can get on easily.

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post #59 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 04:34 PM
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Like I said, I have nothing against clicker training or any other method if it works to produce the results you want without stressing out or fighting the horse.

But, tell me something about clicker training: What happens if a horse is sold to a different handler / trainer? Does the horse work well for anyone else or does the new owner need to be taught how to use a completely different system? Along the way with clicker training, is the horse taught to respond correctly to the common aids and cues that everyone else uses?

I have seen a few horses that were trained by entirely different methods to entirely different cues. No one else could do anything with the horse.

Normally, about any accomplished rider can get on about any other accomplished rider's horse and it will operate quite well. I have seen a horse that was qualified for and shown in the preliminary round of the AQHA World Championship show by one rider. The rider was injured in a bad fall before the finals. A different rider / trainer showed the horse in the finals with 1 brief ride on it the afternoon of the finals and won the AQHA World Championship in the very difficult Open Working Cowhorse Class. Obviously, this horse was trained by very common methods that were very interchangeable from trainer to trainer.

So, can anyone else ever get good well-trained responses from a clicker trained horse. Since I spent my whole life training horses that anyone else could ride, I have always thought it very important to use very common and well-understood aids and cues. Does it confuse these horses to use different aids and different cues? Please enlighten me. I am not trying to be nasty. I genuinely want to know. Cherie

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post #60 of 85 Old 09-13-2013, 04:36 PM
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There really isn't much of a difference between training a horse and training a dog other than size. You use pressure and release with dogs- Everything from pressing down on the dog to teach sit, to pulling on the leash and releasing for teaching heel. Clicker training is vastly the same between dogs and horses. Again horses are bigger! As for the predator prey thing there are some differences- certainly you can't round pen a dog! A horse will tolerate more abuse than a dog due to their flight instinct.

If you can clicker train a dog to do an agility course, why wouldn't be able to do the same with your horse?

I think this is a misconception: " It is also why people that try to train with rewards like food and positive reinforcement also fail at getting much done training a horse."

Clicker training works really well when done right. Pressure and release work really well when done right. Both can end in disaster if done the wrong way.

It depends on what you want in your relationship with your horse. Do you want a relationship with your horse other than the boss-worker type or do you want more of a friendship? It's not mutually exclusive.
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