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spookychick13 04-25-2011 02:29 PM

Does Clicker Training make your horse a treat monger?

I am interested in clicker training for my horse, but I am worried that it will make him a frantic treat hound (more so than he already is!!)

Has anyone tried this method?

Thanks in advance!

mls 04-25-2011 03:12 PM

ANYTHING programmed into a horse will have them look for the reward every time.

My pet peeve is horses I've had horses in for training that stop everytime I said "good boy/girl". The only time they were ever praised was after they were done.

iridehorses 04-25-2011 03:42 PM

I don't clicker train but I do give treats (usually a carrot or a piece of alfalfa cube). Only one horse in the many years of treating was a problem and she came with it - after I discovered the problem, I stopped giving treats from my hand.

Hidalgo13 04-25-2011 03:56 PM

It depends on the horse, but I think with clicker training you're suppose to slowly decrease the treats after a while, and only click and praise with a pat instead, so they learn they don't always get something yummy when they do a good job, just a little love. :)

One of the horses I sometimes ride is too bossy and a treat hound, (but only when he knows I have some), so I don't give him any. If we had a good ride I'll put it in his bucket.
I always give treats though to the mare I am now riding because she behaves. I don't give her the treat if she is nosing me, only when she respectfully pulls her head away and waits. She caught on so fast that now she always waits for me to hand her the treats, and doesn't bombard me.
The gelding doesn't seem to get it. Maybe with some more work. :/

munschk 04-27-2011 02:20 PM

Actually, in my experience, Clicker Training can be especially useful with food orientated horses.

My mare absolutely LOVES treats but she's learnt, through clicker training, that mugging me gets her no where. Its part of the training process, teaching horses to be polite and look away if they want to get rewarded.

I can see my mare looking away but watching me out of the corner of her eye, she knows she has to wait till I click before she'll get her reward.
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munschk 04-27-2011 02:30 PM

Oh, on one more note, I don't decrease the treats as my horse is not one to be motivated by pats. Instead, you increase what they have to do for the reward.

For example, when using clicker training for lunging, when asking a horse to drop its head on the lunge, initially you click and reward the moment the horse drops its head, then you extend it to asking them to drop their head for half a circle for example, before clicking and treating.

I'd be glad to try and help if you have any other questions about Clicker Training.
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spookychick13 04-27-2011 04:33 PM

I was going to ask about moving rewards, actually. :) So do you just stretch it out to 1/2 a circle, full circle, etc?

We started today and he got the target down very quickly, then the 'Touch' command. :) He is a smart guy.

What treats do you use?

munschk 04-27-2011 04:53 PM

I use chopped up carrots and apples. Pony nuts are easier but my mare loves them a little too much and since she doesn't normally get concentrates, I prefer the apples and carrots.

As for moving rewards, you mean asking them for more before treating? I'm going to assume that's what you mean :-)

I can't give you a set number as it varies, I think I used immediately, 3 strides, 5 strides, half circle, full circle. If they seem to be struggling to extend it and made the connection, then only ask for a little more before rewarding. You have to keep them motivated :-)
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spookychick13 04-27-2011 04:58 PM

Yes, sorry, I meant while lunging and eventually riding.
My horse is an adoption horse who was an abuse case. :( I am working on getting him 'rewired' to be ridden and handled gently.

I used a riding crop as my target because he was afraid of it. It took about two bumps into the crop and he was no longer afraid. :)

I was using GiddyUp Girls sugar free treats, but they go fast!

I am really excited about starting this with him, he seemed to have a lot of fun.

He did try to mug me a few times, but I just stood there and ignored him.

He also seems to want to go for the treat dispensing hand...

munschk 04-27-2011 05:07 PM

Well if you chop up carrots and apples into bite sized chunks, they last a long time! Just not too small!

Well done on ignoring him for mugging, that's a good idea! If you can, have a training session just about correct treat handling.

My mare likes to extend her nose and nuzzle for treats but I wait for her to look away, which is usually an accident at first, before treating. As for going for the treat dispensing hand, as long as he doesn't nip you, just keep ignoring him until he looks away and then treat and reward. The key is consistency! As long as you never reward for going for your treat hand, he will eventually stop doing it. Horses, like all animals, do what works for them.

I'm so glad you're doing clicker training, it really is a wonderful training method to add to all other methods.
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