Teaching Horse to Bow - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 35 Old 03-07-2015, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Roman View Post
Oh it IS a reward. The tone of your voice makes it rewarding because they'll tell the difference of tone. Just like humans, is someone says "Good" dully we don't really find whatever we did was good by their tone (unless someone's voice is just that way). But it IS good. I say "Good boy" to my horse a lot without treats or petting.

Elisa Wallace, when training her Mustangs, uses a lot of verbal praise. When they come off the trailer she says "Good boy/girl" a lot, she doesn't use treats but will sometimes pet them.
No it really isn't lol. Just because you would consider it rewarding to be told you were good does not mean that a horse understands your human words. The only way these words gain any meaning is to pair them with primary reinforcers (food/play/grooming/comfort etc). This is the same with ALL animals, including humans. People are not born getting good feelings from people saying "well done", it has to be conditioned.

If your horse sees these words as rewarding it is because you have conditioned them successfully. That's fantastic and what I aim for as a +R trainer. This is the only way in which verbal praise is achieved. It is scientifically impossible for it to be any other way.

Wallace applies pressure then releases pressure, and on that release of pressure (and compliance) she says "Good boy/girl". That is exactly the same as giving a carrot and saying "Good boy/girl" just without the pressure/release. Language is conditioned, it is not a primary reinforcer.
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post #22 of 35 Old 03-07-2015, 08:17 PM
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But it is the tone of your voice. Horses don't understand all English but they can hear our tone of voice and read body language too. Treats are not everything. >.>
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post #23 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 05:37 AM
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I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one ;)

Tone of voice is certainly helpful. It can create a calming soothing environment, or an excitable atmosphere or a threatening feel. But it is NOT a reinforcer in the scientific sense of the word.

I always maintain that treats are not everything and have said multiple times that scratches, comfort and play are all primary reinforcers that will encourage repeat behaviours. But it is undeniable that food is a very strong reinforcer and as such you can get great results by using it.

I personally train all behaviours without pressure release successfully but I know most people don't want to do that. However tricks like bowing are a perfect opportunity to just have some fun and experiment with other methods and approaches that you wouldn't normally be using. Who knows, maybe then you could experiment with other more 'work-like' behaviours...
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post #24 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 10:06 AM
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I have enjoyed reading this discussion. I trick train using treats. Thanks for an interesting discussion. Everyone has put my thoughts down better than I could have said, so I'll just say "Thanks. I enjoyed it."
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post #25 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 10:14 AM
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This is a link to training to sit, which also contains film clips for a lot of other tricks if you go through the archives. I love the calm and rapport between this trainer and her horses. She started in classical dressage, but had this horse lying down on cue before she ever mounted him. Because not as unbreakable in second half of life as in youth, she told me!

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post #26 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 10:54 AM
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Thanks for the link, SueC.. I'm going to enjoy her journey....
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post #27 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 11:00 AM
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Great link focussing on cooperation rather than coercion :)

And lovely to see someone writing about the physical and mental benefits of trick training, especially in young horses
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post #28 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 11:06 AM
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OP my gelding had a similar problem when we started and I went back to the beginning. I would use a treat to 'draw' his head in between his front legs, allowing him to find his balance and take a step back. Eventually he learned that the treat was set so far back that he'd have to go down on one knee to reach it.

I had to encourage him to bend his leg by lightly tapping it with my foot but eventually he got the hint.

*As for the treat comments I use them sporadically in the beginning and then go to voice/physical rewards (i.e. scratching a favorite place or saying "good"). They get treats every so often to keep the cue 'loaded' but other than that I stick with my other rewards. They seem to get the idea pretty fast!
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post #29 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 12:00 PM
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The funny part is when they do it when you're not expecting it...my cue became a shoulder tap and my gelding would go down on a knee easily...a few times though I turned around and he's down there and I'm doing the "where did the horse go" spin in a circle. Hahaha.
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post #30 of 35 Old 03-08-2015, 12:08 PM
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Don't you love when they start OFFERING behaviors.. lol. That can turn into a "animal trains human" trap.. lolol
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