The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I’ve decided to try the click/treat approach to teach the pony I partial lease manners (my fault completely as I don’t teach her them). I have read up on it and also asked about it on my other forum about Betty “biting” during tacking up but I figured it’s be best to start a new forum for c/t so that the other one is for the “biting” only. So I’ve read multiple approaches and I’d like to know which one sounds better or if a different approach altogether would be better. One approach I read about started with an object of some sort and having the horse touch it with their nose, then “clicking” and giving them a treat. Continue this until the horse understands and then move on to using it in general. Another approach I saw was to just “click” and give her a treat at first so she associates click with treat but making sure the horse is behaving when “clicking” and the treat goes to the horse, not the other way. I’m confused and was wondering if anybody could teach me how you taught your horse click/treat and what you use for “click”. I can’t use a cluck or kissing sound and I’m not sure if the words good or great would be a good idea since she hears those words a lot. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,501 Posts
When I did this with my Pony, I started by having him touch an object with his nose, click and reward (actually I said "good boy" and rewarded*). He is a very curious pony so the first time I showed him this new object he wanted to smell it. So I "clicked" and rewarded. Super easy. Then I would have him come to the object, then point the object at something else I wanted to target, etc. He's also quite smart, and very food motivated, so he picked it up really quickly.

Just today I taught him to pick up his feet when I pointed at them, in less than ten minutes, by using "good boy" and treats.

Teddy, on the other hand... sigh... he didn't want to approach the object for the longest time. This object that I used was a blue plastic bottle that I taped to one end of an old broomstick. But it was new and scary and it worried him. Even after he finally approached it and I rewarded him, he still wasn't too excited about it. He's a worrier and honestly not quite as smart as Pony, so it took him a really long time to get the hang of it.

Here are some links to some videos that might be helpful. I really love this lady's videos -- they are short and to the point, and very informational. And she is obviously a very kind and understanding person, who really tries to see the horse's point of view in everything.

https://www.crktrainingblog.com/horse-training/teaching-a-horse-to-target-clicker-training/
https://www.crktrainingblog.com/horse-training/teaching-your-horse-good-food-manners/

* I bought a clicker but ended up finding it too cumbersome to use. I have found using my voice to be much easier. Plus it translates easily into riding -- I can tell him "good boy" in that same tone of voice and he knows he's done the right thing. You just have to be 100% consistent in your words and tone of voice.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks @ACinATX . How you think this would work if I wanted to teach her some manners, especially when I’m leading her? I was thinking I would lead her around and then stop and when she keeps on walking, back her up to where she should be and then click and give her a treat (after I teach her what click means). What size should the object be? Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
588 Posts
You could do either way, depending on what your horse responds best to. Like ACinATX, I also use my voice. I just find it much quicker than using a clicker.

One thing I will say is that this is not necessarily the first method I would approach manners or behavioral issues with, ESPECIALLY with a horse already prone to biting. I haven't read your other thread, but this could cause the horse to be more nippy in the long-run.

Are there other manners besides the leading issue that are you hoping to teach her?
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One thing I will say is that this is not necessarily the first method I would approach manners or behavioral issues with, ESPECIALLY with a horse already prone to biting. I haven't read your other thread, but this could cause the horse to be more nippy in the long-run.
So basically to fill you in on the other forum, we’ve narrowed it down to her saddle fit which I’m working on talking to the owner about getting her a new one. She doesn’t bite she “air bites” and has pretty decent treat manners. Just wondering, what approach would you take?
Are there other manners besides the leading issue that are you hoping to teach her
Not really, I guess standing still when I sponge her down but I’ll probably take a different approach (although I’m not sure what yet).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
382 Posts
Perhaps if you think of it as "mark/treat" rather than "click/treat", then you will be less confused as to what noise to make. It does not need to be a click.

For our dog we used "yes". It is a word he heard a lot but we would say it in a specific tone and with a specific length. It was a somewhat longer yes than the regular short yes you would use most the time, and slightly deeper (but not really deep).

You could also use something like nice, top, or good pony.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,501 Posts
I guess this is why people don't like giving this sort of advice on forums, because a lot of training involves "feel," and you really can't teach that through words.

If I'm leading a horse and they are getting in front of me and I don't want them to, I first try to slow them down with gentle pressure on the halter. If that didn't work, I'd try a couple of quick short (but not harsh) jerks back on the halter. If that didn't work, I'd either make them come to a complete stop and then we'd stand there for a few seconds, or I'd make them do circles. They have to do a few circles, and then when they are back where I want them to be, we start again. The thing is, with the first two methods, you have to reward (release) them the second they do it right. If she's really the kind of horse who really gets in front of you, you may need to release even for the slightest "try" (and, again, this is one of those things that is better experienced than explained). So, if she's getting in front of you and you give her a little bit of pressure on the halter to let her know that she needs to slow down, you'd first release that pressure as soon as she even thought about slowing down. But it's hard to explain what that looks like. Then, after that was successful a few times, you'd require her to actually physically slow down a little, even if it's just a tiny bit, before releasing the pressure.

Teaching them to not get in front with clicker training, I think, would be more difficult. To me, this is one of those things where good ole pressure and release (as above) is the best bet. I really love training with treats, because frankly in my experience it's easier, but for this scenario I think it makes more sense to go with pressure and release.

ETA: I think @Jolly101 has a good point, though. I treat train my Pony now, but when I first got him I wasn't able to use treats. I was extremely inexperienced and I didn't have a good enough feel that I could reward exactly the behavior I wanted, and not any undesirable behavior, and he is super food-motivated (read: greedy), so a lot of our sessions devolved into me trying to fend him off as he tried to ransack my body for hidden treats. This didn't work out too well, and it was a good six months before I was willing to try again. At that point, I had a much better feel for training, and I think I had also gotten better generally at communicating clearly with him. I also switched from cookies as a reward to just using a few alfalfa pellets. It's still motivating, but he's less likely to get overly focused on the reward.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
If I'm leading a horse and they are getting in front of me
She doesn’t get ahead of me, when I’m walking she’s good, her face parallel to my elbow but when I stop, she keeps right on moving and sometimes makes a circle around me. Also, when I’m done riding she starts to walk off when I’m rolling her stirrups.

I think it’s more of a teach her to stop when I stop rather than teach her manners so that’s why I figured click/treat might work best. She was probably taught to stop when the person leading her stops but ever since I’ve been leasing her (about 3 years ago) I haven’t worked on it with her or got after her about it so she is rusty in this type of thing.

What I was planning to do was lead her and then when I stop and she keeps going, back her up to where she should be and then click and give her a treat. I’ve tried putting pressure on the lead rope and she eventually stops after a few steps and she’s still in front of me so I normally end up pushing her chest until she’s where she should’ve been and she hasn’t caught on that that’s what I want her to do so maybe food would work better? I’m not an expert so I’m not really sure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
588 Posts
So basically to fill you in on the other forum, we’ve narrowed it down to her saddle fit which I’m working on talking to the owner about getting her a new one. She doesn’t bite she “air bites” and has pretty decent treat manners. Just wondering, what approach would you take?
Just skimmed it. Glad you and the owner have narrowed down the issue :) ACinATX made a very good point about different methods and being aware of timing/release. Personally, I've been a really big fan of a nice rope halter when dealing with leading issues because they provide a quicker release than a regular halter or a chain (my least favorite). For those horses who don't quite understand pressure-release, the rope halter can make quite a difference. It is a very useful thing to have in your 'tool box' for any future horses if you are able to get your hands on one.

ACinATX also made a good point about the treats. One of my own horses is super food motivated, but also very smart. He knows when I don't have treats and will not be as motivated to do tricks at that time. Now, he was taught a lot of groundwork prior to me using clicker training on him, so he knows boundaries and what he can and can not get away with well. I never really worried about him getting nippy because of that, but I've seen to first hand the horses that have and it can be a real challenge to change that behavior once it is established.

For the leading issue, I like your way of going about it, as well as ACinATX's suggestion. How is your horse at backing from halter pressure? That is where I would start. You want your horse to be able to back of the littlest bit of pressure applied to the rope. And it should be energetically and not "ah, okay... I guess" while you keep pushing her back. Ideally, she should be able to back of a semi-loose rope with one finger pressing back the rope at the top. Every time she takes a step back with one of her front legs, you release the pressure.

Instead of treats/clicks, I'd suggest verbal praise and negative reinforcement (taking away the pressure) for the leading issue. So, lead her and then back her up to where she should be, stop her and praise. I usually wait for 15 seconds, then would walk her again. The 15 seconds gives her time after the release for the idea to make sense. You can change up how long she waits once she understands the lesson. I'd start with walking 1-2 steps forward and then backing up again, gradually making your way to walking further apart each time.

Once the saddle issue is cleared up, I've found the following is the best way to train a horse out of air biting:

- teach her how to drop her poll down with downward pressure of the leadrope. Get her to respond very well to this before moving to the next step.

- drop the head down before the saddle goes on. You can do this with crossties as well, then when the saddle goes on quietly and she lifts her head, ask her to drop her head again and treat her with her head facing forward and dropped. Work on this for a while. You are pairing the head drop with putting on the saddle, so eventually what you are looking for is her to drop her head down when the saddle is put on.

- if the girth is the problem, then it is very similar. Lift the girth around until you have the slightest response from her (lifting head most likely). Ask her to drop the head and once she does, let go of the girth. Do this at the same step until lifting the girth = dropping head, then go a bit farther and teach the same response to that level of stimulus. continue until you can girth all the way up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,501 Posts
What I was planning to do was lead her and then when I stop and she keeps going, back her up to where she should be and then click and give her a treat. I’ve tried putting pressure on the lead rope and she eventually stops after a few steps and she’s still in front of me so I normally end up pushing her chest until she’s where she should’ve been and she hasn’t caught on that that’s what I want her to do so maybe food would work better? I’m not an expert so I’m not really sure.
So, this first thing you're doing, according to what I understand about how horses think, wouldn't teach her what you wanted. If she gets in front of you, and you stop her, and then back her up, and then reward her, she is likely to think that she's getting a reward for backing up, and not connect it with walking on after you stopped, or not walking on after you stopped. I feel like, maybe what you're doing now is sort of the same thing. You stop, she walks on, then you back her up. It may be that the backing up isn't soon enough after the lack of stopping to show her what you want. Horses need the reward or the release to be IMMEDIATE, or they don't make the connection.

Another thought: rather than trying to teach her NOT to do something (keep walking when you stop), you should think of it as trying to teach her to DO something (stop when you stop). I've found that mentally framing something like this for myself makes it easier to see the behavior I want, or even the beginning of that behavior, and reward it more quickly. Also it gives you a definite goal. If you're asking her to not keep walking when you stop walking, you're not actually telling her what the right answer is, if that makes sense. Reading what I wrote, I get that it seems like a distinction without a difference, but somehow I do think it makes a difference.

One thing I watched someone work on with her young foal was getting him to stop when she stopped. Now, this guy had no idea what she wanted, because he was just a foal. So it took something a bit dramatic. The owner would lead him by being in front of him, then just as she stopped, she'd turn to face him. It was a very sharp, sudden turn. It tended to surprise him enough that he stopped short, and then she would reward him.

Do check out those videos I posted above, though. Callie might also have a video for getting a horse to stop like this -- I wouldn't be surprised. She has a ton of really helpful videos. Personally I learn better from reading than from watching, but when it comes to trying to understand the fine points of horse training, I do think videos are better, because you can actually see what they are talking about.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AbbySmith

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So basically what I’m trying to do is make her stop by sharply turning around and praising her when she stops? I’m not sure but won’t that teach her to stop when I turn around rather than when I stop?

I’m wondering would this work? So I do the thing where I turn around and then as she’s stopping, say stop and praise her when she stops (maybe using click/treat?) so that way she knows the word stop means stop. If this would work, how would I then get her to stop when I stop (I guess that’s what’s confusing me)? Also, I’ll check out the videos later when I have more time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,501 Posts
So basically what I’m trying to do is make her stop by sharply turning around and praising her when she stops? I’m not sure but won’t that teach her to stop when I turn around rather than when I stop?
You stop and then immediately turn around. So she should associate the two and transfer the behavior from one to the other.

I’m wondering would this work? So I do the thing where I turn around and then as she’s stopping, say stop and praise her when she stops (maybe using click/treat?) so that way she knows the word stop means stop. If this would work, how would I then get her to stop when I stop (I guess that’s what’s confusing me)? Also, I’ll check out the videos later when I have more time.
Verbal commands are great. Most horses are taught "ho" or "whoa" to stop. You have to be sure the tone of voice is correct. It's deep and then sort of drops deeper: "HOOOOooooo". I mean, the pitch starts low and then gets lower. Who knows, you might find that she already sort of knows this, and training her might be easier.

I guess that from what you're wanting to do, teaching the verbal command for stopping isn't really necessary, because you're not wanting her to stop when you say something, you're wanting her to stop when you stop. You should be able to achieve what you want through body language alone.

I'm trying to think this through. I can visualize it but I have a hard time expressing it. If you stop and then immediately turn, she links these two things. When you stop and immediately turn, she stops. Then you praise her or give her a treat or a click or whatever. She associated herself stopping with you stopping and turning, but she also associated the turning with the stopping. You should pretty soon be able to cut out the intermediate step of turning. Because she will anticipate the turning, and then stop on her own.

I think this is what she would be thinking: "Hooman body language suggests she's going to stop, hooman stops, hooman turns around suddenly --yikes!-- so I stop, too, hooman praises/rewards me. I like this." Soon she will (or at least should) anticipate, just from your body language suggesting that you're going to stop, the rest of the sequence. So you gradually cut out the intermediate steps.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AbbySmith

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@ACinATX thanks I can see it now. I agree that she doesn’t really need the verbal cue and I forgot she does know whoa. I probably won’t teach her click/treat for now (unless someone else thinks it’s necessary) because I feel like it’s unnecessary and just give her a treat. But I’ll probably teach it to her eventually, just for fun and so I can use it if I need to.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,881 Posts
With any 'method' you want to use, I think it's very important to study/understand the *principles* behind it. Then you can pick & choose the specifics you personally like/want, and know how to apply them effectively. And why/why not something may or may not be good. Still reckon Karen Pryor's little book "Don't Shoot The Dog" is a great one for explaining the 'nuts & bolts' of behavioural training in an easy to understand way(BTW it's not specifically about dogs, not about shooting them!)

Horses learn from *instant* association. That is the point of establishing a 'bridging signal' such as a clicker. For eg. If you're lunging a horse say, and he does a particularly good transition that you want to 'mark' - tell him "That right there!" you can click. Or when riding, so the horse associates the correct behaviour with the reward to come. Rather than whatever is happening at the time of the reward - eg. stopping, you going to the horse & offering a treat.

So... same as with any 'cue' be it word or action, you need to give it meaning by associating it instantly and repeatedly with whatever behaviour. So for eg to teach a dog to sit, you don't say 'sit! sit! sit!' when they have no clue, or else the cue will remain meaningless - or become associated with whatever IS happening at the time - perhaps you being frustrated/angry with the dog. You ensure the behaviour you want is happening at the time of attaching the 'cue'. Only when it's well established can you 'test' the association by giving it in absence of a behaviour, to try to elicit it.

In the case of a clicker, you want it strongly associated with a positive reinforcement - a reward, Good Stuff. You don't have to ask anything of the animal when you're doing this - simply click/treat, click/treat, click/treat. Or you can click/treat with something they're already doing well, or with something new you want to establish, that is easy & can be repetitive, so you can repeat, repeat, repeat enough to establish the click cue ASAP. Such as 'targetting'. Getting the animal to touch something - a marker or 'target stick' is handy to teach because you can then easily direct him to go somewhere, touch other things, whatever.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,881 Posts
Thanks @ACinATX . How you think this would work if I wanted to teach her some manners, especially when I’m leading her? I was thinking I would lead her around and then stop and when she keeps on walking, back her up to where she should be and then click and give her a treat (after I teach her what click means). What size should the object be? Thanks!
Remember that instant association. So if you do that(not that it's wrong, just realise exactly *what* you're reinforcing), you are not going to be reinforcing the horse walking with you & stopping when you do, but you'll be reinforcing her backing up & stopping when you stop asking.

It is best to work out how best to encourage Right behaviours and c/t those, rather than have to 'correct' wrong behaviours. And remember, whatever is happening, be that behaviour or emotion, at the time of the signal will become associated with it. (Which is why I object to somebody 'baby talking' & saying 'good boy' to a horse who's 'spooking' or a dog during a vet exam for eg). So also ensure that the horse isn't frightened(AC's horse was likely 'slower on the uptake' with targetting the bottle because it was associated with fear) or doing something 'rude' like grabbing for the treat. Again, *whatever is happening at the time is what you're teaching, so NEVER, NEVER reward 'rude' behaviour, regardless of what else was happening that you wanted to reward.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,881 Posts
Teaching them to not get in front with clicker training, I think, would be more difficult. To me, this is one of those things where good ole pressure and release (as above) is the best bet.
Yeah one thing about +R training is you start to focus on what you DO want, over what you don't want. So rather than thinking about teaching her to *stop* doing something, you reward her for everything you DO get that's good, and work out how you will get her doing Good Things, in order to reward them.

I've never(well, when brand new to behavioural psych & c/t I tried for a short spell) been a 'purist' positive reinforcement trainer, I've always used negative reinforcement(pressure/release) as well with horses. You can further reinforce them for yielding softly to 'pressure' by c/t'ing them for doing so too. Eg. leg on to ask them to move their HQ over, then the instant they do so, you release the pressure with your leg, click & treat.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@loosie that does make sense, thanks. Do you think I shouldn’t use the object strategy to introduce the click because of my use for it but instead just introduce it by using it when she’s behaving (never when she’s rude)? I’m probably going to use @ACinATX ‘s strategy and stop then turn around fast so she stops then reward her.

If this seems right, I’m going to introduce the “click” just when she’s in her stall behaving (never when her heads near me so she understands that she shouldn’t be rude for treats) using about 5-10 small treats (I’ll cut 1 carrot into small pieces) and do 3-6 sessions of this (I read that it takes around 30 clicks for them to catch on). Then when she understands click=treat then I’ll use it for the strategy I mentioned above.

I’m not sure if this matters but should I use a chain over the nose (I normally do since she doesn’t listen when I stop and normally is led with a chain anyways) or just with a lead rope clipped to her halter?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,881 Posts
She doesn’t get ahead of me, when I’m walking she’s good, her face parallel to my elbow but when I stop, she keeps right on moving and sometimes makes a circle around me. Also, when I’m done riding she starts to walk off when I’m rolling her stirrups.
One thing about learning the *principles* behind the 'methods' is that you can apply them in different ways. For eg. you can also establish a strong 'bridging signal' that means 'Wrong! Punishment is coming' in the same way as you establish meaning for a clicker. If say, whenever she keeps walking, you say 'uh-uh!' at the same time as giving a few uncomfortable jerks on the lead, 'uh-uh' will come to mean 'stop that or else'.

I think it’s more of a teach her to stop when I stop rather than teach her manners so that’s why I figured click/treat might work best.
So you find ways to make it more likely that she will do the Right Thing. This may be blocking 'wrong' actions, such as asking her to lead up to a fence & rewarding her for stopping when you stop, or rewarding her for being next to you in a certain position - reward her whenever she is at your right elbow, if that's where you want her.

eventually stops after a few steps and she’s still in front of me so I normally end up pushing her chest until she’s where she should’ve been
Another principle to keep in mind is, break things down into small, easy chunks, and if/when the horse doesn't understand something, try to simplify it further. That's what it means when people say 'reward the tries'. Make it as easy and likely as possible for her to get things Right. Then, when all the 'ingredients' are understood, you can start combining them, making things 'harder'. So, in your above eg. I would c/t her for just stopping. Establish that well, before asking her to be more specific about where/how fast she stops.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
One thing about learning the *principles* behind the 'methods' is that you can apply them in different ways. For eg. you can also establish a strong 'bridging signal' that means 'Wrong! Punishment is coming' in the same way as you establish meaning for a clicker. If say, whenever she keeps walking, you say 'uh-uh!' at the same time as giving a few uncomfortable jerks on the lead, 'uh-uh' will come to mean 'stop that or else'.
That’s a good idea, I’ll definitely give it a try if the click/treat doesn’t work.

So you find ways to make it more likely that she will do the Right Thing. This may be blocking 'wrong' actions, such as asking her to lead up to a fence & rewarding her for stopping when you stop, or rewarding her for being next to you in a certain position - reward her whenever she is at your right elbow, if that's where you want her.
That’s also a great idea. I’ll probably start with doing the fence thing and then work on without a fence, using the turning around fast method until she stops when I stop, using the c/t method for each step.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top