Clicker Training

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The Need for Food

The Need for Food
Today one of the kids said that they wish they didn’t have to feed treats when the horse does something they want. I explained again that this is how we both reward good choices and motivate future good choices. But they were still bothered, they wished the horse would just do it like a favor, out of love for their person. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Clicker Training, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Food Related Anxiety and Over-excitement

Food Related Anxiety and Over-excitement
Most horses start out at least a little thrilled about the clicker training experience. Teaching a safe, alternate behavior to mugging, such as stand facing forward, is a fantastic way to keep us safe and help the horse learn to relax around food. A key element in this first behavior MUST be relaxation. A horse can tuck their chin or look away or stand facing forward, but be boiling over, trembling with excitement.

Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Clicker Training, Equine Emotions, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Protective Contact

Protective Contact

“Protective Contact” is working from the other side of a fence, gate, stall door or other barrier (backwards round penning is a blast with the human inside and the horse outside the pen). Protective contact is an extremely valuable tool to keep in our tool box, it’s great for horses new to CT, new to people, new to being hand fed, new to living domestically and great for people new to CT. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Care and Management, Clicker Training, Troubleshooting

Eliminating Unwanted Behaviors

Eliminating Behaviors

As ethical trainers we aim to use positive reinforcement and reduce the use of aversives in our training where we can. This can be difficult when thinking about behaviors we don’t want – particularly ones that can be detrimental to the horse themselves or dangerous to the handler. Some behaviors need to be reduced, for their safety or for ours. Luckily we have options! Karen Pryor’s book is the original source of this information in her book “Don’t Shoot the Dog” (which I strongly recommend), but I’ve adapted the information more specifically for horses. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Troubleshooting

Dealing with Fear

Dealing with Fear
Make sure to read the article on Stimulus Stacking as well.

There are four basic ways of helping our horses overcome fear. Our goal is not to remove or teach them to ignore their instinct to defend themselves (through the freeze-flight-fight responses), nor to teach them to tolerate every stimuli in the world, but rather to help them build a sense of self confidence and encourage curiosity. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Equine Emotions, Troubleshooting

Humane Hierarchy

Humane Hierarchy
We frequently have discussions about when, where and how it’s ethically alright to use other quadrants or techniques in our training and daily handling. Luckily Dr. Susan Friedman put together this amazingly wonderful guide for us to use, the “Humane Heirarchy”.

Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Ethics

What is Clicker Training

What is Clicker Training?

Most of these concepts are written in detail in the other articles, I’ll link them for easy reading. I put this together as a basic overview to get started. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training

The Science of Learning

The Science of Learning

The most basic aspects of learning science is “Conditioning”.
Classical Conditioning is when you connect a neutral stimulus with a stimulus that has meaning. This can be done in all sorts of ways, for example, connecting a sound with no meaning, like a click, with the delivery of food classically conditions the click to predict food is coming. Ever seen a horse become more forward just by the rider carrying a whip? The whip is a connected to the pain inflicted, it’s a classically conditioned aversive (unwanted stimulus). Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training

Conditioning

Conditioning

Classical Conditioning is simple pairing, X=Y. We take a stimulus that elicits a response from the horse (simply put, an object that has meaning to the horse) then we pair it repeatedly with a stimulus with no meaning. The neutral stimulus (the one with no meaning) gains the meaning of the other stimulus. So simply put, when we pair an aversive with a neutral a few times, the neutral will take on the aversive meaning. At the same time if we pair an appetitive stimulus with a neutral stimulus a few times, the neutral will become appetitive. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training

The Food Question

“The Food Question”

This is probably the biggest question people ask when starting positive reinforcement training “Do I need to use food?”, “Won’t food make my horse bite?”, “Isn’t using food bribery?”, “Won’t food take away from my personal relationship with my horse?”. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training