Making it a Lifestyle

A number of people run into a situation where the horse will only do the desired behavior "in a session", but as soon as the session is over and you go about daily life it's like the horse forgot the skill or is being intentionally fresh. Sometimes the horse will even become muggy/pushy in regular handling, but be perfect in a session.

To this i say - all your communication with your horse is a session! Training sessions are important for teaching new behaviors but once taught it must become just a part of life. This requires putting the skill on a reinforcement schedule (random of a sort). Don't just CT for your 5 minute session!

Switching to R+ isn't just a training style it's a way of life. In R- you always have to apply an aversive (or threat of an aversive) when you cue the skill, and if you're using a predictor (threat) you need to maintain the connection to the actual aversive. For example a horse can learn to back up with just a wave of your finger, because the finger wave predicts an aversive feeling on their face. You'll need to maintain the connection between the threat (finger wave) and the actual aversive. You wouldn't only use the threat/aversive in the training session and forget in daily life (well actually we see that a lot in how behaviors fall apart when a horse is sent home from the trainers). Just like we should never stop using appetitives, but the value, frequency and schedules can change. So don't just CT in a session, make it part of your life! This is your new form of communication, use it.

<- Back to Training Articles