Empowering Equestrians to Train their own horse with 100% Force Free & Horse Friendly methods

Posts tagged ‘polite behaviour around food’

Myth Monday: Training with Food rewards causes pushy Horses

All positive reinforcement trainers have heard people say:’Training horses with food rewards makes them pushy’. Some people even state ‘dangerous’ instead of pushy. Maybe you have said it yourself before you started using positive reinforcement (+R) to train your horse.

You get what you reinforce

In +R training you use a reward that reinforces the behaviour you want to train. The trainer uses a marker signal to mark the desired behaviour in order to communicate to the horse which behaviour he wants to see more of. Key is the marker signal.

What is mugging?

Mugging or other undesired behaviour around food or treats is just learned behaviour. If you understand how learning works, you see that mugging is caused (reinforced) by the trainer. Even if it wasn’t a professional trainer, but just a mom who wanted to give her daughters pony a carrot just because …. If the pony was sniffing her pocket or maybe just gave mom a little push with his nose and mom thinks:’Oh I forgot I had a treat in my pocket. Here you are, sweet pony. You are so smart.’_mugging_hippologic

If someone has rewarded a horse for sniffing his pockets, this behaviour was encouraged. Therefor the horse will repeat this behaviour. It leaded to a reward. The same goes for a horse that is pushing you around in order to get to the food. If he gets rewarded for pushing you around, you have ‘trained’ him to do so. Even if it was unconscious, for the horse it was not. He was the one that paid attention (Read more in my post What to do if your horse is mugging you.)

Teaching ‘polite behaviour’ around food

The same way you can encourage (read: train) a horse to mug or behave pushy, you can encourage him to behave ‘politely’ around food and treats. I put polite between quotation marks because it is not per definition an equine behaviour. It is a trained behaviour. Polite behaviour is one of my key lessons (the keys to success in +R training).

Just like children have to learn not to speak with food in their mouth and other polite behaviours, so must horses learn what behaviours we want to see and consider polite (and save). It’s the trainers task to spent time on these.

Mugging is a trainers’ fault

Since mugging is a learned behaviour one can re-train it by reinforcing the opposite behaviour more and ignoring the mugging. Horses are smart and they will learn quickly what behaviours will lead to rewards and what behaviours will not.

If the trainer understands the learning theory and the equine mind, mugging is easily prevented or changed.

Train desired behaviour instead

Just think about what the opposite behaviours of mugging look like and start reinforcing those.

  • The horse looks straight forward or slightly away when you reach into your pocket, instead of moving his nose towards your pocket.
  • The horse backs up a step when you are about to hand-feed him, instead of coming towards you to get the food.
  • The horse takes the treat gently off of your hand and uses his lips only,  instead of taking it with his teeth.
  • The horse stays out of your personal space instead of pushing you with his nose.
  • And so on.

So, when people state that using food rewards causes mugging, pushy, dangerous or other unwanted behaviour in horses I know they just don’t understand how learning occurs. That’s OK. They can learn, we just have to reinforce the desired behaviour (or thoughts).

Sandra Poppema
For tailored positive reinforcement training advise, please visit my website and book a free intake consult!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

————————————————————————–Therese Keels commented on Facebook : “It does cause pushy horses! They push you to think faster, use your imagination more. They push you to observe more closely, to pay attention and be present. They push us to be kinder, more considerate and understanding. They push us to be better at being us. Take that kind of pushy any day. :-)”

Thank you, Therese for this wonderful comment! Love it!

 

 

Advertisements

Technieken om gedrag te verkrijgen: Luring en Moulding

(Click here for the English version)

Luring (lokken), moulding (manipuleren), shaping (stap-voor-stap vormen), targeting (volgen van een ‘target’/doel) en capturing (‘vangen’ van gedrag) zijn vijf manieren om gedrag te trainen met positive reinforcement. Wat zijn de voor- en nadelen van elke techniek? 

In dit eerste deel: de voor- en nadelen van luring en moulding. Luring en moulding zijn de technieken die ik zelden tot nooit gebruik in mijn paardentraining. 

Luring
We spreken van luring wanneer de trainer een primaire versterker (bv voedsel) gebruik om het paard in de gewenste houding te lokken. Voorbeeld: de trainer houdt een wortel tussen de voorbenen van het paard om het paard te verleiden tot een buiging. Het paard krijgt het lokaas zodra hij het doelgedrag vertoont.

Het grote verschil tussen luring en targeting is dat bij luring het lokaas tegelijk ook de versterker (de beloning) is.

_cutting_carrot_hippologic

Voordelen van luring
Lokken kan de opdracht voor het paard op een gemakkelijke manier verduidelijken.

Het is een snelle manier om tot het eind gedrag (doelgedrag) te komen.

Nadelen van luring
Als het paard zo snel mogelijk het lokaas wil bemachtigen kan het zijn dat hij daardoor niet meer op de trainer en zijn aanwijzingen let.

Het lokaas kan het paard dusdanig afleiden dat hij niet meer op het gedrag is gefocust dat hij moet leren. 

Het lokken met met lokaas kan de veiligheid van de trainer in gevaar brengen als hij bijvoorbeeld niet meer zijn eigen hand en/of de mond van het paard kan zien terwijl hij het het voert.

Werken met lokaas kan bedel- en bijtgedrag in de hand werken.

Luring kan de verwachtingen en de regels met betrekking to veilig uit de hand voeren negatief beïnvloeden. Er kan verwarring ontstaan omdat het lokaas nu het gedrag markeert in plaats van een brugsignaal.

Als het aas zeer aantrekkelijk is, kan luring frustratie veroorzaken als het paard (nog) niet bij het lokkertje kan komen en/of de opdracht niet snapt waardoor hij de beloning niet krijgt.

Het paard weet al wat de beloning zal zijn. Voorspelbaarheid over het soort beloning en/of wanneer de beloning komt, kan het gedrag ‘uitdoven’ in plaats van dat we meer van dit gedrag krijgen. Bekend voorbeeld is met een emmer voer je paard uit het weiland halen. Meestal werkt dit slechts een paar keer voor het paard de andere kant op rent als hij emmer en halster ziet.

Hetzelfde geldt voor een paard met voer de trailer (waar hij bang voor is) in lokken. Het zal een, of twee keer werken, maar zolang niet aan het paard zijn behoefte wordt voldaan (het wegnemen van angst/aan vertrouwen bouwen), zal lokken slecht kort werken. Het kan zelfs de vertrouwensband beschadigen.

Het kan lastig zijn om het lokaas af te bouwen en het gedrag te behouden. Door met lokaas te werken heeft de trainer een bepaald verwachtingspatroon bij het paard geschept. Je paard wil misschien niet eens buigen de eerste keer dat hij geen wortel ziet.

Luring lijkt op het eerste gezicht veel sneller te werken dan je paard eerst het targeten aan te leren, toch wegen de nadelen niet op tegen de voordelen. Ik adviseer luring niet aan.

_1Luring_food_into bow_hippologic

Moulding
Moulding wordt soms ook wel aangeduid als molding of manipulation. Moulding is het fysiek begeleiden van het paard (of een lichaamsdeel) in, de gewenste houding of het eindgedrag. Dan voor het gewenste gedrag clicken en belonen. Voorbeeld: het paardenhoofd aan het halster voorzichtig naar beneden leiden -tussen de voorbenen- om het paard naar een buiging te begeleiden.

Voordelen van moulding
Net als luring, kan moulding helpen de opdracht voor het dier duidelijk te maken. In die zin kan het frustratie voorkomen.

Het is voor de trainer gemakkelijk te snappen en toe te passen.

Het is een snelle manier om complexe gedragingen in een keer aan te leren, zoals knielen of buigen. 

Nadelen van moulding
Het paard wordt met moulding niet aangemoedigd ‘zelf na te denken’ over het gedrag: zijn lichaam wordt in de gewenste positie gezet waarna geclickt en beloond wordt. Dat kan het lastig maken het hulpmiddel af te bouwen. In dit voorbeeld: het halster met halstertouw weg te laten.

Waarschuwing: er is een soms maar een dunne scheidslijn tussen moulding en afdwingen van gedrag. Een paard of ander dier, tot een gedrag te dwingen ethisch niet verantwoord en is onacceptabel als trainingsmethode. Wees dus voorzichtig met het toepassen van moulding, vooral als je als trainer frustratie voelt opkomen.

_Moulding_1_hippologic

In het volgende artikel zal ik de voor-en nadelen van shaping, targeting en capturing bespreken. Technieken die ik juist veel gebruik in mijn training.

Sandra Poppema
Bezoek mijn website voor persoonlijk advies of hulp bij clickertraining

Volg mijn blog ook op Bloglovin

Key Lesson: Table Manners for Horses [safe hand-feeding]

One of the key lessons I like to promote as a really good foundation to start with or to keep working on, is safe behaviour around food, ‘table manners for horses’ so to say.

Why is this one of the key lessons?
If you are working with horses you always want to be as safe as possible. You certainly don’t want to create problems, which can easily happen if you train with food as a reinforcer and don’t have clear rules around when your horse can expect food and when not to expect it. And how he can earn it (wait for the cue and answer the question right). The key to success in using food as reinforcer is to teach your horse safe hand-feeding.

Some ground rules
People who, in the horses’ eyes, reward randomly with food will have horses that are always expecting the unexpected: a random treat.

First of all the horse has to know he has to do something in order to get a reward and he has to know what it is he did, that made him earn the food. He has to learn to pay attention to your marker (the click). No click, no (food) reward.

What to do if your horse is mugging you? Using a marker makes it easier for your horse to understand that ‘mugging’ is never reinforced. There is no click, so no food will come his way.

Mugging is annoying for the handler and can trigger frustration in the horse. Especially if he sometimes gets rewarded for this behaviour (with attention, a pet or even food), sometimes he gets punished for it and other times ignored.

You want to reinforce the opposite behaviour of mugging, to make your training safer: moving his head (read: mouth) away from you, your pocket with food or your fanny pack with goodies.

Table manners around dinner time
If you want your horse to behave around feeding time, you have to communicate clearly what behaviour you expect from him: standing with four feet on the floor while the food cart is coming, back up when the stall door is opened or when the hay is delivered and so on. Use a marker signal to pinpoint the wanted behaviours. Read more here.

Polite behaviour
With polite behaviour I mean safe behaviour. The horse must wait politely until the food is delivered to his lips, after the marker. He shouldn’t move towards the treat, he has to learn that the treat will come to him. The horse must (learn to) take the treat carefully off of my hand and only use his lips and no teeth.

When I click and when I deliver the food, I pay close attention to the horses state of mind. Those two moments are the most reinforcing moments, and I do want to reinforce safe behaviour, so I pay attention to the horses state of mind.

_keylessonsafehandfeeding1

Trainer
The trainer must present the food in a safe way to the horse and he must prove to the horse that he is trustworthy. People who are  easily scared by a horse that moves towards them and the treat in their hand and proceed to drop the food need to work on their food presenting skills. You want the horse to trust you on where the food is presented (to their mouth) and that it will arrive. Be consistent and reliable in the way you present food.

The trainer must always check that he has a reinforcer at hand before he uses his marker signal. It doesn’t have to be food, but if you’re working with food, make sure you have something left in your pocket to give.

_keylessonsafehandfeeding3

The value of the reward, the size and the chewiness can all influence wanted behaviours around food. If the size of the treat is too small, it can easily fall on the floor and get lost, if it is too big it can be hard to eat quickly. Is the reward a very desired treat, with a high value for the horse it can increase frustration if it is not delivered quickly enough. If the horse has to chew very long it can distract him from the training.

There are many aspects to take into consideration when you reinforce your horse with food. Please don’t let this long list scare you away from working with food rewards.

Links to other key lessons

Thank you for reading. Let me know how what your favourite key lesson is and why.

Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
Are you interested in working with me or do you want to sign up for the next  online course ‘Set Your Equestrian Goals & Achieve them‘, please visit my website. I am here to help you.

BANNER _Achieve Your Equestrian Goals & Achieve them

 

 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

 

 

What to do if your horse is mugging you

In clicker training we use often treats as rewards. Why? Food is a primary reinforcer and therefor it motivates most horses. Giving treats as reward or as ‘pay’ for a well done job is highly motivating for the horse. Treats are easy to dispense, it’s a quick delivery and small enough to fit sufficient rewards for one session in your pocket.__safety_hippologic

One of my key lessons is to teach a horse how to behave around food and treats. What to do if your horse isn’t behaving very safe around food? Well, you can decide to find another reinforcer or better yet you can work on your horses behaviour. The first step is to make sure you are working safely. Getting mugged is no fun and losing a finger in the process is even worse.

Work with a barrier between you and your horse until your horse is behaving safely around food. Polite behaviour around food is one of the Key Lessons in clicker training.

Grabbing the treat
Some horses turn to mugging because they have lost treats in the past. This may have been because the handler dropped the food or pulled their hands back as the horse was reaching for it. They have adopted a get it while they can attitude. Sometimes its a phase and they just need to be taught proper table manners again.

Possible solutions
Make sure your horse knows the rule: first a click then a treat.

Only take a treat in your hand after the click. Never the other way around: take a treat, wait for the behaviour you want to reinforce and then click and treat. Always click first, then take and present the treat. This accomplishes three very important things which is why I repeat it so often:

  1. Your horse isn’t distracted by your filled hand and neither are you.
  2. Your horse has no reason to be nibbling or biting at you.
  3. With improper timing your hand reaching for the treat becomes the bridge instead of your click. Horses are incredibly perceptive and will pick up your behaviour before you realize it.

Always bring the treat to your horse, don’t invite the horse to come and get it. Use a stretched arm and deliver the treat near his mouth quickly and calmly after the click.

Deliver the treat directly at the lips of your horse, so he doesn’t have to be afraid he can’t reach it or he has to search for it.

Exercises
Speed up your RoR (Rate of Reinforcement). Click and treat as soon as your horse is keeping his lips still and is not displaying the grabbing behaviour. If he is not using his teeth to get the treat, you can present the treat in a closed first. Wiggle your fist if he nibbles your hand, click and open your hand immediately if he stops moving his lips/mouth for a second or if he looks away.

Encourage (click) all the behaviour that you want: looking away when you put your hand in your pocket, keeping his mouth closed and lips still when you present a treat in a closed fist.

Safety
If your horse is using his teeth you can present the treats in a shallow food bowl or lightweight frying pan to prevent injury.

_safe_horses_handfeeding_hippologic

Some horses are better at taking large treats, eg big chunks of apple or whole (small) carrots to help reassure him that he gets the treat easily. Some horses will be encouraged to use their lips instead of their teeth if you give them smaller treats (grain). Try out different food sizes to find the one that works best for you and your horse.

Try a context shift for example you can feed your horse from above. Hold a large treat high so your horse has to keep his head up. He’s probably not used to taking a treat from above, so he has to use his lips and thus preventing him from using his teeth.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Have fun clicker training your horse and let me know how it goes.

Sandra Poppema
For tailored advise, please visit my website

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: