Mary’s Horse Training (Video)

Mary is a regular commenter here on the Ark Animals blog. Here you can see her initial attempts at training the horse’s head movement away from her.

I am hoping she will leave us a comment as to her criteria or if she is accepting any movement and when, if ever, she will set a particular criteria to shape that as a standard.

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  1. Thanks for linking to my video!

    In the 30 seconds or so, I was clicking for the head turn, and also trying to build in at least a tiny bit of duration.

    Later on, I wasn’t always clicking for a head turn–I was more interested in him keeping his head away from me and the treats. So, if he kept his head away after the previous click, I would sometimes click again, even if he hadn’t turned his head away yet.

    Scratching him and then reaching around for more treats was a poor idea–as it was too much time w/o reinforcement and gave him amble opportunity to resort back to mugging for treats.

    The standard I’ll eventually be going for is head out straight ahead. For the really pushy horses, though, in the initial stages, I find it’s sometimes easier to exaggerate what I want (mainly, stay away from my pockets).

    Then, once they get that treats only come when their nose stays away from my pockets, it’s easier to shape a nice stand calmly beside me with head straight (which eventually can evolve into ground tying, collection at the halt, or other exercises).

    I worked on this exercise a lot with The first mare I clicker trained. I had been incorporating food into her training already, but w/o any good control of manners. So, she was a brat about mugging for treats! She learned this exercise really well from both sides. Then, whenever she really wanted a treat, she would “beg” for one by turning her head slowly to the side and staring at me out of the corner of her eye. It was adorable, so I usually reinforced it.


  2. Mary, apologize for the delay in getting to your comments. Life happens…

    LOL I like how you described your mare and her eyeballing you. Funny how animals really adapt and get creative.

    I usually try to work with a criterion of incremental changes. Not sure what you might try for better distance delivery but that might help your problem. Some kind of tube with a slightly bowled platform. Then you could just drop the treat over to the direction you want the animal to move.

    Later you could fade and use the secondary reinforcer. What do you think?