In my ongoing quest to find and share examples of attraction-based training I found these two clicker trainers.
This trainer has 19 amazing videos on her YouTube channel. I love the videos teaching her horse to do belly crunches. A valuable exercise for any horse. http://www.youtube.com/user/AVotreSante2008#p/u
This trainer has a whopping 136 videos of wonderful videos sure to make you smile and say wow. http://www.youtube.com/user/Lucy04574#p/u
I’ve just descended from the back of my lofty, three-and-a-half-year-old Clydesdale gelding. I can’t seem to wipe the smile from my face. This was our very first trail ride, his very first time leaving the safety and security of his pasture under saddle, and my very first time riding a horse of this magnitude on the road. Continue reading
After I wrote about the bilingual nature of horses and their ability to speak and respond to both pressure and attraction, I realized another facet. It appears that pressure-based communications are reactive and attraction-based communications are interactive.
When a trainer uses pressure-release techniques, they are counting on the fact that the horse will have a reaction. Continue reading
My latest training fascination is working with all four horses simultaneously at liberty. No halters, no enclosures, nothing forcing them to hang with me, except, well, their tire pedestals.
We started with one very large tire we found for free. It was about 48 in. across and 18 in. high, with nice, sturdy sides. Continue reading
I’ve been experimenting with training my horses with predominately positive reinforcement for almost five years. I use techniques commonly used in training animals such as marine mammals and birds of prey. These are the animals in which pressure based techniques would be a completely ineffective way to elicit a behavior.
The questions I have in my mind are:
- Just because we can exclusively train horses with pressure based techniques, does it mean that we should?
- What would it look like to train a horse using predominantly positive reinforcement?
What I’ve found is something very fascinating, at least to me. Continue reading
You’ve probably noticed that a few of my cartoons poke fun at natural horsemanship (NH). The only reason I do this is because, in my opinion, the philosophy of NH is very, very misleading. They say they’re using the language of the horse and it’s a gentler way to train. My question is, Compared to what? Continue reading
Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the blubbering little hobbits from The Lord of the Rings. I was in a pet shop the other day and a very young, lone Quaker parrot was screeching his little lungs out. His cage was not far off the ground, so I knelt down and had a little chat with him in my best parrot voice.
This consisted of chirping noises, a few clicks, whistles and of course a “pretty bird” or two. In less than a second, the little screecher was cocking its head and watching me intently. Continue reading
I can’t set foot in any horse training arena without hearing something like,
The release is the reward.
Horses learn through pressure/release/reward.
Horses work for the release.
That’s great but, notice that the so called reward always comes after something, usually irritating, that needs to be released. Hmmmm. Continue reading
Just thought I’d put all my cards on the table and tell you I train with food rewards, if you haven’t guessed it already.
I unabashedly feed rewards from my hand. I know full well this is a giant no-no in the minds of many, many trainers.
I even reward with food under saddle. The funny thing about this is, my horses seem to really enjoy being ridden. Maybe it’s because the source of all good things, me, is on their back. I’m like a portable lunch box accessible at all times. They like to take me with them. Continue reading
A friend of mine sent me a link to the website of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals.
Lots of big words on AABP’s site, but check out their general statement, which pertains mostly to dog trainers. I’ve bolded the parts that I thought were awe inspiring. How very cool would it be if we had something like this for horse trainers. Continue reading
Here’s a look at my present experiment: Starting a horse using mostly attraction.
All of these video clips were shot on our third ride. The first two rides looked exactly the same. I put the videos in the basic order of the sequence that they were taught. My goal was to create in Raleigh’s mind a wonderful first and lasting impression of what it would be like to carry a rider. Continue reading
Horses are motivated by food and rightfully so (given the thousands of miles of intestines it has to maintain by continually eating anything with fiber). I believe horses are acutely aware that if things aren’t going in, things will plug up, clog up and result in a bum trip. The way I see it, horses have no hang ups regarding food. But humans do. Continue reading
It’s interesting to note that books and calendars are not filled with dramatic pictures of wild stallions snoozing in the sun. The more common image is of two rearing, teeth-bared stallions engaged in mortal combat. So naturally because of these popular photos, one might assume that horses commonly use force to interact and communicate with each other. Continue reading
In a nutshell, everything I do with my horses is summed up by three, very scientific words:
What Feels Better?
At the heart of that phrase are two other important words. Association and motivation. For instance, if my horses associate me with something that feels good, they’ll be more motivated to pay attention to me, to be with me, to trust me. If they associate me with something that feels bad, you can bet I’ll see all sorts of things that make me feel bad. Like the hind end of a horse as it runs away from me, or the pinning of ears, or the flying of hooves, or the throwing of me off its back. Continue reading
If you read my page about Attraction, or if you’ve read anything from my PaintingHorse site, you may say, “Sounds like this is Clicker Training” and then wonder why I’m not calling what I do Clicker Training. I think a more correct term would be to say it’s Positive Reinforcement training, but wow, is that a loaded term. Continue reading