Shaping a behavior
The way to improve a behavior or response is through shaping.
Shaping means to gradually change the standards of behavior that are rewarded.
Most tasks can be broken down into smaller learning components that allow the horse to learn each individual part. We can then put behaviors together to produce another more complex behavior.
Targeting is when we get the horse to touch it’s nose on an object.
Targeting is a great way to get the horse used to scary things. It is also an important part of teaching the horse to really understand clicker training.
Well I have just returned from 3 full on weeks of clicker training clinics in NSW and VIC. I would really like to thank everyone involved in the clinics. Especially the following people who helped to organise the clinics, had me stay at their places and helped transport me to and from each clinic destination. Jan Tribe, Chrissie Johnson, Viv Turnor, Jan Sharp, Trish Kruse and Susie Walker. I would also like to thank everyone who turned up at the clinics as participants and spectators. The weather was not so great for the clinics, we had a lot of rain, wind, hail and freezing cold conditions. What impressed me was how keen everyone was to carry on with their lessons and use them as training opportunities. We certainly demonstrated that clicker training can help horses focus even in the most extreme weather conditions. Continue reading
Step 1. Look Away
To begin clicker training the first thing we need to teach the horse is to turn their head away from us to earn a click and treat. It is important that this is the first thing that the horse learns with clicker training because this will keep you safe and will ensure that the horse learns to take treats gently. Continue reading
Operant Conditioning (Trial and Error Learning)
Behaviour = Consequenses
- Operant conditioning forms an association between a behavior and a consequence.
Classical Conditioning (Learning by Association)
Classical conditioning is used by trainers mostly to create an association between a stimulus that normally would not have any effect on the animal and a stimulus that would.
This type of learning was made famous by Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. Continue reading
As a prey animal the horse needed highly tuned senses, and a hair trigger for the flight response. However, jumping and fleeing at every sound expends a lot of energy. This is not very efficient, especially in times of drought, high temperatures or if food is scarce, when the horse needs to conserve its energy. To combat this the horses brain has developed the capacity to habituate to things, repeatedly occurring in the environment, that did not lead to fear or danger. Continue reading
How Horses Learn
Before we start working with the horse, it is important for you as the horse’s trainer and teacher, to understand how the horse learns. This will allow you to present ideas to the horse in a way that makes it easy for the horse to understand. It will also allow you to problem solve, and come up with your own solutions should the need arise. There are many ways to teach the horse the same thing, this is important to remember, so if you are not having success with one method, find another. Continue reading
Clicker training and the competition horse?
The clicker is used to train a new behavior or improve an existing response. Once a behavior is established, reliable and on cue, the clicker and reward are phased out and only used again if you need to “tune up” the response to that cue. By the time your horse goes into a show ring or competition, the horse should have well established responses to all the cues you will need for that type of event. Continue reading