Here is how we did the discrimination. First you place three objects in
front of your horse. Your horse will choose one object by touching it.
Write down which object was chosen first. Remove that object.(let's say it
was a wrap) Now there are two objects, the horse will pick a second object.
Write down which object was chosen second.(for example a hoof pick) There
will only be one object left. Train your horse to touch that object.(let's
say it was a brush). In 30 second sessions.(you can have as many sessions as
you wish) Stop between sessions to catch your breath and refocus.
a second object, such as the hoof pick. The horse is not to touch the hoof
pick. Only click for touching the brush. (horse may not pick up brush only
touch it) If the horse insists on touching hoof pick, pick up the brush as
soon as the horse touches the hoof pick. When the horse stops touching the
hoof pick THEN place brush back down. Click and reward as soon as the horse
picks the brush. Hoof pick and brush must be moved around so the horse
isn't just picking the object in that one location. You once again have 30
second sessions to accomplish this goal.
Once your horse is reliably
choosing the brush and not choosing the hoof pick it is time to add the
third object, the roll of vet wrap (or a normal leg wrap). Your horse is
to continue to only choose the brush. If the horse chooses any other object
more than once (ever) you pick up the brush and wait until the horse stops
choosing anything. Then place the brush back down. Yep you guessed it 30
Once you have this part you start moving the three
objects about so that position is not what tells the horse what to pick.
Next step, remove the brush for a time of up to 20 seconds. You may now
train in 60 second sessions. If your horse does not touch either of the two
remaining objects in that time period, even though they are moved about
during the 20 seconds, you have a discrimination!
Any questions so far? This is only the first part of the exercise. Keep
careful notes so we can compare, such as how many sessions, how many
incorrect touches, that sort of thing. When we have gotten to this point I
will write up the next part (which is even harder!!!).
No cue is required. You can use one if you like. This is to teach you
how to train a discrimination, improve your timing, and teach you about
baggage. Nothing like only training one thing at a time Eh?
How to train your horse to touch an object. Let me count the ways.
You can shape the behavior. By clicking for getting closer and closer until
the horse eventually touches the object. (slow way to get this behavior BTW)
You can use model/rival, ask another horse to touch the object then show it
to your trainee. (even slower way to get the behavior).
Or you could
lure the behavior Place some food on the object you want the
horse to touch, click when the horse goes to eat the food. Reward with food
from your hand (not what is on the object). Do this 3-4 times, then remove
the food. Click for touching or coming very close to object. Reward right
over the object. Very quickly you should have touching the target. If not
your timing is off. I have yet to meet a horse that wasn't interested in
Time for the next step. This is called a
stimulus reversal. The way it works is that one of the incorrect targets,
normally the second one the horse chose, now becomes the correct target.
For the purpose of this exercise you may NOT cue, move about, put food on
the correct target. You MAY click often, reward with the food over the
correct target, leave the targets in one position.
For this exercise there is no time limit. Go until you have gotten the
reversal. The way to start is by THINKING about what you want to achieve.
ASK questions. To start you MUST click and reward twice for the old correct
target and no more for touching that target. You end when your horse has
touched the new correct target twice in a row with no other behaviors in
HINTS: Getting your horse to not touch the old correct target is the
first step to success. Shaping, the process of rewarding successive
approximations, is the only tool you are really using here. Ask lots of
questions. Be very careful not to give any body signals. No moving before
Record keeping. The hallmark of any good trainer. Seriously if
you want to get excited about your training progress, records are
invaluable. All you have to do is look at what you were doing a couple of
months ago and how long it took you to understand how much you have
improved. If you want to be able to identify problems without spending much
time wondering about why things are not going well, again record keeping is
the way to go. You should always see steady improvement. If not look at
your records to see what your criteria is, how much training you really did
on that exercise, and if there were similar problems with similar exercises.
(some animals are better at spatial relationships than others, some have
problems knowing where their rear is going, etc.)
It is a great idea to keep records of what you were training, how long you
trained, any problems or breakthroughs that occured. If you are concerned
about how much your horse might be eating you can note that also.
Timing exercise: Have a friend help you if you can, if not video tape is a
great idea. Otherwise do the best you can.
Ask your horse to walk in a circle around you. This can be on a lead
rope or lunge line or at liberty. Click when the inside rear hoof hits the
ground, not before, not after the horse has weight on it. Do this 10
times. Notice the distance between the rear hoof and the front hoof on the
inside when both are on the ground. Take a break. When you feel you have
the timing right go on to the next part otherwise repeat this part. For
the next 10 trials click when the distance between the two hooves is the
average distance it was before or less. Try VERY hard to only click the
correct distance. If your horse walks with the hind hoof placed just barely
behind the front hoof then work on clicking the front hoof as it is
extending forward, before it lands. Large circles are best for this
exercise. If your timing is good your horse should collect and extend