Clicker v non-clicker training

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
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Just wondered what people's opinions are on this? I know some of you do clicker training with your horses and get good results and I'd thought about doing some with Raf. However I'm not sure about a couple of things - one is the treating. I don't really give Raf treats - he does carrot stretches and I give him a carrot or apple on an evening when I go to see him - but I don't reward him for good behaviour with a treat or use them to catch him etc.

The other thing is - if I try a bit of trick training using the clicker, will he start offering me his tricks all the time and expect treating for them? I could see that being a real nuisance.
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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I think these are common fears Bodshi because I've had them as well!
Its all bound up in learning psychology and specifically operant conditioning. You are shaping behaviour by treating actions by the horse that encourage them to do more of that behaviour (and stringing behaviours together to form actions). You can do an exercise to teach not to mug for treats by initially getting them to take the treat in a certain way - e.g. when presenting the treat, they always have to take a step back. that means instead of looking for your hand for the treat, they will look for it at their chest for instance.
The spontaneous presentation of behaviours will happen, but as long as you don't reinforce them - only reward when you've asked for them, then this behaviour will not continue as the horse is not getting the reward.
Its all about us being disciplined with the horse about these rules and you shouldn't have any more mugging.
My worries are that I won't get Flipo to do anythign now without having a treat, but actually what I'm aiming for is less treating as he strings behaviours together.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I did a lot of clicker training with Ziggy to begin with and when he was shelter-bound after his colic/lami episode last year.

He loves it (everything hangs out he gets so excited) and I think it really helped him to enjoy learning again. However, this year I have done very little with the clicker and practised getting the same behaviours without treats. He has adapted very well.

I will use the clicker again if ever I have the time and inclination to introduce big new ideas, like horse agility or jumping though hoops etc. All I have to do is click a clicker and Ziggy will be there asking, "What do you want me to do?"

I've never had a problem with him offering behaviours but I didn't teach him tricks. I could be tempted though :bounce:
 

chickflick1066

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May 7, 2004
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If they offer the commands all the time you can clicker train them not to ;) I've only just started CT with my share horse and she really "gets" it. I've been getting guidance from whatanejit from here who has taught me, remotely, to teach B the basics of good manners by using positive reinforcement/click and treat.

My main reasons are to teach good manners, not tricks, and I find it a really useful tool.
 

liz_scarlet

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Jun 6, 2011
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I have a question which may turn out to be a really stupid one :bounce:

What is the diff between clicker training and just treat rewarding??? Scarlet is very food motivated so have always used treats as a way of promoting good behaviour but its not clicker training. She now lifts feet fine etc after receiving treats in the beginning for each foot, then for all 4 and now no treats. I am just wondering what the big deal with CT is, sorry if I am completely missing the point :giggle:
 

chickflick1066

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From what I understand, the clicker offers a universal standardized noise which can be done quickly as soon as the desired behaviour is actioned. So if you're someone that may sometimes be delayed in saying "well done" to your horse, the Click! allows a quick noise which is easy for the horses to understand and they are soon quick to learn that the click means "ooh I've done well" and then the treat follows.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Chickflick is right. The point of the clicker is that it accurately isolates a very specific action and teaches the animal that the clicker points to that action. It allows you to associate rewards with actions which you couldn't reward at the right time. In teaching a dog to sit, for example, you can't easily reward a dog exactly as its bottom hits the ground: but with a clicker it has learned that "click" means "Right! Reward coming!"

So Ziggy can fetch me a toy (a large dog toy, a cone, a Frisbee) and he knows he is doing right because I click, even though he has a mouthful of toy at the time.
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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How clever, bringing a toy. I stopped treating Tobes because he turned into mugger number one!!! And friends horse seems to expect a treat for breathing!!!

I would love to do a bit of clicker training because it sounds fun. Any books worth having to learn about it?
 

Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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Mmmm, sounds interesting. Must admit it's very confusing though - one the one hand we're told that it's all about pressure and release with horses and 'you can't bribe a horse to do the right thing', then on the other you get clicker training!

It does sound fun though. I know one or two of you have used it to help with specific problems, but I haven't really got any at the moment, so would only be using it for playing. It would just come in handy on a day like today when I can't ride and need something to do in the school to occupy Raf's dizzy little horsey brain.

Thanks for the replies, and I'd be interested in any book recommendations too.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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If you read a thorough clicker training manual you will understand that pressure and release is a different kind of training from clicker training. Both are effective. Pressure and release works on getting the horse to move away from pain (pressure) to comfort. Clicker training works by getting the horse to problem solve - what am I doing that is right and gets rewarded?

I found that clicker training really helped motivation with Ziggy, who has been very unsympathetically trained in the past. But I still use good ol' pressure and release - every day!
 
Y

Yann

Guest
'you can't bribe a horse to do the right thing'

A bribe and a reward are two different things :) It doesn't have to be a food reward either if the horse values a scratch or similar highly enough to want to work for it. Horses learn incredibly quickly when there's a reward in it for them, think a horse accidentally knocking a feed bin lid off and getting a free dinner - you can guarantee that it'll learn to try and repeat the exercise the next time very quickly indeed. I just see clicker training and the use of positive reinforcement as harnessing that to get behaviour we do want.

It's well worth a go, there are benefits all round, and it's also a great problem solving tool. It is important to set off on the right footing though and make not mugging one of the first things you teach, so a good book (and plentiful web resources) will help there.
 
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