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Training with treats - do you?

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  • #41
    I used to treat my old boy from the saddle when he was being good, or when he had been brave on the trail. He was great about treats.

    New horse... I treat when I bring him in and out of his (wet puddle-by-the-gate) paddock so I don't have to walk through the puddle -- ever. I don't *always* take a treat, but he comes regardless. I'm thinking I might start trying some under saddle treating as long as he remembers his manners (which thus far, he has).

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    • #42
      I confess, I didn't read all of the posts. I'm also not a trainer, so I won't comment much on that.

      However, the trainer I used to ride with taught a lot of lessons, and she almost always had treats. Occasionally this would cause problems with the horses wanting to stop by her on the rail, but generally a little kick on from the little kids will redirect their attention (and they rarely even considered it intermediate and up riders).

      I did see it come in very handy though a couple times with "run-away" horses. If a rider ever, for whatevef reasons (became too scared to function, started slipping off, lost stirrups before they were ready), lost control of their horse, the trainer could politely step near the rail and her horses will come right up to her and stop. The same concept has also helped when a horse gets loose on the property, or a horse gets loose at a show (not her horses) and her horse/rider need a little reassurance that all will be well.

      Most of the lesson horses also got treats while being bridled, and after their lessons (some while grooming before as well). While a couple did become a little pushy about it, overall her horses had great work ethics and worked until they were way beyond most retirement ages without any complaints.

      Just to add: the barn was actually the safest barn I've ever ridden at. Falls and loose horses were VERY rare.
      Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

      Comment


      • #43

        So what you are telling me is that training with treats is faster and easier. Without it, your wasting your time. And training horses is all about easier and faster?
        Well, I'm not really sure why it ought to be about harder and slower.

        I am currently training one horse where a previous trainer used HOBBLES to address the horse's intolerance for dismounting. Said trainer told owner horse would always be dangerous and put it down. I came along with my treats, introduced a little clicker training, and horse stands like a tree with a soft eye while I do gymnastics hanging off the side. When the treats work so well for situations like this, is there some reason I shouldn't use them? You would prefer Mr. Hobbles to work with your horse? If you could change time and be the trainer instead of me and were taking the client's money, would you deliberately refuse to use an option that you know works in the first session with no adversive tactics in favor of spending longer and possibly being more adversive? Is that the BEST use of the client's time and money and the BEST way to treat the horse?

        Or when someone wants their horse's ears clipped. You know a few clicker sessions can train the horse without drugs, twitches, or chain shanks. Do you choose another method because you think it is better? Do you think the client woukd prefer you to twitch it or to stand there for a few minutes.clicking and treating and then like magic the problem is solved.

        Of course horse training is not just about faster and easier. It is faster and easier to put a twitch on a horse that won't tokerate clippers. In that instance ot ia slower but better to take a few extra minutes with a clicker and solve the underlying issue once and for all.

        But horse training is also not about refusing to do it the fastest and easiest way, when you are on the client's bill, just because you refuse to make use of a very powerful and effective tool. I am no kum ba ya trainer and I will certainly crack one if it is warranted. Sometimes I am training with the clicmer, sometimes with the rope halter, sometimes just straight up old fashioned riding. I owe it to my clients and the horses I work with to learn a large menu of skills, so that I can pull out the right one for ghe right situation. To refuse to deploy one of many effective tools when it happens to be the best tool for the padticular job makes no sense.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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        • #44
          I'm with the "sometimes" camp when it comes to treat.

          In the past, I've used treats to train specific behaviors, but once those behaviors are fairly reliable, I stop treating (I've used clicker training in this realm). I'll treat reliably on the first few attempts from my horse (especially if it's a BRAND NEW behavior), but then I'll move rather quickly to random treats. Pretty soon, the click is all the horse needs to know her response was correct (and random treats reinforce).

          I don't allow my horse to mug me for treats, and she's good about that. She learned quickly to stay out of my space when I first got her and she would bully me with her neck and shoulder (she pinned me against the wall in the wash stall once and leaned into me...I had one arm down along my side so I was able to lift my heel, take off my spur, and use it to get her off me. We had a bit of a "discussion" after that about when she should step towards me and when she shouldn't).

          Anywho...treat or not, if you get the job done, the horse is happy and safe, the person is happy and safe...who cares? Like any training tool, they can be valuable and they can be abused; some horses respond well, some horses don't. I go through periods when I treat and periods when I don't. Like with all things horses...it depends.

          Comment


          • #45
            Originally posted by RedmondDressage View Post
            IMO that's just semantics. The definition of a bribe is "The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action." Whether "payment" is given before or after the action it's still a bribe based on the definition. But horses don't know what a bribe is, nor a reward so semantics really doesn't make a difference in this conversation. If treats work for you and your horse that's awesome, treat away! I dislike the reaction treats create so I choose not to use them. Simple as that. OP asked for opinions, that is mine. If you disagree that's totally fine, there are many ways to get to Rome and you are free to travel the path that works best for you. You'll get no judgement from me on this subject.
            Actually, no, it isn't just semantics. We are talking about a scientific method of training that is called "operant conditioning" that was developed initially by BF Skinner. There is very definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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            • #46
              Meupatdoes: You are obviously an advocate of clicker training and treats. Sounds like your a flippin' genius with the clicker. Your argument is that it is either clicker training, or everything else that is harder, slower, abusive and adversarial, which I find offensive. But if the bottom line is, if you are getting your horse broke, and he stays broke, whatever you are doing to get there is good by me. If you got a horse to be good to get on and off by using treats, in a timely, effective manner, and now the horse will stand without them, it is all good in my book. If you can now clip a horse that once could not be clipped, that's great. That is the goal. But so you still need to use the treats or to use the clicker? Because when I see people that use a treat to simply get on and off, and use a treat to get in a trailer, or use a treat to bridle, and all manner of things, I see a horse that is not really broke to do any of those things. You may not be one of these people,(then I want your autograph) but I am yet to see it be that effective, or even handy in general. Its a hard sell for me.

              Comment


              • #47
                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                Well, I'm not really sure why it ought to be about harder and slower.

                I am currently training one horse where a previous trainer used HOBBLES to address the horse's intolerance for dismounting. Said trainer told owner horse would always be dangerous and put it down. I came along with my treats, introduced a little clicker training, and horse stands like a tree with a soft eye while I do gymnastics hanging off the side. When the treats work so well for situations like this, is there some reason I shouldn't use them? You would prefer Mr. Hobbles to work with your horse? If you could change time and be the trainer instead of me and were taking the client's money, would you deliberately refuse to use an option that you know works in the first session with no adversive tactics in favor of spending longer and possibly being more adversive? Is that the BEST use of the client's time and money and the BEST way to treat the horse?

                Or when someone wants their horse's ears clipped. You know a few clicker sessions can train the horse without drugs, twitches, or chain shanks. Do you choose another method because you think it is better? Do you think the client woukd prefer you to twitch it or to stand there for a few minutes.clicking and treating and then like magic the problem is solved.

                Of course horse training is not just about faster and easier. It is faster and easier to put a twitch on a horse that won't tokerate clippers. In that instance ot ia slower but better to take a few extra minutes with a clicker and solve the underlying issue once and for all.

                But horse training is also not about refusing to do it the fastest and easiest way, when you are on the client's bill, just because you refuse to make use of a very powerful and effective tool. I am no kum ba ya trainer and I will certainly crack one if it is warranted. Sometimes I am training with the clicmer, sometimes with the rope halter, sometimes just straight up old fashioned riding. I owe it to my clients and the horses I work with to learn a large menu of skills, so that I can pull out the right one for ghe right situation. To refuse to deploy one of many effective tools when it happens to be the best tool for the padticular job makes no sense.
                YES. And I find that after using reward based training (appropriately and in moderation) the horse's ATTITUDE is apt to be much different than one who is trained using "negative reinforcement" or release from pressure. The horse trained with positive reinforcement (which science says needs only be intermittent) results in a horse that is eager to please, eager to learn and highly socialized with people. The opposite is usually true with those trained with "negative reinforcement." Those are the horses that have that "thousand-yard stare" that do not make eye contact or interact in a friendly way with their humans. Because their attitude is trained to be: "What do I need to do to get you to leave me alone?"

                Quite frankly, I have a hard time trusting those horses trained with negative reinforcement. I don't want my horse to be "broke."

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand-yard_stare
                Last edited by Eclectic Horseman; Nov. 6, 2012, 09:29 AM. Reason: add link
                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                Comment


                • #48
                  Originally posted by horsehand View Post
                  "Similarly the treats for mounting. I trained a horse who TOOK OFF from the mounting block. The first time I put a foot in the stirrup I landed face down in the dirt and had to catch the horse on the other side of the farm. Could I have fixed this without treats? Sure, but probably not in ten minutes. As it was, I caught the horse, and ten minjyes later mounted quietly, unassisted. Somehow I fixed in ten minutes, alone, what all who came before had not. If you want to stand on the mounting block and wait like Job that's fine but I can get the whole problem fixed, the horse schooled, untacked, hoshed off and on to the next in the meantime.'

                  Are they necessary? No, but there are times when effectively deployed they make life a whole lot easier and get the job done a whole lot faster. No reason to refuse to use a helpful tool jist because there is a harder, slower way that works too."

                  So what you are telling me is that training with treats is faster and easier. Without it, your wasting your time. And training horses is all about easier and faster?
                  Training a horse IS about the horse making the right choice and you set it up so he is encouraged to make the right choice. ;-) Are treats necessary? Well.....depends on the horse and what his baggage is. And every single horse comes with baggage, depends on what suitcase you, the trainer, is willing to open....
                  Bethe Mounce
                  Head Trainer, AmeriCan Romance Equestrian
                  https://www.facebook.com/AmericanRomanceEquestrian
                  Brentwood CA

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
                    I've developed sign language in the giving of treats to my pony, Maxwell. Hands flat open and waving arms indicates that I do NOT have any treats, and that he shouldn't expect a reward for the crash-landing that will occur should he continue to gallop toward the barn because he sees me.

                    I wonder if pony people see treats differently? Because afaik, ponies are addicted to food and treats can drive them to distraction! My guy will literally drool when he knows food is imminent.

                    I know when i first backed him i couldn't give him a food reward because like what PP said - he would literally try to turn himself inside out to get that food... now as an old hand at being ridden (10 months under saddle) he knows when/where/how many rewards he gets and no longer drives himself silly.

                    however, i learned the other day that when i am teaching him something new to not give him a food reward - only verbal or tactile - because he will loose his concentration. so for him - he gets them only at certain times..... of course my trainer has a different set of rules !

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by horsehand View Post
                      Meupatdoes: You are obviously an advocate of clicker training and treats. Sounds like your a flippin' genius with the clicker. Your argument is that it is either clicker training, or everything else that is harder, slower, abusive and adversarial, which I find offensive. But if the bottom line is, if you are getting your horse broke, and he stays broke, whatever you are doing to get there is good by me. If you got a horse to be good to get on and off by using treats, in a timely, effective manner, and now the horse will stand without them, it is all good in my book. If you can now clip a horse that once could not be clipped, that's great. That is the goal. But so you still need to use the treats or to use the clicker? Because when I see people that use a treat to simply get on and off, and use a treat to get in a trailer, or use a treat to bridle, and all manner of things, I see a horse that is not really broke to do any of those things. You may not be one of these people,(then I want your autograph) but I am yet to see it be that effective, or even handy in general. Its a hard sell for me.
                      My guess is that MPD uses "variable reinforcement" (google it.) I have done this with my mare to deal with occasional issues. E.g. when she came off rehab, she didn't want to stand still at the mounting block until I told her it was OK to go. (I can't really blame her; she was out of shape and I am sure that it *hurt* her to be ridden.) Started by giving her TWO treats (one on each side) *every* time I got on her. After a week or so, cut back to one treat, then started delaying a bit before giving it, then a treat every other time, and gradually reduced that to a point where... within a month or two, she would stand still whether I gave her a treat or not, and I wasn't giving her one about 95% of the time.

                      We've done the same with trailering issues. Lots of treats, down to almost never giving a treat. I still usually give her a peppermint when she's halfway off the trailer unloading, because it stops her from flying back. But note the "usually". She will slow down when halfway off to see if she's going to get a treat, but if she doesn't, she still backs off slowly.

                      It's one of the things that bugs me about many anti-treat folks; they think once you treat, you always have to keep treating. NOT TRUE!
                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by horsehand View Post
                        Because when I see people that use a treat to simply get on and off, and use a treat to get in a trailer, or use a treat to bridle, and all manner of things, I see a horse that is not really broke to do any of those things. You may not be one of these people,(then I want your autograph) but I am yet to see it be that effective, or even handy in general. Its a hard sell for me.
                        Then you aren't seeing a horse who is really trained. Because done correctly using food reward will result in rock solid behavior. that is why it is so widely used, after all.

                        If you work without them - good for you - but not sure why the need to get so worked up about those that use them to good effect?

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          I'm the oddball in the equestrian world, I don't treat. My first trainer was adamant about no treats, so i never got in the habit. Every green horse broke, no treats, my pony I got and wouldn't let me catch her in pasture at first, no treats or bucket.

                          Someone was recently treating my horse, because after I took his bridle off he started poking at my pockets with his nose which I am not cool with. Huge sign on his and the babies stalls saying no hand-feeding treats. They do get one each night IN their grain buckets.

                          Whatever works for people is great, however I loathe the horses that start poking at you and getting into your personal space because they want a great.

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by quietann View Post
                            It's one of the things that bugs me about many anti-treat folks; they think once you treat, you always have to keep treating. NOT TRUE!
                            Exactly. That's because with negative reinforcement and with punishment, the reinforcement must be given every single time in order for it to work. Positive reinforcement works just as well given intermittently. I have always done what you describe as "variable" positive reinforcement. When the horse is learning something new, or being refreshed to something it has forgotten, I use food rewards every single time until the horse "gets it." While I am doing that I introduce a "bridge" reward, such as verbal praise, so then you can just use the verbal praise and the horse understands that "reward is coming." When the desired behavior becomes a conditioned response to stimulae at that point a reward is no longer necessary for that particular behavior.
                            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                              Exactly. That's because with negative reinforcement and with punishment, the reinforcement must be given every single time in order for it to work. Positive reinforcement works just as well given intermittently. I have always done what you describe as "variable" positive reinforcement. When the horse is learning something new, or being refreshed to something it has forgotten, I use food rewards every single time until the horse "gets it." While I am doing that I introduce a "bridge" reward, such as verbal praise, so then you can just use the verbal praise and the horse understands that "reward is coming." When the desired behavior becomes a conditioned response to stimulae at that point a reward is no longer necessary for that particular behavior.
                              yep!!!

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                That's also why I think it is important to use the terminology "reward" and not "treat." Because SO many people misunderstand that!
                                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  "Quite frankly, I have a hard time trusting those horses trained with negative reinforcement. I don't want my horse to be "broke."

                                  There is that same black and white argument again. Either you reward your horse constantly, or you are some sort of barbarian, intimidating and harsh punishing kind of trainer. Its hogwash. There is a large area between making a horse and begging a horse.
                                  I am sorry these days the term "broke" is so offensive these days. Maybe the term habituated is better instead? Sounds more scientific, but it means the same thing. Habit is about a horse learning things the way he lives them every day. The horse you describe, eager to please and learn, socialized, is a broke horse in my book. He shouldn't need constant affirmation he is doing the right thing by giving him treats for his good behavior, as if it might all fall apart if you didn't. His reward is the way you treat him and approach him every day.

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by horsehand View Post
                                    He shouldn't need constant affirmation he is doing the right thing by giving him treats for his good behavior, as if it might all fall apart if you didn't. His reward is the way you treat him and approach him every day.
                                    please read all the posts... you will see that this is not usually how it is done.

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      Negative and positive both have a place. I dont ever want to feel like I think one works better than the other because I dont think one "wins".

                                      Animals can be encouraged to have a better attitude towards a certain something because of treats but I am firmly in the camp of them doing it without as well. And while learning their training should get you the yes first.

                                      Now if you want it crisper and with a smile then yes, treats by all means.

                                      It should be negative then when done right positive and a big pat/treat/break like lightening. The horse will become wonderful with the timing being there with any reasonable reward IMO
                                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                                      http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #59
                                        I give treats to my different horses in different ways. For example, Paddy has wonderful manners, is never one to mug for cookies, is very polite, etc. I give him cookies "just because" he is so cute and sweet, and he doesn't take advantage of it.

                                        Mac, OTOH, is not so polite, so I use treats very sparingly and only when another method isn't working. I've used treats to teach him to accept fly spray and having a bath, among other things. Pressure/release technique just wasn't doing it and he wasn't "getting it" (could have been my timing but his willingness just wasn't there). Introduce cookies as a reward for standing still and - done! Fly spray is now not a problem and I can spray him while he's just standing around and not haltered. For trailer loading we used pressure and release and he's a good self-loader. Right now we're working on ground-tying while I trim his feet. THAT would not be a good thing to teach using a cookie-as-reward system (for this horse, not saying for all horses) because he would be too focused on the cookie and that would make him wiggly, which is the opposite of what I want. So for ground tying it is negative reinforcement and he is understanding that as well.

                                        From the saddle, I have used treats to teach standing still for mounting (first I used it every time, then intermittently, and now rarely), I've used treats out on the trail as a reward for crossing a scary bridge, or for teaching him that bicycles aren't anything to be afraid of. I also practice halting by using my breath and treat for that, or TOF without any reins.

                                        So depending on what I'm trying to teach him, I will use cookies or I won't. I try to use them as a last resort because he does get very interested in the cookie and he will mug for them. But, for some things, I've just found the treat to be the most effective way for him to "get it."
                                        Last edited by Pocket Pony; Nov. 6, 2012, 11:19 AM. Reason: forgot to add something
                                        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                                        • #60
                                          I did it mostly with my dressage horse during his ground training. He tried SO HARD to guess what I wanted and to be right that when he 'got it' I would stop and go to his head with a sugar cube. They are easier for the horse with a bit in it's mouth. Also scritches between his ears...his favorite spot. He seemed to understand that I was confirming that he'd done good!
                                          Ride like you mean it.

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