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Training with treats - do you?

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  • Training with treats - do you?

    goodpony had mentioned in the French School thread (I think) about treats - and Mr. PoPo and I had just been talking about that yesterday!

    Do you train with treats while riding? For example, do you stop and give your horse a treat and a break after a particularly good effort? Or, if you are focusing on a very specific movement - let's say TOF for a green horse - would you / have you treated when the horse got it really right?

    I think I remember reading in Equus magazine about a study that was done (can't remember where or by whom!) with giving a horse a treat vs. just praise (a pat or scritch, for example) for learning a new task. The study showed that the treat was more effective for more quickly learning a new task than praise alone.

    During times when I've wanted to teach my mustang something, a treat has gone a longer way than praise or the removal of negative reinforcement (learning to accept fly spray, for example).

    Thoughts?
    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

  • #2
    Yes.

    With lead changes, for example.
    Or, if a jump is scary, owner will go stand on the other end and when we get to the other side there is a treat in her pocket.
    Or for mounting/dismounting issues.

    I have really started to clicker train a lot of horses on the ground as well. I personally have not yet figured out how to ride with a clicker close enough at hand to get the timing just right, but for mounting/dismounting where you CAN hold the clicker while you are working, it can make a world of difference in no time flat.

    Also, I think when a horse learns "the clicker training system" to offer behavior and see if he gets a treat, when you then treat from the saddle, even if the timing is slow or not as clear, it is easier for the horse to connect the dots.

    With a lot of horses the change to OFFERING behavior as opposed to just being pressed into service can very positively impact attitude.

    So I have started to incorporate it more into my training and have found it to have beneficial effects.
    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
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    • #3
      I don't in my training at home but when we trail ride yes. We will stop once in a while and give the boys a treat. ESP if there is something a little scary and they behave well with it.
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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      • #4
        Yup. Use them for individual horses and individual circumstances.

        GREAT for mounting and dismounting. I have really bad knees so immobility is very important. The horses learn the "Thou shalt not move" until asked really well this way.

        Worked great for starting piaffe.

        Worked great for teaching 1's.

        For movements that really require continued forward, treats are fine after the work is done.

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        • #5
          I see it as something for extra effort but not something that should be done in the introduction of it because they should be willing to do the thing without it and then better with/for it. Not terrible vs ok.

          I would not use it for a green horse because you need to make clear what you are asking on your own first. They are not doing more effort at this stage because they are just trying to get it right. A pat and release is enough for them or should be while learning something new but basic IMO
          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
          http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            Guilty as charged! If Im working something new or difficult and get a particularly good response---I quit right then and there and go back to the barn. We are through for that day---and this is the most effective reward I have found combined with treats and making much.
            Redbud Ranch
            Check us out on FB

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            • #7
              yes.

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              • #8
                Absolutely!

                Training to stand still at the mounting block for sure. Great for getting a horse to loosen up similar to carrot stretches in the saddle.

                For those of you who like clicker training. A clicking sound in the FRONT of your mouth versus the one we use in the back of our mouth for go works just as well as a clicker. A horse can distinguish between the two. THe one that could be identified like a tsk tsk sound.
                “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                ? Albert Einstein

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                • #9
                  Yep...just started, actually. My trainer always has treats in her pocket. Paddy knows she does...however, he also knows that he has to work HARD to get them.

                  When I ride by myself - he gets one for standing still while mounting. After riding, he gets one for being a good goober
                  Heather
                  Green Cove Springs, FL

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                  • #10
                    My beginner lesson horse knows I have cookies in my pocket for him. My hope is that it will prolong his work ethic if he knows treats are part of teaching riders to post the trot!

                    I also used treats when backing (mounting) a young horse for the first time.

                    Currently using treats to try to help my new mare pick up on some ground work exercises that she struggles with.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                    • #11
                      Extremely helpful

                      I very rarely give "treats." I have a problem with that whole concept of "something for nothing." I think that it just confuses the horse. Food is a very powerful motivator and it should not be wasted!

                      But food rewards are invaluable. How else does the horse really learn about learning? Some horses are well raised, with social genetics that allow them to learn almost intuitively. Others are more feral and need to learn what learning is and how and why they should do it. Using food rewards as positive reinforcement can make it very clear to the horse that you are trying to communicate with him and that if he performs the desired action when it is requested then he will be rewarded. Then something clicks. Done right, you can turn your horse into a learning machine.

                      Scientific studies have shown that positive reinforcement with food rewards gets better results than any other method, and that in fact, it need only be used intermittently (where other methods require use every single time.)

                      Done poorly, without it being a well timed reward for the appropriate response to a very clear aid, you can end up with a spoiled, demanding jerk of a horse who is confused about what he needs to do to activate the food dispenser....
                      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                      • #12
                        Yes, with clicker!
                        http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

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                        • #13
                          I won't ride without treats in my pocket!! Great at the mounting block, but just like anything else you must be consistent. I believe it also softens their mouth.
                          I give them as a reward also when working. It works wonders!!

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                          • #14
                            I used clicker training to get Fella used to the blanket, and to get him to come to the gate for haltering. With CT I used treats. Otherwise I do not use treats -not to get him out of the field (he's kind of regressed on the come thing) for example. I do give him a treat after we work -a nice juicy apple.

                            Paula
                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mjhco View Post
                              Yup. Use them for individual horses and individual circumstances.

                              GREAT for mounting and dismounting. I have really bad knees so immobility is very important. The horses learn the "Thou shalt not move" until asked really well this way.

                              Worked great for starting piaffe.

                              Worked great for teaching 1's.

                              For movements that really require continued forward, treats are fine after the work is done.
                              I agree completely. Other than mounting, the first time I use them during work is for half-steps. Current horse is learning his 1s right now, and we are using them for that as well.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Depends on the horse. My current pony is so food aggressive and obsessed that it doesn't work. She becomes crazed. I tried to use a treat once mounting and she was so food obscessed the second time I could not get on her and she nearly fell down before I even put my foot in the stirrup. It's like she looses her mind. She definitely is one of the odd ones that seems to do best being told what not to do, rather than responding to reward.

                                I have used treats in the past, so it was a hard habit to break.
                                On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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                                • #17
                                  PP yours was not one that got too many treats! I agree it depends on the horse/pony but I do think they can learn to become more respectful when it comes to treats:

                                  This is my original post regarding treating:

                                  I have to say though my guy is respectful when it comes to treating. Others get no hand treats at all (or almost none!)! And some still haven't grasped treats as a reward--but they will.
                                  Redbud Ranch
                                  Check us out on FB

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                                    I agree completely. Other than mounting, the first time I use them during work is for half-steps. Current horse is learning his 1s right now, and we are using them for that as well.
                                    I am from a working western background. I start horses for just about everything, including dressage.
                                    Treats are for tricks. And even then, it is questionable if they are necessary.
                                    Mounting. I have never ever ever used or needed treats to teach a horse to stand for mounting. Mounting block, fence, stool, rock or from the ground. I wait for him, he learns to wait for me. Pretty soon he is rock solid. It becomes habit through consistency. In a little bit, the sight of the mounting block, or the familiar action of getting up on a fence, the horse learns by association. Dismounting is no different. Riding up to the mounting block, the horse will just take you there, plant his feet. He knows his job. If you look for a horse offering these things, you should take advantage of them. It is no different opening a gate from a horse. It is about a series of things, and associations, and also an involvement on the horse's part to what is going on. To me, a treat just distracts him from his work. You can call it obedience, but I don't think he needs a bribe. When I am all done, he may get an apple or grain or something. Just because I like him.
                                    When it comes to a movement that requires greater effort, like a lead change mentioned above, of half steps, I have a question. Are not these movements a result of a series of actions and reactions leading up to those actions? Which one of these thing are you going to reward with a treat? And how on earth are you going to time it so the horse knows what he is being rewarded for. One answer is that perhaps he will know because it is the last thing he did in a series of things, but then why teach him to anticipate? So other then than the general reward of being a good pony, which he knows he is all ready because you never would have gotten that far if he didn't, I see treating as a need of the rider, more than of the horse.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by horsehand View Post
                                      I am from a working western background. I start horses for just about everything, including dressage.
                                      Treats are for tricks. And even then, it is questionable if they are necessary.
                                      Mounting. I have never ever ever used or needed treats to teach a horse to stand for mounting. Mounting block, fence, stool, rock or from the ground. I wait for him, he learns to wait for me. Pretty soon he is rock solid. It becomes habit through consistency. In a little bit, the sight of the mounting block, or the familiar action of getting up on a fence, the horse learns by association. Dismounting is no different. Riding up to the mounting block, the horse will just take you there, plant his feet. He knows his job. If you look for a horse offering these things, you should take advantage of them. It is no different opening a gate from a horse. It is about a series of things, and associations, and also an involvement on the horse's part to what is going on. To me, a treat just distracts him from his work. You can call it obedience, but I don't think he needs a bribe. When I am all done, he may get an apple or grain or something. Just because I like him.
                                      When it comes to a movement that requires greater effort, like a lead change mentioned above, of half steps, I have a question. Are not these movements a result of a series of actions and reactions leading up to those actions? Which one of these thing are you going to reward with a treat? And how on earth are you going to time it so the horse knows what he is being rewarded for. One answer is that perhaps he will know because it is the last thing he did in a series of things, but then why teach him to anticipate? So other then than the general reward of being a good pony, which he knows he is all ready because you never would have gotten that far if he didn't, I see treating as a need of the rider, more than of the horse.
                                      Well bless you heart!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Absolutely not. Mine get treats during grooming or in their stall, that's it. Never under saddle, I don't believe in bribing for work. A pat and a good boy is the reward for good work, along with walk breaks.

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