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Will training concepts for dogs transfer to horse training?

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  • Will training concepts for dogs transfer to horse training?

    I know this has the potential to be a really stupid question. But I'm a complete novice at training horses. But I do have a zillion years of experience in competition with dogs.

    So, I was watching a horse that was advertised in the video as a very, very well trained western saddle horse. He was a biggish QH and was in western tack with the typical QH lope. At some point, while loping around the arena, the gelding began drifting to the outside. The rider responds by giving a quick pop/pop with the inside rein and the horse tracks back towards the arc of the circle. So, is the pop/pop at this point a correction? In my riding lessons, I've only been using reins within the context of pressure/release. There wasn't time during the span of the pop/pop for the horse to offer up any behavior so I wouldn't think this was a pressure/release.

    With dogs, pressure / release and markers (clicker) are more for training and correction is more for disobedience. So, can I assume that the rider's pop/pop of the reins (it was exactly like I would double pop a leash for a collar correction) viewed the horse drifting to the outside as disobedience?

    Don't snap my head off please if these are ridiculous thoughts, I have no other frame of reference than trying to transfer dog training to horses.

    I'm asking this as I'm looking for a horse and I'm trying to get a sense of how much of my doggie training experience can transfer to horses...and yes, I will be working with a trainer.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    To some degree, training is transferable.

    There is one big difference though - horses are prey animals, dogs are predators. The initial instincts for dogs and horses are fundamentally rooted in different responses.

    That being said, training is about consistency. Aid/command = response. The hard part is the human equation, we tend to not be as consistent as we would like to be. Another fundamental difference is that most horse training, like it or not, is based on compulsion. We teach horses to yield to pressure, to move away from the aids. Most dog training I have done/seen tends to focus more on compulsion as a brief correction and positive reinforcement as a reward.

    Clicker training or operant conditioning seems to transfer well to many different species i.e. dolphins, whales, dogs, horses etc.

    I think your dog training experience would be helpful as it should have taught you about the importance of body language and consistency. You should have a general understanding of training progression and how to break exercises down into smaller goals to allow success. If you work with a good trainer you should have lots of fun! Keep an open mind and enjoy the process.

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    • #3
      I love to watch Dog Whisperer and find that a lot of concepts talked by Cesar Milan transfer perfectly to horse handling.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Mouse&Bay View Post
        To some degree, training is transferable. There is one big difference though - horses are prey animals, dogs are predators.
        Thank you Mouse, that was exactly the type of thing I wanted to know.

        I did read in a book (can't remember the title) that horses do not really care about praise or affection. That in order of what is importance to them, they respond to 1. survival 2. Food (again survival) 3. Sex (again survival).

        My lesson horse is very dull to pressure. I'm struggling to learn the concept of correct degree of pressure when I have to tap, kick and kick harder and pull, pull, pull. I went to try out one horse and mistakenly tapped with my heel instead of squeeze. We went from stop to GOVERYFAST. Even though the horse was too green for me, it was so much fun to feel response without having to kick and pull.... wish I were a better rider right now.....

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Gloria View Post
          I love to watch Dog Whisperer and find that a lot of concepts talked by Cesar Milan transfer perfectly to horse handling.
          He is pretty terrible in many ways.... He gets bitten a whole lot more than he should because he's trying to be impressive for the TV audience. There is a clip on Youtube where he was training a lab or golden (I think) for food aggression. He started yaking with the owners (who had a toddler - EEK). He began pushing into the dog's space while still talking. Of course, the end result was Cesar with a dog attached to his body... it was ugly.

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          • #6
            Learning theories can be applied to all, even the human animal.

            You can ride with the occasional correction as that pop, but it is better if you ask the horse to do what it needs to do before it has gone astray.

            Better to barely indicate you are drifting that, once the horse has drifted, then have to go to the pop.
            Not that you have to, I ease the horse back to where it needs to be without pops, but many depend on pops.
            Humans are by nature "hand riders" and we need to learn to compensate for that when we ride, but it is very hard.
            To go to hand aids is innate to us, hard to remember our weight is already indicating to a listening horse more than our hands ever will.
            The slightest turn of our head is shouting to them more than the pop on the reins.
            Horses learn to filter that and adjust to the rider, but a very polite rider learns to listen to the horse and communicate the best way it works for both, not make the horse be the only one listening.

            The more your skills advance, the less obvious any guidance/corrections will be, because you will have told the horse what you want so subtly that the horse seems perfect.

            As the horses are trained better and better, they do seem perfect, as they practically are reading your mind before you even finish a thought.

            The better trained reining horses tend to be like that, which makes riding them much fun.

            Keep riding and trying different ways and you will see in time where you can go with it.
            Having started with dogs and operant conditioning theory already in place, you should have a leg up on figuring what others are doing, what your horse needs and learning as you go what works best.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by wrkngschnzr View Post
              He is pretty terrible in many ways.... He gets bitten a whole lot more than he should because he's trying to be impressive for the TV audience. There is a clip on Youtube where he was training a lab or golden (I think) for food aggression. He started yaking with the owners (who had a toddler - EEK). He began pushing into the dog's space while still talking. Of course, the end result was Cesar with a dog attached to his body... it was ugly.
              Yes, in dog circles, CM is the Parelli of the dog world, doing much, not that much right.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                The more your skills advance, the less obvious any guidance/corrections will be, because you will have told the horse what you want so subtly that the horse seems perfect.
                Seat aids are a mystery to me....

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                • #9
                  In my opinion there is not much comparison. Dogs are predators. They live in packs. Horses are prey. Their relationships with each other and therefore you are very different. That distinction is important.

                  Dogs are forging a relationship with you as one predator to another. With horses you are asking them as prey to forge a trust relationship with a predator. As you can imagine, its an entirely different thought process.

                  But if you want to compare dogs to horses, go right ahead. I just saw that folks here are discussing Cesar Milan, so I'm going to back out of this one quickly and quietly. I also just read how the OP said that seat aids are a mystery to her. How seat aids could be a mystery to anyone is..ehr...quite a myster to me. Okey dokey, then.

                  Sort of like suddenly realizing you are on a Parelli thread: Oops! My bad! Ta,ta!
                  My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                    I love to watch Dog Whisperer and find that a lot of concepts talked by Cesar Milan transfer perfectly to horse handling.
                    In such case, my sympathies to any horse you might encounter.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ambitious Kate View Post
                      Okey dokey, then.

                      Sort of like suddenly realizing you are on a Parelli thread: Oops! My bad! Ta,ta!
                      You're a laugh a minute. So glad you stopped by.

                      Who's discussing Milan? Someone mentioned they enjoyed the show. So what. I like Covert Affairs and it's about as realistic as Casper the friendly ghost. People can enjoy TV for entertainment.

                      But the prey/predator reminder is valid and was appreciated when Mouse brought it up sans the snark.

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                      • #12
                        yeah it works, I have a worthless TB mare who is now an attack horse who runs all the other stock away to protect the old gelding who she thinks she is his body guard

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                        • #13
                          I agree that the predator/prey difference is important, but I also think that most of the differences between the way people train dogs versus horses is about the traditions brought by dog people versus horse people and also about the fact that most of the time, people working with horses are always in physical contact with them. In dog training, there are more instances where the animal is working at liberty, and thus the techniques needed require more accuracy from the trainer than what a horse will put up with.

                          OP read a book that says that horses do not value praise or affection. This is not my experience. My horses come up to me from their pasture and enjoy interacting with me as I enjoy interacting with them.

                          OP, one thing to know is that when you're working with a lesson horse the experience is quite different from when you're working with a dog, less because of the species and more because of the way the relationship is set up. Lesson horses are valued because they are relatively unreactive to beginner riders - part of their job description is in fact to ignore you while you bumble around on their backs and inadvertently give constant conflicting and/or unfortunate cues with your legs, hands, and seat. Imagine if you were learning to walk a dog and you nailed him with the choke chain every step - that is what your lesson horse is trained to put up with while you (and your fellow beginners) learn to control your body. Your lesson horse is your kindergarten teacher, not your philosophy professor.

                          You may benefit from a trainer that can give you lunge lessons to develop your seat and legs more quickly so that your body can catch up with your mental understanding. A week or two of 'horse camp' intensive riding can also be helpful.

                          As to what you saw with the Quarter Horse... it's important to realize that easily half the people who ride horses ... aren't very good at it, and aren't consistent trainers in the way that you're thinking. IE, that 'pop' may be more of an indication of the rider's frustration and failure to correct the horse's path sooner than a carefully thought out disobedience correction.

                          Enjoy your journey with horses.
                          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                            I agree that the predator/prey difference is important, but I also think that most of the differences between the way people train dogs versus horses is about the traditions brought by dog people versus horse people and also about the fact that most of the time, people working with horses are always in physical contact with them.
                            Thank you very much for the thoughtful reply. I think the major block that I'm having with training horses verus dogs is that with canines (in foundation training) I can manipulate their position and response by blocking, guiding etc with my hands and body. I can't physically push/pull a horse in the same way obviously.

                            I did the lunge without hands riding at the beginning of lessons and due to 4 or 5 years of riding little cow ponies, I actually had good balance. And my instructor is always a bit amazed at my ability to sit a trot and open my hips (I don't really understand what open hips means....) from my years of western riding.

                            I absolutely love your idea of a horse camp. I will begin googling immediately!

                            Thank you very much Poltroon.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wrkngschnzr View Post
                              He is pretty terrible in many ways.... He gets bitten a whole lot more than he should because he's trying to be impressive for the TV audience. There is a clip on Youtube where he was training a lab or golden (I think) for food aggression. He started yaking with the owners (who had a toddler - EEK). He began pushing into the dog's space while still talking. Of course, the end result was Cesar with a dog attached to his body... it was ugly.
                              Plenty of horse trainers got kicked/bucked off/run off/killed by rank horses. Are you saying these trainers are terrible? Courtney King Dye suffered catastrophic injury while "walking" a horse. Are you saying she is a horrible rider?

                              You need to put everything in perspective, and judge not by how he acts, but how in that particular situation whether he is effective, and he is very effective.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                OP, read anything and everything you can get your hands on by Mark Rashid. To me, he makes the most sense when it comes to understanding the nature of horses and how to tap into it. I've read his stuff, and re-read it often when I'm hitting a training snag. Learning how to properly sit on and cue a horse is a very small part of the equation. Understanding the species beneath you is so vital.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by wrkngschnzr View Post
                                  the major block that I'm having with training horses verus dogs is that with canines (in foundation training) I can manipulate their position and response by blocking, guiding etc with my hands and body. I can't physically push/pull a horse in the same way obviously.
                                  Actually, you can! Ground training is all about that. And the use of the reins, the legs and the seat as well.

                                  Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                                  IE, that 'pop' may be more of an indication of the rider's frustration and failure to correct the horse's path sooner than a carefully thought out disobedience correction.
                                  That is assuming a lot from the OP's description. The OP clearly is a beginner, doesn't understand seat as an aid and has probably missed the subtility of what was really going on before that 'pop' correction. The inside rein 'pop' was probably more for the horse to go rounder, underneath itself, lifting of the inside shoulder and off the contact more than to go back to where it was supposed to be on the circle.

                                  To me, training is just training and I believe there is a lot that can be translated from dog to horse training techniques. And a lot works with kids as well.

                                  The most important thing is you have to know what you want, how you want it and be consistent. Voice commands, body language, food reward, subtle cues.

                                  I think one of the biggest difference in training is the time spent with the animal. A lot of people are expecting a lot more from their horses in a way shorter time frame than they do with their dogs. The average dog usually live with its 'trainer', so they get to interract with humans a lot more than the average horse, who gets to spend only a few hours of training or so per week.
                                  ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                                  Originally posted by LauraKY
                                  I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                                  HORSING mobile training app

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                                    Plenty of horse trainers got kicked/bucked off/run off/killed by rank horses. Are you saying these trainers are terrible? Courtney King Dye suffered catastrophic injury while "walking" a horse. Are you saying she is a horrible rider?

                                    You need to put everything in perspective, and judge not by how he acts, but how in that particular situation whether he is effective, and he is very effective.
                                    As I have said, I'm new to horses so I don't even know who Courtney King Dye is. So, I don't know if she is a terrible rider or not.... I'm assuming from the context of your post that she is somebody really really famous so obviously not a terrible rider. By the way, I hope she is OK.

                                    As to Cesar Milan, I did not say he was a terrible trainer - I said he is pretty terrible in many ways. Splitting hairs a bit yes. But I've never worked with him one on one so he might be a great trainer who does stupid things for ratings. But when you have a dog that is using aggression to get what he wants, letting the dog bite you is bad training. Very bad training.

                                    I do not agree he was effective in that situation. Allowing a food aggressive dog to bite you over food aggression is reward for aggression. You never, ever reward food aggression - especially in a sporting breed that lives with a child.

                                    And just to reassure the moderators that I know this is not a dog training forum, I won't respond to any more Cesar posts. I'm glad you like him. Everyone should train their dogs.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by RhythmNCruise View Post
                                      OP, read anything and everything you can get your hands on by Mark Rashid.
                                      I do have three of his books and enjoyed them a lot. A mix of training and folk tales. Love the old man stories best and getting knocked out by the head popping mare. I'll reread them with training as a goal rather than belly laughing out loud. Thank you for the recommendation.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by wrkngschnzr View Post
                                        I did read in a book (can't remember the title) that horses do not really care about praise or affection. That in order of what is importance to them, they respond to 1. survival 2. Food (again survival) 3. Sex (again survival).
                                        I agree with that, for the most part. Horses are not motivated to work in hopes of getting praise and affection... not like dogs are. Most horses are motivated much more by food or the release of pressure than they are by petting, whereas dogs will actually work in hopes of getting petted/praised.

                                        This is not to say that horses never enjoy petting and praise; it's just not something they want badly enough that they're going to voluntarily work to get it (unlike dogs).

                                        At any rate, you'll get to decide for yourself which opinions you agree with through your own experiences and observations.

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