Sunday, January 3, 2010

Clicker Challenge

OK so I've picked my two subjects for the clicker challenge. I want to work with Kizzy this winter to continue increasing her comfort level. The two behaviors that the group picked were mat work and picking something up. I had to stop and think about which horses didn't already know mat work but I don't think I've done much, if anything, with Kizzy. I may have had her step on the plywood mat a little but I haven't done a lot. Mostly I just want to work with her and increase her understanding that she can have fun with me and make good things happen. I got her willingly standing on the mat just by free shaping in the first session. Now I need to figure out where to go with it next. I think I might incorporate it into the work I'm doing with distance targeting of cones and backing. Last time I did that I think she really started to get the idea of waiting for a cue, rather than just the presence of the cone being her cue. The behaviors are not truly taught until they occur only when a cue is given and every time a cue is given. So now, we need to iron out the details in these behaviors.

As for picking something up, Percy is the man. He already fetches his loopy toy- I taught that last year as a way to give him something he was ALLOWED to mouth. It's so hard for those little boys to keep their teeth to themselves and he has always been so good about it, I wanted to give him an outlet. Just like we give puppies chew toys, why not colts? But I also didn't want him going around willy nilly picking things up in his teeth so I initially limited him to his loopy toy. Of course he occasionally volunteers to pick up other things but I just don't reinforce it. This morning, however, he volunteered to pick up a small, empty mineral supplement bucket I was going to take to the house. I decided that could be fun- I can put things in it and have him ferry stuff around. It will keep him happy and busy as well as entertain others.

We're allowed to choose one other behavior and so I'm sticking with teaching Stowaway to be better about picking up his feet. I realized I probably shouldn't teach it just with a pointing cue because kids need to learn how to pick up a horse's foot. If Stowaway learns to pick them up with a point, the kids won't learn how most horses work! So instead I'll just teach him to do it with a light touch but focus more on having him hold it up. This past summer, if kids were lucky enough to get his weight off it, he'd frequently slam it back down or lean on them. So if he learns to hold his foot up (duration), that should solve that problem as well as teaching him a little self control.


Unknown said...

Soo--the question is then- where is the line between "click ends the behavior" and "everything between click and treat delivery is rewarded"? Not looking for a set answer here, as I sense there really isn't one, but it got me thinking...

PS- my word verification to post this is "ploop"...what does this mean?!? :D

Bookends Farm said...

There are a couple ways to look at this. (and I'm not sure why this question showed up under this post instead of the "Click Ends the Behavior" post...I expect that's why you got plooped)

The deal with the horse is- I will always reward you when you get clicked. So the horse can count on that.

The other half of the answer is, it is the handler's responsibility to make treat delivery as "clean" as possible. My worst situation is wrapped peppermints. I can get everything else delivered quickly but invariably get mugged in the struggle to unwrap a peppermint. I think I need to practice Grownups with crinkly paper!

The third thing to remember is the "click for behavior, treat for position" mantra. This means that even if you have clicked, you don't need to feed the horse where he is being grabby. You can still step toward a mugging horse and step him back with your body language to receive his treat. This is the way we initially teach the horse to stay out of our space when we treat. You can think of it as: the click Begins the Treat Delivery Process. When the horse sees you reach for the treat, his reward has almost already begun and he knows it's coming (as long as you've been consistent in the past). So then you just deliver the treat "where the perfect horse should be" to quote Alex Kurland, and he can receive it there. You haven't broken the agreement. You've just said, dinner is ready but it's served at the table, not in front of the TV. (was that a totally off topic analogy?)