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Horses Learning Fom Horses
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Allen Pogue
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Joined: Thu Sep 6th, 2007
Location: Dripping Springs, Texas USA
Posts: 108
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 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2007 03:06 pm
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Hi Folks,

  It is not everyday that we get a chance to see the moment of 'enlightenment' that happens then the light bulb goes on in a horse's head. A less often still when we have a camera ready to capture the moment..

 The photo attached shows a year and a half old Arabian gelding learning how to pick up a frisbie from a two month old foal. The gelding was at the point in his training that he would pick up a sock tied in a knot with a little grain inside. be he was totally uninterested in using his mouth to pick up, or much less, hold anything that was not directly related to food.

 Within just a few minutes of this help from the foal that is acting as an assistant trainer (and doing a better/faster job than I could ever accomplish alone) the gelding was picking up the frisbie and then stepping up on the pedestal to trade off the frisbie for a small treat.

 The short term goal will be to add a 'salute' after stepping up on the pedestal to begin to create a useful behavior chain. Using the process of 'back-linking'  the salute can be shaped into a Spanish walk, which lends itself to increasing the range of motion in the shoulder on cue to create an extended walk and/or trot. So what on the surface looks like a mere 'trick' actually is a strategy to teach high school movement to a young horse years before he will ever be ridden.

So think about it and take the time to give your horse a trick for Christmas!

Best wishes to all,

Allen Pogue

Austin, Texas

Attachment: Colt learning from foal.JPG (Downloaded 232 times)

Patricia Barlow Irick
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Joined: Thu Nov 1st, 2007
Location: Counselor, New Mexico USA
Posts: 42
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 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2007 04:01 pm
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Allen,
What are you using the frisbies for? I also like using small frisbies to use as a touching-target and one of the horses will gallop between frisbie throwers like a labrador retriever.

How do you keep them from learning bad things from each other? Like how to unlatch the corral gate or pulling the hose out of the water trough while it is filling?

Yrs,
Patricia

Allen Pogue
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Joined: Thu Sep 6th, 2007
Location: Dripping Springs, Texas USA
Posts: 108
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 Posted: Sun Dec 23rd, 2007 02:40 pm
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Patricia,

The frisbies are used to help a horse focus. if you look closely there is a leather gripper tab sewn on top so the horse can pick it up and hold it in his mouth. The idea here is for the horse to willingly hold something in his mouth and then follow directions to do another behavior.  It takes keen observation at times to notice how easily horses are distracted from following directives when faced with even a slight change in their environment, equipment or another horse in the vicinity. So very early on my young horses are taught to hold something in their mouth and thenfocus on other things in years to come it will be a bit. The real training occurs when you can sort out the problem caused by some slight distraction and get the horse back on track.

 I try in all ways to utilize behaviors that can later be applied to first to a Liberty performance and then ultimately, mounted schooling.

 The attached photo shows a colt just over one year old executing a letter perfect Spanish Walk while holding a frisbie. ( Note the diagonalization of the hind legs)

 He has been asked to turn away from the handler to go pick up the thrown frisbie and then return with it. The next step in his behavior chain is to guide the horse toward a pedestal (an intermediate goal) to step up with the front feet, make a half turn around the pedestal with the hind quarters to face the handler and then hold a 'salute' before handing the frisbie off (without dropping it).

 This is a complex set of behaviors to link together, but it is well within the horse's abilities.  During training there is a fine line for the handler to walk as you piece together these behaviors in a chain, and that is to follow Ray Hunt's dictum of,

 "Give the horse plenty to think about, but don't snow him under".  

Regarding your question about horses learning undesirable behaviors from others, well first you have to have that proverbial bad apple in the barrel. Everything my horses know to do has been taught to them (with a purpose) or in some instances when they offer a new behavior it has either been nurtured or quashed immediately.

 All our tanks have automatic water valves and all the gates have spring-loaded latches that are impossible for horses to manipulate. The stallion pens all have double latches for safety sake.

Allen

Attachment: Gater SW w frisbie.JPG (Downloaded 191 times)

Patricia Barlow Irick
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Joined: Thu Nov 1st, 2007
Location: Counselor, New Mexico USA
Posts: 42
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 Posted: Sun Dec 23rd, 2007 03:49 pm
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Allen,
That wonderful photograph says so much! What a great technique for keeping them focused. I find that the mules keep their focus much longer than the horses, so much that the horses seem like air-heads. But maybe something like this would help me will my silly filly, who forgets where she is and what we are doing every few minutes and requires all too frequent refocusing. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Now I have some more questions: What do you do when the horse drops the frisbee? Well, I have another question, but the answer to that one might cover it too. I will wait for your reply before I ask it.

One of my aspirations for my equines is teaching my hinny to do the cha-cha. He is getting pretty good, though his timing is off. Well, that's not his fault because we haven't had any music and he is just mirroring me. Do you think that he will respond to the beat of the music and tend to synchronize the pattern he has already learned with the beat, or do I have to be very careful to pick music that perfectly fits his natural timing?

Yrs,
Patricia

Sam
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Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
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 Posted: Mon Dec 24th, 2007 07:02 am
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Hi Allen,

As per usual wonderful pics, totally inspired...will have to look in the sales after Christmas for a frizbee.  I have about twenty questions for you but will get this busy time of year sorted first.  I love that line...'take the time to give your horse a trick for Christmas!'

Best Wishes

Sam

Andi Bartnek
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Joined: Wed Apr 11th, 2007
Location: Airdrie, Alberta Canada
Posts: 18
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 Posted: Fri Dec 28th, 2007 05:52 pm
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I haven't focused on tricks over the years (afraid my horse was probably smarter than me if he learned any and I might live to regret it!) But have done demo's to music. I have found it easiest to pick music that matches his tempo, rather than struggle to make him match. Try lots of stuff - when you hit on the stuff that suits, it is amazing (I took my half andalusian to a Kur clinic, and when they put on the Spanish stuff he literally came alive with this amazing uphill canter and brio, as if to say "Where's the bull?" My Appy on the other hand, synchs in better with either big band music or Scott Joplin stuff.) One of the most amazing Kurs I have seen was at the Dressage World Cup in LA years ago - this French rider rode to music that had been specifically composed based on his gaits - it was truly awesome. At our barn, we all enjoy sharing music and riding to each others favourites just for the heck of it. (But the Appy is still not found of Tina Turner! He doesn't mid the Flying Purple People Eater at Halloween though - go figure!)


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