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Feeding Treats Properly
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Bonnie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Utah USA
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2007 11:49 pm
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I recently had an interesting experience with my mare, Silky.  I had been out-of-town for a week and when I got back I got Silky out of her paddock and as I was brushing her the inspiration came into my mind to wait until she did something before I gave her a treat (I remembered Dr. Deb's CD about feeding treats - something about the Mafia - it had been months since I'd listened to it).  So, I didn't give her any treats and turned her loose in the arena.  I figured she'd run and play, but instead she walked over to the rail where we had been practicing the sidepass the week before and performed a perfect sidepass to the right of about 6 or 7 steps and then stopped and turned her head toward me as if to say, "So, where's my treat?"  I walked over and gave her a treat and a hug.  It still amazes me that she did that.  I didn't ask her to do that - it was her own idea.  And the last time we practiced it I was riding her.  So, my question is, how do I feed treats when I'm riding?  Or should I even do that?  Because when I'm riding her and she gets a treat she keeps stopping.  Could it be that what I'm giving her a treat for isn't worth a treat in her mind and she thinks I'm bribing her?  It really perks her up when I give her treats, so I want to keep doing it, but I need to do it correctly (obviously).  Silky is a great people teacher - she really reinforced the proper timing of the treat; I will never ever forget this experience.

Pam
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Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Tue Oct 30th, 2007 01:17 am
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That is so awesome about your horse, Bonnie!  To remember the side pass lesson from a week ago and perform it on her own, is really something.  It also tells me your horse is very treat motivated.  I know plenty of horses that really don't care about treats for performance - but my horse is completely food motivated. 

I carry a dog training pouch filled with cookies (I just hook it to the saddle pad strap) when I ride and when he earns one he turns his head around to me to hand him one.  This is how I got my horse to want to bow when I ride.  He always bowed when I was grooming him, but until I started carrying cookies while riding,  I couldn't figure out how to get him interested in bowing while riding.  At first, he kept stopping all of the time and I got a little concerned about that, but Dr. Deb encouraged me to let him have things he was interested in while riding as much as possible - and he loves to bow, so I just let him.  Lots of people told me not to let him do that but I don't really care too much about that because I know they don't understand what I'm doing.  Also, if it started to annoy me, I just withheld a cookie every other bow or two and he would go forward again.  You really have control because you have the treats, so you have to decide how much you are willing to let her have what she wants. You don't want her to turn into a food junkie.  Now for me, it feels more like we have an understanding back and forth of the whole process, and my horse is happy. 

I don't see anything wrong with feeding a treat in the saddle if you feed one from the ground. 

Anyway, I hope this helps a little. 

Trick or Treat....

Pam

 

Helen
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 Posted: Tue Oct 30th, 2007 08:57 am
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The other option if you didn't want to do that (or, it would work in conjunction as well) would be that each time she did something particularly noteworthy (or a particularly good 5 minutes, or whatever) you pat her, dismount, give a treat, and just stand for a while with her.

Treats and dismounting are both just extended versions of the 'release' that should follow any signal when the desired response is given.

That's just lovely to hear she offered you a sidepass, how wonderful.

Bonnie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Utah USA
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 Posted: Tue Oct 30th, 2007 04:26 pm
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Thank you for your kind replies - that helps a lot.  I am looking forward to trying out your ideas.  This is so much fun!  When I rode in the horse program at our local university twenty-something years ago we weren't allowed to give the horses treats because, they told us, the horses would get nippy.  My gelding tends to be that way, so I taught him to turn his head away and now he asks for a treat by politely turning his head to the right.  His favorite thing to do is to stand under the plum trees so I can reach the plums and feed them to him (well, we share).  But I haven't dared to use treats much with him because he can take his teeth and grab a teeny bit of skin (on my arm) and give it a nasty pinch; like the trick-or-treater who gives you the trick if he doesn't get his treat.  I searched for "treats" on this forum and read Dr. Deb's instructions for feeding treats and I feel more confident now about giving him treats at the right time and in the right way.  By the way, does anyone have a favorite type of treat?  I've just been using plain old hay cubes ($7 for 50 lbs.), but they make a mess in my pockets (I'll have to look into getting one of those treat pouches).

Jean in Alaska
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 Posted: Tue Oct 30th, 2007 05:01 pm
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If you give a signal ("good",  click, wistle) when she performs some special thing, such as the sidepass, and then give the treat, you are actually doing the same as "Clicker training"  since you can "click", or make a sound immediately when she does a certain thing, she will know exactly what you are rewarding.  That is all clicker training is: Positive reinforcement with a "bridge" signal which you can give instantly, while digging in your pocket for the treat may take longer.  You can train your horse to be polite in taking treats, also.

Bonnie
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Location: Utah USA
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 Posted: Wed Oct 31st, 2007 11:50 pm
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It was interesting when I used treats with my gelding, Nicolaus, last night while I was riding - he was very attentive; more so than usual.  He gets a nice neck stretch when I feed him from the saddle.  Also, I practiced feeding treats properly (holding the open hand to the horse's lips for a moment - I think it makes a difference.  I use my voice too; I'll say "good" or "good boy" as the correct movement is happening.  It was great.

Pam
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Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 02:08 am
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Glad to hear you tried the treats from the saddle, Bonnie.  I just recently taught my horse to "kiss" with cookies.  Now I just point to my cheek and he gives me a big slobbery one!  It is simply adorable.

Pam

Bonnie
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 Posted: Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 07:26 pm
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That's cool.  I taught my horse to give me a hug.  I stand on the right side of the horse and put my arms around his neck and he gives me a hug with his head against my back. 

How did you teach your horse to give you a kiss?

Pam
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Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 12:50 am
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Ok, let's see if I can explain how to teach "kiss"

First you should put your horse's halter for the first couple of sessions.  After he gets it you won't need the halter.

Standing if front of him, point to your cheek and say "kiss"  (I know Dr. Deb doesn't think you should teach voice commands but I swear my horse understands English).  He most likely won't get what you want the first couple of times or more, depending on the horse,  so to get him to understand you put your cheek up against his muzzle, with the help of the halter, then say kiss and give his reward; the cookie or I use apple chunks.  Do this several times the first session. When he gets bored stop until a later time.  At some point you'll be able to stand in front of him and point to your cheek and he'll kiss you there.  Sometimes my horse misses cause he's in a hurry for his reward and he kisses my arm or shoulder.  I just laugh and have him kiss my cheek.  Sometimes I even tell him he can kiss better than that and have him repeat it better before the treat.  I think he is amused by our game, I sure am.  I love the goofy look he gets on his face.  After he gets good at it you can test it out by asking him to kiss you when you are somewhere where you don't have any cookies to give, just a friendly pat.

I'll have to teach "hug" next.

Have fun with it!

Pam

 

Sam
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 Posted: Tue Nov 6th, 2007 07:15 am
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HI Pam,

What fun you  are having!  Can you please share how you taught the bow, a couple of my ponies are tight in the pecs and this would be a fun way to teach them to stretch.  I am just not sure of the tiny steps needed.  Isn't it funny a slobbery horse kiss is so much nicer than dog lick!! Or am I biased!

Kind Regards

Sam

Pam
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Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Tue Nov 6th, 2007 07:28 pm
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Hi Sam I Am,

I wish I could explain how to teach the "bow" but my horse came to me already knowing how.  In fact the first time I walked up to meet him he bowed at me!  I thought "this is my kind of horse".  The only thing I did was get him to bow while mounted (and that to took me several years to figure out).  The way I got him to want to bow while mounted was to start carrying treats with me.  Once he knew I had treats, he offered to bow all of the time while riding.  The woman who owned him prior to me had done clicker training with him so I would assume that is how he learned to bow.  I have a book at home that shows how to teach the bow and other maneuvers and that is where I learned to teach him to kiss.  I'll be glad to give you the name of the book if you want.  Its sure is alot of fun for both of us.

Pam


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