Clicker Training Horses

What is positive reinforcement?

FAQ's

 

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT IS IN THE EYE OF THE RECIPIENT

 
Defined simply, when you ADD a positive reinforcer to a training situation, you look to see if the behavior INCREASES, at which point you can say the thing you added was reinforcing.
 
However, don't be fooled. You are training your horse all the time, even if you don't think you are. Many things can be reinforcing behavior in your horse's life, so we need to look at many levels when analyzing behavior.
 
Positive reinforcers vary, depending on the species. 
Dogs love food
Dogs love play (usually)
 
Horses love food
Horses love food
Horses love scratching (sometimes)
Horses love food
 
Food is often used because it's quick, easily delivered, and considered a Primary reinforcer.
 
You can "condition" a reinforcer. Scratching can be made into a stronger reinforcer by pairing it with food. ANYTHING can be made stronger by pairing it with food. Even applause. This trick is knowing how to condition it.
 
Since reinforcement is in the eye of the recipient, you can train with anything the horse wants, but I caution you to see if the behavior is strengthened or is repeating with your reinforcer. If not, you might need to re-considered what you're using as reinforcement. You might want to re-read that sentence, it's important.
 
Here's another way to look at it. If an animal does something in an effort to get what he wants, and is successful, then chances are he'll have learned from his experience and try it again. That is an inherent learning process built into all species.
 
 
AUDITION YOUR FOOD REINFORCERS BEFORE USING THEM WITH A CLICK.
Sounds self-evident, but some people try to start training with a food they haven't tested to see if it is something the horse likes. In contrast, some people actually place many different types of food reinforcers in front of a horse to see what the horse chooses first! 
 

 

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