Saturday, February 19, 2011

42. Backing Level 2

Goal: Horse backs 3 steps on 2 cues with trainer standing in front

In level 1 you chose your preferred method of teaching the horse to move back at the beginning. For level 2, try starting to add distance with another approach that is less comfortable for you (pressure, shaping, nose target, or back foot targeting). You learn by doing and so will your horse. This expands both your training repertoires. You just might be surprised at how well the other approaches work too! Later, you can use that new approach to teaching other behaviors.

Your Position
Depending on which approach you used before, you may have to shift your position in small changes as you train until you are standing in front of your horse. Review what he knows from level 1 with you in the same position you were (say standing off to one side). Now, take one half step towards the middle position and retrain the same criteria x10 repetitions. Before the next sessions, take another half step towards the middle position. Continue until you are in front of your horse.

Add DistanceNext, add distance backwards by dropping cue usage and clicking while your horse is still moving backwards.
If you click after he has stopped, that's as far as he will move back and he thinks that's it for the behavior. For all the approaches (except back foot targeting), clicking while still moving should be your focus.  This way, the horse learns that he can offer more each time, and not get stuck offering only two or three steps back. Good clicker trainers know this and that's how they backing distance so quickly with their horses, especially with horses that are clicker savvy and have good back-end awareness.

Tip: When using food for training, you always want to ask for a little more as the horse is able to offer it. Otherwise, the horse gets stuck at that level of behavior.

Try to get at least 5 steps backwards before you add a hand signal or verbal cue back in. If you ask for more, you know you will be able to get the minimum.

Adding a CueTo add a cue, you can read here, or to refresh:
*Wait until the horse is doing the whole goal behavior consistently without a cue
*When you are willing to bet $100 that the horse will do it again, say or do the cue just before the horse does it
*Practice this for several sessions until the horse starts doing the behavior immediately after the cue (seems to be understanding what it means). This tells you he might be ready to test it to see if he really gets it.

At the beginning of a new training session in the same location that you trained, on a day when you have not trained the behavior yet, give the cue and wait to see if he responds correctly. If he does, he likely understands what it means in that training context. Do not assume however, that he will know it in another location until after you have started training him from the beginning in the new location.

Generalizing a Cue
Horses do not generalize most behaviors well like humans can. They need to be taught a behavior from the beginning in many new locations before they start 'remembering' what the cue means.

Train this behaviors in at least 5 different locations and test him in the last one before moving to the next level.

No comments:

Post a Comment