Working with scary things

On the  topic of training for stressful situations, I actually have a protocol I use (and a video to show it) that works well with the horses. In a nutshell it’s a combo of approach/retreat EXCEPT I do it with shaping and well recognized cues.

For example, if a horse is fearful of something, let’s say a puddle of water, I begin to shape the effort of interacting with the item ( 101 things to do with a puddle.) However, I do this far enough away that the horse is calm, and most importantly, I integrate well known cues into the process.

So if the horse looks at the puddle, I click/treat, then cue backing and
maybe a hand target. Then I let them think about interacting with the puddle again. All interest is clcked/treated, but then I cue other behaviors and continue to back them away. Usually they’re dragging me to the item in a few minutes.

The one thing I do not do is to cue the horse to walk directly over and touch or interact with the scary thing because I’ve seen many horses who scare themselves with their bravery!!! They touch the item and blow; it’s like they’re proving to themselves it was scary after all.

I also don’t put pressure on them to “make” them unless I think the horse or I am in danger (“run, there’s a truck coming straight at us.”)

I want my horses to respond to my cues, even in scary places, in a calm manner. This technique sets that up.

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About clickertraininghorses - Peggy Hogan

I teach people and train horses using positive reinforcement. The horses I work with are given choice, the freedom to volunteer behavior. The joy is that they strive to volunteer what works for both of us.
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