This morning I had a narrow window of time in which to train, which is probably a good thing for me as I then can’t get stuck, greedy, or drill the horse to death! It’s like making a good pie crust. If you only have five minutes to do it in, you won’t overwork the pastry dough.
The weather was nice enough and the time was early enough that the lighting was pretty good. Diamond and I got out there and all I really wanted to do was to get on video what Peggy Hogan‘s Patented Rubber-Band Technique looked like in this context.
We did get some great example of how feeding away from the pedestal and trailer by using feeding for position helps to magnetize the pedestal. In a second-by-second functional analysis, we could say that feeding away from the trailer is negative reinforcement because the horse is farther away from something that is or could be somewhat scary. We could also say that the food appeared first and that’s positive reinforcement. In this particular case, I think that both are in operation and both help strengthen the behavior of returning to and stepping onto the pedestal.
Feeding for position in this case is also luring. It’s luring the animal away from the trailer or pedestal. It is also called a prompt.
The video shows that process, but it also shows me doing a couple of other things. For example, I fed for position in front of Diamond to lure her farther into the trailer. I did this for two reasons. One is to encourage more forward movement and push the boundaries of what’s comfortable in terms of how far into the trailer she’s willing to go.
But the main reason is to get her hind feet to step forward. She won’t be able to make the next step in the process of stepping fully onto the trailer with her hind legs trailing out behind her. I wanted to be able to mark and reinforce that specific behavior or stepping forward with the hind feet.
Sometimes I just feed her for being in the trailer. Then I feed off the pedestal for the rubber-band effect.
However, once her front feet are on the trailer, I need to work with her carefully about backing off. She needs to learn to “unload” from the trailer as well as load onto it. Backing up she can’t see where her feet need to go and she needs to feel her way toward that challenge of finding the pedestal or the ground with her feet. You might notice that she actually slips off the trailer with her front feet. Most likely she will be more careful to avoid that in the future.
I try to take it as slowly as possible and still back up so that she learns this part of the process. I click and reinforce for each step so that she doesn’t just slip off the trailer.
Once she’s on the ground, I can then feed for position away from the trailer and be done for today.
Not everything is clear in the video, just know that what I’ve described above is what’s happening. The video is 3:48 in length.