Sunday, 22 January 2012

Training Term of the Week

Shaping: gradually teaching a new behaviour through reinforcement until the target behaviour is achieved.

Have you ever played the “hot and cold” game? As the player gets closer to the prize, you yell “Hotter!”, telling him that he’s on the right track.

When I tell my horse that he’s on the right track, I reward the approximation of the behaviour. I call it rewarding the thought, or rewarding a try.

Sometimes the right try happens by accident, as if the horse is guessing. When teaching my horse to shorten his canter stride, I catch the moment he starts to shift his weight back in an attempt to collect himself. A turn on the haunches may begin with a transfer of weight onto his inside foot.

As with all training, timing is the key!

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