Magic Mustang Tamer

Task 05: Target to Guider Stick Target

The horse has the opportunity to generalize about target objects in Task 5.

ALERT: Horse touches target, not target touches horse.

Task 5 Subtask 1 Target face to guider ball 10/min

Objective: The guider stick is useful for (no surprise) guiding! This also sets and appraisal for the guider including the stick, which helps the horse generalize about man-made objects.

The Set-Up: Your horse knows how to target. You will be working through a fence panel at first and may continue to do so if the horse is likely to be aggressive. Your target object should be able to be pushed through the fence easily.

Prerequisite Training: The horse has learned to touch face to hand target.

Protocol: Review targeting the finger target, offering the target through the fence but keeping the finger near the fence. Replace the finger target with the target at the end of the stick after a few enthusiastic touches to the fingers. Put the target just barely into the pen very casually without making a big deal of it. Keep the energy in the movement very low and don’t stare at the horse. The horse will almost always sniff the target. Bridge and reward. Repeat many times in exactly the same way every time. Do not bridge or reinforce for touches with the lips. Remove the target between every trial. Gradually extend the target farther into the pen. When the animal can perform a behavior correctly three times in a row, try moving up to the next criteria. Do not allow the animal to get stuck repeating mistakes like touching lips.

QC: The horse will move its nose (nostrils or above) to make contact with a target on a stick (guider stick) with no latency.

What ifs:

  • What if the horse wants to nibble the target? Don’t reinforce touches with the lips. If the horse is attempting to mouth it, give them a 10 second time out (LRS), before you start again.
  • What if the horse won’t try? Let desire grow and try it later in the day. Review targeting the finger target while holding the guider ball to see if the animal is afraid of the stick. Sometimes they have been hit by humans with flags or hotshots at the roundups or holding facilities and will be afraid of anything on a stick.

Task 5 Subtask2 Move feet to target face to guider ball with 1-3sec latency

Objective: The horse learns to follow the guider stick target.

The Set-Up: Your horse knows how to target the guider stick target.

Prerequisite Training: The horse has learned to touch face to the target on a stick (T5.1). The horse has let you be on both sides of it (T3).

Protocol: Stand in front of the horse and offer the target on its preferred side. Bridge and reward sincere tries. Remove the target between trials by tipping it downward. Then offer the target on its scary side. Keep alternating back and forth, when the animal is comfortable bending its neck each way, then extend the stick far enough to get the animal to walk to it. Start guiding the horse/burro in a circle around you increasing the distance you expect the animal to walk to get to the target each time. When the animal can circle you both ways, you are done with this task.

QC: The horse will move its feet to make contact with a guider stick with little latency.

What ifs:

  • What if the horse will only circle one way? You could return to Task 3 for a refresher on the scary side, and then start alternating between Task 3 and Task 5 trials.
  • What if the horse won’t try? Let desire grow and try it later in the day. Keep you sessions very short (no more than five minutes).

Task 5 Subtask3 Target face to guider ball with duration CD(10)

Objective: This subtask helps the horse generalize the count-down as a KGS.

The Set-Up: You have a guider stick and a motivated horse. Your horse knows how to follow the guider.

Prerequisite Training: The horse has learned to touch face to the target on a stick.

Protocol: Stand in front of the horse and offer the target on its preferred side. Start offering a count-down(5) at a fast rate. If the horse breaks contact, remove the guider momentarily and then start again. When the horse can do (5), increase to (10).

QC: When the animal will target the guider ball and maintain its face on the ball for a cd(10) you are finished with Task 5.

What ifs:

  • What if my horse won’t stay? You are doing something wrong. Watch the videos, limit distractions, get quieter, work through a fence. Figure it out.

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