Task 9 can create some problems even when it is done correctly. In this clip we see the horse learning to let itself be touched, but also learning to put it’s nose into the trainer’s space and the horse receiving its food in the trainer’s space. It looks like trouble brewing.
Behavior: Stay with the trainer while being petted for countdown of five. There is no criteria for animal body position on this task.
Antecedents: Horse is standing over a water hose in a open area. She is a young mare about 2 or 3 years old and has learned to touch its body to the trainer’s hand. The trainer is wearing a large brimmed hat and gloves. The trainer is wearing sunglasses. She is wearing her hay bag on the side and standing on the right side of the horse. The feeding hand remains in the haybag except for when she is delivering food. The horse is standing on its toe on the right hind foot. The trainer asks the horse if she can touch the specific body part just before she touches the horse in a stroking or scratching manner. Whether the horse signals its readiness is not apparent, but the horse does not react badly to the touch. She counts very softly from five to one in a sing-song manner. The horse turns it’s head toward her during the countdown. The horse swishes it tail, perhaps because of flies.
Consequences: When the horse has not stepped away at the end of the countdown, the trainer emits a crisp “D” bridge and then delivers the food about a forearm’s length away from the haybag toward the horses muzzle.
Summary: TRAINING SUCCESS! Tango looks like she is enjoying the training session, but let’s get past this and into Task 10 before the horse develops a bad habit of nose in the trainers’ space.
Sunglasses prevent the horse from being able to see your eyes. Does it matter? I believe that horses do get some information from human eyes. Sunscreen can be quite aversive to horses. Gloves can be creepy until the horse is desensitized to them. Fix what you can and keep on training.