I have put the title for this post in very simple words,there are alot of people out there using positive reinforcement and clicker training.Using food rewards. It can be a very useful tool,however if done without the correct preparation and knowledge I believe your horse can see you as a food dispenser and become confused. Some horses also find it brings out their dominant side so you need to have the respect of your horse and set boundaries around food.
Little things matter to a horse. Its in their nature to steal food if an oppotunity arises, If we allow our horse to mug us and even worse take food from us he may see himself as dominant to us. We will go down in the rankings.
I make sure that my horses know how to wait for food,to keep out of my space and to know its a gift from me they do not TAKE it from me. Its also very practical I can throw hay over the stable door and they know to stand back and wait politly,this means my horse and I don t end up covered in hay.
When using food in training I keep it outside the arena most of the time,this means I have to go and get the reward or take my horse to it. I will use a verbal cue like goood, it also means my horse gets a break,time to relax and process what she has just done. If a horse is only interested in the food then I will keep them from it at liberty untill they loose interest. They have to stand and wait with their focus on me, then I can use food. I do have some pieces of carrot in my pocket when I ride and will reward from the saddle,this is very helpful when teaching something new.
My horse likes to learn, she also has the ability to reason,and to be self motivated,I beleive working with rewards and verbal cues has bought this out in her. If when we train our horse we set challanges for learning and when they start to get it right reward, they really do find it fun and start to try and work out ‘what got me that carrot?’ Training becomes fun. You do need a good relationship first treats alone won t get you that,you never want to bribe your horse.
My horse has enjoyed this way of training so much it has made her want to learn. This leads me to believe the more she knows she can reason and work things out the more she wants to.whatever new ideas I come up with she will give it a go.
Happy carrot shopping.