Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R3124



Summary and Implications

Training and or retraining have an impact on the horses’ physical and psychological well-being. Training can either use positive- (PRT) or negative (NRT) reinforcement. The objective of this experiment was to determine the efficacy of using a clicker with positive reinforcement training on a filly to accept basic husbandry tasks over a 5 week period. One thoroughbred filly was used. One treatment, a PRT schedule, was used. A total of five consecutive weeks, with two 20-minute sessions were conducted. A training session included 10 tasks, with three attempts per task. Positive reinforcement training was defined as the horse successfully completing the task, getting a click and peppermint flavored horse treat. Tasks were completed in the same order during each training session; (1) touch ears (2) touch nose (3) inspect mouth (4) lift legs (5) halter on (6) saddling and (7) bridling. Each task received a scale from 1 (easy) to 4 (refusal). An average for each task by training session by week was then determined. The data will be presented descriptively. Saddling and bridle were dropped as the filly was ranked 4 (refusal). Overall baseline session one for all tasks was a 2.7 (somewhat difficult). There was not a consistent improvement over the weekly sessions for husbandry tasks; however, although scores were higher than baseline, the filly was ranked as either “easy” for two- and “some difficulty” for three other tasks. In conclusion, the filly was accepting of the PRT methodology and this in turn may improve worker safety and filly well-being.

Copyright Holder

Iowa State University