Okay, so I wrote out this really long unhappy, depressed rant because of a crappy training session I had with Chrome. Well only the last five minutes sucked because I got frustrated and let my emotions take over.
Here's the gist of it. I was grooming Chrome and just for the heck of it (because we haven't worked on it in ages) I asked Chrome to lower his head. He didn't, so I figured I just needed to review it because he forgot. He also was very reluctant to pick up his front hooves (which we also haven't worked on in a while). So when I finished grooming I decided to get my clicker and review the things he seemed to have trouble with . . .
I grabbed my treat pouch and he saw it . . . when I asked him to lower his head he did it perfectly!! This is after completely refusing to do it when I asked without treats. He also did his hooves perfectly. In fact he did it before I even touched him. So that means he didn't "forget" those behaviors, he just didn't want to do it without his "paycheck".
So either horses are truly selfish creatures who won't do anything without a reward or punishment (if you're into that) or I've failed somewhere in my training. At first when I was emotionally involved I thought the first (which could still be part of it), but now I'm thinking it has to do with my training. With clicker training you're supposed to fade out the clicker/treat, by following a variable reinforcement schedule, where you sometimes click and sometimes don't. Eventually you completely wean them off of a click and food reward. You still tell them they're good and give them scratches and rubs. The thing is I've never done that. Once I've taught the behavior I move on . . . I still click/treat every time I ask for certain behaviors. Now I have to figure out why he will lead and pick up his rear hooves perfectly without a reward, but things like his front hooves and head lowering he won't. I'm so confused.
On a happier note he did fantastic with our ground tying work (using the clicker obviously) and was pretty good on our walk considering we haven't been in a while. Here's a video of the ground tying.
So I guess I need to be more thorough in my training. Anyone have any tips? Videos? Blogs?