Many horses, once they understand a desired behavior, will become a bit overzealous about trying to offer the right answer all the time—even when they're not asked. This is a natural part of the learning process.
For example, horses that are taught “carrot stretches,” where they turn their head to reach over each flank and in between their front legs, may try to consistently show off their stretches in hopes of obtaining a carrot. The only way to break them from offering these stretches when not asked is to not reward them with a treat or with attention, says Dr. Sue McDonnell to The Horse.
Eventually, the horse will learn where and when her stretches are appropriate—and when she is rewarded. When a horse offers carrot stretches when not asked, completely ignoring the actions will hurry the learning process along.
Additionally, only asking for carrot stretches in a specific area or with a specific verbal cue like “stretch now,” can help the horse learn where the stretches are appropriate. McDonnell notes that horses are very good at discriminating, so they learn quickly.
Read more at The Horse.
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