AnS 490-A: The Use of Positive Reinforcement Training for a Filly to Accept Husbandry Practices

  • McKenzie Shaffer (Iowa State University)
  • Meredith Puls (Iowa State University)
  • Nikki S. Ferwerda (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)


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.

How to Cite:

Shaffer, M., Puls, M., Ferwerda, N. S. & Johnson, A. K., (2016) “AnS 490-A: The Use of Positive Reinforcement Training for a Filly to Accept Husbandry Practices”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 13(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-254

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Published on
01 Jan 2016
Peer Reviewed