Equiosity

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This is part 3 of our conversation with Kyle Hetzel. Kyle is a zoo keeper. He used to work with big cats, sea lions, giraffes, wolves and other wild animals. But he is currently working in the children’s zoo section of a large west coast zoo. Kyle wants to bring what he has been learning from the wild animals to the handling of domestic animals. In Part 1 Kyle introduced us to some of the exotic animals who were his early teachers. In Part 2 we shifted the conversation to barnyard animals - goats, mini horses and a very large steer named slider. As we continue on with the conversation, the focus is very much on cooperative care. It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut. Kyle’s work with the zoo animals helps us all to be more creative in our training plans. And he shares with us an effective team training approach that includes the farrier and veterinarian.
I was tempted to call this episode: “Just Because People Tell You Something Can’t Be Done, Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be Done”. But I thought that might be a little long so I called it instead: “Cow CAN Stand on Three Feet.” This is part 2 of our conversation with Kyle Hetzel. Kyle is a zoo keeper. In this episode he shares his experiences working with barnyard animals. Kyle started out working with big cats, sea lions, giraffes, wolves and other wild animals. But he is currently working in the children’s zoo section of a large west coast zoo. Kyle wants to bring what he has been learning from the wild animals to the handling of domestic animals. I met Kyle through my clinics and Science Camp. Kyle shared video of the work he’s been doing with the barnyard animals in the children’s zoo. It was so inspiring. There’s so much “just get it done” handling with horses and other hoofed animals. To see Kyle training the goats and horses under his care for voluntary medical procedures was inspiring. It’s good training. It’s caring training. There’s a lot here that needs to be shared, so that’s what we’re doing in this podcast. In this episode we talk about cooperative care in handling horses and other barnyard animals. What does cooperative care really mean? Kyle describes in detail the control his animals have throughout the training sessions. Learn about foot care for a steer named Slider, plus the goats, even the giraffes. I ask the question - how do you trim the hind feet of a giraffe? You can find out in this fascinating conversation with Kyle.
There are many paths that bring us to horses. Kyle Hetzel has taken one of the more unusual ones. Kyle is a zoo keeper. He has worked with big cats, wolves, marine mammals, giraffes, but these days he is working with domestic animals in the children’s zoo section of a large west coast zoo. Working with wild animals has taught Kyle the importance of team work and cooperative care. He wants to bring what he has been learning from the wild animals to the handling of domestic animals. In part one Kyle introduces us to the animals who have been his teachers. There’s Wyatt the wolf pup who developed cataracts and needed eye drops. There’s Maggie the sea lion. At 33 she was the oldest sea lion in a US zoo. She was rescued from a facility where she had had minimal handling. She now needed specialized care to see her comfortably through her geriatric years. And Rosie a giraffe who was injured as a young animal, who very much made her preferences known to the handlers involved in her on-going rehab. And Kie, another sea lion who taught Kyle to listen carefully to the animals in his care. In this episode Kyle introduces us to his animal teachers and shares some of the important lessons they taught him.
There were so many titles I could have given this episode. Another good one would have been: “We Haven’t Known What We’ve Known”. That’s a quote from Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz. It refers to this huge jig saw puzzle we’ve all been working on that’s called animal training. But in the end I decided to call the episode “Happy Alligator Toes” because how often do you get to use a title like that? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what it means. What would you guess? I wonder if you are anywhere close. To find out, listen to the podcast.
Science Camp was held over the weekend of Feb 19-21. Dominique and I didn’t want it to end so we invited one of the participants, Lisa Clifton Bumpass to come share an afternoon’s conversation with us. Lisa is a dog trainer turned zoo consultant. She’s been a regular attendee at the horse clinics I give in Half Moon Bay CA. What Lisa learns from the horses she takes back to the teams she works with in zoos. It is so much fun to think that the work we’re doing with horses is helping giraffes and alligators and other exotic animals to live more comfortable lives. In Part 1 of our conversation we talked about constructional training. This week we begin with the difference between extinguishing and abolishing a behavior. From there I ask Lisa to describe the team building she does in her consulting work. We got to watch a beautiful example of this at the beginning of Science Camp. One of the participants, Kyle Ketzel, works at the San Francisco zoo. He shared with us a video of one of the animals in his care. Since it’s a zoo, you might expect that it would be a video of a giraffe or an elephant, but no. The animal Kyle wanted us to see is Slider, a steer who lives in the children’s zoo. After the fall Science Camp Kyle learned he had only two weeks to prepare Slider for foot care. If the procedure couldn’t be done safely with Slider cooperating calmly throughout, he would need to be sedated. Kyle described Slider’s previous history with having his feet trimmed as a wrestling match, so Slider’s association with foot care was anything but positive. But what we saw was a relaxed animal who put his own foot up on the trimming block and who stood calmly participating in the procedure. Three people were involved in the foot trim. Kyle was at Slider’s head so he was the one in charge of reinforcing Slider. A second keeper was kneeling by Slider’s bent knee. She was helping to steady his leg, but even more than that, she was monitoring Slider’s pulse. A third person was trimming his hooves. They were all communicating with one another and with Slider. It was a beautiful example of great team work and great training. I wanted to Lisa to describe the team building work that she does so that is primarily what we talked about in this week’s episode.
Science Camp was held over the weekend of Feb 19-21. What a wonderful, head spinner of an event that was! Dominique and I didn’t want it to end so we invited one of the participants, Lisa Clifton Bumpass to come share an afternoon’s conversation with us. Lisa is a dog trainer turned zoo consultant. She’s been a regular attendee at the horse clinics I give in Half Moon Bay CA. What Lisa learns from the horses she takes back to the teams she works with in zoos. It is so much fun to think that the work we’re doing with horses is helping giraffes and alligators and other exotic animals to live more comfortable lives. Our conversation with Lisa began with a discussion of constructional; training - one of the main topics of Science Camp. That developed into a consideration of whose needs are being met in a training plan. Just because we are using positive reinforcement doesn’t mean the needs of the learner are being met. The overall training goals may still revolve around meeting our needs. Or we can swing the pendulum the other way so everything is centered around meeting our learner’s needs - often at the expense of our own well being. Or we can be truly constructional and meet the needs of everyone. As always, balance is everything. Good constructional training helps us to consider what each member of a training partnership needs to get from the interaction.
Just when you think you’ve said all you need to say about food delivery, you discover you’ve only begun to scratch the surface. The reinforcement patterns play an important role in teaching and maintaining behavior. So when Dominique said she wanted to talk about food deliver, we were off and running into an interesting afternoon’s conversation.
Last year I switched all my clinics over to a virtual format. This year I will be doing the same. Normally, we would never take an entire podcast to talk about these events, but these are not normal times we are living in. The virtual format has opened up so many more opportunities to reach out to people, I wanted to make sure you understand the format and the content of these clinics. In a sense they are an online course that unfolds through the year. The format means that it doesn’t matter where you live. Geography doesn’t matter. Time zones don’t matter. You can sign up and participate with your horse. You don’t have the stress of travel for either one of you which is one of the many advantages of the virtual clinics. If you have questions about the clinics, if you want to learn more about what each one covers, this is a great resource for you. We’ll also be talking about the up-coming clicker expo and the demos I’ll be doing for that event. To learn even more about the clinics or to register visit my web site: theclickercenter.com and check out the events section for more details.
We recorded this podcast on January 13, a week after the attack on the Capital and the day the House of Representatives was debating the Articles of Impeachment. We’re publishing it on the Martin Luther King Day Holiday, just two days before the Inauguration in what hopefully will be a peaceful transfer of power. We know many people reading this will be wanting to run away at this point. They’re thinking - enough! I listen to these podcasts to get away from the news. I don’t want to run into it here! We absolutely understand that. This is an episode about training horses. But we were both really shaken by the events of last week. We don’t want to pretend that nothing has happened, that these events are not going on. We need to be paying attention, and so what we chose to talk about in this podcast was what to do with unwanted behavior. This is a training subject. It seems like the most appropriate topic that we could pick at a time like this. It doesn’t matter which side of the political divide you’re on, the other side is presenting behavior you don’t want. As clicker trainers we’ve been trying to figure out what do you do when you’re presented with behavior you don’t want. That’s what we’ll be exploring in this podcast. The conversation is very much focused on our animal learners, but who knows, through them we may be learning skills that will ripple into our interactions with family, friends, work colleagues, and on into the broader community. Let’s hope so. These skills are very much needed to help calm these very turbulent times we are living through.
We’re in the middle of a fun conversation with Helene Lawler. Helene is a professional dog trainer. If you have listened to the previous episodes you know that she has become balance obsessed. Last week we ended with a question about loopy listening. If you’re familiar with my work, you have heard about loopy training. Helene has used this teaching strategy to develop what she refers to as loopy listening. Loopy Listening adds more details to the Loopy Training cycle. It reminds you to make note of the small blips in your training. Those moments when your dog or your horse breaks the flow of the training to stare off to the side are significant. Why did the environment suddenly become so distracting? What was going on in your training? When your learner is with you, distractions fall away. Loopy Listening helps us to “listen” to our animal learners so we can respond better to their needs. Do please listen all the way to the end of this podcast. I’ve added some information about the format of this year’s clinics. I’ve changed the format of the clinics to meet the constraints the virus imposes. But it turns out some good thing can come from a bad situation. The new clinic format, schedule and topics are going to make it so much easier for you to attend the clinics with your horse - no matter where you live. So do check out the clinics at my web site: theclickercenter.com
We’re in the middle of a fun conversation with Helene Lawler. Helene is a professional dog trainer. If you have listened to the previous episodes you know that she has become balance obsessed. It’s so exciting. Once that genie pops out of the bottle, there’s no shoving it back in. Everything changes when you see your training and your learners through the balance lens. I love talking about balance. Good balance - physical and emotional - sits at the core of everything that I teach. One of my central training beliefs is good balance doesn’t just feel good to us. It feels good to our equine training partners as well. Helene Lawler would say that applies to the dogs she works with as well. Balance matters. This week we continue our conversation about how she has been applying the work that I’ve been developing for horses to her dog training. We share some fun stories, including one involving stilts and horses. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what that’s about.
Helene Lawler is a dog trainer who has become fascinated by balance, so of course we had to have a conversation. What has she been learning from horses that applies to her dog training? In this week’s episode Dominique asks the question “What is Balance?” Before you listen to the podcast, think about what would you say. Now listen to the podcast to find out how Helene and Alexandra answered her question.
Helene Lawler is a professional dog trainer. She shares her house with 14 herding dogs so to say that she loves dogs is an understatement. Helene has been a regular listener to these podcasts. That’s what prompted her to attend our first virtual Science Camp which was held in Sept 2020. What ignited Helene’s imagination was the work we did on balance and rope handling. The day after Science Camp one of her clients presented her with what she thought was a poisoned cue issue. The situation could well have become a poisoned cue if it had continued much longer. But Helene was looking at all of her training with fresh eyes. Her client saw poisoned cues. Helene saw a balance issue - not in the dog, but in the handler. A few changes later and the dog was performing beautifully. Helene has continued to explore what equine balance has to offer the canine community, so of course we wanted her share what she has been discovering. We had a lively - and lengthy conversation - so this is Part One of a wonderful afternoon’s conversation about balance - what that means for horses, dogs and humans.
This is part three of our conversation with Mary Hunter. Just before Thanksgiving we spent a delightful afternoon catching up with Mary. We started out talking about gardening and the growing of cilantro. That led us to extinction and then to shaping and finding approximations that create early success. We talked about Carol Dweck’s work on growth versus fixed mindsets. We described several strategies for becoming more creative in finding constructional approaches to training, We even talked about Dr Doug Tallamy’s backyard national parks and my other podcast - Horses for Future. We came to a lovely stopping place. At this point we had talked already for a couple of hours. We needed to stop. But then I asked Mary if there were any other topics she had wanted to explore - possibly for another recording session. Mary hesitated for a moment. Should she even bring this up? We had been talking for a very long time. It was the middle of the afternoon when we started and now it was getting dark. She’d just share this one idea - for later. But that didn’t work because the subject was helmets. Helmets! Why helmets? What was that about? We needed to know more. We were too impatient to record it at another time, so here it is as part of this current conversation. What is the connection between riding helmets, recycling and horse training? You’re about to find out.
Mary Hunter is a behavior analyst. She coaches people with their horse and dog training. She was our guide through the Listen and Learn Audio course on Applied Behavior Analysis. Our conversation with Mary Hunter began not with horses, but with gardening. When Mary shares a story whether it is about gardens or horses, there is always a point it. She uses her stories to illustrate important training concepts. So our conversation about growing plants - and sometimes failing at growing plants - took us to a discussion of extinction, finding the right approximations to build success early on, and constructional training. Dominique asked an important question - how do you become skilled at finding the right approximations for your horse? Her question led us to several useful strategies for developing creative training skills. They are described in detail in this week’s podcast.
Episode 124: Mary Hunter Pt 1: Growing Cilantro - Yes It Is About Training! This week begins a series with Mary Hunter. Mary is a horse owner, a training coach for both horses and dogs, and an applied behavior analyst. She has a great blog: StaleCheerios.com. She organizes the annual Art and Science of Animal Training conference, and she together with Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz, she has written the PORTL Manual. She was also our guide for the Listen and Learn Audio course on Applied Behavior Analysis. Just before Thanksgiving we spent a delightful afternoon catching up with Mary. We started out talking about gardening and the growing of cilantro. That led us to extinction and then to shaping and finding approximations that create early success.
A windy day was the spark behind a conversation about managing horses when their energy is up. That led in turn to stimulus control and remembering how powerful small changes in the environment can be. And that led us to a favorite subject - using the training to ask questions so our horses have a real say in what we do together. What we are really talking about is listening well.
This week Dominique launched us into an interesting conversation about reinforcers. If you don’t want to use food, or you want to use food creatively, what are some of your options with horses. With dogs there can be so many fun ways to reinforce behavior besides using a food reward. You can toss a ball, play tug, give a belly scratch. With horses because feeding treats is such an easy reinforcer to use, we seem to get into more of a rut in our thinking. So this week we explore different options. We begin by talking about how grazing can be used as a reinforcer. It’s still using food, but often people fight against grass instead of using it. Just like any treat delivery process, if you want to use the opportunity to graze, you have to go through a teaching process with your horse. Many people close their pastures at this time of the year to keep their horses from churning them into mud. Especially if you board your horse, you may be doing a lot of hand grazing. That means his is a great time of the year to work on this lesson. You’ll be turning grass into a powerful reinforcer you can use in your training. And your horse will be learning a lot about polite manners and emotional control. We talk about non-food reinforcers, as well. It all helps to make the training more interesting for your horse.
The rest of this sentence is find a look that pleases your eye. When you look at a horse what do you like? If you’re looking at ten pictures of your beloved horse, what characteristics make you choose this photo over that one? This is the question we explore in this week’s podcast. What pleases your eye, and why is this important to think about when you train, and especially when you feed your horse?
This week’s episode explores the stimulus control quadrants developed by Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz. When I say stimulus control many of you are probably thinking about the four criteria that are used to judge if a cue is under full stimulus control. This is not what Jesús is talking about. He’s looking instead at the conditions under which learning occurs. It’s a fascinating discussion. Don’t fight extinction is an important part of the stimulus control quadrants. You can find out what this means in this week’s episode.
This week's podcast was prompted by a question a listener sent in. She had a terrifying escape with her two horses from one of the California fires. Her experience prompted a question about choice. Her question led us to a discussion of the work of Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz on stimulus control. This is a short episode. We decided to introduce the topic this week and then to dive in more deeply in our next podcast.
You’ve been reinforcing your horse for the good behavior you want, and now suddenly that process stops. You’ve just thrown your horse into an extinction process. You’re about to experience the emotional fallout that creates. Stopping positive reinforcement is how we normally describe the extinction process, but what happens when someone stops punishing a behavior? This is another way in which a horse can experience extinction. What does this process create? And does this help us to understand some of the extreme behavior horses sometimes show early on in their introduction to clicker training? That’s the twist on extinction that this podcast explores.
A wrap up of the recent Science Camp sparked a lively conversation centered around choice. We end the podcast with a story that illustrates what choice looks like. We get there by talking about zoo programs, trailering, keystone behaviors, and errorless learning.
Dominique loves to learn. She is forever finding interesting articles and scientific studies for us to discuss. This week we consider one that looks at machine learning and the 85% rule. This doesn’t sound as though it could possibly be related to equine hugs, but it is.
You can learn anything from the internet. Google any subject and you will get a long list of links. But having access doesn’t always help you to know where to start or how to proceed. In this week’s podcast Dr. Susan Friedman lays out a road map to help you in your exploration of any question you want to explore in depth.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Equiosity
Podcast Status
Active
Started
Mar 7th, 2018
Latest Episode
Apr 8th, 2021
Release Period
Weekly
Episodes
140
Avg. Episode Length
43 minutes
Explicit
No
Language
English

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