2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

The Efficacy of Various Bridging Stimuli During Acquisition of an Operant Task and the Use of Food-Based Positive Reinforcement Training on Unwanted Oral Investigative Behaviors in Horses, Equus caballus
Megan R. LaFollette* and Kaitlin A. Cloonan
Dr. Kelly Walter, Faculty Mentor

We investigated the impact of food-based positive reinforcement training (FBPRT) on frequency and severity of unwanted oral investigative behaviors (UOIB) in horses. We evaluated the influence of mechanical bridging stimuli (BS), human produced BS, and no BS on time and number of reinforcements (NOR) to behavioral acquisition. Eighteen horses were used in a randomized complete block design blocked by age and assigned to treatments at random. Before and after training, all horses were evaluated for UOIB number and severity. Treatment did not influence time to behavioral acquisition (TBA) (p = 0.7682) or NOR (p = 0.8881). After training horses had fewer UOIB (p = 0.0311) and a reduction of UOIB severity (p = 0.0473). Our data indicates FBPRT can be used to teach a task while decreasing UOIB. The lack of treatment influence on TBA could be due to minimal lag time between BS and presentation of the food reward.

Keywords: Operant conditioning, Clicker training, Food rewards, Mugging behavior, Biting, Equine

Topic(s):Agricultural Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 406-2
Location: MG 1000
Time: 2:45

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