Implementing A Bridge-signal In Your Horse Training Program by Tauqeer Hassan
Different signals are used in training session. Bridge signal is one such signal which is used to communicate with horse. A good communication system is always necessary for any sort of training program. If you have a good communication system that will definitely accelerate the training process. Bridge signal is considered to be the important part of the horse training program. It is used to transmit clear and reliable message to the horse.
The name bridge signal is given to it for the function it performs. Bridge signal is used to bridge the gap between the moment in the training when animal responds correctly and the moment of reinforcement of that behavior. Reward reinforcement and bridge signal are so closely intertwined that without proper signal, reinforcement will be unclear. You can also expect an undesired behavior from your horse due to lack of use of bridge signal. This is just because of the lack of bridge signal that your horse misinterprets that which behavior is to be rewarded and which is not.
To remove this uncertainty for your horse; including bridge signal in your training program becomes essential. Using bridge signal prior to offering any reward reinforcement, clearly suggest your horse that you want to see the same behavior repeated again. Bridge signal in this way helps you to set up a clear and ample system of communication with your horse for any particular behavior.
Most of the time reinforces are used along with bridge signal. Introducing a reinforcer considerably increase the frequency of the behavior. Primary reinforcer may include clicker, carrot, a sugar cube, or a hand full of grain. Bridge signal can be anything. Anything which you think will serve the purpose well for you and your horse. It can be a clicker, a spoken word, a touch, or a snap of the fingers. The only thing which you need to be focus on is to keep bridge signal distinct and precise. For instance, a sound of whistle is used as a bridge signal for captive dolphins and whales. The bridge signal is useful because these are the marine mammals which tend to stay near (close proximity) to the trainers.
Close proximity or nearness to trainers is also common for horses. The most often used bridge signal for horses is a clicker. It is easy for horses to identify the sound of a clicker than anything else. It is also a distinct sound for them and they pay attention to that sound almost instantaneously. Once your horse get used to it, new bridge signal has been introduced like verbal bridge signal. The idea behind this is that you need not to hold the clicker and you can freely control the behavior of the horse with verbal signals easily. You can also do riding, clipping and longing with ease. While riding a horse, you can use clicker attach at the whip or riding crop to make signaling easier for your horse.
Once your horse has mastered the concept of bridge conditioning, now is the time move along the training process and teach him some new concepts. Target is another such tool to guide your horse in right direction. Target is used as an extension of the hands. Targets are devised in a way to guide your horse through behaviors, to touch the targets physically. Target can be used to teach your horse to lift his leg for hoof picking, to lead into the carrier, or to lower his head for clipping. There are many other options available to train your horse behavior accordingly.
You might also want to learn about Let know your Horse to Cross-tie and Adopt a Bridge-Signal in your horse Training Program.