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Loading the Problem Loader

"Loading the Problem Loader: The Effects of Target Training and Shaping on Trailer-Loading Behavior of Horses," a research paper published by Dawnery L. Ferguson and Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, University of North Texas, in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 34 (1002): 409-424.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to develop an effective method for trailer loading horses based on principles of positive reinforcement. Target training and shaping were used to teach trailer-loading behavior to 5 quarter horse mares in a natural setting. All 5 had been trailer loaded before through the use of aversive stimulation. Successive approxi­mations to loading and inappropriate behaviors were the dependent variables. After train­ing a horse to approach a target, the target was moved to various locations inside the trailer. Horses started training on the left side of a two-horse trailer. After a horse was loading on the left side, she was moved to the right side, then to loading half on the right and half on the left. A limited-hold procedure and the presence of a companion horse seemed to facilitate training for 1 horse. Inappropriate behaviors fell to zero im­mediately after target training, and all the horses successfully completed the shaping sequence. Finally, these effects were observed to generalize to novel conditions (a different trainer and a different trailer).

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