3 yr old refusing to give to pressure - Page 3

       The Horse Forum > Training Horses > Horse Training

3 yr old refusing to give to pressure

This is a discussion on 3 yr old refusing to give to pressure within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

Like Tree36Likes

LinkBack Thread Tools
    08-15-2012, 08:35 PM
Originally Posted by Meatos    
Pain is definitely a motivator, but it isn't the only motivator. Find out what the horse likes and make him work for it.

People are getting hung up on treats & bribes again & not understanding what +R actually means, it seems. If you don't like to use anything but unpleasantness/pain to train, that's your choice, but don't knock people who prefer to also use positive reinforcement, especially when you don't understand it.

Whether talking positive or negative reinforcement or punishment, it seems the knockers are just giving bad examples of people doing it wrong as an example of why they believe the whole idea is wrong. Kinda like a bad tradesman blaming his tools...
Meatos likes this.
Sponsored Links
    08-15-2012, 09:58 PM
Agreed. What people sometimes don't realise is that clicker training first took off with marine mammals and then horses not too long after. If you're interested in it, read anything by Karen Pryor as she is really the fairy godmother of clicker training. People have been doing it for decades and yet it hasn't really caught on to the average person outside of dogs. Marine mammals are capable of doing AMAZING things - you can't use a whip, chain, rope, or your hands, tone of voice, etc. to train these guys. So you have to be creative. If you take force and coercion out of the equation, the possibilities are endless. I'm a big believer in it. My school boy is insanely motivated by food. I think after my next lesson I'm going to work on getting him to touch a bucket using the clicker and apple slices - should be fun! I haven't used it with horses yet, just the doggies.

As an aside, I'm currently working on getting my great dane to piaffe using a target stick. It's slow going because I'm lazy, but it would be funny!
loosie likes this.
    08-15-2012, 10:44 PM
I see nothing wrong with Cherie's advice. I don't care for whips as well, because in close range I do not find them helpful. I'm not familiar with baling wire - I'm assuming that's different than baling twine? I'll use the end of the lead rope if need be, but I am in a position where I can walk away from horses who are not responsive to that.

Keeping in mind that when I really run into trouble, it's not usually in a round pen but while leading. I've been appalled at the tantrums a spoiled horse can throw when he's suddenly being led by someone who won't let him drag them to grass or set the pace. Sometimes that's where the problem lies, when a horse has learned that in the round pen the human is the boss, but on the leadline he can get away with anything.

Quite frankly, when it comes to unsafe behaviour - that is behaviour that can put me in the hospital, I will do whatever is needed to cease that behaviour without causing lasting physical damage to either me or the horse. Negative reinforcement? You betcha. IMO, positive reinforcement is for positive behaviour. Both are useful tools that I find very effective when well timed.

As for belligerence, ie refusing to do something they've been taught, ask - tell - demand. Once we get to demand, it has to happen one way or another - otherwise you're not exactly demanding are you?
loosie and Cherie like this.
    08-16-2012, 01:10 AM
Super Moderator
I will try to answer these one by one.

Many books and 'teachers' teach that you only put the smallest amount of pressure on a horse that it take to get the correct response. I think that is altogether wrong for all but the 'lightest' most willing 'feely' horses. I think you should ask a horse very lightly. If he can feel (and be irritated by a fly landing on him)
This bit I disagree with & I would use your example of a fly irritating a horse to show that you don't(generally) need anything like brute force to affect a horse's behaviour. I don't think I've been lucky to have only had & trained 'most willing feely' horses in the 15 or so years I've been training, but IME, they generally become soft & willing without heavy handling. But again, as I hope I explained, I do think it depends whether we're talking about teaching or punishing too.
I totally agree -- UNLESS A HORSE HAS BEEN BADLY SPOILED. I don't think I have been blessed with just 'very trainable feely horses', either, and almost all of them have needed no punishment and very little or no scolding. The more a horse has been spoiled and desensitized to proper aids and encouragement (to the extent that they tune it all completely out), they become resolved to NEVER DO IT -- NO WAY! So then, you have to convince them that you mean business. They are long past threats or taps. Light aids' only anger them and strengthen their resolve. So, you're comparing apples to oranges comparing a spoiled horse to a green horse.

When I quit jerking, spanking and scolding him, he got the only reward he really understands.
Couldn't disagree with that one more & I personally wouldn't enjoy being with & training horses if it was all about force & coersion
I also hate it and that is why I quit taking in spoiled horses and eventually quit training for the public. I also do not enjoy having to fix 'killer bound' spoiled horses. But you act like I am advocating this approach to all horses. Remember, I am trying to explain how to turn around THIS spoiled horse -- not telling you how I would train any other one. Apples and oranges.
I just don't understand where you get the idea that negative reinforcement & punishment is all they understand. If that were true, they'd also be the only animal under the sun to respond to only half the 'spectrum'.
Again, if you think this is all about force and coercion of all horses, you missed the whole point. The only time I advocate the use of 'punishment' is to correct actual aggression like biting, kicking, striking, charging, etc. That is when I want to inflict pain to stop repeated behavior that is dangerous or even deadly. It has most often been applied to a horse that had already injured someone and was headed to the slaughter pen. Every time you used the word 'punishment' it was misused. The term 'Negative reinforcement' is also very easy to misuse. When a horse has tried to attack a handler, you need to use punishment and serious negative reinforcement. You do not teach a horse to give you positive responses by punishing them, but you can stop dangerous or unwanted behaviors with punishment.

Interrupting unwanted responses when teaching may be so mild as to only be saying "Ah!" or giving a light bump on the halter or the rein or a light nudge with a heel. Horses that have any willingness at all and horses that have not been spoiled and desensitized to aids, only require an 'open door' to go through and require you closing the wrong door if they try to go through that one. So, a good trainer can go through horse after horse after horse and never have to give a serious reprimand any more harsh than stopping them from doing the wrong thing. The only reward they need is to take the pressure off and 'let' them proceed. The removal of pressure is the only reward they need. This is much different than you portraying my techniques as all 'force and coercion'.

Now, let's go to a badly spoiled horse that is obnoxious, pushy and completely unresponsive. He will barge through a closed door rather than step back through the open one. Let's say this horse is asked nicely to back up and instead, he pushes into you and goes forward 2 steps or raises his head, stiffens up and plants his feet. I will ask him to back up very nicely -- knowing he is not going to do it. What I teach is to give several jerks on the lead-rope, spank the shoulder and leave the back door open for the horse to step back through. As he backs up, I do not keep spanking the shoulder. I just pursue him and smooch as he backs up. If he stops, I get after him again and follow him back some more. When he is backing up on the loose lead and I am only smooching and 'pushing him with my body language', I say "Whoa!" and I stop and back up a step. If he follows me, I give a single jerk on the lead-rope and say "Whoa!" again. HORSES DO NOT LEARN FROM THE PRESSURE. THEY LEARN FROM WHAT THEY DID WHEN THE HANDLER TOOK THE PRESSURE OFF. This is the reward that they understand.

Usually the second time I ask the horse like this, 'nicely' to back, he does. I have gotten his attention and his respect.

When a pushy horse barges forward, I want him to think he ran into a buzz saw. I want him to think I was the electric fence out back. I want him to think the almost invisible little piece of baling wire was ME.

When I am all done 'sensitizing' him to ME and have him listening to my every little smooch and word, I will rub him all over, wave my hand around, swing and wave the lead-rope all around and I will make sure he is not fearful of 'things' or me. Then, when I put him away, the last thing I will do before I take off his halter will be to back him up several steps and lead him in a tight circle to the right. Then, I will take off his halter. Again, his reward is no pressure and absolutely nothing.

I'll explain my reason for hating whips tomorrow.
loosie and Gremmy like this.
    08-16-2012, 01:45 AM
If you encountered a horse that was really "stuck" in his feet in that he had trouble backing up and was really dragging his feet and moveing like through molasses, would you perhaps try getting his feet unstuck moving forward first, since going forward is more natural? I mean , put him on a long lead into a kind of lunging and really ask for an honest forward. Or, do that in a round pen. Unstick his feet so that when he goes forward, he holds nothing back. Then try backing him up to see if his is more willing to actually pick UP his feet and move them backward, with out brace in his body and resistance.
    08-16-2012, 02:03 AM
I've heard that theory before but it doesn't make much sense to me. If he was really that hesitant to back up I would be more inclined to suspect a pain issue. His feet aren't physically glued to the ground, and if I'm asking him to back up the last thing I'd want him to do is to move forward I've only known one horse who consistently had an issue with backing up and there was definitely a pain issue at play. Most times they just get better as we work on it...but I'm no trainer.
    08-16-2012, 04:51 AM
Hi Cherie,

As we only have eachother's words, misunderstanding is extra easy, not to mention being a public forum, so there are lots reading here who don't understand the principles behind the practices either. I also have a slight suspicion I'm not a faultless communicator It's for this reason that I wanted to elaborate & think that 'stating the obvious' is better than assuming things are understood so can go unsaid. So, not meaning to 'talk down' by stating obvious to a trainer. I feel like we've got somewhere too, certainly in further understanding eachother, but with any luck, it's been helpful to OP & others too.

I totally agree -- UNLESS A HORSE HAS BEEN BADLY SPOILED. ....So, you're comparing apples to oranges comparing a spoiled horse to a green horse.
& I totally agree with that too. I was trying to emphasise this.

...quit jerking, spanking & scolding.... only reward he understands

But you act like I am advocating this approach to all horses. Remember, I am trying to explain how to turn around THIS spoiled horse
I disagree thoroughly that horses, whether spoiled or otherwise, don't understand Good consequences to their actions as well as Bad. It also didn't occur to me that you may believe that just of spoiled horses, which is why I took this to be a general principle of yours, not just for this horse.

Every time you used the word 'punishment' it was misused. The term 'Negative reinforcement' is also very easy to misuse.
Agree they're often misunderstood concepts. I don't know where you think I misused the term. (Positive)punishment is the application/addition of something undesireable in order to weaken a behaviour. Eg. Jerking, whacking, yelling, whatever. Negative reinforcement is the removal of something undesireable in order to strengthen a behaviour. Eg. Quitting the Bad Stuff/pressure when the horse responds in the 'right' way.

So the difference between the 2 can be a very fine line & if taken literally, you can't really even have -R without starting with +P. However I think there's a big difference in intent, the way it's done & the way the animal understands it. I think - & IME - horses understand well applied -R very well & it's an excellent teacher, while +P is often misunderstood & taken badly. Therefore I personally use -R pretty much as a matter of course, but use +P only rarely. Did I make that any clearer than mud??

Horses that have any willingness at all and horses that have not been spoiled and desensitized to aids, only require an 'open door' to go through and require you closing the wrong door if they try to go through that one.
Love that explanation!

The removal of pressure is the only reward they need.
I think of 'reward' as positive reinforcement, therefore removal of pressure is not a reward in my perception. Leaving that aside... I agree that -R is all they NEED to understand stuff & to be trained. But what you said previously was it's the only reward the horse UNDERSTANDS, which led me to think that you believed force & coersion(-R, +P) were the only way. I think that the addition of *well timed* +R for 'good' behaviour is really helpful too.(BTW I did not say food treats necessarily!)

I get what you're saying(I think), but wouldn't say they CAN NOT learn from the pressure, just that it's harder for them to learn *unless with -R they can work out how to avoid or rid themselves of it*. This is the reason I think punishment should be used very carefully & sparingly.
Meatos likes this.
    08-16-2012, 09:19 AM
I didn't mean to offend anyone...I'm just stating things for what they are. This isn't a matter of opinion, it's proven science. All animals (including humans) perform better when they work for rewards, not when they are working to avoid a punisher. To put it into a "human" perspective - we work for paychecks. Wouldn't you rather put in good, hard work, take initiatives in your role, develop a close relationship with your boss, and know that when your salary comes up for review, you'll probably get a nice raise? Makes your job a lot more fun than if you did the same thing day in and day out with a boss who nags you and threatens to fire you if you don't perform better. Moreover, if the things you did well were rewarded arbitrarily and insufficiently (like a pat on the back instead of a salary bump), you may end up confused as to what your boss wants and in light of that confusion, your performance decreases. Goals are universal and every human and animal has them - why not encourage our horses to work towards goals just as much as we do?

Not saying it's bad or that in all cases positive punishment and negative reinforcement are unnecessary abuse. They're just not how I choose to do things in the vast majority of things I do. If your safety is in jeopardy and you have to be forceful, then that's one thing. I realise that horses are huge animals - just like the dogs I work with have a lot of teeth and powerful jaws. But I would learn from that experience just as much as the horse does - I would recognise that I may have pushed the horse too far, and not let it get to that stage again without making sure other safety precautions are in place (i.e. More training, a helper, etc.), and move forward from that point. Sometimes we need to smack our own noses and not the horses'. Thinking of dogs here, if I ever got bit by a dog, I wouldn't punish them for it. I would get myself to safety, smack myself on the head for being an idiot, and think about how going forward, I can manage to work with the dog safely and without the risk of getting bit again.

Anyway, just for a clarification of terms (all scientific, not my personal opinion):

Positive Reinforcement: Adding something the horse likes to increase the frequency of a behaviour. Quite simply: rewards.

Positive Punishment: Adding something a horse doesn't like to decrease the frequency of a behaviour. Note that a P+ must work within three trials in order for a punisher to be deemed effective. Beyond three trials, it's just badgering and something else needs to be tried (in either of the four quadrants listed here).

Negative Reinforcement: Removing something the horse doesn't like when the desired behaviour has been achieved in order to increase the frequency of that behaviour. In other words, the horse works to "turn off" the aversive.

Negative Punishment: Removing something the horse likes in order to decrease the frequency of a behaviour. The horse will work to get whatever it is back, for fear of losing it again.

I highly highly suggest Karen Pryor's book, Don't Shoot the Dog. It's not about dogs as the title suggests, but is all about reinforcers and how we use them in our everyday lives. Really eye-opening.
loosie likes this.

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Refusing To Lunge! Cleo71412 Horse Training 17 07-18-2012 05:31 PM
Horse won't give to pressure... LovesMyDunnBoy Horse Training 3 09-29-2011 12:46 AM
Refusing? NordicJuniper Horse Training 6 02-04-2010 05:47 PM
Horse refusing to be caught. jumpwhat007 Horse Training 10 06-08-2009 09:14 PM
Refusing to Ride. Small_Town_Girl Horse Riding 9 05-02-2008 01:14 AM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:49 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0