Originally Posted by GhostwindAppaloosa
I didn't mean it badly and can't remember if it was you. I read so many replies I couldn't keep track of who said what.
I've never had good luck with treat based training (just personal experience)
I certainly use positive reinforcement when a horse does a job well done through a rub or pat and a soothing voice.. but as far as treats I have always seen them do more bad than good. Some horses they might work for but whenever I have seen them implemented they get horses who wont work unless you reward them.. or even worse.. NIPPERS! LOL. All my horses can have treats but they are put in their food pail and don't come out of my hand.
You're doing fine. That's the problem: everyone thinks that all reward/punishment psych means treats and crops. And in experimental setups, food is a very obvious mechanism for getting rats and pigeons to do what we want. But in experimental situations, the researchers wants very clear evidence in support of a theory.
You are using reward/punishment whether you realize it or not. Everytime you get a behavior from the horse you want, you DO reward it. In fact, by definition a reward is anything that increases the likelihood of a behavior and a punishment is anything that reduces its likelihood.
That's why treats and clickers are not necessary. Horse will work for praise and security. And in fact, to get fancy, I believe that social praise may be a primary reinforcer while clicker training relies on a secondary reinforcer. Others may argue with me, but I am just looking at how social horses are.
Establishing dominance involves a punishment cycle. But the word punishment
has so many other meanings than the technical one above. That's why the technical literature uses the value neutral language of "negative" and "positive" reinforcement.
A lot of people THINK they understand learning psychology from psych 101, but usually their understanding is quite thin.
You are definitely on the right track.