Originally Posted by loosie
...The whole point as far as I'm concerned was about why SHOULDN'T you make the most of positive reinforcement too - be that with clickers & treats or otherwise. Why limit yourself to half the spectrum?? Why should you be so against rewarding your horse with something Good...
No. I don't know how better to get across to you than has already been explained, that the above eg is negative reinforcement.
I think horses do indeed think differently about +R & -R. Another point of the discussion. If you don't care, I don't get why you've joined the discussion??
1 - Good is a value judgment that I don't think horses share. It implies the trainer is 'nice', or 'good' - and I think that is what motivates a lot of folks to start 'positive' training...because it involves being 'good', instead of being 'bad'. But the horse doesn't respond to 'negative' reinforcements as being 'bad'. It is either fair or unfair. Either I'm being a bully, or being just.
They live their entire lives that way! No lead horse gives treats to entice another horse to do what they say. No lead horse whinnies "Good boy" to a gelding who does something right. It simply is not in their nature.
2 - When a horse realizes her rider can help figure out scary from not scary, it is a huge relief to them. It means, for Mia, that she no longer has to take charge and save everyone on a trail ride.
Think of it like fly spray. My horses don't like the feeling of fly spray, but 2 of the 3 figured out pretty quick that the nasty feeling of fly spray is followed by relief from flies. Now when I spray some fly spray on my hand, they will rub their faces against my hand on their own. It doesn't matter to them that they don't like the feel, because they connect it to the reward beyond.
3 - If no one who thought like I do took part in the discussion, all you would have is a cheerleading thread full of back-slappers. And then a lurker would think, "I ought to be positive, because I want a Happy Horse Who Loves Me".
Much of this positive/negative talk fails to appreciate that horses adapt to our cues. Mild pressure from my calf is not painful to a horse. It isn't really THAT irritating. Trooper is used to being ridden western, with rare lower leg contact. Mia is used to a more English seat, with constant light contact with my lower leg. I think they normally understand the removal of pressure as the same thing as a click with clicker training - it means, NOW you did it right.
I think it is harmful to horses to speak of 'positive training', because A) few people understand positive in its clinical sense, and B) fewer still would know how to use it well. Too many humans enter the horse world with no knowledge at all about horses (like I did 5-6 years ago). They then get suckered into things like "bitless is nice, bits are cruel" or "ride the bond" or "be your horse's friend". And that hogwash can get you killed or hurt. I stopped riding today after 30 minutes because my right, lower back is still sore from an injury in Jan 2009. It doesn't happen as often, but it still flares up (and swells up visibly) at times.
Mia likes and trusts me in a way our other horses do not. But Mia wouldn't like me at all if I was all positive. She wouldn't respect me if she didn't know I was willing to get all over her case - just as she would be willing to jump in the chili of our geldings, if they defied her. We have a religious revival about once a month. Maybe a bit less often, now. She'll say, "You're not the boss of me" and I'll reply, "Like hell I'm not", and the fight is on. It usually lasts around 5 minutes, followed by 5-10 minutes of slightly offended attitude by Mia, and then followed by 4-8 weeks of a willing horse. Horses understand 'I'll kick your butt'
! They do not resent it...if it is fair, consistent and they know the rules. It is not morally negative way of training. This phrase was very revealing: "Why should you be so against rewarding your horse with something Good
". You are attaching a moral value that 'positive' and 'negative' do not clinically have, so as to make your case - your case being that 'positive reinforcement' is "Good". I reject that moral judgment, and my horses do not understand it at all...