It's Time for Horse Training to Evolve - Page 3
 
 

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It's Time for Horse Training to Evolve

This is a discussion on It's Time for Horse Training to Evolve within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        10-10-2013, 04:37 PM
      #21
    Teen Forum Moderator
    My filly cribs and paces. I have never done a single thing to harm her, and she lives in an optimal herd situation with 5 acres to run around on with multiple other horses and as much hay and water as she feels like taking in. She cribs because she gets bored or uneasy (she's a nervous creature and anything even slightly out of the ordinary induces circling and cribbing) and it makes her feel better. IMO it has nothing to do with how she feels about me or about where she lives. She cribbed in a stall, cribbed in a panel pen, cribbed in a dry lot, cribbed in a pasture, cribbed alone, and cribbed with as many as 8 other horses. Does she do it less when pastured with other horses and lots of food? Absolutely. Will she ever stop? I don't think so.

    She comes from a truly neglectful/abusive situation. I know many people call their horses 'rescues' because they weren't in the PERFECT situation when the person bought them, but Kenzie (my filly) legitimately was abused. She was at half the body weight she should have been, had thrush, rain rot, worms and a severe illness that nearly killed her. She lived alone with no shelter, no food, and a muddy piece of land as her home. Later her ear was severed purposely by an angry person who was trying to get revenge on her then-owner.

    Most people's reaction to a horse like her, once bringing her home, would be to coddle her. Give her hugs and kisses, forgive normally corrected behavior because 'she couldn't help it', let her walk all over them. I did not. When I first started rehabbing her, even when she still had pressure sores from lying on her death bed for 5 days, when she was barely strong enough to walk, and when every bone in her body was sticking out, I demanded that she respect my space and I would respect hers. She was expected to walk quietly with me wherever I asked her to, and to hold still when I doctored her. When she started feeling good and tried to paw at her food in excitement, I quickly and sharply reprimanded her. Would some people say I was harsh? I don't know. Maybe. But was I fair? Absolutely. I gave her a new lease on life, and all I expected from her was to behave civilly, stand still while I took care of her, and to not get in my space. If she did, it was one sharp smack, yank, or yell...whichever got the point across, then it was back to normal. It only took her once or twice to learn exactly what I wanted and it made her a better horse. She's polite and obedient, and looks to me when she's afraid without trying to trample me. And she obviously doesn't hate me too much considering that she comes running up to me when she sees me approaching her paddock, no matter what she's doing.

    Yes, positive reinforcement can be good, but only to a certain extent and only in some situations. And the fact is that a horse who has been taught only by positive reinforcement is never going to learn as quickly or with as much refinement as one who has been fairly taught by pressure and release. It will take a horse, dog, or child a lot longer to realize that he gets a cookie or a pat every time he does x but not when he does y and sometimes if he does z, than to realize that x causes slight discomfort and y means he can continue going forward every single time.
    EmilyJoy likes this.
         
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        10-10-2013, 04:58 PM
      #22
    Green Broke
    Actually, when it comes to reinforcement you have not read enough.

    Positive Reinforcement is: Adding a pleasant stimulus to increase the frequency of a behavior (giving a treat to a dog for sitting).

    Negative Reinforcement: Adding a negative stimulus to increase the frequency of a behavior (using an electrical stimulus on a dog collar while the dog walks away from you and stopping the stimulus when the dog turns toward you)

    Positive Punishment: Adding a negative stimulus at the time of a behavior to decrease its occurrence (correcting a dog by yanking its collar or smacking a horse with a whip for kicking)

    Negative Punishment: Removing a pleasant stimulus to decrease a behavior (withholding a treat from a dog who doesn't sit on cue).

    In a horse, typically training is a combination of all these things.

    It is far easier to think of training as reading the animal (first thing you need to learn) and then applying pressure and/or releasing pressure to elicit a response. Application of pressure and release consistently until the response is consistent is training.

    It isn't complicated.
    BellaIris likes this.
         
        10-10-2013, 06:36 PM
      #23
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Elana    
    Negative Reinforcement: Adding a negative stimulus to increase the frequency of a behavior
    negative reinforcement is the removal of an aversive stimulus. The "negative" and "positive" in this case are only mathematical terms.
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        10-10-2013, 08:01 PM
      #24
    CRK
    Foal
    Smile

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CRK    

    Now I am not saying that we should be only using positive reinforcement and never give a corrective yank on the lead rope or a bump with our legs. All I'm saying is that we need to think about our current training methods and look for ways to incorporate positive reinforcement into our riding and training. I have seen the difference this makes with my own horses - they are happier, more responsive, and feel like they are "looking" for the right answers to training questions.

    There are several ways to give positive reinforcement to a horse. It doesn't necessarily mean treats.
    I just wanted to quote my original post as I feel this part of the message was not always read.
    loosie likes this.
         
        10-10-2013, 08:19 PM
      #25
    Trained
    You went on to say:

    "There are several ways to give positive reinforcement to a horse. It doesn't necessarily mean treats. Positive reinforcement can be rest, praise, or food. You can use safety and comfort as positive reinforcement, which can be very effective with horses."

    Rest, praise or food. Eliminate treats (food), and that leaves rest, praise, safety and comfort. Praise is a very weak positive to my horses. Rest is a bit better, but it is kind of hard to reward a balanced canter with rest. OTOH, it is easy to reward a balanced canter with removing the negative (squeezing with the legs). Safety is a nebulous concept to apply to horse training. Assuming you do not put them into danger, how to you then give them safety?

    We mostly use pressure followed by release of pressure because the release is a strong positive to the horse and it is frequently available.

    Comfort IS a positive, but we use the precision of the release to bring them to a state where, over time, they learn comfort. For example, my mare used to be very fearful. With a curb bit, she had to choose between feeling the curb strap engage, which she hates, or standing still in the face of something scary. When she did the latter, she soon began to figure out that I knew what was genuinely worth being afraid of, and things that only seem scary to her. As a result, the negative of the curb strap made it possible for her to learn that listening to me brings comfort & safety & the removal of fear.

    The more she listens to the curb strap long enough to face a fear, the more she learns that obeying me when scared results in the scary thing going away. It takes the negative, however, to show her what the positive is. It isn't an either/or proposition. One uses one to achieve the other, with the end result being a horse who WANTS to obey because good things happen when she does. IMHO.
         
        10-10-2013, 08:30 PM
      #26
    Weanling
    Just observing how my horse is being trained, and reading the book I mentioned, here is what I'm seeing the positive reinforcement as. He is guided to do the desired action, and when he doesn't get it, the trainer calmly stops him and starts over with guiding him to do the action. Pretty much as soon as he does it, everything is stopped with lots of happy fussing and lesson time is over. It works, because the next lesson, he's either got the idea completely or just needs a few minutes of guiding to get it down! Short lessons that end when he shows the desired action. Even if he doesn't get it in one lesson, the process is the same. We all know he is trying because he is curious about what is happening and he really wants to learn!
    CRK likes this.
         
        10-10-2013, 08:39 PM
      #27
    Started
    Positive reinforcement: presenting a rewarding stimulus after the desired behavior has been exhibited. (i.e. A pat on the neck for a job well done)

    Negative reinforcement: a negative stimulus is removed after the desired result is exhibited. (i.e. Leg pressure removed after the horse turns the correct direction)

    Positive punishment: presenting a negative stimulus after an undesired behavior. (i.e. The horse tries to buck, rider applies leg pressure and makes him "work" by turning in a small circle)

    Negative punishment: desired stimulus is removed after an undesired behavior. (couldn't think of a riding example, but if you're on the ground and offering a treat, if the horse is too pushy while trying to grab it you take the treat away)

    Carry on...
         
        10-10-2013, 08:45 PM
      #28
    Yearling
    Personally I don't see big bits, spurs, whips and other training tools (like side reins, etc) as being abusive or negative punishment. Abuse/severe negative punishment in my mind is 100% the riders doing. I've given my horses more than their fair share of smacks both under saddle and non, and had less then pleasant conversations with them and used some of those 'horrible' training tools, spurred some horses who needed it, and heck I even ride in what I recently found out was a 'god-awful' bit for a horse. With that said I've never had my horses cringe from me and they're always willing to do what I ask in tandem with me, not out of fear. The negative punishment depends on the horse, some respond better to it, and some respond better to more positive methods - neither method in my opinion and experience cause a horse to become beaten down and terrified unless taken to an extreme. It's all in the individual; my mare is good with an occasional 'good girl' or other affectionate sound and treat after she's done riding. Or if she's really on my crap list a smack has never hurt her none. My gelding under saddle loves the harshest contact you can give him (he's a freak I know....). When he does something right or is worried his reward is for me to tighten the reins.

    Otherwise I agree with Bsms and cherie, just had to throw my two cents in about the equipment.
         
        10-10-2013, 09:08 PM
      #29
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Elana    
    Actually, when it comes to reinforcement you have not read enough.

    Positive Reinforcement is: Adding a pleasant stimulus to increase the frequency of a behavior (giving a treat to a dog for sitting).

    Negative Reinforcement: Adding a negative stimulus to increase the frequency of a behavior (using an electrical stimulus on a dog collar while the dog walks away from you and stopping the stimulus when the dog turns toward you)

    Positive Punishment: Adding a negative stimulus at the time of a behavior to decrease its occurrence (correcting a dog by yanking its collar or smacking a horse with a whip for kicking)

    Negative Punishment: Removing a pleasant stimulus to decrease a behavior (withholding a treat from a dog who doesn't sit on cue).

    In a horse, typically training is a combination of all these things.

    It is far easier to think of training as reading the animal (first thing you need to learn) and then applying pressure and/or releasing pressure to elicit a response. Application of pressure and release consistently until the response is consistent is training.

    It isn't complicated.
    LOL. I feel dumb. I didn't read the third page of the thread before I posted (and said basically the same thing).
         
        10-10-2013, 09:58 PM
      #30
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    The teaching of any subject as complex as horse riding is an art in itself. Not every good rider can teach the novice. It is time we looked more closely at whom is licensed to teach horse riding and perhaps more importantly we considered what syllabus and theories should be taught to newcomers to the sport.

    BG
    I agree with what you're saying here in principle. The market for riding instructors and horse trainers especially in the US is very much one of "caveat emptor". However the problem with licensing as I see it is that there is so much natural variation in styles of riding and approaches to horses in general, it begs the question of who is qualified to create that kind of 'universal' standard? Also, credentials alone are not the most reliable judge of a horseman's quality. Speaking solely from my own experience, at every level of the horse world from some dirt lot with $10 horses up to some pretty expensive places I've seen examples of brilliant horsemanship as well as gross incompetency.

    Perhaps what we do need is for more good teachers to become more business-savvy and create better programs to help the beginners along!
         

    Tags
    horse training, how to train horses, positive reinforcement

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