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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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        10-12-2013, 11:15 PM
      #71
    Banned
    Look to be honest I'm getting bored by a discussion that's going around in circles so this is my last reply. We all know grass is green don't we? It may be dark or it may be light, but it's natural color is still green. And wether color blind or not, grass remains green. How did it get this complicated? Besides, the real meaning of that comment is that there's not a whole lot of point in arguing about the definition of a standard term used in positive reinforcement training throughout the world. Some may think it means something else, but those that know better; know better.

    Cherie as for your scenario, I'd do the same as you are doing. I'd signal for the required response and if I didn't get it I'd bring him back and ask again (consistency) until I got even the slightest hint (small step) of the right answer. I'd click and treat after just a few steps. I don't stop the horse to treat, the sound of the click ( I use my tongue not a plastic clicker) tells the horse he is allowed to stop and will be rewarded at that time. He turns his head laterally and I will reach down slightly to give the treat. I allow about 10-15 seconds of 'dwell' time (rest) and then will continue to ask for a little more each time, reducing dwell time as he catches on. If he should take the wrong lead after I give the signal I would again bring him back to try again. No click/treat. Only correction.

    I'm finding it hard to grasp how the horse would be confused under these circumstance as you say. If that's the case then there are a great many confused horses out there. Some seen at Olympic and professional performance level. In fact positive reinforcement training has the opposite effect on a horse that you claim. They aren't confused and distracted, they are focused and on target. That's the whole point. Moreover, I'd say that are equine companions are a great deal more intelligent not to have the relief that comes from being left alone compromised in any way, shape or form.
         
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        10-12-2013, 11:20 PM
      #72
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Castles in the Air    
    Look to be honest I'm getting bored by a discussion that's going around in circles so this is my last reply. We all know grass is green don't we? It may be dark or it may be light, but it's natural color is still green. And wether color blind or not, grass remains green.
    Again, we do not all see the same thing, and I am peeing with laughter to be honest at the thought of feeding treats while riding, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen
    franknbeans likes this.
         
        10-13-2013, 12:11 AM
      #73
    Trained
    Can't help but join in on this one, even though this sort of subject gets 'done' reasonably regularly! OP you must be new to forums if you didn't expect your post to get.... heated replies! I agree thoroughly with your basic sentiments OP, but not so much with the way you put it, or perhaps the strength of your opinions, as I understood them. It sounds like you have recently been learning about behavioural theory? I absolutely believe it's a very valuable thing for people to study & understand, and do also believe including positive reinforcement in our training is a good practice. But to me, training is not so black and white as the Skinner...ian(?) model and not so... fanatical(wrong word, right feel...) as the 'purist' clicker trainer model. JMO.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher    
    negative reinforcement is not "something that the horse moves away from" and positive reinforcement is not "something the horse moves toward".
    I think it depends on how you understand that & whether it's taken literally or metaphorically, to a large degree. As seems clear here, *behavioural terms* & principles such as these are commonly misunderstood. Applying an undesirable stimulus does cause the horse to 'move away' from it, be that physically or mentally, and if that stimulus is removed *at the time of*(not after as some stated) the 'yielding' behaviour, it is by definition, negative reinforcement. If 'moving toward' is taken to mean attracting, then it seems to me that's an appropriate metaphor too IMO.

    Someone gave the eg. Of undesirable stimuli(bit, spur, etc) as an eg of negative punishment. That would actually be an eg of positive punishment. Or negative reinforcement if we're talking about the instant that stimulus is removed. As someone's already said, negative punishment is something like withholding or removing a treat, not applying a Bad Thing.

    And so many people don't seem to understand the difference between reward/+R & -R. (BTW, I think of 'reward' in behavioural terms, interchangeable with +R) For eg. Someone gave the eg of turning their back on a horse or allowing rest, to 'reward' them. These are often effective negative reinforcements, but a positive reinforcement is when something desirable is given, such as a treat, good scratch, whatever. It's also vital to consider *what that particular horse desires at that particular time* if you're intending it to be positive reinforcement. Eg. So many people think of patting as a 'reward' when it's usually IME just tolerated & in many instances may actually be punishment - something the horse dislikes. And of course everyone knows food is a +R, but it's not always desirable, appropriate, practical.

    Anyway (using the behavioural definitions), I agree thoroughly with what I understand is the basic gist of your post OP, that too many people use solely/too much +P & -R, and that the addition of +R is valuable & under used. IME -R is invaluable in horse training, and assuming it's used correctly of course, I don't think it's in the least 'unfair' or cruel, but focussing on reinforcing 'right' behaviour & creating 'Good' associations with rewards is also invaluable too.

    I don't believe avoiding techniques just because they're not 'natural horse behaviour' is at all valid - after all, if you want to use that argument, you shouldn't be riding, using ropes or bridles, etc, etc. Most +P should be 'banned' for those believers too.

    Oh & endiku, while your horse's stereotypic behaviour may now be permanent, I'd be looking at digestive problems and chronic stress. Addition of Mg to the diet may be the answer to otherwise unexplained stress.
    onuilmar likes this.
         
        10-13-2013, 12:19 AM
      #74
    Banned
    "I am peeing with laughter to be honest at the thought of feeding treats while riding, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen "

    And yet 1000's of riders the world over do it successfully without incident. The evidence is stacked against you on that one.

    Now that you mention it, I got a similar feeling at the suggestion that a horse would somehow 'forget' that he'd been able to rest during training. I imagine he forgets to eat too some days.

    Like I say: those that know better, know better.
    loosie likes this.
         
        10-13-2013, 12:29 AM
      #75
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Castles in the Air    
    "I am peeing with laughter to be honest at the thought of feeding treats while riding, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen "

    And yet 1000's of riders the world over do it successfully without incident. The evidence is stacked against you on that one.
    Really what evidence? I really and truly have never seen people teaching correct canter departs by feeding treats.... but I maybe mixing with the wrong crowd.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Castles in the Air    
    Now that you mention it, I got a similar feeling at the suggestion that a horse would somehow 'forget' that he'd been able to rest during training. I imagine he forgets to eat too some days.

    Like I say: those that know better, know better.

    I don't understand this point, resting during training is a great idea, just chilling is a great reward....
    franknbeans, smrobs, Clava and 2 others like this.
         
        10-13-2013, 12:59 AM
      #76
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Castles in the Air    
    ...Like I say: those that know better, know better.
    Which may be part of the reason for the reception you are getting...on a thread you called "It's Time for Horse Training to Evolve". If you expect others to give up what has been working well for them, pick up saddlebags of treats, start clucking with their tongue and then stopping their horse mid-ride to treat them....well, it is a tough sale. I'm willing to stop asking my wife to tie a shrewd cat to the end of a long pole, but I just don't see squeezing with my lower leg as an abuse I need to morally evolve beyond.

    If there are studies showing horses can be trained to level X in 3 weeks instead of 3 months, you might gain some converts. But if you break the training steps down into small ones, if you are consistent and fair (as the horse perceives it), then training doesn't involve great cruelty. Horses DO understand pressure & release. They do it all the time. They do not resent it. So why do I need to evolve beyond the world that horses live in?
         
        10-13-2013, 01:04 AM
      #77
    Trained
    Guys guess what.
    When I happened to be running 40mph today at a barrel my horse turned it smokin and hauled tail for home.

    And I forgot to give her a treat immediately for a good turn!

    Jeeze, what's wrong with me? You'd think I'd of mastered the art of throwing carrots at her face while she's running by now...I mean, lord knows horses only have about a three second connection time between action and reward. Waiting til I get out of the arena simply isn't an option!

    (I'm way too tired for this thread. Lol)
         
        10-13-2013, 01:38 AM
      #78
    Weanling
    I've only roughly skimmed the thread, but I think the debate here comes more from misunderstanding and misinterpreted terminology than any actual disagreement.

    Either way the subject is operant conditioning, so here's some reading on it:
    Operant conditioning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And on top of that:
    David Premack - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Premack's principle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    loosie and Ian McDonald like this.
         
        10-13-2013, 07:01 AM
      #79
    Showing
    For those of us who have been around horses a long time, know that we need to work with them as individuals. Presently I have two that are opposites which means with one I have to ramp up my energy and with the other reduce it so I am merely suggesting. Generally I search for the positives but sometimes have to resort to a negative. An example of strong negative. When a teen I'd entered a stall to feed and the horse fired a shot at me which grazed my leg. I immediately delivered a strong kick to his belly. He let out a grunt and almost sat down but that was the last time he pulled that stunt. He'd been doing that for two years, unbeknownst to me.
         
        10-13-2013, 08:32 AM
      #80
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Cherie as for your scenario, I'd do the same as you are doing. I'd signal for the required response and if I didn't get it I'd bring him back and ask again (consistency) until I got even the slightest hint (small step) of the right answer. I'd click and treat after just a few steps. I don't stop the horse to treat, the sound of the click ( I use my tongue not a plastic clicker) tells the horse he is allowed to stop and will be rewarded at that time. He turns his head laterally and I will reach down slightly to give the treat. I allow about 10-15 seconds of 'dwell' time (rest) and then will continue to ask for a little more each time, reducing dwell time as he catches on. If he should take the wrong lead after I give the signal I would again bring him back to try again. No click/treat. Only correction.
    ^^^WHAT???^^^

    You have just rewarded the horse for stopping --- not for departing in the correct lead several seconds ago. I would like to ask how many horses you have actually taught very good, prompt correct lead departures to by using this technique?

    This technique would only teach a horse to stop at a certain sound. Most of us use the softly spoken word "Whoa" instead of a click. Humming is used frequently by Dressage trainers for a halt and is used by most reining trainers for the 'slow-down' from a fast big circle to a small slow circle without moving the rein-hand. Treating for stops only teaches a horse to stop crookedly and throw their head around to your leg -- really bad form in any discipline.

    Quote:
    I'm finding it hard to grasp how the horse would be confused under these circumstance as you say. If that's the case then there are a great many confused horses out there. Some seen at Olympic and professional performance level. In fact positive reinforcement training has the opposite effect on a horse that you claim. They aren't confused and distracted, they are focused and on target. That's the whole point. Moreover, I'd say that are equine companions are a great deal more intelligent not to have the relief that comes from being left alone compromised in any way, shape or form.
    You may find it hard to see how a horse is confused, but I see nothing but confusion. I can see it useful when teaching tricks and certain reactions on the ground, but I only see confusion over what action was being rewarded when it is used as you suggest. Frankly, I do not want a horse to be focused on a 'target', or looking for a 'click' or a treat. I want him focused on listening to my subtle, traditional 'aids'.

    Let me offer another example. This is one I am very familiar with as I have helped numerous riders that had HUGE problems and very spoiled, dangerous horses for having their horses recognize the wrong action for a very common reward.

    It is not uncommon for barrel racing horses and a few show horses to get very resistant (or worse) upon entering an arena for an individual performance. The ones I have helped have usually been barrel racers or other speed event people but I have seen it with reiners and jumpers as well.

    Usual scenario is to run in the gate, run hard around 3 barrels and then run back out of the gate. Many riders use a whip or spurs to get more speed between barrels and almost all riders use a whip or spur to run back out of the gate, but I have seen the same thing happen with riders that do not over-use force in the arena. When the horse gets out of the gate he is pulled up, the reins are dropped and he is petted and praised. Does he associate the complete release of pressure and complete relief he gets when he has left the arena with the good job he did in the arena or does he recognize it as a reward for leaving the arena? When horses make the wrong association (like yours would for being given a treat for stopping), they want to stay out of the arena or they want to run around one barrel and bolt for the gate. They become much more anxious to run out of the gate than to run fast away from it. This is basically why so many horses are 'gate sour' when ridden in any arena for any reason. They are anxious to get out of the gate where they will be dismounted and all work will stop. Leaving the arena becomes their 'reward'. This is why we work most of our horses somewhere other than an arena and end each riding session in an arena, dismounting in the far corner of it. Then, horses are anxious to go into an arena instead of leave one.

    I have seen many jumping horse do this same thing. When they are repeatedly ridden out of the arena, petted, praised and quickly dismounted, why would the horse not resent going into the arena?

    Years ago, I ran into a few very well respected trainers that were leaving the arena after a 'run' and they immediately rode back out to the practice area, rode their horses hard, rested them a good while our there, dismounted out there and led them back to the stable area.

    A little light-bulb went off in my head and I thought -- "This makes much more sense from the horse's perspective than riding back to the stall area and getting off." You know what? It has worked wonderfully for about 40 years. It is what I have taught students for 40 years. During this time, you know how many have had problems with arena sour horses? NONE! The proof is in the performance results.

    So, how many people have made performance ready horses in any venue with a clicker and a treat type of reward? I'm listening. I've never seen one, but I guess there is the exception somewhere. All of the so-called 'studies' that I have read about using clickers, treats and rewards as positive reinforcement involved eliciting mostly useless actions on the ground. They would come closer to being useful for tricks and other actions than high level performance of any kind.

    I think this is a very useful discussion. It goes to the heart of how to get a horse to do what we, as riders, want them to do. I know some people only want pets and horses to 'play' with, but the vast majority of the people that come here with problems, want a good, obedient and safe horse to ride. So yes, I think this is a very useful discussion.
         

    Tags
    horse training, how to train horses, positive reinforcement

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