Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
"CT uses a sound to mark the correct behavior. That's what is so great about it."
And ending the squeeze with my calves tells my horse I'm happy with her new gait. And I can do that 50 times in an hour, and each time the reward comes at the same time the click would be made, but it is the actual reward and not just the promise of one an hour later.
Or in Cherie's example of lead changes, which is way outside the scope of anything I'm trying, the reward is to relax and enjoy the new motion without the rider fussing. That is a positive. My horses seem to enjoy trotting and cantering, provided I balance and move with them.
And in the case of Mia, learning to face scary things and look to the rider, giving a treat wouldn't work. No treat can overcome her fear. But using 'pain' to hold her until the scary thing goes away and she realizes I knew it was not worth being scared over - that not only works, but it offers a built in positive (relaxation). And FWIW, I don't think keeping my legs firm around her shoulders causes her actual pain, nor does a pop of the bit that lasts 1/4 second and barely involves any movement of the bit in her mouth.
So what is the point? Why do we need to "evolve"? Why is what we do now something we need to get away from? What we normally do now makes sense to me and to my horses. It seems to me there are two flaws in the OP's argument: 1) We are not being mean to our horses right now, and 2) what we do already involves positives because horses enjoy things like going fast, or feeling balanced and strong.
... Energy is an admirable thing, but the energy of stupidity seldom avails much..." - On Seats and Saddles (1868), Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars (light cavalry)