Great post Ivy! Some good examples to keep in mind. I think the behavioural explanation is pretty clear too, if you think of positive & negative as plus & minus...
Positive reinforcement (+R, reward) = Addition
of something desirable
in order to strengthen a behaviour
Negative reinforcement (-R, removal of pressure) = Taking away
in order to strengthen a behaviour
Now for a can of worms...
I believe that simple praise is a very motivating reward. I don't like to use treats to get the reaction that you want because a horse can become just like a dog in their reaction to too many treats. They will do the action you ask and then immediately come looking for a treat. They will eventually notice when you have no treats and then they will not want to do the action unless you go get a treat.
Praise is not innately a reward for a horse. It is innately meaningless & not desirable. It can however, become associated
with reinforcement and therefore gain meaning. If a horse has learned that praise is often paired with reward or removal of pressure, it can be motivating, but not of itself.
I agree that using treats(or any positive reinforcement) with horses works in the same manner as it works with dogs & other animals, human included. But it is the way you teach them, being conscious of what
you're teaching them, not what you use to reinforce it that governs the behaviour & reliability you get. You can be a good or bad trainer with whatever tools you choose.
Horses are herd animals and as such, they naturally want to please the herd leader. Most of the time, that leader is us. After they complete the desired action, a kind word or a scratch on the neck
I think talking of 'desire to please' is a little off topic. I think it's pretty clear that people are not
generally seen as a herd leader, despite our desire to be so. If they were there would be precious few problems. Also we're talking about teaching
the horse. They can have all the desire in the world & still need instant reinforcement in order to learn what we're wanting.
Back to what
you use, so long as it's truely(not just what we think should be) desirable to the horse, it can be an effective positive reinforcement. People often get hung up on the question of food treats when discussing 'reward'. This is just one of many +Rs, including a scratch on the neck, which may be used to reward.
Originally Posted by WesternPleasure27 See, but I say "pressure, release"
The release is the reward.
When this phrase is said, that's what it means. It's a phrase to indicate simply pressure and release, and the release is the reward for the horse showing the horse that it has done the correct thing. [/quote]
Actually, that's exactly wrong,
as we're discussing actual meanings of terms, not just some people's perception of them. That's the whole point of the discussion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using pressure & release(negative reinforcement) and it is a great way to teach horses. But it is not
This is just another example of people taking a simple one meaning phrase and trying to complicate it. Adding reward to the equation is changing the phrase thus taking away it's meaning.
I don't understand this paragraph. What one meaning phrase? I don't see how differentiating between positive & negative reinforcement is complicating anything - seems to me simplifying it. Lumping reward in the same boat as pressure/release seems to be the complication & leads to it's loss of meaning.