Corrections or Punishment: What’s the Difference? - Page 2
 
 

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Corrections or Punishment: What’s the Difference?

This is a discussion on Corrections or Punishment: What’s the Difference? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Punishments for your horse
  • Withholding food as punishment for horses

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    07-21-2013, 08:19 PM
  #11
Foal
As the other fabulous posts have noted- punishment results in the reduced performance of a behaviour and reinforcement (reward) results in the increased performance of a behaviour. This is not just true of horses, its true of any species that learn new behaviour, including humans.

Irrespective of the label (correction, punishment) if the stimulus causes the horse to stop performing the behaviour then that stimulus has punished that behaviour.

The scientific evidence to date suggests that we have no more than 3 seconds and possibly less to punish an unwanted behaviour. This is because for the horse to know what behaviour caused the bad outcome (the punishment) the bad outcome has to follow during or immediately afterwards. Otherwise the horse might do something else and then get the bad outcome. It will think that the something else caused the bad outcome, not the behaviour you actually want it to stop doing. This is known as the Law of Effect (Watson, 1919). Punishment only tells the horse what not to do, it doesn't help the horse do anything else instead. That is one of the biggest limitations with punishment.

As others have noted, "punishments" such as tying the horse up for hours after unsaddling it after it bucked you off, endless laps of a round pen, withholding food after a trail ride etc etc, will not be effective at reducing the unwanted behaviour. They fail the 3 second test. They may seem to make the horse more pliable because its tired, hungry, thirsty etc but it won't have learned anything useful.

All the scientific evidence to date suggests that horses cannot reason and that they don't have any insight into their behaviour or ours. When we 'punish' a horse for doing the 'wrong thing' we are assuming they are much smarter than they are and that they are moral beings with a knowledge of right and wrong. This is unfair to them and reduces our effectiveness as trainers because it blames the horse.

Thinking of horse behaviour in terms of whether it has been reinforced (repeated) or punished (reduced) can give us a great deal of clarity in analysing training success and failures. Its also much simpler than getting anxious about whether you are punishing or correcting your horse.

All the horse wants to work out is how to get good outcomes and avoid bad ones. As long as we and our horse are in agreement about what constitutes a good and a bad outcome for them, training should become easier for us and much fairer for them.
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    07-21-2013, 10:05 PM
  #12
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by corymbia    
As the other fabulous posts have noted- punishment results in the reduced performance of a behaviour and reinforcement (reward) results in the increased performance of a behaviour. This is not just true of horses, its true of any species that learn new behaviour, including humans.

Irrespective of the label (correction, punishment) if the stimulus causes the horse to stop performing the behaviour then that stimulus has punished that behaviour.

The scientific evidence to date suggests that we have no more than 3 seconds and possibly less to punish an unwanted behaviour. This is because for the horse to know what behaviour caused the bad outcome (the punishment) the bad outcome has to follow during or immediately afterwards. Otherwise the horse might do something else and then get the bad outcome. It will think that the something else caused the bad outcome, not the behaviour you actually want it to stop doing. This is known as the Law of Effect (Watson, 1919). Punishment only tells the horse what not to do, it doesn't help the horse do anything else instead. That is one of the biggest limitations with punishment.

As others have noted, "punishments" such as tying the horse up for hours after unsaddling it after it bucked you off, endless laps of a round pen, withholding food after a trail ride etc etc, will not be effective at reducing the unwanted behaviour. They fail the 3 second test. They may seem to make the horse more pliable because its tired, hungry, thirsty etc but it won't have learned anything useful.

All the scientific evidence to date suggests that horses cannot reason and that they don't have any insight into their behaviour or ours. When we 'punish' a horse for doing the 'wrong thing' we are assuming they are much smarter than they are and that they are moral beings with a knowledge of right and wrong. This is unfair to them and reduces our effectiveness as trainers because it blames the horse.

Thinking of horse behaviour in terms of whether it has been reinforced (repeated) or punished (reduced) can give us a great deal of clarity in analysing training success and failures. Its also much simpler than getting anxious about whether you are punishing or correcting your horse.

All the horse wants to work out is how to get good outcomes and avoid bad ones. As long as we and our horse are in agreement about what constitutes a good and a bad outcome for them, training should become easier for us and much fairer for them.
Great post the stuff I bolded are the thing I was totally agree with right on the nose.

PunksTank: You are right about the training steps with dealing with the cinchy horse example, I know my post was going to be long so I just stuck with the main point of punishment and correction and left out the training steps I just sumed it up with "as I am working with this horse" . But thank you for filling in my "blanks".
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    07-22-2013, 12:00 PM
  #13
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat    
Even if it is carried out with no emotion, done with skill, etc - it is still a form of punishment. Correction is a form of punishment no matter how you try to sugarcoat it.

However not all forms of punishment are effective in correcting behavior. It must be immediately after the behavior and done consistently - the same rules as positive and negative reinforcement.

What effective training always comes down to is timing, consistency, the reinforcement/punishment fits the behavior, consistency, oh - and did I mention timing? I've seen people mess up all forms of reinforcement and punishments by being off on timing.
I think this is why inanimate objects will always be better trainers than humans. If you think in the case of an electric fence - most horses touch it once and know better, some need to try out other spots on the fence line, but they all learn immediately not to touch it.
Or automatic waterers, it doesn't take long for a thristy horse to work out that pushing the little lever the water comes out.
The difference is the tools respond immediately to the stimulus, without thought or hesitation.

I find kids also make the best little horse trainers, I use Clicker Training at our rescue, it's fairly simple to get the gist of how to use it. All you need is good timing and an understanding that when the horse hears the "click" he's going to repeat whatever he was just doing to get more "clicks". So they need to be sure that they click at just the right time. The adults who come to learn (myself included when I first started learning about it), we get overburdened with the "hows" and "whys" we study the science and overthink every gesture and movement the horse is making. "well he backed up, but his head is really high, should I click? Ya I'll click" - well it's too late now! I find myself going through that scenario all too often. But the kids don't read into it! They just wait for the right behavior and mark it immediately! They each have their own pony project or two, some are big horses learning about riding, others are pony's doing unmounted agility and the kids have those ponies rocking! Us adults get so stuck on the science :P

This is a little video of one of the kids working with her pony, this pony came to our rescue feral and uncatchable. We left a short rope attached to be able to turn her in and out. This little girl got this pony following her around, learning obstacles, they do little jump courses and weaving cones (even with really crazy looking obstacles sometimes!). This video just shows her working on targeting work, working on trotting and backing up and spinning a little. Kids just give the response the horse needs, without overthinking it.
     

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