He Feels the Need to Dominate All the Time? - Page 6 - The Horse Forum
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post #51 of 55 Old 07-19-2013, 06:30 PM
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That's the beauty of Skinnerian conditioning as a model for behaviour. The interpretation, the "why," doesn't matter so much That kind of reductionist thinking has it's limitations, of course, but when training animals, I usually find it more useful to look as objectively as I can at the variables that cause increase or decrease of behaviour. It also removes potentially inaccurate and useless negative associations from the equation, I.e. Saying a horse is "lazy." Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but if you think of your horse as being lazy and needing a better work ethic, you end up approaching the horse with a more antagonistic disposition. If you think of your horse as not being well enough conditioned to move quickly off the leg aid (many are not) and he needs to learn this behaviour, you can think of this as a teaching problem and be less emotionally invested in the whole "Lazy sod. I'll show him" convictions you see at many barns.

Engaging in equine psychoanalysis, on the other hand, has far more pitfalls and is far more reflective of the person doing the analysing than perhaps the horse.
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post #52 of 55 Old 07-19-2013, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by PunksTank View Post
Thanks, that reminds me of a great point - food rewards are often looked down on in the horse community, because it's such a strong reinforcer. Anything a horse was doing when it got the food, it's going to do bigger and better next time. The trouble comes when people feed them at the wrong time - when they're invading your space or being rude. Then next time they're even more rude or invasive. While if you provide a food reward when they're doing something you want to see more of the horse will repeat that action.
I like the way you think. Just started on "Don't Shoot The Dog" here and am finding it fascinating! Likewise agree that food rewards are a powerfully positive reinforcer -- IF a person is disciplined enough to use them. That line is so fine..but if you could ride it!
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post #53 of 55 Old 07-19-2013, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by thesilverspear View Post
That's the beauty of Skinnerian conditioning as a model for behaviour. The interpretation, the "why," doesn't matter so much That kind of reductionist thinking has it's limitations, of course, but when training animals, I usually find it more useful to look as objectively as I can at the variables that cause increase or decrease of behaviour. It also removes potentially inaccurate and useless negative associations from the equation, I.e. Saying a horse is "lazy." Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but if you think of your horse as being lazy and needing a better work ethic, you end up approaching the horse with a more antagonistic disposition. If you think of your horse as not being well enough conditioned to move quickly off the leg aid (many are not) and he needs to learn this behaviour, you can think of this as a teaching problem and be less emotionally invested in the whole "Lazy sod. I'll show him" convictions you see at many barns.

Engaging in equine psychoanalysis, on the other hand, has far more pitfalls and is far more reflective of the person doing the analysing than perhaps the horse.
Exactly!! Thank you for wording it so well, I'm not very good at turning my thoughts into words. :P
I would love your insight over on the clicker training thread, another person who knows alot about behavior science and the science of learning wrote all about these sorts of things, you could probably add a lot too. If you have the time, this is the thread: Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted
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post #54 of 55 Old 07-19-2013, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ian McDonald View Post
I like the way you think. Just started on "Don't Shoot The Dog" here and am finding it fascinating! Likewise agree that food rewards are a powerfully positive reinforcer -- IF a person is disciplined enough to use them. That line is so fine..but if you could ride it!
Absolutely, it's a very fine line - I use clicker training with my horses, all my horses are taught they don't get anything by being rude. I just started with a project with just my mare, I put a target in her stall and she only gets her meals when she's touching her target- she's had it 3 days now, and when she hears the grain bin open she's got her nose quietly on her target and feet on the floor waiting eagerly!
It's funny - I work at a professional jumping barn and each of their horses have a terrible habit they developed at feeding time. Each of those habits reinforced more and more with each feeding. Several of them paw, most just yell and holler, several bite or kick the walls connecting to their neighbors, one pees, and one grinds his teeth up and down on the bars. I was amazed when I saw this and that nothing was done about it and that people continued to so strongly reinforce these dangerous and terrible habits. My horses bad habits all stopped when I gave them something constructive to do for their food, when they knew clearly what it was they needed to do to get their food.


I'm sorry I didn't mean to hijack this thread into a new topic, I think the OP has a lot of options on how to deal with this situation, I'm eager to hear how the horse does with however they opt to train them.
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post #55 of 55 Old 07-20-2013, 12:00 AM
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I've used both punishment and food reward for this kind of issue. When I am anywhere in the vacinity and one of them "bosses" another, I do what Muppetgorl and others have described.

This morning I threw a feed pan at my gelding because he was pushing another horse while I was there. It really surprised him and the look on his face was priceless!

When we ride, we like to ride side by side on old logging roads. I was anoid by having to urge the horses forward or hold them back. My horses just did not like to ride side by side! They didn't pin ears or kick because they knew they would get the wrath, but they were not helping either. That's when I started looking for those moments when both were traveling side by side, ears forward, relaxed and compliant. Then I clicked and treated both. It worked well! I waited longer and longer to reward, then even started looking for when they were stepping in time to each other.

All my horses now travel side by side willingly. I don't CT for it anymore, it's just expected. We can also stop close together and share a shot (or two)of whiskey and my formerly snarky horses touch shoulders and hips while we sip.
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