Yeah, coming from a behavioural psych background...
Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
Rather than using "work" as a punishment, "work" is just the thing we do and may be fun on its own, and resting is the reward for doing something particularly special.
I'm using 'punishment' here to mean something unpleasant that is done *at the time of* an undesirable behaviour in order to weaken it. So, when you use 'work' to 'make the wrong thing hard' punishment is precisely what it must be - no point in trying to punish a horse with something he loves doing. And there is no reinforcement to be had from 'resting' from something if he loves it either.
And 'rest' or cessation of 'pressure' is NOT the same as reward/positive reinforcement. Rest/pressure release is an eg. of 'Negative reinforcement' - removing something unpleasant in order to strengthen a behaviour. It is indeed a valuable tactic, but not the same. Many see this just as semantics, but I do believe there is a very different attitudinal outcome if you use actual rewards(something the horse desires) as opposed to just removing the unpleasantness, as reinforcement.
Like a job for us is not meant to be a punishment, just something we do,
Yes, it's not strictly punishment in the sense that it is 'applied' for the purpose
of weakening a behaviour. And certain people in certain jobs actively enjoy their 'work'. But there's a reason 'work' & 'play' aren't interchangeable words. We don't generally work just because we enjoy it, we work because a)we're paid for our work, b)we need to work to survive and c)it is drummed into us morally as something we 'should' do. Horses don't 'do' any of that, except partly the first one, if someone uses positive reinforcement(reward) well.
Even then, it only works on rest-motivated horses. It does not work on my horse whatsoever. She loves to work. She will happily stand still if asked, but will not do it of her own accord and will not see it as a reward.
Yep, whether we're talking reward, punishment, negative reinforcement... it's all so individual to the particular horse & situation. And rest/negative reinforcement, and working as punishment works for most horses, because they DON'T like 'work', no one's taught them to enjoy it.