Food/Treat Aggression/Pushiness - Page 6 - The Horse Forum
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post #51 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Cedar & Salty View Post
the first thing a professional trainer told my daughter to do when she was struggling with respect issues with her horse was to stop hand feeding treats. The second was to leave him tacked and tied for 30 minutes after every ride.
I don't believe that just because 'a trainer' said this, that means it must be right.

& BTW, I'm just reading through the thread, replying to each as I'm reading... about a subject I'm passionate about. I realise I've replied to a few of yours in a row C&S - I am not doing this to 'pick on' you specifically or anything... just that your posts have given me... fuel to fire the discussion.
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post #52 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SueC View Post
People are commonly saying, "Training a donkey is so different to training a horse!" For me it wasn't in the slightest - the approach I use with horses is perfectly acceptable to donkeys. And dogs. And humans. Once, in a conversation with a high school principal, about a particular class of rumbunctious middle schoolers I was taking, and taming (I really don't like bad manners and inconsiderate behaviour), I remarked, in the middle of a pleasant conversation, "It's just like training horses, really!" and she was soooo shocked at me! " Sue, children aren't animals!"
YES! Absolutely! We may all have our own motivators, preferences, ways of thinking, but we all - from lizards to humans, learn in essentially the same manner. And I've also been given horrified looks at saying something like 'kids are like training dogs' or such, and I've also had people who couldn't see who I was speaking to, thinking I was talking to a young child when I spoke to my dogs, or vice versa!
[QUOTE]
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post #53 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
I don't believe that just because 'a trainer' said this, that means it must be right.
@loosie , further to that, here's the funny thing: If I'd listened to a fair proportion of professional trainers, I'd not have gotten half as far with my horses as doing what works in their particular case. From the time I was nine, I was working with horses professional trainers had given up on. It's how my birth family got their first horse cheap. Those sorts of horses - and my family had more like that later, such as Romeo, who was handled with extraordinary incompetence by highly respected professional trainers who had bought him for megabucks because he was so blue-blooded, and ended up at a dog auction at age 3, and yet with us, he was a wonderfully amenable, cooperative horse - those sorts of horses are often the horses that teach you what the professional trainers hadn't learnt, if you actually listen to what they have to say. They're often the highly strung, or the traumatised, or the "No, you can't mess with me just because you're human and I don't care how much you hurt me, I'm not giving in!" type horses. Learn to deal with them, and you're on your way to real horsepersonship (I need a better word!).

And yes, there are also some wonderful professional trainers - but like with any profession, you get the good, the bad and the ugly. Appeal to authority or position means nothing to me. I want to see how people are with their horses, and to judge them on their true merits, not their extraneous things, like ribbons or their bank account from training or the gold plate on their door or the amount of genuflecting people do around them.
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post #54 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
I was, again, just wondering how contradictory and hypocritical is sounds to fix food aggression/pushiness through correction, but take the "easy way out" in treat aggression/pushiness by simply not feeding treats - ever.
Ah yes, I agree that's contradictory & hypocritical.
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post #55 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Knave View Post
I was, not offended, but something milder than that about @loosie saying ranch horses have no positive reward.
Pardon if it came across like that. That's not what I meant. I thought I said IF ranch(or other) horses weren't given any positive reinforcement, IF they were therefore trained solely with -R/+P. And in case this was taken wrongly too, I also wasn't saying they're all 'shut down', but that an awful lot of horses I see that are trained WITHOUT any +R are.

And if I didn't put those things well, I better also clarify that I wasn't assuming Cedar & Salty's ranch horses were 'shut down' either.
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post #56 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Knave View Post
I do catch horses while they are eating sometimes, and give them oats, but Iíve never had one mind when I caught them. Cash paws before he gets his oats, but I ignore it. I donít really care because heís not bothering me, even if heís being dramatic.

I donít give him treats often, although Iíll give him an apple core at lunch. Heís the type that it probably would become an issue with, closer to that aggressive mentality, so I donít see a reason to create an issue. So, in response to the question ďwhy not deal with the aggression rather than not feed treats?Ē I just figure heís learning enough right now about respect and training that I donít want another issue to deal with until heís a bit more gentle. When I figure he wonít have an issue Iíll probably give him treats more than just the lunchtime apple core. Why set him up for failure?

Bones though, for example, I gave treats right off the start, but he doesnít have any aggressive tendency towards people. Most donít.
That's a typical example of picking your battles and addressing them in order of priority - and also an excellent illustration of horse training not being a one-size-fits-all thing, but a very individual thing. You have to tailor what you do to your particular situation and horse. There is no list of steps in existence that you can follow slavishly to produce a good horse every time. I have no time for dogma, or for "gurus"... And the horsepeople I respect the most are not the ones with the high profiles, but the ordinary unsung ones doing better jobs than the well-publicised ones.
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post #57 of 85 Old 04-20-2019, 10:03 AM
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"Admire the horse for the good things he does and just kinda ignore the wrong things. First thing you know, the good things will get better and the bad things will get less." - Ray Hunt

I keep my horses for years. How I treat a horse (treat, not "treats") I've known for a long time, or will know for a long time, is very different from how I treat a strange horse. Professional trainers work with tons of strange horses. And if one trainer tells you it will take them 6 months to correct X, and another trainer says he can do it in a week, which do you hire? So professional trainers tend to learn and use techniques that work good enough & fast.

I'm no pro, and I'm in no hurry. I don't have two weeks. I've got YEARS. I find many professional trainers, in writing and on YouTube, use techniques high in dominance and low on genuine relationship. If my income relied on being able to handle X in a week, I'd do the same thing!

My horses live in a corral. There is no way I'm going to stand guard over a food bucket, refusing to let them approach, to show them I'm dominant. Feeding would take too long. If a horse charged the bucket, I would. That has never happened to me, maybe because food aggression issues are a symptom of a bad relationship, not the cause.

Ranch horses. I don't live on a ranch. I sometimes visit a friend's sheep ranch. Pushing the sheep up into the mountains, the horses put in a 30-35 mile day getting them part way. The next morning, before sunrise, the horse I was assigned was already interested in the coming day. After mounting, we did big figure 8s to burn off his energy. Once the sheep started moving, he settled.

Mid-afternoon, we stopped where the allotment started. The sheep started grazing. My wife was enjoying the day.


About an hour later, I took this picture:


The horse seemed kind of focused but I didn't think much about it until my wife, a few minutes later, asked if some of the herd was drifting off over a ridge - which was exactly where the horse was looking! One of the professional herders looked that way, looked at the horse, said something in Spanish, then ran and jumped on the horse. As soon as his rump hit the saddle, the horse was off after the sheep! Didn't need direction or urging. The horse KNEW what was needed. He was just waiting for a human (and dog) to join in.

Or so it seemed to me. Sure looked like he knew his job at least as well as the herders. Like Mia and now Bandit on the trail, it seemed he already had decided what needed to be done and was waiting for the fool human to catch up.
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post #58 of 85 Old 04-20-2019, 10:17 AM
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For positive reinforcement, this passage from 1868 continues to challenge me:

Quote:
..There is another thing to be considered with regard to the horse's character - it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp, which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal...

..Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored; they like amusement, variety, and society: give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals. It is evident that all these things must be taken into account and receive due attention, whether it be our object to prevent or to get rid of some bad habit a horse may have acquired; and a little reflection will generally suffice to point out the means of remedying something that, if left to itself, would grow into a confirmed habit, or if attacked with the energy of folly and violence, would suddenly culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness... - On Seats and Saddles, by Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars in the Imperial Austrian Service (1868)
Positive reinforcement isn't confined to food or treats. A horse who feels like a valued part of the team, who is allowed to use some degree of initiative in achieving a goal, finds a satisfaction that goes much deeper than a nibble of food. I won't pretend it is easy, and I certainly won't pretend I succeed much of the time, but "a little reflection will generally suffice to point out the means of remedying something that...if attacked with the energy of folly and violence, would suddenly culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness..."

A horse who sees value in being ridden will not be hard to mount. You won't have to punish him for moving at the mounting block. We teach new riders that total submission is the sign of a good rider on a good horse, then wonder why horses don't want us to get on them...or find "reward" when we get off!

"...the grand catastrophe of restiveness..." Would that all riders felt the same way!
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post #59 of 85 Old 04-20-2019, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
A horse who sees value in being ridden will not be hard to mount. You won't have to punish him for moving at the mounting block.
I'm not sure about this. It sounds like a vague, blanket statement.

Do you mean at first (like teaching a little three/four year old) or later in their life after they know how to stand?

Of course, I do think some horses enjoy being with us, having a job, or getting ridden, but I don't think just because a horse lets you do (x), that means they "enjoy" it or "see value" in it.

What's the training behind it?

A lot of horses that don't get a "choice" tend to feel forced give-up / give-in.

A horse that gets beaten if they move from the mounting block will eventually "submit", learn to stand, and "not be hard to mount", but I don't think that the horse "sees value" in you riding.

At what point in their life/training are you making that statement?

Some young/green horses do stand somewhat automatically at the mounting block without much human help, but others need to be trained to do so. If at any point they need to be "corrected" from moving at the mounting block, does that mean they "see no value in you riding" or simply because they are green/young?

Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-20-2019 at 10:44 AM.
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post #60 of 85 Old 04-20-2019, 11:01 AM
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I don't think submission means a horse enjoys it or sees value in it. But a horse who sees value will cooperate because he wants to. The never-ending challenge is in trying to convince the horse we humans add value.

My point was that a horse who needs to be punished to stand next to a mounting block is a horse who isn't very interested in you getting on his back! And there is no one way to approach that sort of training. "Do no harm" is a good start. If it hurts the horse when you climb aboard - which is how a lot of videos of mounting look to me - then of course the horse won't be too happy. But if the horse sees you as an enabler, then you won't have a problem with mouthing. Horses aren't that stupid. If they want you on their back, they will make it easy to get there.

And if riding means doing endless circles in an arena, with the rider dominating the horse and trying to control the horse's every movement (body control!)...then yeah, who is to blame the horse for not wanting to be ridden. Our BLM mustang was a school horse for a few years. To this day he panics if you try to start riding him in circles in an arena. But on a trail, he's utterly sensible.

In the late 1950s, Moyra Williams tried to teach her horses to be ridden, not just bitless, but reinless - while jumping, while fox hunting, and while riding around Oxfordshire England. She wrote:
Quote:
I was treating Nona as a slave and plaything; a piece of putty to be molded to my will, an automaton which would only move at my command. It was not till I met Portia that this attitude began to change. From Portia I discovered the limitations of this outlook. I discovered how cramping is the desire to dominate, how many of the horse's own abilities are overlooked if man replaces by his own judgments the inborn intuition of the animal....

When I gave up trying to control Portia and tried instead to find out what she was, both she and life took on a different complexion. Here in my very back garden and under my own hand was the novelty and thrill I had missed while traveling over five continents. Here was the adventure, knowledge and inspiration which some people seek in outer space, others in the unexplored centre of the earth's surface. Here, in front of my eyes as soon as I opened them to it, was excitement enough for a lifetime...

...Ridden by neck-aids, the horse is a free individual. It cannot be forced. It can not be controlled, but it can and does have to be guided. It has to have everything explained to it, and its cooperation has then to be won over. If it is asked to do anything absurd, it will merely say, "This fool rider does not know what he is talking about," and go its own way. It is hopeless to try riding by neck-aids until one has learnt the horse's language...

...As soon as a person is prepared to follow his horse, his seat will come automatically. His only problem then is the eternal one of the educationalist and the politician - that of getting what he wants out of his subject. This is an art, not a technique; it is a skill, not a science. When to give in, when to press forward; when to exert authority and when to withdraw it - these are moments whose recognition cannot be taught by rule of thumb. They can only be recognized by the sympathetic - by the person who is not entirely engrossed in his own welfare.
If one focuses on willing cooperation rather than obedience, riding and training get much tougher. I'm 61. I'll probably never buy another horse. What I do with my own horse is pretty pathetic by many peoples' standards. That is OK by me. I don't have a ranch. I cannot give them a real job. Too often, my horse "will merely say, "This fool rider does not know what he is talking about," and go its own way." And that is with a bit! But then, I don't like using the bit very much. As Moyra Williams put it: "It is too easy to transform a request into a command. It is too easy for Man to be supreme." Yet the never-ending challenge of trying to get my horse to WANT what I want - "the eternal [challenge] of the educationalist and the politician" -is the only reason I have for riding. Without it, I'd sell my three and spend more time traveling while retired.
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