Originally Posted by NeverDullRanch View Post
Clicker training is based on "operant conditioning." Simplified, that's "ignore the bad; reward the good." Personally, I'm a big fan of clicker training, but you don't need to indulge in it to practice operant conditioning. When the horse is rewarded only for giving you the right answer, over time it will look for ways to earn positive reinforcement for positive behavior. You have to avoid the urge to treat the horse during every interaction you have with it, and you should try to set up situations where the horse can earn a reward easily. It doesn't have to be a treat. There is a local trainer whose motto is, "What you release is what you teach." Taking OFF pressure when the horse responds to a command is as effective a reward as a pat, a "good boy," or a cookie. Read one of Alexandra Kurland's books to get a feel for this systematic training method. Positive reinforcement has been proven to be the most effective style of teaching, whether it is animals or people.
This is up
I believe you have made a mistake. +R is positively rewarding a desired behavior, which you are correct about. However, if you are taking off pressure (and therefore giving release), you are using -R, not +R.... For -R is the removal of undesired stimulus to help reinforce a desired behavior.
+R and -R are both used to reinforcement a desired behavior, but they are very different and should be careful as to not confuse the two.
I am a fan of +R; I use it all the time; it works. However, I don't use it as my "foundation." That's not really how horses work (through good deeds by bribery (in their eyes)). Horses, again, do do well with +R, but horses usually communicate by -R or +P. Although, I do think that some humans can tend to go a little overboard with the -R and +P, but you can't simply "ignore" a horse coming charging at you, ears back, and teeth bared, for example, and say, "pls no. bad horse. no cookie for u."
Using "If you do good, I'll give you a cookie" all the time is, essentially, bribery - not a "reward", although it can and does reinforce.
It can work for some things, for some horses, for some people, but not all - and not usually in the long run. It depends on the horse, the person, and the situation.