I think some misread my trainers approach. I dont think the trainer's method is out of line at all. In fact, several trainers and videos have backed her up. You go slow, let him throw his fit, bring him back, try again,
Yes, that's about the idea I got from what you wrote to start with, though maybe you made it sound a bit more abrupt than it was. And of course, I'm not there, I can't know, just from your words, the details of the horse's behaviour and specifics & timing of your trainer's responses.
OK, if you are experienced - and successful - at training like this, then you may have good reason to believe the trainer's method is not 'out of line'. I personally have different experience. Just because other people also advocate something, it is no reason to believe it's Good or Right though. You'll find 'several' at least people who advocate all manner of things. Many 'gurus' advocate using aggressive roundpenning for eg. Many people still 'break' horses... many people apparently still think the world is flat... etc.
As said, I think it's very important to be going slow enough to *avoid* pushing him to that point of 'practicing' his fear/reaction. Every single time you allow him to panic/react, bearing in mind immediate associations, especially if you then quit doing anything(allow him to have his 'dance'), you are a) giving him more 'practice' at this being a frightening event and b)his reacting works to get you to quit.
Basically put, if you are working to avoid causing fear/panic, but it happens, then you do what you can to minimise & reassure/calm the horse ASAP. BUT if there is no/little fear involved, and the horse *responds* to something with an explosion, in order to make you stop, then you keep pressure on(so long as it's safe to do so - your safety comes ahead of training) until the horse quits, to ensure the horse doesn't come to associate his behaviour with you quitting doing something he doesn't want you to.
And he doesnt have panic attacks anymore like he did when she first started working with him. He gets the slightest bit worked up but I dont see him really panicking. Sometimes now, I wonder if he is just continuing a habit.
Yeah, but is 'not having panic attacks' because of, or despite doing what you're doing? And is he truly comfortable & confident with what you're doing? I don't believe so, if he's still antsy. And yes, as this has become a 'trained' thing, that he's now had LOTS of practice at, it will have ALSO become habitual. Doing the same thing over & over does tend to make for 'habits'.
I stopped giving him as many treats through out the process because I felt he was more acting up at that point to get a treat after I brought him back to try again. So he gets reassurance and a steady hand in the process and treats after.
Yeah, remember horses learn from *instant* associations, so if you're giving him treats - or whatever positive(reward) or negative(removal of 'pressure') reinforcement - while he's reacting, then THAT(& the attitude/emotion) is what is being reinforced. So it's not about how many
treats, releases of pressure, or whatever you do, but what behaviour/emotion is happening at the time
you give them. And likewise, if he now only gets reinforcement/reward after the event, then whatever he is doing/feeling THEN is what you're rewarding. It will have no bearing on what happened previously, even many seconds previously.
Maybe there isnt much more I can do besides give it time. I was just hoping someone had a tip I hadnt tried.
There absolutely is 'more that you can do' and if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got! Hopefully you will think about doing things differently, as it seems you haven't tried that. Hope my explanations help!