Disciplining horses vs. other animals? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Mme Yersinia View Post
So here's my issue. Growing up with dogs, I learned pretty quickly to rely on P+ training. There's not a lot of “no” and not a lot of physical correction. This is for a few reasons: one, the research supporting “dominance” training and Caeser's Way and all that nonsense is total bunk with dogs. Not real. Dogs don't really think in terms of an “alpha” so relying on your dominance over the dog is unreliable at best. Secondly, in pretty much all my experience with dogs, I found that if you hit a dog when it's being aggressive (i.e. biting) you are just going to get bit worse. This goes doubly true for cats.
Horses don't really think in terms of "alpha" either, or you might say horses have different roles within a herd but these are not static roles so we can't rely on them either. One horse might end up always being the reliable one to lead away from danger. But that horse, supposedly an "alpha" according to many people might never try to challenge a person when being handled or ridden. Yet another horse that is "not an alpha" might challenge other horses or humans every day. Sometimes proving you are "alpha" to this horse will only make them keep on challenging, as they would with another horse. Scaring one horse might make them never repeat a behavior, but it might traumatize another horse to the point where it causes other serious issues.

So just like with dogs, how you handle them depends on many factors. First, what is the primary reason for their behavior: fear, anxiety, boredom, previous training, etc. Second, what is their personality and what will they respond to: ignoring the behavior, a reprimand (and how harsh it needs to be depends on the horse - some will shake or run away just at a raised voice, others will ignore a strong slap), or doing something else that distracts from the behavior.
In these ways, horses are like dogs, cats and other animals: each is an individual, no one method works for every horse, and past experiences play into how you should respond. Also like other animals, consistent fair and understanding treatment over time will shape good behaviors more than anything else.
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post #12 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 08:49 AM
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For a starters, one of the first things I was taught was, when tightening the girth or ciinch you took a hold of the far rein, you still had two hands to use but should the horse try to bite it was stopped by the rein. So very simple.

As for punishing any animal, I prefer to look on it as correction and that correction must fit the crime.

I am not a great believer in P+ as I find that it takes a dog way to long to learn what is wanted. I have yet to see a working dog in top flight competition that has been trained solely by P+

What I do know is that the person who sets the rules, insists they are followed and always plays fair, is the one that the animal looks to.
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Last edited by Foxhunter; 12-26-2016 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Darn auto correct!
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post #13 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 11:26 AM
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"the research supporting “dominance” training and Caeser's Way and all that nonsense is total bunk with dogs. Not real. Dogs don't really think in terms of an “alpha” so relying on your dominance over the dog is unreliable at best."

I absolutely disagree. As a vet tech, I utilize pieces of various training disciplines with both dogs and cats. With my horse, (knowing he's completely different, I cant utilize the exact same techniques.)
If I hadn't established my role as alpha, my four dogs would walk all over myself and everyone else! They know I'm the boss and when I screech, they better listen. One of my dogs is the 2nd alpha. She will push one of the others around to keep her in line. I didnt establish my role by hitting or beating my animals. I did it by being the one that places limitations on them. Just wanted to put that out there!
I see on a daily basis clients who wouldn't lift a finger to correct Fluffy's bad behavior. Let alone raise their voice to him. This is especially true with giant breeds (Great Danes, Mastiffs) and micro breeds (Chihuahua, teacups). And those are the ones needing it the most! Giant breeds drag the owners around without a care and the little dogs will bite anyone daring enough to poke their fingers at them.
I have had success calming fear biters, aggressive and even plain obnoxious dogs using Caesar Milan's methods. I'm the one the vet takes into the exam room when he has to examine the 90# pit mix that tried to eat him last time he was in. Ive established trust with him and he sits in my lap and is a sweetheart! He learned through me that the vet is someone he can trust and is no longer aggressive.
Animals feed off of the energy of those around them. If their owner is uptight, they know something is going on and will react. When I brought my horse home, he was nervous. As was I. I realized that I may be projecting my nervousness, took a deep breath and calmed myself. I spoke quietly to him, walked him around the area that he had spooked at and he calmed down.
You are right, however, if you attempt to physically hurt an aggressive animal, you will get torn up.
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post #14 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 01:23 PM
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First, decide why the horse might be trying to bite you, and perhaps change the way you tighten that cinch, giving him no pain related reason for his action
Correct,once, clearly, fairly and then next time give the hrose a chance to do the right thing
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post #15 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 03:53 PM
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The biggest differences between horses and dogs are

1. Size difference. Horses can and will hurt you really badly without ever intending to, in multiple ways. Unless a big dog knocks you down by accident, if you get injured by a dog they meant to do it (and they are very accurate with their teeth). One thing that means is that making a horse constantly respect your personal space is an imperative.

2. Social difference. For a dog, you are their pack leader, their safety, their world. For a horse, you just aren't. At best you are a trustworthy visitor, and when you are there, provide them with both leadership and entertainment.

3. Dogs are predators, and blind panic is something you see only in the utmost extremity. Horses have a mile-long list of things that make them panic and they are creative about adding to it. Because they are not out free in a limitless featureless plain where they evolved that quality, uncontrolled panic will get them or you hurt or killed. Quite a bit of horse training is about how to deal with this feature.

One of the several limitations of only-positive training is that you have no tools for making dangerous, completely unacceptable, behaviors go away immediately. To do that you need to use a very strong aversive, so strong that the impulse to behave that way is totally overridden by the memory of what happened next. The danger of this technique is that you can get unintended negative associations as well -- with the person who administered it, with the location or other random things which were in the picture when it happened. With dogs, there is only a short list of situations where these level of aversives should be administered -- car chasing, rattlesnakes, and the like. With horses, I see aversives being used more frequently with fewer side effects. This is probably partly because the relationship is different (see #2 above). There are also a lot more occasions for totally unacceptable behaviors (see #1). A negative response from you that would emotionally crush a less than half your size dog only makes a momentarily startling impression on a ten times your size horse.

The sensation of a tightening girth is unpleasant (it could even be painful or the precursor to a painful experience if the saddle pinches) and the horse hopes to make it go away by biting the person responsible for it. Quite straightforward! Like most things horses do. I believe that a combination of making the experience less unpleasant (doing up the girth gradually over time, making sure the saddle fits and there are no pinches anywhere), and making biting extremely unprofitable (not only did the girth stay on but I got whacked in the nose so hard my eyes watered) is going to be the most productive.

P+ works best on *creating* a behavior. It's a poor tool for trying to get something to just go away. Usually the best it can do is replace the behavior with an incompatible one (like for dogs, replacing jumping on people with sitting for a treat). It's hard to reward 'not biting' because that's what you want your horse to do 100% of the time -- it's the lack of a behavior. Even a human being fully capable of abstract thought, unlike a horse, would have a hard time guessing what they were being rewarded for.
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Last edited by Avna; 12-26-2016 at 03:59 PM.
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post #16 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 05:05 PM
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I am old. I was brought up knowing what anspank was, always on arms, legs or butt and believe me, it wasn't just a hand mark but fingerprints left by mother! I can only remember her slapping me once and that was when I was in my early twenties one Christmas. I do not recall the others because they were fair.

With dogs, my cousin had a very strong willed GSD bitch. One thing and another this dog became a fighter, didn't matter what size if she had a chance she would pitch in. My cousin was thrown out of training classes and went to three trainers privately, none were any better than a chocolate fire guard. After the dog had had yet another fight and my cousin was going to see of the Police would have her, I offered to take her on for a month.

Whenthat bitch went for my old GSD, the only dog she had never tried to fight, I was so mad. He had been in the sea and when I let her off leash she just jumped on him and held hos head under the waves. I had to wade in, drag them out. She was looking to see where he was to go in again. I had her front legs off the ground and I hit her with my hunting whip along her ribs. She was ignoring me and still looking for he other dog. I thought that I would wallop her until she hollered and then give her a couple more.

I was about to give her the last wallop when a man grabbed my arm pulling me off balance, I let her go. Turned to see who had grabbed me. He suddenly went as white as a sheet and when I looked both dogs were standing side by side, showing their teeth ready to protect me,

That bitch never had another fight even when she went back to my cousin. The only thing was that she was never my cousin's dog again, she worshipped me and given half a chance would come with me rather than her.

Fact is that it was an extreme measure, it was fair, she accepted it and it worked. No one will ever convince me that a dog needs to be P+ trained to give the handler its all.

The thing with any form of correction is that it is fair and done instantly every time it is necessary.
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post #17 of 42 Old 12-26-2016, 06:19 PM
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Horses are a prey/herd species, who have herds for mutual protection from predators
Dogs are predators, who have a pack order, to help bring down prey

Might not seem like a huge difference, but it is key

Horses seek a strong clear leader, and while there is individual herd order, that can have changing dynamics, as new horses enter that herd, as horses age ect, all that does not matter
The constant that remains, is that a horse w ill never bite or act aggressive towards a horse he has accepted as being alpha to him, and you must remain in that alpha position, regardless of how the rest of the herd dynamics changes
You do that in a clear, fair manner, without anger , and then always going back , acting like nothing happened.
Ever watch one horse get after another, establishing his position, and next thing you see, is them grazing side by side
Dogs are wolves, that came out of the wild, to be human companions, many eons ago, before man decided horses had another value besides a food source
Dogs will show their submissiveness by exposing their under belly, while horses give their trust to strong and clear leaders, who provide them with a sense of security by that very fact
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post #18 of 42 Old 12-27-2016, 04:03 AM
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I'm going to start with just responding to your original post, before reading further into the thread...

Originally Posted by Mme Yersinia View Post
My instructor sees all this and yells, “He bit you! Hit him!”
Did she mean you *should* have hit him when he did it, or that you were meant to hit him afterwards, when she told you? If the latter, that shows a poor understanding of the way horses learn & the importance of training.

Growing up with dogs, I learned pretty quickly to rely on P+ training. There's not a lot of “no” and not a lot of physical correction. This is for a few reasons: one, the research supporting “dominance” training and Caeser's Way and all that nonsense is total bunk
Taking it you mean +R(positive reinforcement) training. While of course all animals think a bit differently & are motivated by different things, I don't believe the basic principles of learning/teaching are different for different animals - except for some you can get away with more(or less, if it's a cat! ). I do personally believe that punishment does indeed have a place in training, but it's a small one and fraught with 'side effects'(like further aggression for eg), if not well applied/understood by the animal.

And I don't know about cat hierarchies & the likes, but 'dominance theory' and lineal hierarchy idea and 'alpha' stuff doesn't hold up well for horses at least, any more than for dogs & wolves. **That is not to say I don't believe it's important to be seen as the animal's leader - for safety, as well as convenience, we must be the one in control. But 'leadership' is not synonymous with 'dominance'.

When my instructor said “hit this horse that is biting you” all I could think was “that will just make it worse!” Hence the freezing.
Depends why he's doing it for a start. If he's doing something in fear or pain, it could well make matters worse. And depends how YOU do it. If you react instantly - preferably as the horse is going to bite - with a 'short, sharp shock', he will be much more likely to associate *his behaviour* with the bad consequence. If you do it after the event, or just give him a little flick that's not strong enough to motivate him to change, then that's not likely to be effectively understood. Just like with a dog.
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post #19 of 42 Old 12-27-2016, 08:07 AM
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Now I've read all, I agree with almost all of what people have said. When it comes down to a case of dangerous behaviour especially, I'm not at all afraid to use enough force to hurt, maybe significantly. **If it's not something accidentally, done in fear, such as a horse running through you in terror for eg. I don't think punishment is generally appropriate or effective in that sort of situation. **Also only if I can do it *instantly*.

While some 'weak'(as in not tried & tested, not very motivated) behaviours may be effectively punished with just a little tap, and I DO believe in using the least force necessary, Avna explained that punishment must be strong enough to cause the horse to seriously want to avoid a recurrence. That's the whole point. Otherwise it may just be nagging - irritate the horse without being effective(so often repeatedly). It can even be seen as a game or a challenge.

We need to consider the *motivation* for the behaviour, understand how the horse may see the 'aversive' & know what 'minimum force' is going to be effective. If you're only ever prepared to go as far as a little tap, then possibly best you avoid using punishment all together IMO.

Avna you also explain well I think, why +R(positive Reinforcement, not +P /positive Punishment ) can fall short if used exclusively. I do disagree with you though, that horses tend to need more aversives and they understand them better(fewer side effects). I feel that the way animals learn from *instant* associations, and their lack of 'reasoning', that punishment, even used well, is very easily associated with unintended stimuli for any animal - like fear of the punishER for eg. Even with humans, who (apparently) do reason/rationalise, we see this. Nervousness around police for eg.(discounting here people with good reason to be nervous!). This is one big reason I think punishment is best used judiciously & as seldomly as possible, and used as a sort of 'emergency measure' in conjunction with other methods, such as changing the motivation, teaching conflicting 'good' behaviours, etc.

Animals learn by association, but very often, there isn't just one thing - the Bad Behaviour that is going on/focussed on at the time. People need to realise that anything that's happening at the time will potentially be associated with the consequence. For eg. punishing biting when girthed may give the horse a bad taste about the whole saddling process. I don't think that necessarily means avoid punishment, but understand these other, unintentional associations.

Which is just the same regarding positive reinforcement & one of my pet niggles - people blaming hand feeding for horses getting nippy, seeing someone as a vending machine, only working for feed... whatever. Again, people need to realise that *anything* happening at the time can be associated - it's not the food treat, but *what the horse is doing* when you give it - regardless if he's done something fantastic, realise that if you don't want a 'rude' horse, NEVER reinforce/reward him when he's nosing your pocket for eg. & if you don't want him grumpy or disobedient when you don't offer a treat, don't bribe him & understand/use 'variable reinforcement schedules' - don't teach him to think of you as a reliable vending machine that is not worth looking at if it's run out!

Timing of consequences, be they Good or Bad is something I think there is still so much misunderstanding about. For eg. getting home & punishing a dog for something they've done when the owner was out, or bringing the horse back & working him for a 'misdemeanor' on the trail. Or conversely, 'rewarding' with a meal after getting home & off, for a good ride. Even when people understand that sort of thing is far too abstracted to be understood, they may not understand well enough the importance of *instant* feedback.

For eg 'the 3 second rule'. Behavioural studies done on dogs have shown that while a consequence(good or bad) *at the time of the behaviour* was best, that dogs were still *often* able to link cause and effect up to about 3 seconds apart. *The more time difference, even within those seconds, the more likelihood of lack of understanding. Similar studies done with horses showed their ability to associate cause and effect maxed out at about 1-2 seconds. In any animal, instant effects are the most easily understood, and abstracted by ANY time at all is more likely to be NOT understood. It is *possible* for a dog to understand if something happens *within* 3 seconds, not likely for horses given that long. That idea got *******ised even further by the 'Three Seconds Of Death' theory, that says you must Make Your Horse Think He's Going To Die for 3 seconds...

Originally Posted by lynabago View Post
If I hadn't established my role as alpha, my four dogs would walk all over myself and everyone else! They know I'm the boss ... I didnt establish my role by hitting or beating my animals. I did it by being the one that places limitations on them.
On the first count, I totally disagreed with you on that Lynabago, but then with those last 2 sentences above, and what you say in the rest of your post, I think I agree mostly(except about CM's methods being wonderful), just that perhaps it's our interpretation of 'alpha' & 'dominance' that may be different. As I said in the other post, we do absolutely need to establish control, set the rules. Be the Leader in our relationships with our animals. I just don't see 'dominance' or 'alpha'... domineering, as the same, or even necessary to leadership. And I too have worked with many & varied dogs - used to teach people how to train, deal with 'problem behaviour', and domineering, standover type tactics, IME, frequently cause aggression problems.

At the end of the day, animals will do what works & quit doing what doesn't work for them. We just have to clearly & consistently make sure what we desire works, and vice versa.

One other little thing I noticed that puzzled me... Fox wrote;
I can only remember her slapping me once and that was when I was in my early twenties one Christmas. I do not recall the others because they were fair.
Why do you think you only remember that time, just because it wasn't fair?? Could it be that your memory of younger years is getting dim but that unfair event traumatised you so much it's etched in there?? A little tongue in cheek, but I'm genuinely curious, because I remember the fair and the unfair lessons. Albeit the unfair ones can still make me emotional - angry about it, while the fair ones I'm matter of fact about. And then there's my sister, who has apparently blanked from her memory any 'unfair' childhood happening(such as me punching her repeatedly once - I remember that vividly & with shame!) and claims she was never, ever treated unfairly. The mind is a very curious thing!
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post #20 of 42 Old 01-18-2017, 08:57 PM
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@Mme Yersinia we are practically the same! I am an animal trainer/presenter specialising in domestic animals (worked for british airways training bomb dogs), birds of prey, parrots, corvids, small primates and big cats (mostly for rehabilitation). Very little horse background here and when I first started out was also a bit more on the timid side (just look at my post history). As you already sensibly figured out horse behaviour is slightly different. With dogs its mostly about positive reinforcement, the application of pressure (reward) at the desired action. Anything undesirable we just ignore, right? With the horses that I've personally interacted with, ignoring the unwanted behaviour results in them just testing me further, but I'm sure this will vary between individuals (as with everything). Firstly, I recommend just following the owner's method (unless its outright abuse or visibly futile) as the horse understands their language and what to expect. But, like with dogs, they can learn to treat individuals differently. Horses looked at me as the pushover in the beginning, but were angels with the yard manager. I did as she did, and soon enough we were on the same page. Consistency is key!

At the most basic level I just ask myself, what would another horse do? Kick it? Bite it? Definitely tell it off and probably in a more brutal fashion too. It is quite normal. They are strong, hardy beasts with thick skins and in a herd, ****ing someone off will have bigger consequences. So a crack of a whip or a poke isn't much compared but the QUICK timing of it is absolutely crucial. And you're smart enough to know the difference between setting a boundary and giving a downright dirty wallop. You are also probably smart enough to see a timid dog compared to a brave one and adjust your approach. In short, if you haven't already, read up about horse behaviour, specifically the use of pressure, if you're not aware of it. I know a lot of dog trainers that are very good at what they do, and don't necessarily even need to learn about PRESSURE in training (all) animals. Knowingly or unknowingly we use it, but it's a huge topic in itself that'll take your training to another level. It is very different to our methods in the dog world, you are not alone in that first feeling of unease when using negative punishment but so happens it has a time and a place, when used correctly.

Good luck! :)

PS I have only been in the horse world for a year and a half and am still learning. I do not own my own horse nor practice any techniques without the owners permission. I literally just try to understand WHY the horse tests me and aim to correct it with the advice of those around me :) Good luck.
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