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 R
einforcement, not +P /positive P
) 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...
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!