Giving Treats: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Page 10 - The Horse Forum
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post #91 of 134 Old 04-20-2015, 01:42 PM
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I have a weird horse, he doesn't like carrots, apples, or most any kind of "treat"
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post #92 of 134 Old 04-20-2015, 02:01 PM
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I usually only give them treats after a long day and they did excellent, or once they are in the trailer I give them one through a window. And if I have one handy then after they are put away and their stall is cleaned I might give them one - but it isn't too often.
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post #93 of 134 Old 04-20-2015, 07:42 PM
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I like giving treats to my horse. She doesn't get something every ride, but more often than not, she'll get an apple or a handful of baby carrots after we're done with our workout. I do give her treats by hand, but only give treats in the barn; I don't bring treats to the pasture because I don't want to be swarmed by 10+ hungry horses! She is always very well-behaved when receiving treats and doesn't get impatient or nippy. The most she'll do is maybe nicker once in awhile when she sees an apple in my hand. I think it depends a lot on your horse's attitude about treats what you can get away with doing.
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post #94 of 134 Old 04-20-2015, 11:47 PM
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For the most part I am a non-treater, at least by hand. They get a coffee can of grain while brushing and saddling and a little as I unsaddle.

I have a couple of horses that are pushy by nature so I don't feel the need to encourage it by treating by hand. It's not worth the effort in my opinion. I have a couple others that are stand off-ish and would be fine by doing so.
I will admit to being lazy and not caring much for ground work as many folks like or enjoy doing so I try to keep it simple and not invite issues. Throwing grain in the manger rather than feeding treats by hands helps keep it that way.

To each their own.
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post #95 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 07:46 AM
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Aargh! I started a response to this last night, did a bit more before work this morn, then came back to it tonight & just about finished it... then my computer shut down on me & lost the lot!!! Bloomin time saving devices!!

Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
Maybe similar to a classroom of kids. You have to go at it differently than if your favorite niece or nephew is visiting for the summer.
Yes, I reckon that definitely has a bearing on different methods. One reason I never wanted to be a 'horse breaker', churning out horses, altho I'm happy taking on individual horses for training.

But on the note of clicker training(speaking of principles that govern, not necessarily specifics like noisemakers & lollies), did you know that there are schools and institutions that use it with people & kids? Funny that in that scene, I've heard the opinion 'sure it works with kids but how could it work for animals??' I've heard dog people say they don't believe it would work with people, horse people say 'horses aren't dogs so it won't work on them', people that have seen it used in zoos say it wouldn't work with domestic animals, and vice versa...

Both Monty and Parelli said to never ever punish a horse for biting. They claim it just makes it worse. They claim a horse does not understand punishment in human terms.
You may not have been around here long enough to hear my... diatribes on punishment. I'm not big on it at all. I think it has limited value in training, and tends to come with many undesirable 'side effects' if not used very judiciously. However I'm not at all against it's use(have also warned people about *inappropriate* treats/+R too, but...) I don't agree with the above statements. I think it depends on the reasons for the behaviour and how you punish, as to whether it's appropriate or not, with biting or whatever. As for understanding punishment differently, well, yes, of course we think differently, and different things motivate us. And people tend to make a lot of assumptions of animals, based on their own way of thinking, but basically, behaviourally speaking, we all, whatever animal, learn essentially the same way. The 'laws of learning' apply to all. We repeat & get better at things we're reinforced for, and are less likely to repeat things that don't 'work' for us & have unpleasant consequences.

*But it is also important to consider there's always a lot more going on than that one particular behaviour you want to effect, for eg. if the animal is 'distracted' by fear. I feel both punishment and positive reinforcement when an animal is frightened are usually inappropriate, because of the association between the treat/jerk/whip/spur... whatever, and the emotion. Which tends to make your consequence ineffective and the 'bad' behaviour worse.

association between a food reward and the desired behavior the food must be given within one second after the desired behavior occurs.
Don't recall Temple commenting on c/t but not surprised. Must dig out that book again... Yes, if there was one thing to pick as most important, most 'misused' I'd say timing. The animal should be reinforced/punished *at the time of* the behaviour, or within a second(or few, depending on species) at worst. You may have heard of The 3 Second Rule, aka 3 seconds of Death, aka Come To Jesus. The idea is that you have 3 seconds after the behaviour to punish a horse. This somehow became, to some, that you should 'make him think he's gonna die' for 3 seconds-(.

The above idea came about from behavioural studies that showed it was far more effective/understood to reinforce/punish at the time of a behaviour, but dogs could frequently associate cause & effect for up to 3 seconds abstracted. The same tests done with horses showed I think a '1 second rule'. Obviously the whole story didn't get across to everyone.

'Clicker training' - that is, the clicker or noise/signal part - is known behaviourally as a 'bridging signal', which can also become a 'conditioned or secondary reinforcer' like praise or a pat. You associate the signal with an actual positive reinforcement - something desirable, food treat for eg - and when that signal is strongly linked, you can use it effectively as a precise 'marker', without having to instantly give the primary reinforcement. It 'buys you time'.

Oh & pre empting a question of 'then you always need to give treats/click every time' with this sort of training. Actually, it's more the opposite. While as with any other form of reinforcement, you do indeed reinforce promptly & frequently, for even small stuff when you start teaching something, once the lesson is learned, it's more effective in continuing to 'strengthen' the behaviour/response, to reinforce less frequently, and randomly.

...& now there are so many more replies, can't see where I was up to, but just want to say about 'is a scratch in an itchy spot reinforcement'.... Absolutely! Another pet peeve is people who don't understand the principles get hung up on the food treats. It's not about food!! That is just a convenient 'tool'.

In the same way, a food treat isn't always a +R. If it is desirable, wanted, then it's a potential reward. Just that food treats are a convenient and generally strong one(but not always, if you're full, sick, don't like the flavour...). If your horse really enjoys a good scratch, and if you find it's practical, then great! If he doesn't like being touched or couldn't care less, or is more concerned with something else, then it's not going to cut it.
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post #96 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
Just because a horse does not bite when you hand feed him, doe snot amke it good horsemanship ... You can also lead a horse with the horse dragging behind you,
Well I'm not sure how doe snot fits in but just because you disagree with something doesn't make it Bad Horsemanship. Also, with your leading eg, you don't blame the negative reinforcement as Bad Horsemanship because it wasn't used appropriately. The evidence speaks for itself, that well understood and appropriate use of positive OR negative reinforcement is indeed effective, while poor use of these 'techniques' leads to poor outcomes.

new NH who are more into training people to train horses , than actually proving any of their training fundamentals by actually turning out great horses
Yep, I think that's the big difference between many 'NH' trainers and 'normal' just 'horse trainers'. Their focus is on teaching people to be good with horses. And I've personally seen quite a few fantastically trained horses by various 'NHers' and their students.

Do you give your kids treats for every chore they do, or do you just accept certain behavior from them, giving a treat at a random time?
I know kids that won't take out the garbage , clean up their room, etc, unless they are handed some extra money
Good thing I thought to pre empt that answer above!

Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
Come on people, if you were teaching basic 4H, would you tell those kids it is okay to hand feed treats to horses?
Come on Smilie, I respect that you disagree with it personally & it's not The Done Thing in your particular neck of the woods, you like to 'stick to the books' but has it occurred to you that that might not make it Universally Wrong?? Personally yes, I do think it's important to teach kids *a correct and safe* way & time to feed treats, and IME they're probably going to do it whether you teach it or not. Happy to find that both the pony club(I gather that's what your 4H is) and the riding school my girls have been to also do this. Are you also against anyone handling back feet, because if they're not careful they could get kicked??

teach the quarters in showmanship? ...
Course not, but it is horse handling by the books, and by the books, hand feeding treats is not standard accepted good horsemanship.
No idea what 'quarters of showmanship' is but I personally have no desire for showing & competition, because of the... standard of... horsemanship I've experienced in these circles(before you jump, not at all saying all or anything). I'm also glad that the ponyclub and riding establishments I have to do with aren't that way inclined either.

It's interesting that throughout history, different books have been written... and taught from, and I find that doing everything by the book, never daring to look outside the square is also rather limiting IMO.

...Now I'm going to bed. Don't anyone write any more, cos I haven't caught up yet!
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post #97 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Ok loosie, if you're gonna drag out Temple Grandin to check on the 1 second food reward association go to page 318. Then turn to page 323 where she says, "Use no punishment. This means no stimuli that cause fear or pain."

I've heard of the 3 second CTJ rule. Ain't goin' there. Willis J. Powell in the mid 1800 wrote that the CTJ methods works faster than his but the horses don't stay gentle and are more fearful of many things encountered on the road than his methods which involved no punishment what-so-ever.

On the same page Temple also speaks about clicker training being effective in low sociality animals where food is the best reinforcer.

She is speaking on animals in general.

I agree not to reinforce a desired behavior every time, an important tidbit I've retained from long ago in psychology. If given every time they do come to expect it and if stopped, they decide, "oh, it doesn't work anymore so I'll quit doing it". But when the every time slowly becomes random, they think, "didn't work this time, I'll try it again and maybe it will this time". The flip side is that when unwanted behaviors are taught in this manner, it can be very difficult or next to impossible to "unteach" the behavior. One of the best and most frequently observed examples of this is a child who gets what they want by throwing a fit.......when it works sometimes. Even when the foot is put down and they are never rewarded for the fit anymore, they keep on thinking, "I'll try it one more time, maybe it'll work this time".

That is the best and most important reason to be consistent in discipline but inconsistent in positive reinforcement.

loosie said, <but basically, behaviorally speaking, we all, whatever animal, learn essentially the same way.>

Not sure I agree with this loosie. Not sure Temple would either. In one YouTube interview she talked a bit about the effort she had to put into learning social rules where most people seemingly automatically learn right from wrong/good from bad. She compares her autistic mind to the non-human animals mind in many places which gives me the impression she believes animal learning is quite a bit different, especially when it involves logic (syllogisms) or right/wrong.

I may not be correctly decoding exactly what you are intending, but I'm still thinking our superior frontal lobes results in differences in learning. Humans process the inbound information a little bit more I think. Or "chew on it" a bit more so to speak. Don't think animals do quite as much "chewing".
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post #98 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
Sorry, don't give much credence to Horsenality, any more than to animal communicators, or other spins offs, aimed at making money off gulibilities of people
You gotta wonder how those great horses in the past were created, working day in and day out, staying sound in body and mind, without all of this quasi horsemanship!
Been chewing on this and gotta comment.

I have not read much of anything about Horsenality and have been turned off by some of the stuff I have seen about Parelli and other high ticket trainers.

Putting the new age pop psychology you speak of aside, I have read a bit about human right/left brain. Think engineer/artist. They view the world very differently. Different things motivate them. They are very very different animals in different ways. Personnel departments nation wide and world wide manage them in very different ways. I do not know about horses as I have not read about this in the area of horses but would not be surprised if there were benefits to be considered.

People along with horses got along fine without psychology in the past also. Or did they? Our understanding of mental illnesses and the proper diagnosis and treatment based on sound psychology and sound research may be a long way from a body of perfect knowledge but it is even farther from what existed 200 years ago or back in the dark ages. Do we want to live that way today?

Perhaps some of that could apply to horses today as well. Matter of fact, it would seem that horses across the board could be more emotionally stressed out today than in the past with so many living in solitary confinement or other unnatural settings. Even the horses that lived their lives pulling livery in a city were around stuff and getting a quota of new sights and sounds.

Two hundred years a go dentistry was the best it could be based on knowledge and technology of that time. But I'm betting no one on this forum would want to go to one of those dentist today.

Same deal about hoof care.

Just because stuff worked in the past does not mean it can't work better as new tested knowledge comes into place.

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post #99 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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It is just too bad I think that negative reinforcement got named negative reinforcement.

There are just too too many people that conclude, "Oh, I see, positive reinforcement in a reward, negative reinforcement must be punishment."


Negative reinforcement is the release of pressure.

Positive punishment is inflicting pain or the fear of pain.

Negative punishment is taking away something the animal wants. Taking the cell phone away from a teenager is a MAJOR form of negative punishment.
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post #100 of 134 Old 04-21-2015, 10:24 AM
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Hi Smilie, All!

Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
Sure, everyone can handle their own horses however they wish, but forums are meant for horse a handling advise that fits all situations and level of experience.
Well, darn; I sure don't remember seeing _that_ in the forum rules :-P As if such a thing even exists.

Maybe we should just have a couple of threads; the Pirelli thread, and the Clinton Anderson thread. That ought to about cover the PC training advice requirements, eh?

Sum it up: Be exceptionally careful around horses; they have been determined by the state of Connecticut to be dangerous animals, and unsafe for human interaction (or however the bill is worded). Ya might get hurt, and besides, there have been reports of carnivorous and man-eating equine, published on The Web no less. That automatically makes it a trusted source of information, doesn't it?

Deadly Equines - news

Better keep the children at a safe distance.

Did anyone even look at Critical Thinking? This might be a good time for a refresher . . .

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