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Discussion Starter #81
Recent comments by Maddy about personal Congruence:

"Your horse can’t trust you without this.⁣

Congruence is an ever-challenging, yet worthy endeavor.⁣

When you’re being congruent, you are acting on the outside as you feel on the inside.⁣

... Which is in contrast to suppressing emotion this is when you try to push down & ignore your feelings, acting as if everything is fine on the outside.⁣

Additionally, congruence is being true to your values across all aspects of your life.⁣

How does congruence have an effect on trust with horses?⁣

Horses are incredibly intuitive. They can feel our emotions, often better than we can if we aren’t tuned into ourselves. This is why they make such amazing therapy animals.⁣

Now, if I’m working with my horse & I’m being incongruent by suppressing the emotion of anger, my horse is going to see me acting serene on the outside, but feel my inner intensity.

The horse knows that this mix is volatile & could produce an explosion at any moment.⁣

We’ve all been told to control our emotions around horses, because they’ll often match our energy/react to our fear.⁣

However, if we’re attempting to control our emotions, we are really just suppressing them, creating a lack of trust.⁣

So... What can I do to stay congruent?⁣

If strong emotions are coming up for me that aren’t conducive to a training session, I don’t try to control my emotions. Instead, I’ll leave the training session and actually process my emotions.⁣

I thank the horse for showing me where I need healing, and I take care of myself.⁣

Then, I come back to my horse, rejuvenated & one step further into my own healing... instead of causing discomfort & mistrust by being incongruent.⁣

I would like to add that congruence is important with trust in human relationships & the relationship we have with ourselves. ⁣

If I prioritize having compassionate training methods for horses, but cannot extend that same compassion toward my fellow human or myself...⁣

Then I am being incongruent. This is why I prioritize my inner work, and why you’ve seen me speaking out for human rights.

Congruence is key. "
 

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Discussion Starter #82
Being able now to confidently lead Keno with a target is really removing a lot of stress and worry that I have been having almost every time I go to lead him. He has always led on a loose lead without any coaxing.

But now he has some issues that cause him to not want to move enough to keep what muscles he has from disappearing entirely.

So I have been having to use stronger encouragement than I ever have and have not been comfortable with it. The old saying, don't exercise a lame horse. But some things require exercise to get better.

But how much. How much resistance should be acknowledged? When should nurse Ratchet back off?

Enter +R and a clicker and a target. He comes when, if, how, and how fast HE chooses. No more worries. And he's getting much more exercise than I would 'MAKE' him do before.

If others ever find themselves in the same situation, I highly recommend the +R, target and clicker route.
 

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Discussion Starter #83
Warning: Beware the fast learners!!

If, actually when I have, accidentally clicked Keno a millisecond prior to him touching the target, he doesn't touch it. Well, I clicked so I treated.

Each time this has happened, 😯 the next time he reaches out for the target, he stops his nose a millimeter from it. I say target as he starts to turn expectant of a reward. "Huh? You still want me to touch the target? I thought you had changed the rules again. Ok." Touch, and we're on our way again. Seems he learns a wee bit faster than I!
 

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Lol! Luckily my donkeys aren't that smart! I think. Maybe they are, and I just don't know it! lol!
 
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Discussion Starter #85
And here's a few words of inspiration from Shawna copied from my inbox. I am subscribed.


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To be successful in Positive Reinforcement (R+) it is essential that you have an understanding of what you are looking for from your horse.

Whether you are focused on:
  • teaching a specific behavior
  • addressing a problem
  • building your horse’s confidence
  • changing your horse's emotional state
  • improving your relationship
Let me explain…

While many people think of using positive reinforcement (R+) to overcome a problematic behavior or to train a specific behavior, it is so much bigger and deeper than that.

The best part is that when we systematically use R+ in our horse(s) lives, we also change their emotional state, increase their confidence as well as improve our relationship. All of this results in a happier horse (and a happier human!).​


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When I first acquired Murray, an OTTB, he was four years old and worried about most everything in his world. People, other horses, as well as most things around him, sent him into a high alert. I knew that I needed to profoundly change the way he viewed the world, on every level. However, I knew that this type of emotional change doesn’t happen quickly, it would take time.

I decided to start addressing some of his problematic behaviors while teaching him some new novel behaviors, in the process creating new, desirable associations with his world, people and learning.

One of his areas of mistrust was having people touch him anywhere on his head or body. Initially, he would somewhat tolerate being touched and handled, but would be pretty tightly wound and even evasive at times. This needed to be addressed early for overall health and safe handling.​



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First, I had to know what I wanted the finished behavior to look like.

The ability to touch him all over without causing a fear response? That seems pretty simple. But actually, it takes a more detailed breakdown on my part, in order to bring more clarity to Murray in a way he would understand. So at this point in the training process, I have a choice, approach it from behaviors I don’t want, or approach it from behaviors I do want.

I DO NOT WANT:
  • I don’t want him to flinch when I touch him.
  • I don’t want him to react to me touching his sheath or belly.
  • I don’t want him fussing when I touch him outside of his stall.
  • I don’t want him avoiding the touch of others.
In these detailed examples of the behaviors, I am trying to anticipate what may be the outcome of the training process. But in my potential troubleshooting answers, I am focusing on what I do NOT want, instead of what I DO want to achieve with my training.

These are more productive responses to the troubleshooting questions:


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This is a fundamental concept – and one of the five Priority to Positive® principles to utilize R+ effectively with your horse(s). Think about it this way:
  • Communicate to the horse what I do want, instead of focusing on what I don’t want.
Reinforce the desirable behavior, instead of correcting the incorrect behavior.​



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We have looked at what we as the human element of this equation should be doing, but what is the benefit for the horse? The huge reward is that by systematically and consistently utilizing R+ to teach these physical behaviors, we change a horse’s outlook on life. Truly, the psychological changes that can happen for the horse are astounding.

In Murray’s case, I used R+ to train specific behaviors and I included giving him lots of freedom to choose. I not only trained these behaviors from a positive approach, but the embracing of this learning resulted in a more curious, confident and trusting horse. Through this work, Murray learned to enjoy life instead of finding it all so frightening.​



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Do you know what you want? Or do you focus on what you don’t want? Do you clearly communicate to your horse when they do something well? Or do you spend more time correcting what they don’t do well?

So this is a look at the behavior in the big picture and how we humans can be more effective. In a later communication, I will discuss some tips on how we can successfully break the training down to the smaller steps.​
 

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Discussion Starter #86
A short quote from a blog by Maddy:

emphasis by me

Quote: This causes the horse to react back with more fear, causing us to react again and the cycle continues. Eventually the horse either submits out of fear and shuts down emotionally–at which point they are labeled as trained–or becomes so anxious or aggressive that they are labeled as untrainable.
 

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Discussion Starter #87
Ok. I tend to often miss things on my first reading or video viewing. Things right in front of me. In a video, I suspect it may be that I'm concentrating on something that was just said and then miss some following statements.

Anyhow, I watched the first introductory video by Maddy about the Mystic Experiment again yesterday.

What I had missed:

1. In her HCA course she will be teaching both negative and positive reinforcement techniques.

2. Although Amira was started at liberty in a round pen using +R until rehabilitated to a certain point, most of her training for the mustang makeover was done with -R.

3. After Mystic is rehabilitated to some point, the plan is (or was) to transition her over to -R training.

The reason given for transitioning to -R was that horses living in a human environment needed to learn to give to pressure for the safety of both horses and humans. And of course true -R cannot be done without aversives.

In listening to this, I got the impression that the +R liberty training is used mostly for the emotional rehabilitation of horses that have been mishandled with a gentle form of natural horsemanship training to follow.

Now on the other hand, Shawna Karrasch's personal horse that either has or will soon turn 28 YO was trained (taught) using 100% +R from an early age, forgot the age but I think it was either 1 or 2.

No aversives or -R was used at all as I understand.

Shawna said that multiple riders only familiar with -R trained horses have ridden Shawna's horse without noticing any difference in the riding or handling of a -R trained horse.

The pressure commands given by the riders, whose hands/legs I suspect were very light, were apparently simply interpreted by her horse as a +R cue that her horse had learned to associate with pleasure and so responded as taught and experienced.

So this would seem to argue with the need for a domesticated horse's need to learn to respond to pressure if the same can be done with tactile cues.

So this leaves me a bit bumfuzzled. I still think the videos and blogs by Maddy are more than very helpful and instructive for both horse/human interactions and the personal awareness that she deems so important for the horse/human connection.

My own personal desires in +R training does not include any tricks as such. For those that do, I do not denigrate in the least. Just not what I am personally hoping for.

I just want a trail horse that responds to +R training with tactile cues as Shawna's personal horse does. So that leaves me eventually leaning more in the direction of Shawna and other 100% +R trainers.

Maddy seems to be drawn more and more toward +R in her discussions on the videos. She is young. It will be interesting to see what she does in the years that come and to see if she becomes one of those 100% +R trainers.
 

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Discussion Starter #88
I'm now enjoying Shawna's podcasts. She has 47 that are about an hour long each, at least so far. Here's No. 1 https://shawnakarrasch.com/?s=#1

While listening this morning it dawned on me that this is what I did when I was raised! Only we called it listening to the radio. My parents did not have a TV until after I left home. We would sit around in the living room listening to radio programs. Sometimes doing other stuff while we listened. Sometimes passing the butter churn around. In the summer we would often be snapping pole beans for canning the next day.

I think I digressed.

Although Shawna has raised horses from babies with pure +R, most of her focus seem to be helping people with horses that have various problems that are ridden with -R and that have been trained with -R but buy using +R in the procedures addressing the problems.

Most of her clients seem to be clients with papered horses. I've not read or heard of her training wild mustangs. No doubt she could and may have, but not that I've ran across.

When Maddy had what sounds like a mini break down of sorts and canceled all of her tours and went back to her fathers ranch, she said she immersed herself into all the methods of the top +R trainers. Which I'm sure must have included Shawna.

Her program resembles Shawna in many ways but Maddy has staked out an area that consists of mustangs and particularly mustangs that failed at training. 3rd strike and worse.

Even though she seems at this time to be using +R to prepare the horses to be able to accept gentle -R, I think that's great. And there is no reason that once someone uses her experience with wild mustangs they can't continue with Shawna and stay in +R.

I am actually wanting to adopt a wild mustang and searching for info is how I ran across Maddy. I'm glad I did!!

I've listened some to Mary Hunter, Equiosity, and others, but most do not have the volume on my laptop that makes easy listening for me. I plan to get some bluetooth speakers, head phones, or ear buds once I figure out what I want. I don't use a smart phone anymore so not sure what I could carry around with me at a distance from my wifi. Oh well, I'll figure it out.

With 40+ hours of Shawna to listen and re-listen to I'll have time to figure it out. Plus re-watches of Maddy of course. I'm like a horse. I need this stuff coming in small steps with lots of repeats!
 

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With 40+ hours of Shawna to listen and re-listen to I'll have time to figure it out. Plus re-watches of Maddy of course. I'm like a horse. I need this stuff coming in small steps with lots of repeats!
LOL! I feel the same way!! I need to subscribe to Maddy, and I keep meaning to getting around to listening to Shawna. Seems like she has a lot of good info!
 
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The reason given for transitioning to -R was that horses living in a human environment needed to learn to give to pressure for the safety of both horses and humans. And of course true -R cannot be done without aversives.

In listening to this, I got the impression that the +R liberty training is used mostly for the emotional rehabilitation of horses that have been mishandled with a gentle form of natural horsemanship training to follow.
I would definitely have to disagree with this opinion. I like Maddy and I think she uses -R gently and well, however, it’s absolutely not true that horses need to be switched over to -R for safety. Yes, horses should learn how to deal with pressure, but they don’t need to be trained using pressure. I agree with Shawna, and if you use tactile cues it can be easy for a +R trained horse to be ridden by a -R rider and still respond correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter #91
I would definitely have to disagree with this opinion. I like Maddy and I think she uses -R gently and well, however, it’s absolutely not true that horses need to be switched over to -R for safety.
I hope I did not give the impression that I do agree with the opinion opined by Maddy on the need for horses eventually learning to give to pressure for safety concerns. I certainly also do not agree and is my reason for adding the example of Shawna's personal horse.

I should also comment on why I think it's great that Maddy is using +R to gentle and rehabilitate distressed horses even though she indicates -R will follow. The distressed horses future was very dim and grave. No intended pun on the word 'grave'. So through Maddy, the horses have a fair shot at a reasonably happy future. And that's a good thing.

But I repeat, reading between the lines on Maddy's newfound enthusiasm around +R, I still would not be surprised if she one day becomes a staunch 100% +R trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #92
Maddy will always have a special place with me as it was she that provided the inspiration for me to 'get off the dime' and actually begin clicker/target training.

For now though, I am concentrating mostly on Shawna Karrasch's podcasts and beginning with #1.

After listening to #1 thru #3, as simple as all this seems, there are a handful of things I've done wrong. And the results have not been particularly good in those areas. But those areas will now be easily corrected.

Shawna's podcasts are really hands on nuts and bolts on exactly how to do stuff from the beginning and onward.
 

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Discussion Starter #93
Shawna insists that the training absolutely must be fun for both human and horse. At the Sea World, she says that was an absolute requirement as the marine animals got all the food they wanted and all the social interactions they wanted whether they did any training or not. It was then up to the trainers to cause them to want to interact and play the games.

I think that's impressive. I was also impressed by her reporting that they often took the seals on walks right along the ocean bay where the seals could have easily escaped to the ocean but preferred to stay with their handlers.

It would be so nice for my horse to choose to be confined by me.
 

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Discussion Starter #94
Stumbled upon this little quote by Rashid. Thought it lined up well with Maddy's mantra of "you can't connect with your horse until you connect with yourself".

Quote: "Horsemanship is the art of mastering our own movements, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Not the horses." Mark Rashd
 

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Discussion Starter #95
Today I ran across an article about the like system. Not the like system on this forum or Facebook. The system in our our horses bodies, and ours, that produces and distributes opiates.

A lot has been discussed about the fear system and the increases in cortisol that inhibits learning, and in the seeking system that provides so much motivation, energy, and learning.

And many positive reinforcement trainers have mentioned that it is the time between the bridge signal and the reward that produces the motivation and energy of the seeking system.

Well, guess what? When the object of seeking is reached or rewarded, the like system kicks in and turns off or diminishes the seeking system. Struck me that is why duration between the bridge and reward is sought after. And finally fading the bridge altogether so I guess they just keep seeking that big opiate hit.

And it's not just the horses, we work the same too. Actually, I'm projecting it onto the horses as the article was about the human animal. But from what the trainers say, sounds like the same thing going on. We're both mammals, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #96
To Self:

Why does Maddy seem to constantly insist that we can't connect with our horses until we connect with ourselves?

Here's what I think.

Those who claim to know such things say that most people have two selves, the conscious self and the unconscious self.

I would not argue the point but I have believed this to be true for a long long time.

I also believe that the unconscious self is revealed through our body language. It exposes itself all over the place. And to it's entirety to our horses. That is the person they know, which is different than the one we may know. By connecting with our selves, I think, is meant to gain self knowledge of our unconscious self. And when we gain knowledge of our unconscious self, we begin behaving as we really are. And that is seen as honest by the horse and leads to a true connection.

Nothing in this is earth shatteringly new. But to put the stress and emphasis on connecting with one self in order to connect with one's horse in the way Maddy stress's it is, I believe, new.

A lot has been said about human emotions around a horse, but no one that I know of has just flat came out and said or claimed, do this or it just ain't ever gonna work the way you wish. (and in a non-confrontational way backed up with a big smile)

Thank you Self, I'll be thinking about this.
 

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Discussion Starter #97
I don't subscribe to conditioning, either classical or operant, as presented in science literature, and I never have.

The literature says that when I and other children went running to meet the bells of the ice cream truck, we were conditioned by the bells as was Pavlov's dogs. When students leave class when the bell rings, they are said to be conditioned to leave at the sound of the bell.

I believe I, the other children running to the ice cream truck, the students leaving class, and in fact Pavlov's dogs were reacting to knowledge learned from cognitive thought.

But cognitive thought cannot be readily observed and quantified. Since thought could not be observed and quantified, I believe they just decided the bell rang, the dogs did this. And that was that. They needed a name to talk about it and decided on conditioning. And then Skinner expanded into operant conditioning with it's four quadrants.

Although the use of the definition of the four quadrants is quite useful, I think it may tend to turn a lot of people away from reward training that might otherwise move in that direction.

A dog wants to please us naturally and food or rewards are used to "teach" the dog what pleases us. And we in turn do what pleases the dog. A two way interchange of two bonded animals.

A horse is not normally thought of as wanting to please us as does a dog. But I'm no longer entirely certain that is true.

When we encourage a friend to engage in some activity they are reluctant to engage in but engage in it anyway because they are our friend, often come to the conclusion, "hey, that was fun".

I would like to think of training my horse rather than by using the idea of conditioning and to think of it as teaching them that stuff is fun using both food and our own enthusiasm along with the clicker and target when/or as used.

And I fully believe that is what is happening. They are thinking about what's going on and learning by cognition. And for those in tune with the horse, that cognition can in fact be seen and viewed. During the few years I taught math, I could clearly see cognition and learning taking place on the subtle changes (and sometimes not so subtle) in facial expressions.

Pressure/release is just so plain and simple. Apply pressure until they react in a direction we desire and release the pressure. If reward based teaching could be made as clear, plain, and simple I think it would gain more traction than it has been gaining.

If people could just learn that it's not just about the horse working for food but rather using food to teach the horse a way to have fun, it would gain a lot more traction.

The concept of a horse that can truly say no without concern of repercussions but chooses to say yes, I want to go for a ride with you is just so exciting to me. That is something I have wished for from day one and it now seems possible and within reach.

End of today's ramblings..............
 

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Discussion Starter #98
I just read an article on Karen Pryor's website written by Alexandra Kurland in 2003 about how to get started clicker training a horse. She begins at day one minute one by presenting a target for the horse to touch to receive a click and food reward.

Shawna however, does not present a target until after the first two videos which translates into four weeks practicing the first two videos without a target. She feels these two lessons without the target are very important before the target is first introduced.

I am surprised and a little disappointed to find such a discrepancy between reward based trainers.

For now I will go with Shawna as she was trained by the people that were trained by the graduate students of Skinner who started the training of marine mammals using operant conditioning. Her first book was published in 2000 which was 5 years after she began her On Target Training program during which time she held many clinics.

A few days ago I completely put my target up and am still in the process of getting lesson #1 down solid solid from left to right front to back and all over. Maybe a step or two into lesson #2. It is going to take a while to progress to lesson #48.

After clicking on Podcasts on Shawna's site it can take forever at the bottom to get all the way back to #1. I tried clicking the search button at the top and simply entering #1 and wala! the #1 podcast opened up. I'm also downloading them into a folder on my desktop which I will eventually copy to a memory card to use in a portable player.

Everyone that decides to follow reward based equine interactions will have their favorite guru for sure. I'm also sure the horse will like them all!

BTW, there is an additional introductory post at the front of this journal explaining my thoughts as to why I transferred the Mustang Maddy thread into a journal.
 

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Discussion Starter #99
Researching Alizé Veillard-Muckensturm. The Fairhorsemanship: Humane, science-based horse training website lists her as the trainer and states :

Quote: She is most known for being the author of the first equine clicker training book that did not suggest the use of any unnecessary aversive stimulation. Unquote

The only book I was able to find that she authored had a copyright date of 2017. Does that suggest the belief that other authors on the subject did suggest the use of unnecessary aversive stimulation? Humane, science-based horse training: Introduction to learning theory and exercises for everyday handling, care and fitness: Veillard-Muckensturm, Alizé: 9781999836306: Amazon.com: Books

I have not read the book but I would expect that it is positive and useful.

That said, I just read an article in Equus magazine about positive training by Janet Jones, Ph.D. from UCLA and taught the neuroscience of perception, language, memory, and thought for 23 years, that clearly stated that any thing the horse receives that is desirable to the horse is a reward, including rest from work. I would like to ask her if she considers releasing the tension on the reins as something the horse desires therefore being a reward. Training horses with reward

This is troubling to me. I personally am beginning to default more and more to Shawna Karrasch whom I'm beginning to believe all others are an offshoot from with some of those offshoots getting some things incorrect.

It seems that one must just be so critical in examining anything that is written anywhere about the equine to avoid acting on incorrect information written on the web or elsewhere.

That's a wrap for this morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #100
Keno's training has taken a slight dip. I remembered from past reading somewhere that the first thing that should be trained was keeping the head away and not mugging.

Using only the clicker, and clicking when his head turned even slightly back away form me, he got really good in the first session of less than five minutes. So I decided to move on the using the target.

Mistake. Shawna pointed out that just because a horse turns his head away to get the click and reward, that doesn't mean he is soundly trained with a strong reward history.

Plus, after litening to a few more podcasts by Shawna, it dawned on me tha Keno had strong several year history of being rewarded for mugging, which never bothered me and which I actually enjoyed.

But if he is going to progress in reward based training, that history has to be undone or over balanced with a new history. I'm sure it will happen in time, but to get it to where it's supposed to be will take a bit longer. But we'll stay there until there is no where any improvement can be made as the first three or four lessons form the basis of everything that follows. So all I'll be working on for a while is Podcast #1.

 
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