Many times I have had people say to me that my horses will only do things for treats , that they are only food motivated to do specific exercises , basically that they are only trained though classical , and or operant , conditioning . I have always assumed that these people are wrong and this does not really apply to how I am with Cici and Boris , for many reasons , firstly as we have no set rewarding system , in the sense that they will get the same amount and quality of treat for an easy exercise as they would for an physically straining exercise , and I will always reward any exercise he choose whenever he does one . It would follow then that he would opt for the easier exercises , e.g pawing , compared to a more physically straining exercise , e.g long rears , Laufcourbette , school halt . But this is , obviously , not the case , as his motivation to do wild exercises is greater or lesser depending on his mood or how he is feeling , as opposed to how I am conditioning stimuli . Secondly , I will give treats for everything and nothing , in the sense that he can come up to me and ask and receive treats without the need to complete an action or exercise .Thirdly , often I have no idea of what to do , and what to ask for , so it would be impossible to be rewarding for certain actions or exercises , as I just reward anything that he offers . I am sure that I could think of more reasons that the operant and classical conditioning systems are not part of our play , but I will digress
. The next question I ask myself , or I am asked is how or why then ,are my horses leaving grass or food to come and offer me beautiful exercises for , literally , 4 oats .Or in other words , how is he motivated to a challenge or task ,when he can easily choose an easier exercise to offer , and still receive the same amount or quality of reinforcement . Asking myself this only really brings me to another question of , if this is not like classical or operant conditioning , what role does these treats play in our interaction ?
I have recently been reading ( well I have only just started reading , but I have listened to many lectures covering this , and by her
) a very interesting paper by Carol Dweck
, and this has presented me , in half , with an answer to both questions . Simply , What i reward and encourage , and ultimately the point of treats for us , is the action of the parts that lead to the components that lead to the end , i am probably making no sense , instead of the end product of the exercise , or behaviour that leads to the exercise ( behaviour shaping ) , i am rewarding the trying and experimental mindset to every ''problem'' , i am putting problem is quotation marks , as i could not think of a word the classifies how we interact and deal with everything that is better than this , though do not take it as though i mean a problem is the bad sense of the word . This inventive mind-set is very obvious to me , and most people on AND, and has been described by me in my diary , and many others is different places here on AND, like encouraging creativity
(though i have not read much into this thread ,but i assume from the title and a quick read
This has also presented me with answers to questions that i have asked awhile ago , in that why ''normal horse people'' find how we are so hard to comprehend , as they are learning , or doing things for the goal that comes at the end , not the enjoyment of learning together in itself . Our tricks , have always seemed to me to be a welcome side affect to our relationship , in the way that they are not significant in our happiness or enjoyment of being together , but this is hard to explain , as i have no idea how we would be without exercises ,it is a bit like chicken before egg , in do the exercises create the relationship or does the relationship create the exercises . For us it is the relationship that creates the exercises , as in most of the tricks we have learnt together , they have come about almost by accident . I suppose we learn without quite being sure what we want to learn , as we have not learnt this yet . Simply we learn intrinsically , or better put , Mr learns intrinsically , and so do I , so the process of our learning , and ultimately our motivation , is unquantifiable , this makes how we approach obstacles or challenges very hard to explain , as they do not present themselves as challenges , rather as a learning opportunity and consequence of being a live intentional agent . This was an obvious under current when we were just playing in the pasture , but now as we are going for walks more and more this has become extremely obvious and noticeable for me to observe