Tooo much grass....that was the summer it's not like that at the moment and I'm pleased to say they are no longer FAT!
Kirsti, re:the Parelli system. It is a good one and I have learnt loads from the information but if I try to sell it to you it will feel to me a bit wrong on this forum. Does that make sense? I'm sure you would like parts of it and you are right there are some wonderful Parelli instructors doing great things at liberty with eager, happy looking horses. It is a really big topic though perhaps you could tell me what part of it you would like to know more about or what your dislikes of NH are then we have a starting point for a good discussion I think.
I read on this forum a comment from someone who had some experience of Parelli that found delivering a Phase 3 or 4 (an example would be tagging the horse with the carrot stick and string if he hadn't followed through on a request) difficult and i would have to agree with that. I wasn't happy to do that to my horse. I've been using Positive reinforcement more and more and this led me to wanting to find out more. What I'm realising now is HOW MUCH I still use negative reinforcement and I want to change that! I've only started today with introducing a target and I have had so many realisations and loads of questions so I think it will help me to start a diary of my experiences. The information on this forum is wonderful and I'm hooked. Sadly I have to go back to work on Tuesday so time will once again be an issue.
Best wishes, Fiona
I hope you won't mind if I chime in here, Fiona, with a bit of clarification. Your subject matter is dear to my heart having worked both in mental health, and for twenty plus years trained horses, and taught others to ride, training, and handle horses.
Had I had my head on straight back then, from the fifties into the sixties, and really understood the principles of operant conditioning I would like to think I'd have chosen, as you have, to go for positive reinforcement as my modus operandi. I simply got very good at pressure release work, and only at the very end of my career did I begin to get an inkling of what might be possible by other methods.
Here is my favorite definition of "reinforcement" with the different types clearly defined. Good clear definition of terms so often gives us more choices as well as informing us. This has helped me immensely in the same seeking you are doing. http://allpsych.com/psychology101/reinforcement.html
It is exactly as my college text books defined it. And that was rather a long time ago.
Chapter 4: Learning Theory and Behavioral Psychology
Section 1: Introduction to Learning Theory and Behavioral Psychology
Section 2: Classical and Operant Conditioning
Section 3: Reinforcement and Reinforcement Schedules
The term reinforce means to strengthen, and is used in psychology to refer to anything stimulus which strengthens or increases the probability of a specific response. For example, if you want your dog to sit on command, you may give him a treat every time he sits for you. The dog will eventually come to understand that sitting when told to will result in a treat. This treat is reinforcing because he likes it and will result in him sitting when instructed to do so.
This is a simple description of a reinforcer (Skinner, 1938), the treat, which increases the response, sitting. We all apply reinforcers everyday, most of the time without even realizing we are doing it. You may tell your child "good job" after he or she cleans their room; perhaps you tell your partner how good he or she look when they dress up; or maybe you got a raise at work after doing a great job on a project. All of these things increase the probability that the same response will be repeated.
There are four types of reinforcement: positive, negative, punishment, and extinction. Weâ€™ll discuss each of these and give examples.
Positive Reinforcement. The examples above describe what is referred to as positive reinforcement. Think of it as adding something in order to increase a response. For example, adding a treat will increase the response of sitting; adding praise will increase the chances of your child cleaning his or her room. The most common types of positive reinforcement or praise and rewards, and most of us have experienced this as both the giver and receiver.
Negative Reinforcement. Think of negative reinforcement as taking something negative away in order to increase a response. Imagine a teenager who is nagged by his mother to take out the garbage week after week. After complaining to his friends about the nagging, he finally one day performs the task and to his amazement, the nagging stops. The elimination of this negative stimulus is reinforcing and will likely increase the chances that he will take out the garbage next week.
Punishment. Punishment refers to adding something aversive in order to decrease a behavior. The most common example of this is disciplining (e.g. spanking) a child for misbehaving. The reason we do this is because the child begins to associate being punished with the negative behavior. The punishment is not liked and therefore to avoid it, he or she will stop behaving in that manner.
Extinction. When you remove something in order to decrease a behavior, this is called extinction. You are taking something away so that a response is decreased.
Research has found positive reinforcement is the most powerful of any of these. Adding a positive to increase a response not only works better, but allows both parties to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Punishment, when applied immediately following the negative behavior can be effective, but results in extinction when it is not applied consistently. Punishment can also invoke other negative responses such as anger and resentment. ... "
There is considerably more at the website I've cited above. All very useful.
Had I understood what it really meant to use pressure for wanted behavior, and to use punishment for unwanted behavior I'd have been even kinder than I tried to be.
I got some of it without knowing the names and labels and the precise definitions.
I presumed, for instance, that even riding a horse, let alone putting steel in his mouth and a dead animal's skin on his back, created a constant "negative."
So I taught my students, and used myself, a method of removal of these things as a way to encourage the horse to do certain performance goals. For an example; I taught horses to do sliding stops with no rein pressure, and in fact without a bridle at all. Simply by stepping down after a voice command and taking the horse for a walk, sans bridle, and with girth loosened.
I love putting down heavy loads myself, so I presumed horses did too. My methods worked extremely well, but they were not very relationship oriented.
My methods were crude in comparison to what we see now in the next generation of horse handling ... developing a trust relationship with the horse much as we would with a human. A much more rewarding if more complicated endeavor.
Thank you for reading.
If you are curious, you can see both my current and my historic photo and video albums at - (guest password is 'haumea')http://photobucket.com/guestlogin?albumUrl=http://s236.photobucket.com/albums/ff51/donald_redux/