Here is an excerpt of SueÂ´s diary where we were discussing a classification for pressure some weeks ago. As this question comes up often, I thought IÂ´d post our ponderings into a seperate thread so that it will be easier to find them.
For me, there's two ways of thinking of "pressure".. or maybe three. All three ways I want to stay away from in varying degrees, for different reasons. 1: Compulsion. 2: Pressure cue with no compulsion and positive reinforcement. 3: Pressure without compulsion, but with only release providing the motivation.
The first kind indicates that there is a "MUST" about it. There will be increased pressure, or prolonged pressure, or other consequences, until the cue is followed. The "pressure" comes from the expectation that the behaviour must be performed, regardless of the type of cue used. Sometimes I use this, but not in training. Only in practical application, as a last resort for genuine safety reasons, when all else fails. I expect these situations to become less and less as time goes by, relationships and understandings and positive training builds up. An example of this could be as simple as eating grass on a walk. When I say no, I mean ABSOLUTELY NO, because the grass on the track is poisoned, so I will use as much pressure as it takes to ensure that my horse does NOT stick her snout in and eat it, no matter how much she disagrees with me. But as our training, relationship and trust progress, I no longer have to use that kind of pressure, because I have other things in place.
However.. if I haven't trained with those kind of pressure cues at all to have that in place, it's likely to be even more of a fight to prevent her eating when it happens. So.. There's the second way of thinking about pressure: using pressure cues, but not relying on the release to provide the sole motivation. These might be a tap on the rump for attention or forward movement or head up, or a touch on the flank for hq over, or a hand on the bridge of the nose for back up etc.. but when I'm training them, I'm going to give my horse the option of not complying, or even leaving the training if he or she wishes!
So it's still R+.. but I think it's still important to understand these as pressure cues. And I think this is a REALLY important thing with regards to AND philosophy. My feeling is, if we use mostly these pressure cues with R+, we won't be getting the proud, spirited, playful, experimental, free and natural movement that we are looking for to lead us to true self-carriage and natural collection. We'll only be getting what we cue for. This is a danger I think of just bringing over other methods of training, traditional, or NH, to AND, and then adding R+ to them. That could perhaps be clicker training. But that's not AND.. well not in my definition, and I suppose we all have our own.
However.. for practicality sake.. I (and everybody here I guess) still use these cues for certain things. I want to be very aware of when and how I use them, so I can eliminate what's not neccessary!
The third way of thinking of "pressure" is "pressure and release, with release providing the motivation". In these terms, there also may be no "bottom line", no negative consequence if the horse chooses not to respond, or more likely, a minimal negative consequence, such as continued slight "ask", slightly annoying or disturbing the horse, until she finally does what I want. This is the very GENTLE kind of "feel and release" that many people like. However.. and this is rather strange to say, it's EXACTLY this that I MOST want to avoid!!! Believe it or not! This might surprise some people, but I think you'll understand what I mean if I can explain it properly Romy.
My feeling is that is exactly this kind of persistent "ask" that breaks down the horses self determination, and teaches them to simply be a respondent. They may be perfectly happy, relaxed, obedient, quiet, calm, safe, affectionate, loyal, attached, friendly etc etc etc.. But I"m afraid they will have lost that beautiful free spirit, the self determination, the desire to paticipate in dialogue, the confidence to make suggestions, and the dignity to make choices and say no. Horses nature makes (most of) them VERY susceptible to this kind of "gentle nagging". They will more often than not eventually just fit in.. This is the antithesis of everything that I'm trying to bring out and celebrate in my horse. So, it is THIS... this seemingly innocuous kind of "feel and release" nagging, with no reward other than the false reward of some kind of peace at the end, that I want to eradicate from my repertoire, as much as practically possible..not sure yet the limits.
Interesting to read about your three forms of pressure. For me there are basically two forms, because I put your 1 and 3 into one category as I feel that the difference between them is in quantity and not in quality. The underlying mechanism is still that the horse wants it to end and responds to achieve that.
Your category two I do separate into two forms though, that do differ in quality in my opinion: one form (A) where the cue is unpleasant and one form where the cue is at least neutral (B). For me there is a huge difference between a tap on the rump and something like pointing to the hindquarters. Of course the boundary between the two is rather gradual than fixed, but still I believe that they do differ.
Why do I think that the differentiation between them is a qualitative one? Because in the first case, the horse is still, at least partly, avoidance motivated. Sure he can also not react or go away or do something completely different, but still there is an urge to get rid of that cue. And thatÂ´s the sort of pressure cues that I do not want to use unless I feel that itÂ´s really necessary.
So it's still R+.. but I think it's still important to understand these as pressure cues. And I think this is a REALLY important thing with regards to AND philosophy. My feeling is, if we use mostly these pressure cues with R+, we won't be getting the proud, spirited, playful, experimental, free and natural movement that we are looking for to lead us to true self-carriage and natural collection. We'll only be getting what we cue for. This is a danger I think of just bringing over other methods of training, traditional, or NH, to AND, and then adding R+ to them.
And that is, as I see it, only true for category A cues (unpleasant ones that the horse wants to avoid). But if I do not differentiate between those categories A and B, then something like touching your horseÂ´s girth area so that he bends on the circle would also fall into your definition above, wouldnÂ´t it? Or to make it even more subtle, something like becoming slower in your steps and walking collected yourself when you want your horse to collect... as it still is a cue that has a restricting effect, at least those parts of it that limit forwards movement, probably not those that cue upwards movement. Still I see this as a sign and support and not a pressure cue, although it IS restricting and directing - but it is not unpleasant and does not result in a motivation to avoid it.
Ah yes, we get even more precise!
I agree that category 2 can be broken down into two forms. Aversive or non-aversive. Good point!!! A non-aversive pressure cue would be truly just using the word "pressure" in its physical sense, not in terms of perception!
When I lay my hand on my horse's flank, she LIKES It.. and in order for her to understand it as a cue, I don't make it stronger, or in some way unpleasant, I just add a secondary attention and movement cue to it to signal that it is a cue and not a carress!
I like that... and there is crossover.. when does my leg on my horses side change from being a suggestion to being a aversive cue? And we're back where we started at intent and perception! If the sum of everything else that I do with my horse has allowed her to believe that she has a choice and will be listened to, COMBINES with me being concious of NOT annoying her and listening for her input.. then it's on the suggestion side isn't it?
As we (horse and human) develop our ability in dialogue, I guess the crossover becomes less blurred. I hope so!
For me there are basically two forms, because I put your 1 and 3 into one category as I feel that the difference between them is in quantity and not in quality.
Yes, I see your point. I do differentiate them though, not just in terms of quantity but quality as well. number one to me is short and effective. Some people use it in training situations.. but I would only use it in practical need. Whereas number three can be slow, drawn out, cumulative.. it can wait as long as neccessary for the horse to respond. So perhaps it seems really soft. For me, number one has a quality of "I want you to do this pretty much now!" , (so may be perceived as being harsh - and could be depending on how it is applied!), whereas number three is more how I think of the Mark Rashid, Leslie Desmond etc's style, of softly softly, clearer and clearer, asking re-asking and waiting it out.. seconds, hours, days, weeks or months if neccessary. Persistent, as opposed to demanding.
This makes it more suited to long term solutions, not short term solutions for an immediate problem. Well.. for long term solutions, I have a method to use that suits my philosophy better!
Ah, I see your point. I did not consider the NOW-component as mandatory for category 1 (but just as one version among others) when I said that for me it was the same as category 3 - as for me MUST and NOW often go hand in hand but I donÂ´t perceive them as being the same, and for me category 1 was about MUST in all its forms, no matter if slowly or immediate, harsh or ever so soft - just MUST (if you want to get rid of that cue
Still for me the general principle in 1 and 3 is the same: the absence of the cue being the desired outcome for the horse. So maybe I should put them into the same category but as version A and B, with some fundamental differences but the same essence.
Great! We have reached not only understanding but agreement! How fabulous! So, Category one, Type A and Type B. How's that then!
So here it is in short
:Category 1: Pressure with only release being the reward
The horseÂ´s main motivation is to avoid the increase of the cue or to get released from the cue, so the underlying mechanism is that the horse wants it to end and responds in order to achieve that. Type A: Compulsion
Type A cues are demanding and often short and effective. There will be increased pressure, or prolonged pressure, or other consequences, until the cue is followed. The "pressure" comes from the expectation that the behaviour must be performed. Those cues have the quality of "I want you to do this pretty much now!" With time they can become rather invisible, but the essential part still is the horseÂ´s anticipation of negative consequences if he does not react.Type B: Pressure without compulsion, but with only release providing the motivation
This type of pressure is rather persistent. It can be slow, drawn out and cumulative. There also may be no "bottom line", no negative consequence if the horse chooses not to respond, or more likely, a minimal negative consequence, such as continued slight "ask", slightly annoying or disturbing the horse, until she finally does what the trainer wants. This is the very GENTLE kind of "feel and release".Category 2: Pressure cue with positive reinforcement
The trainer is still using pressure cues, but not relying on the release to provide the sole motivation.Type A:
The cue is unpleasant, for example a tap on the rump. The horse wants to get rid of the aversive cue and if he does, there will be a (food-)reward. If he does not react, the cue also stops (contrary to type A of category 1) but there is no reward. Type B:
The cue is at least neutral, like it can be the case for pointing to the hindquarters or becoming slower in your steps and walking collected yourself when you want your horse to collect. It can be seen as a sign and support instead of a pressure cue, although it IS restricting and directing - but it is not unpleasant and does not result in a motivation to avoid it. Reacting leads to a reward, not reacting leads to the human stopping to give the cue, eventually.
Of course the boundary between the subcategories is more gradual than fixed.