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 Post subject: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:20 am 
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Here is an excerpt of Sue´s diary where we were discussing a classification for pressure some weeks ago. As this question comes up often, I thought I´d post our ponderings into a seperate thread so that it will be easier to find them.

windhorsesue wrote:
:f: 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.

:f: 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. :)

:f: 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! :)

:f: 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. :green: 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! :D

:f: 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.

:f: 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.


Romy wrote:
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 that´s the sort of pressure cues that I do not want to use unless I feel that it´s really necessary.

windhorsesue wrote:
:f: 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 horse´s girth area so that he bends on the circle would also fall into your definition above, wouldn´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.


windhorsesue wrote:
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! :D

Quote:
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! :D


Romy wrote:
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 don´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 :twisted:).

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. :D


windhorsesue wrote:
HahahahahaRomy! :D 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 horse´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 horse´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. :smile:


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:52 am 

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Thank you Romy,
this is great and I think it helps so much when thinking about teaching our horses. :f: :f: :clap: :clap: :clap:
I would like to add the following thoughts: Another form of pressure would be desensitizing. I guess it could be accompanied by R+ or the stimulus could just be removed.
Another question I want to raise is concerning the pressure without compulsion, what you called "gentle kind of feel and release". I do agree that if this is used exclusively that it would have the result that Sue describes, a horse that is responding, but not proactive. But what about if I teach the horse a cue which means "be creative now" and then reward every new movement or action, while at other times give a cue that means "I want you to just follow my cues now" and then only reward that.
I've successfully done that with dogs, although I have to admit it takes a while to teach. I know dolphin trainers use this to encourage their animals to come up with new behaviors that they enjoy.
And then I just thought of another from of pressure. Not sure where that would fit. Unfortunately some people who use food for reinforcement withhold food for a while before training so that the animal is really hungry and is much more motivated. I guess it depends if it is done for a very short or a long period of time whether this is unfair.


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:31 am 
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Good points, Birgit! :)

Birgit wrote:
Another question I want to raise is concerning the pressure without compulsion, what you called "gentle kind of feel and release". I do agree that if this is used exclusively that it would have the result that Sue describes, a horse that is responding, but not proactive. But what about if I teach the horse a cue which means "be creative now" and then reward every new movement or action, while at other times give a cue that means "I want you to just follow my cues now" and then only reward that.


But with that it is not feel and release, but category 2 - and so I see no reason why the results should be like Sue described them for category 1B?

I can´t offer you much practical experience on the effect of differentiating between situations where the horse can be creative and where he has to do what you are cueing, simply just because I have never tried this myself (except for very few situations where they have to listen to me, but that is not a part of our normal training but mostly happens in emergency situations). But I think that there are several people here who have worked in that way and who are getting some wonderful results? :smile:


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:16 pm 

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Romy,
I see what you are saying the way you have made the categories. If I understand this right Category 1 A is strong (aversive) R-, 1 B is mild (non painful R-, Category 2 A is mild R- with R+, Category 2 B is only cue followed by R+. The distinction between 2 A and 2 B would depend on the individual horse and it's threshhold for discomfort.
One other possible option would be 1 A, strong R-, followed by R+. This might be appropriate as a last solution in safety related situations. I think it is important that even when force is needed, the negative side effect of it can be significantly reduced by using R+ after the desired response has happened.
Also important: There are a lot of "traditional" trainers who use mild R- combined with R+ generously when training in the form of petting the withers. This would be far preferable to mild R- alone.
Another important factor is whether mild R- is associated with the person who does the teaching. Example: A horse stepping into water on a very hot day, or into a trailer in pouring rain is R- without direct human involvement but the reward maybe much bigger than a carrot. So much more to think about...


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:36 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
One other possible option would be 1 A, strong R-, followed by R+.


Well, I can speak only for myself and not for Sue, but for me this is 2A, because the difference is only in quantity. :smile:

But altogether I must say that I am not that much a friend of classifications as they are always artificial, it only was such fun to figure it out, to cramp things together and open new subcategories back then. :razz:

Quote:
Another important factor is whether mild R- is associated with the person who does the teaching. Example: A horse stepping into water on a very hot day, or into a trailer in pouring rain is R- without direct human involvement but the reward maybe much bigger than a carrot. So much more to think about...


Indeed, there are lots of things to think about and I generally like to see my interaction with the horses within a system as a whole and not only reduce my perspective on training to 'exercise -> treat'. There is so much more influencing it, in the individual as well as in the environment. So I am trying to see behaviour modification as something that takes into account not only what I am doing to reinforce it, but within a more global system of antecedents, behaviour and consequences.


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:43 pm 

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Quote:
But altogether I must say that I am not that much a friend of classifications as they are always artificial, it only was such fun to figure it out, to cramp things together and open new subcategories..

Yes, I agree, it's fun for a while :D , and then, when I start doing things around animals I tend to think in very general categories, like: does that feel good to the horse and to me...
I find it helpful to go through this theroy stuff when first examining common misconceptions about R+ and R- or when problem solving (why does my horse do that?). Just yesterday I talked with a good friend who told me she does not want to "bribe" her horse. When I said that R+ is different from bribing (bribing would mean to give the horse a treat first, hoping that it will then do what we ask) she was still not convinced. I think the hangup for people is so many times that they want the horse to "do it because they want to" or because "they love me" not realizing that the environment, including people is full of R+ and R- that have their effect on behavior, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether the horse wants to do something or does something because of the relationship we have is all in part influenced by what has been reinforced in the past. :yes:
I always tell my dog training students that the reason our dogs are so good at "training" us is because they have nothing else to do all day while our minds are full with work responsibilities, putting food on the table, the economy, etc. I love and need my animals so much in part because they change my perspective and keep me focused on the moment. :love: :love: :love:


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:02 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
[ I think the hangup for people is so many times that they want the horse to "do it because they want to" or because "they love me" not realizing that the environment, including people is full of R+ and R- that have their effect on behavior, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether the horse wants to do something or does something because of the relationship we have is all in part influenced by what has been reinforced in the past. :yes:


BINGO!! Well said Birgit!!

I feel that folks that are in the 'Because I said so!' category <G>, often just don't understand how positive reinforcement works, and that often there is very little intrinsic reinforcement with many dogs and especially horses to work with or for us! So pressure seems like the only answer. And often that's the way they were taught too! Very little positive reinforcement in our human world, eh?

The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson dispells the myth that dogs are moral creatures. Dogs, and horses DO NOT know right from wrong, only what works and what doesn't! Like you said reinforcement history determines the future behavior!

Unfortunately, when the humans ASSUME that the dog should just want to do something, i.e. has morals and ethics (NOT!)then it is often the animal that suffers the consequences since they then get blamed for 'behaving badly'!

Like you I am keenly aware of what is driving (or inhibiting?) a particular behavior, treats, lack of treats, grass, pressure from me, pressure to the barn, hunger, heat, cold, wind, other horses, smells, instincts, the scary noise of the snow sliding off the roof <G>, etc. All of those things affect behavior and are important, and interesting, to pay attention to, especially various pressures which can be so insidious!

And yes, behavior is like time, it just keeps on happening, to us, all around us, every minute of everyday! It's funny that Behavior 101n is not a required course in school!! Just think how training and parenting and living would be so much easier!!

And I love the 'in the moment' idea too, it is very grounding for me when I train, particularly clicker train! It's like you just can't 'be' anywhere else and do it well!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:25 pm 

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:yeah: :yeah: Bingo! Bingo! Bingo! :yeah: :yeah: :yeah:
Ha, Ha, don't know why, but I just realized that word is a strong reinforcer for me, very different from "Good Job". For some reason it makes me laugh. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
I think I'm going to teach that for a conditioned reinforcer for a jack pot, maybe together with some :yeah: :yeah: :yeah: jumping around. :yes: :D
I couldn't agree more with you on the morals and ethics issue although I'd be curious to hear if everyone here would agree? ;)
I could also see that even if some species have some moral decision making capability that we would still have a long way to go to be able to communicate clearly with them about it, esp. given how difficult that is even among our own kind, and even in such a positive learning environment as here. :) :friends:


Last edited by Birgit on Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:30 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
I think I'm going to teach that for a conditioned reinforcer for a jack pot, maybe together with some :yeah: :yeah: :yeah: jumping around. :yes: :D


BRILLIANT!!

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:51 pm 
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Oh, I LOVE the "Bingo!" -- makes me laugh, too! I think this is a brilliant idea, Birgit!

Birgit, I also loved this:
Quote:
I think the hangup for people is so many times that they want the horse to "do it because they want to" or because "they love me" not realizing that the environment, including people is full of R+ and R- that have their effect on behavior, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether the horse wants to do something or does something because of the relationship we have is all in part influenced by what has been reinforced in the past. :yes:


Thank you!

I've been struggling to articulate this to various people in my life. It's NOT either/or -- this has really been making me bonkers! It isn't either food or love, either treat or free choice, either reward or relationship. It all melds together into something really amazing.

Brenda, I also loved what you wrote about morality -- I agree -- at least not what we think about as right/wrong in human terms. I think animals have their own kind of morality, their ethical sense hardwired into them that's about their survival, their relationships, herd survival, etc. They have, I think an "ethos" -- a way of being, and they live in and by that ethos. Which creates their sense of ethics, I think. And the root of "morals" is "moralis" -- "proper behavior of a person in society." I think a lead mare can teach the morality of a herd to a young horse, or remind an older one, for example. But I've not seen any equine version of stone tablets brought down from a mountain to remind them not to covet their neighbor's wife! ;)

I find it ironic, BTW, to hear so many people who accuse me of anthropomorphizing my horses attribute all sorts of human characteristics to theirs -- most often negative ones. :twisted: (And this isn't to say I don't think horses don't have rich, complex psychological lives -- I absolutely believe they do.)

But here's an example of how I think we misconstrue morality and horses. In American culture, for example, there is a strong ethic about hard work -- lots and lots of cultural mythology about this, and a very certain kind of morality to it. You work hard, you're a good person.

I've seen this translated, however, to horses, and people imagining that they like to or should like to "work." (And our definition of what that work is.)

But I hear people saying, "that horse needs a job" frequently. In my most humble of opinions, NO!

They may like to have stuff to think about, places to explore, opportunities to strut their stuff or simply blow off steam. They may even, and this is, I think, one of the many places that Sue and I are really close in our thinking, learn to love to learn.

Usually this is said when the horse is pingy or cranky or "misbehaving" in one way or another and it's almost always with a horse who is penned in a small space, maybe turned out for 15 minutes a day, and is bored almost out of his mind, and then expected to "behave" when his owner shows up to ride him once a week.

He doesn't need a job, he needs to be able to be a horse!

Back to pressure for a moment -- I think this kind of housing/lifestyle brings an enormous kind of pressure to horses that is obviously not as direct as what we generally think of as "pressure" in horse training. But I think it's incredibly powerful and really underestimated.

Psychologically, it's far more damaging, I think, than a tap or even kick to the ribs or hard tug on the head or other such direct and sharp pressure methods. I'm watching a whole bunch of horses slowly lose their minds at the ranch where I board -- they stand, every day, in the same small space. I fret about my guys because they're not in a full on pasture, but I interact with them every day, they're out every day, and they're lively and curious. There are so many horses where I board who have absolutely nothing to do, day after day, after day. I get sick thinking about it!

(...stepping down off soapbox and slinking back into the corner...) ;)

Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:54 pm 
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More on bingo, because I can't get it out of my head...

"There was a farmer who had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
And Bingo was his name-o.

There was a farmer who had a horse,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
And Bingo was his name-o...."

Bwaahaaaahaaaa! :twisted:

Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:11 pm 

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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :sun: :sun: :sun: :sun: :sun: :sun: Oh boy! I'm really having fun with all this! Is the positive reinforcement working for all of us yet? :lol: :bowdown: :bowdown:
Leigh, so many great thoughts to think about. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:17 pm 
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Leigh, you crack me up once again!!

Now you have that tune running around in ALL of our heads!!

And good post too! Yeah, the horse is 'stubborn' or 'lazy' or 'pushy', and then are often punished for it, when really they just haven't been taught very well, or are being asked to do something that might be a tad unrealisitic?? So up the pressure, eh? And now he bucks cuz 'he's rebellious', etc. And on and on... Aaayyy!!!

Again, the way I see it is that most traditional horse training is very weak in the area of learning theory and behavioral science. And then the latest 'theory' is made pretty by 'friendly' descriptions and names, when underneath all the glitter it's often just another name for pressure/release/-R, or even worse positive punishment!! My wish is that if it's -R, then just call it that!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:14 am 
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Quote:
Now you have that tune running around in ALL of our heads!!

:twisted:

I dare ya not to have it in your head when you next go to see your guys...

The masked Bingo avenger strikes!!!
:alien:

(...b-i-n-g-o...b-i-n-g-o...b-i-n-g-o and bingo was his name-o)

(I am NOT a nice person!)
:green:

And yes, yes, Brenda! I think you're so right about how behavior gets characterized...

And I also completely agree with you about the lack of behavioral psych understanding in the horse training world -- and I would add, because I know a lot more about it than I do behavioral, cognitive psychology understanding is missing as well.

But bit by bit it's changing, I think!

xoxo to all
Leigh
(b-i-ngo...b-i-ngo...)

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 Post subject: Re: Defining pressure
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:32 am 

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Quote:
Birgit, I also loved this:
Quote:
I think the hangup for people is so many times that they want the horse to "do it because they want to" or because "they love me" not realizing that the environment, including people is full of R+ and R- that have their effect on behavior, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether the horse wants to do something or does something because of the relationship we have is all in part influenced by what has been reinforced in the past. :yes:


Thank you!

I've been struggling to articulate this to various people in my life. It's NOT either/or -- this has really been making me bonkers! It isn't either food or love, either treat or free choice, either reward or relationship. It all melds together into something really amazing.

Brenda, I also loved what you wrote about morality -- I agree -- at least not what we think about as right/wrong in human terms. I think animals have their own kind of morality, their ethical sense hardwired into them that's about their survival, their relationships, herd survival, etc. They have, I think an "ethos" -- a way of being, and they live in and by that ethos. Which creates their sense of ethics, I think. And the root of "morals" is "moralis" -- "proper behavior of a person in society." I think a lead mare can teach the morality of a herd to a young horse, or remind an older one, for example. But I've not seen any equine version of stone tablets brought down from a mountain to remind them not to covet their neighbor's wife! ;)

I find it ironic, BTW, to hear so many people who accuse me of anthropomorphizing my horses attribute all sorts of human characteristics to theirs -- most often negative ones. :twisted: (And this isn't to say I don't think horses don't have rich, complex psychological lives -- I absolutely believe they do.)


Birgit, yes, well said!!

And Leigh - exactly, I agree. I've always said that the people who are most strongly opposed to "anthropomorphising" animals, are the ones DOING it the most, to attribute horrible human characteristics to them, as you say. :evil: :sad:

I do think horses have their own kind of morality, too. Nothing to do with the human right and wrong, certainly, and for the purposes of training or indeed ANY kind of horse-human interaction, people wanting to punish "bad" behaviours, I agree with Brenda entirely. BUT I don't believe that all there is to animals is them doing what works/is reinforced. Why won't a horse (I'm sure there are some who will, but I haven't seen it) attack another horse (that they usually push around) while they are lying down? Even my Destiny who can be extremely violent (we have to be careful who we put him with, he takes out his anger/fear/frustration out on the others, to the point of driving them into a corner so he can rip into them) will not hurt a horse on the ground. Why? Where's the consquence if he does? Also, I have had horses accidentally hurt me and then be very worried and sorry - even those that have not been punished for hurting humans.

Maybe I'm thinking more of horses having a conscience more than ethics or morality? Or is your conscience to do with morality? I always get a bit confused about this sort of thing even with humans!!

And perhaps these aren't good examples, I'm sure others would have their own interpretations of why these things happen, but I've seen too many examples - even within my little, unnatural herd - to believe horses don't have their own sense of ethics (or whatever you'd want to call it). But as I said, I don't find it helpful to think in this way, because I don't believe that when a horse DOES attack a human or do anything (or not do something they ask, etc.), it is EVER because the horse is "bad" or "knows that is wrong but does it anyway" or any rubbish like that.

Quote:
But here's an example of how I think we misconstrue morality and horses. In American culture, for example, there is a strong ethic about hard work -- lots and lots of cultural mythology about this, and a very certain kind of morality to it. You work hard, you're a good person.

I've seen this translated, however, to horses, and people imagining that they like to or should like to "work." (And our definition of what that work is.)

But I hear people saying, "that horse needs a job" frequently. In my most humble of opinions, NO!

They may like to have stuff to think about, places to explore, opportunities to strut their stuff or simply blow off steam. They may even, and this is, I think, one of the many places that Sue and I are really close in our thinking, learn to love to learn.

Usually this is said when the horse is pingy or cranky or "misbehaving" in one way or another and it's almost always with a horse who is penned in a small space, maybe turned out for 15 minutes a day, and is bored almost out of his mind, and then expected to "behave" when his owner shows up to ride him once a week.

He doesn't need a job, he needs to be able to be a horse!


:cheers: :cheers: :cheers: SO TRUE, Leigh!!! :f: :f: :f:

ANd thanks ever so much for Bingo now being in my head too :evil: :lol:

Brenda wrote:
Again, the way I see it is that most traditional horse training is very weak in the area of learning theory and behavioral science. And then the latest 'theory' is made pretty by 'friendly' descriptions and names, when underneath all the glitter it's often just another name for pressure/release/-R, or even worse positive punishment!! My wish is that if it's -R, then just call it that!
Brenda


Brenda, THANK YOU. I couldn't agree more. This is one of my biggest issues with these newer, popular training methods - it's all prettied up with euphemisms (and often blatant lies), and people buy it! I did for a little while. :sad: I think it's very sad, because if someone WANTS to use a lot of pressure and make their horse do as they say because they are scared of them, well, there's nothing anyone can do about that -- but many people go to these methods because they believe the friendly wording and want a good relationship with their horse and a method that will not involve using a lot of pressure - but that's not what they get.


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