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Smilie

Positive, Versus Negative Re -Enforcement

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Okay guys, not nice out today, so I will start a new topic, and hope some other swill do likewise, to keep H.C alive!

While I don't consider the traditional use of pressure, then removal of that pressure when the horse responds correctly, as the reward, negative re -enforcement training, I guess some do

These people consider clicker training, using food rewards and a target as 'positive enforcement training, with the horse eventually weaned from expecting a treat every time they hear a click

I get the principle, but still consider it a tool mainly for liberty training, or maybe to gain the confidence of an abused horse, versus replacing traditional pressure, then release of that pressure, as the fundamental principal, far as horse training

Clicker training and food rewards of course, originated in working with tricks , with animals at liberty, such as dolphins and circus animals. In those cases, unless you re move pressure, as in working a horse in the round pen, stepping back, you really have no way of using the pressure and release, thus the food reward

I don't know about others, but I'm not about to carry a clicker when I ride, nor food rewards. I am going to use that release of pressure, or maybe a scratch on the whither, with a' good boy or good girl/

That is enough reward for a sensitive and willing animal, and horses generally strive to please a rider

If I am showing, I sure am not going to click at the end of my pattern, and treat the horse, if that horse worked well. I'm going to use that pat, or scratch on the whither, along with a verbal reward.

I will make being haltered, a pleasant experience, by rewarding the horse AFTER he has been haltered, and led to the barn, with a food reward, like beet pulp

I want my horse to work for me,not because he expects a food reward, but rather he wants to please me, like any being does an entity above them in the pecking order

Edited by Smilie

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I hate clicker training. Seems like it's stupid to justadd another step. Why click. Can't you just give them the reward?

I'm a believer of taking a little of this method and a little of that method to find what works for each individual.

I used major negative reinforcement awhile ago with my paint. He'd always been pushy on the ground. Not on his part but if I asked him to step over he would push into me instead. I thought well we are new to each other and he's such a good horse otherwise. So I let it slide awhile. With my new baby I didn't get much time to mess with him. And it really wasn't a big deal to me. Well this spring he hurt his leg so I was out doctoring it everyday. Id started to get tired of his attitude. I had tried the traditional increase pressure until he moves approach. Well he just kept pushing. One night I just was over it. Took the end of my lead and smacked him with it acting like a lunatic for about three seconds... he jumped back eyes wide looking like Dang woman's lost her mind. But guess what....I barely have to ask now and he moves right over.....

I've ridden horses that a raised voice is enough to get there attention and a scratch on the chest arub on the neck is the most wonderful reward but others that could care less about that nonsense and just want to be left alone.....its funny how very different every horse is and I think you have to be able to adjust your methods to suit the horse

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My brain is a little fried at the end of the work day, so I may come back to this one later, but just wanted to chime in on clicker training...

I hate clickers. Forget horses, I don't like them for dogs. The theory is solid from a positive reinforcement aspect, what I hate is the physical thing. I KNOW I would end up doing something with my dog and "Oh dang, where is my clicker?" when he does something I should reward. Or both hands are full, or whatever. What in the world is wrong with saying "Yes!' or something and then rewarding instead of a 'click' and reward? Safe to say I will likely ALWAYS have my voice available to use.

I also do not think that only positive reinforcement is effective. There are times when some form of negative response is needed. I don't think it is as much of an issue with horse training (recognizing the need), but there is a trend in dog trainers (think PetStore Chain group classes) where they teach that the dog should never get a negative response.... positive only.

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I will willingly & freely admit that I have never tried it on a horse, especially not under saddle and that I'm not sure that I see a difference between click and a release of pressure.

I'm not sure you guys totally understand how clicker training works. Do you ever see people who are doing agility or rally click after every jump or after ever sign, or at the end of their pattern? No, because clicker training is generally for learning, or shape, a new cue not for established cues. Then you start chaining cues together and the finished product is an animal that will stick with you through the entire thing.

When training a new thing with the horse, you reward 'try,' it's the same idea. Example, teaching a spin, at first you reward the slightest indication that they are going to move that shoulder over, then you up the requirements a little bit. If the horse accidentally takes a few more steps that you expected, say a quarter or half spin, you praise heavily. That is what clicker trainers call a "Jack Pot" The idea is pretty simple. Training animals is, in it's simplest form, a binary language. The animal asks a question, 'is this what you wanted?' and you reply with either a Yes (click or release of pressure) or No (silence or continued pressure). It's just another tool in the language tool box

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So, why a clicker, when you can use your voice? I often will say 'good boy, or good girl, when a horse gives me the correct response, plus that release from pressure.

Why a click and a food reward? Why a target?

I always carry my voice and my hands, but not a clicker or food rewards. Yes, yes, I know, eventually you wean the horse from expecting a food treat every time he hears click, but how does click communicate better to a horse that he did the correct thing then a simple 'good horse' and pat?

Food rewards remain a liberty thing, where you can't give that pat or release from pressure, as in a zoo or circus setting, JMO

I don't need a clicker to turn out a good horse, and in fact, know of zero top training programs that use clicker training. It is another NH spin off, just having new comers to horse training think it is more 'kind' and induce them to buy more gadgets to go along with the carrot sticks, endo tapping sticks and what have you.

Don't know of any reining trainers that use clicker training-just good traditional horse training principles

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Clicker is something I wish would work on my keyboard that bit the dust. I am not at all fond of the dumb touch screen :twitch:

Don't like them for animals, unless I might lose my voice :sick:

I still subscribe to the first rule my grand dad set for my cousin and myself:

"treat that horse the way you want to be treated, or you'll be on the porch the rest of the summer, after you leave the woodshed :blink::blink:

I have never owned spurs. I've broke a lot of horses and re-schooled some pretty rank ones. I took longer than "trainers" but I did things granddad's way, long after he passed, still fearing that trip to the woodshed :surrender:

Mom's words of catching a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar have always held some weight, too :smileywavey:

This doesn't mean someone hasn't gotten smacked because they have. I subscribed to "three strikes you're out" long before anybody's police department thought about it :yahoo:

Have I mentioned I hate this touch screen? :thud:

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I used major negative reinforcement awhile ago with my paint. He'd always been pushy on the ground. Not on his part but if I asked him to step over he would push into me instead. I thought well we are new to each other and he's such a good horse otherwise. So I let it slide awhile. With my new baby I didn't get much time to mess with him. And it really wasn't a big deal to me. Well this spring he hurt his leg so I was out doctoring it everyday. Id started to get tired of his attitude. I had tried the traditional increase pressure until he moves approach. Well he just kept pushing. One night I just was over it. Took the end of my lead and smacked him with it acting like a lunatic for about three seconds... he jumped back eyes wide looking like Dang woman's lost her mind. But guess what....I barely have to ask now and he moves right over.....

Common misuse of the term negative reinforcement, this is actual an example of punishment.

negative reinforcement is when a certain stimulus (usually an aversive stimulus) is removed after a particular behavior is exhibited.

Example: the release of pressure

Pyschology 101 comes in useful.

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So, why a clicker, when you can use your voice? I often will say 'good boy, or good girl, when a horse gives me the correct response, plus that release from pressure.

A voice can be used instead of a clicker, by what I have read about clicker training, it just needs to be a consistent cue that they have done the right thing. The clicker or cue is used to say yes at just the right moment, as you can not time the treat entering the animals mouth at the perfect exact moment they do what you want.

Therefore, the release of pressure can also be consider similar to clicker training as you are 'saying' yes by removing the pressure at just the moment they do the right thing and rewarding them with the release of pressure.

Edited: clicker training is positive reinforcement and release of pressure is negative reinforcement. Depends on the situation which type of reinforement is needed to be used.

Edited by SohCahToa

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"pressure motivates, but it's the release that teaches". this principle works well with dogs, cows, horses, kids and husbands.

clickers work very well with species like dolphins, but humans are pretty limited physically when working with a sea mammal who is always "at liberty".

same thing with treats and birds of prey, who are lazy by nature and will learn quickly at the prospect of a "free lunch". we have several falconries around here with everything from peregrines to owls to vultures and eagles. all the cage doors are open, but come showtime they all just sit on their perches and wait their turn, and when they're done they head straight back into their *residence*.

prey animals are very different from predators when it comes to learning. there are some parallels between non-feral horses (still prey animals by nature) and predators like dogs, kids and husbands (carnivores, or most of them anyway) the main one being that they are domesticated. dolphins and eagles are not.

Edited by nick

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dogs, kids and husbands (carnivores, or most of them anyway) the main one being that they are domesticated.

I'm curious where you found your domesticated husband. Do you have the breeders name? Are they still producing? I have a few friends that have been looking without much success so far.

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"pressure motivates, but it's the release that teaches". this principle works well with dogs, cows, horses, kids and husbands.

clickers work very well with species like dolphins, but humans are pretty limited physically when working with a sea mammal who is always "at liberty".

same thing with treats and birds of prey, who are lazy by nature and will learn quickly at the prospect of a "free lunch". we have several falconries around here with everything from peregrines to owls to vultures and eagles. all the cage doors are open, but come showtime they all just sit on their perches and wait their turn, and when they're done they head straight back into their *residence*.

prey animals are very different from predators when it comes to learning. there are some parallels between non-feral horses (still prey animals by nature) and predators like dogs, kids and husbands (carnivores, or most of them anyway) the main one being that they are domesticated. dolphins and eagles are not.

Big ditto.

Food acts as a reward for training predators because in the wild they have to work very hard physically and mentally to get it. Failure to catch, kill and eat something on a regular basis means death to a predator. And with higher mental function than prey animals they quickly learn the value of subservience and cooperation with the acquisition of food as the end result of a correct response to a stimulus. That's why most can be domesticated and trained much quicker than a horse.

Horses and other prey animals are almost exclusively herbivores; grazing animals. For them food is nowhere near as motivational as a training reward because they are usually standing on it 24/7 and have a sense of entitlement to it. That's why they often get pushy and even aggressive about human provided "treats". Sure they taste better than most anything the horse can find growing somewhere. But the horse will also push a subservient underling off sweeter grass exercising the natural pecking order of herd hierarchy. Ask yourself what message you send to the horse by "giving up" your possession of food. It's no different than giving up space to a horse. Even the simple act of tossing hay over the fence or dumping grain in a bucket creates many respect issues between horse and human most owners never consider. Yes. There is a right way and a wrong way to feed your horse.

As someone in a previous post has already said... it all goes back to horse psychology 101. Those who have taken the time to research and understand that topic never have to worry about where they left their clicker or fanny pack full of alfalfa cubes. ~FH

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I'm curious where you found your domesticated husband. Do you have the breeders name? Are they still producing? I have a few friends that have been looking without much success so far.

The Italians have a word that might aid in the search.... you're looking for a 'stromboni'. :happy0203: ~FH

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Even the simple act of tossing hay over the fence or dumping grain in a bucket creates many respect issues between horse and human most owners never consider. Yes. There is a right way and a wrong way to feed your horse.

Wow that is something to think about?

I have always considered how I feed my dogs, and see that there is a right and wrong way. But I have never really thought of how I feed my horse, other then she cannot disrespectfully grab the food from my possession.

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Continuing on with the positive/negative and clicker 'type' of training. I do use that style with my dogs (using the word "Yes" instead of a clicker). With my horses, not so much, because I don't reward the horses with treats. They get a scratch or a pat, but it really isn't associated with one word for me.

I DO have the opposite that I apply to both dogs and horses. I have a word/sound that ALWAYS means "I do NOT like what you are doing right now, stop it!". That sound is universal for all of my critters and is accompanied by corrective action that is usually not at all comfortable for the recipient. They all learn what that sound means, and oftentimes will stop whatever they are up to from the sound alone.

While horses and dogs do have some things that are parellels (as already mentioned), prey/predator does change things. They have very different motivations and drives. This serious dog stuff is new to me, my dogs were always just pets before the guys I have now, so it's been interesting to dive into a more serious level with them. I find that I have some big advantages in understanding based on all the years with horses, but I also have some gaps to fill in and adjust due to the differences in motivation.

I've met some people who train horses on a completely negative reinforcement structure. The only reward that the horse ever receives is the release of pressure. No 'good boy' or scratches. He is either doing right and being left alone, or he is receiving pressure. It's never been my style.

I also see a difference between teaching and training. You can't train until you teach. Step one: Teach the horse how you want him to respond to a certain cue. Once the horse understands what you want, then you move to Step two where you train them, refining the cue and the response to the point that you want.

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Yes, release of pressure, which I always considered a positive en enforcement to a correct response, is regarded as a negative enforcement by the 'experts'

Clicker training and a food reward is considered 'positive'

At the same time them, i would think a verbal 'good boy or girl', is also a positive reward, as is a scratch or pat, to let a horse know that they performed correctly, thus those of us that don't use clickers , targets and food, are also using both positive and negative enforcement

Nick and I both see clicker training being applicable for liberty training, with someone having transferred that technique from dolphins to horses.

You are never going to ride a dog or a dolphin, thus the release of pressure for a correct response to a bit or leg aid is hardly applicable, and you are always going to reward that liberty animal with a click or food

Not so for those of us that ride horses, esp to any type of upper training.

Makes sense to reward right from the beginning with a technique that will remain consistent throughout the life of that horse, and our training is based on having a horse learn to move away from pressure, instead of into it, as is their in born response, until we teach them differently. The reward then, for a correct response, and one a horse understands perfectly well, given by someone that also understands timing, is the release of that pressure at the right time

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You are never going to ride a dog or a dolphin, thus the release of pressure for a correct response to a bit or leg aid is hardly applicable

You can use release of pressure in training your dog to walk on a leash.

Some people use clicker training or positive reinforcement, but to me that is like using clicker training while riding.

I just started working with my dog by looping the leash around his waist. If he pulls it applies pressure to his waist, when he stops the pressure stops. Works so much better then the pressure applying to his neck, as he would keep pulling and gag himself.

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I think individual horses show different responses to both positive and negative reinforcement, including food treats. I've experienced horses learning tasks well and eagerly using food treats. On the other hand, the horse I have now likes the treats too well and focuses on them rather than the task at hand. Here are two articles detailing studies on the subject.

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/32383/positive-negative-reinforcement-in-horse-training-compared

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/21567/study-positive-reinforcement-aids-equine-training

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okay, so we are back to negative and positive, but the positive does not need to be a clicker, nor a food reward, and I guess that is my main point, as I forgot 'that while I train mainly with the 'move away from pressure and release of that pressure, ( negative enforcement ) I also use verbal praise or a scratch on the whither, or I might step off and end that day's work when a horse finally gets something, does it very correctly.(positive enforcement, just no clicker or food reward )

I do not want to become a'human vending machine', with my horse constantly expecting and looking for a treat

As for that trailer loading, I would go back a step, far as deciding what has a horse that never loaded before, loading very willingly, even first time. Afterall, most of our horses were never loaded into a trailer until it was time for them to go on their first trail ride or first show or to a new home, yet all loaded Why? Because if a horse is very solid on leading, giving to pressure, they do not question as to where they will and will not lead, including into a trailer

Therefore, I would divide those yearlings in groups as to which ones were very respectful at being led, and those that led just in their comfort zone

I never want to use a food bribe for anything, including loading into a trailer

I can see someone clicking like mad, trying to reward a horse with food, when that horse is ready to spook at an elk, or whatever. Good luck! I'll go for good old respect, body control and yielding to both my hands and legs!.

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Because if a horse is very solid on leading, giving to pressure, they do not question as to where they will and will not lead, including into a trailer

Agree, if they lead they load. Also, these are the horses that are going lead out of an extreme situation such as a barn fire.Feeding treats from your hand is like sending mixed signals to a horse. Your telling that horse it's ok to get in your space. Even if it starts as polite, it often leads to a nudge. You now have set him up for a correction or risk it getting bolder. Why start it in the first place so there's no room for any confusion as to what is expected of the horse. I just think when a horse is really zoned out that clicker training or a bribe is not going get his head back to you.You gotta control is feet with body control.JMO.

Edited by Floridacracker

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I never want to use a food bribe for anything, including loading into a trailer

Trick training is the only time I agree with using food as a bribe, but I do not know if I agree with trick training or not.

Does trick training not teach horses to be disrespectful? It is fun to watch them do tricks but how do they learn to only do them on command and not when they are trying to earn treats (as some tricks are very unsafe).

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all i know is that i've seen a video of the late great freddie knie with six black stallions and six white weaving in and out of one another around a circus ring. they looked pretty darn respectful to me.

we also do circus training at our barn, but if you think about it getting up on a pedestal is very similar to stepping up into a trailer. lying your horse down and wrapping it up in a tarp helps with claustrophic tendencies when the horse learns to relax. the horses also play soccer with a huge ball, but that's not all that different from chasing a cow (follow it) or the flag on a cutting machine. if what you teach a horse has applications to "real life" i don't see that as a negative. teaching a horse to bow is essentially taking his leg away--something he needs to get away from the predator. all of our horses stand just dandy for the blacksmith (taking a leg away).

i studied behavior modification in college and worked with severely austitic kids. you HAD to use treats to teach them new skills like tying shoelaces or telling time because nothing else worked!! i don't think husbands or horses fall into that category--just making them kind of uncomfortable until you get the desired behavior works just fine.

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I carry an apple in my pocket when I go out to get him. He sees me and comes running and gets his apple. I see nothing wrong with it and will always do it that way

While under saddle a slap on the neck, loudly telling him he is a good boy. His ears twitch back at the first sound and they they are pointed straight ahead as if he is embarrassed at the praise.

I won't carry food , use a clicker or cluck to my horse.

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all i know is that i've seen a video of the late great freddie knie with six black stallions and six white weaving in and out of one another around a circus ring. they looked pretty darn respectful to me.

we also do circus training at our barn, but if you think about it getting up on a pedestal is very similar to stepping up into a trailer. lying your horse down and wrapping it up in a tarp helps with claustrophic tendencies when the horse learns to relax. the horses also play soccer with a huge ball, but that's not all that different from chasing a cow (follow it) or the flag on a cutting machine. if what you teach a horse has applications to "real life" i don't see that as a negative. teaching a horse to bow is essentially taking his leg away--something he needs to get away from the predator. all of our horses stand just dandy for the blacksmith (taking a leg away).

i studied behavior modification in college and worked with severely austitic kids. you HAD to use treats to teach them new skills like tying shoelaces or telling time because nothing else worked!! i don't think husbands or horses fall into that category--just making them kind of uncomfortable until you get the desired behavior works just fine.

Yes, I am on the wall, but I see your point.

I have the book Trickonometry and it teachs tricks like:

  • pushing you around
  • pickpocket
  • taking a hat off your head and giving it to you
  • shaking hands
  • counting

... seem like they 'could' encourage bad habits.

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all of those skills except the last two can come in mighty handy for a handicapped rider. anything a horse learns can be applied counterproductively, but the point is for you to be able to "shape and guide" those behaviors so that they have positive, productive and useful applications.

i was down at a big show outside vienna last weekend, where they also had handicapped dressage classes. watched a horse pick up items like a saddle blanket and bridle and hand them to his rider--very cool. (she didn't have use of her arms and had to bridle him with her toes--i was soooo impressed).

Edited by nick

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Not saying there is no time or place for trick training, and it you watch Cavalia, where they have 1/3 of the horses as stallions, it is quite impressive to see some of the liberty work. Yes, special training for handicap people also has merit.

None of this changes the fact that pressure and release from pressure remains the foundation of good training programs, with a 'practical positive reward;, being voice and or touch

Trick training holds no interest for me, nor does it even have an application for what i do with my horse. My horse steps into a trailer because he leads-simple as that

Do I ever feed treats? Sure. I have been known to give Charlie a cookie, after a good ride. My son left a bag of them here, so I do give them out at times, but not trying to teach any manover under saddle

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Not saying there is no time or place for trick training, and it you watch Cavalia, where they have 1/3 of the horses as stallions, it is quite impressive to see some of the liberty work. Yes, special training for handicap people also has merit.

None of this changes the fact that pressure and release from pressure remains the foundation of good training programs, with a 'practical positive reward;, being voice and or touch

^^this. "touch" and "voice"being the operative terms. i do not regard slapping the bejaysus out of a horse's neck and screaming "good boy!!" at him as being a positive reward, especially when you observe the horse's reaction. (i don't particularly care for it either :P )

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All I was really trying to say is treats can be used in trick training, as I am not sure how pressure and release would be used in that application.

I like to watch well trained trick horses, but do not think trick training should be done by everyone as it can create bad habits or be dangerous if horses do certain tricks off cue.

But smilie I do agree with you that pressure and release (negative reinforcement) and the praise of good boy or good job and a rub or pat (positive reinforcement) is the basis to good training. Also some quick punishment when a horse bites, kicks, or acts in a dangerous mannor.

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well just as an example you can teach a horse to get on a pedestal by making it the "comfortable" place to be. everywhere else there is something that needs to be done, but gee, everytime he gets around that pedestal the world is his oyster. you'll often see horses if left alone in the arena or pasture step up on the pedestal (or get in the trailer) by themselves because it has become the comfortable (and safe) place to be, two huge priorities for a prey animal.

and frankly i don't think horses understand "punishment" but do understand comfort or discomfort. you make pushing into your space uncomfortable for the horse. (difference between you being assertive v.s. aggressive).

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I think one of the important things with using food or treats as reinforcement is that the animals will often begin to offer the tricks in hopes of a reward. This can become a problem with tricks that encourage the animal to invade space or make physical contact with the handler.

I use almost all of the strategies mentioned here at different times, on different animals and to reach different goals. I, like Smilie, use pressure and release of pressure most often and most naturally. There are applications for treats though and there are times where just walking away is a reward.

I am careful with treats, they never get to ask for them and I am inconsistent with that reward, especially when one already knows the right response to a cue, so they don't seek them out.

I taught Snow, my pony mule, to unzip my jacket by using treats as a reward for the opened jacket. I rarely ask her to do it though and almost never ask her to do it more than one time in a session. I worried that she would be ripping my shirts off trying to find a way to get the treats but she has never offered the trick without being cued and the trick is a great crowd pleaser when we are at a public function.

I can't imagine using food as a reward for under saddle maneuvers. Release of pressure and a kind word or a rub will have to suffice for my equines there.

I have never used a clicker, preferring to use my voice. I use Yes to indicate the right behavior and tell them to keep going. Good means you did a good job, you can quit now. Just as with the equines, sometimes treats or toys are involved and sometimes not.

I guess I just use whatever works for that animal in that instance and don't really have an opinion on positive reinforcement being better or not as good as negative. Both work in some situations and not in others.

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equinitis

'I think one of the important things with using food or treats as reinforcement is that the animals will often begin to offer the tricks in hopes of a reward. This can become a problem with tricks that encourage the animal to invade space or make physical contact with the handler.'


I got a chuckle from that statement, as it brought back child hood memories. When I was around 10 or 11, one of our Percheron mares had a foal. Being horse crazy, I played with that baby and taught her to ride and drive when she got older, I also taught her a trick as a foal, that she never forgot!
I taught her to shake with her front foot, and rewarded her with a sugar cube Thus, even as a fully grown draft horse, she would suddenly offer a front foot, without warning, waiting for that sugar cube reward. Not so cute any longer, at that point!
I can see using treats for liberty and trick training, but personally have no use for either. If I was taking my horse to entertain at hospitals or senior citizen residences, or hoping to get my horse into the movies, then I could see application
There is so much to teach a horse , to make him a great athlete under saddle, that I see no reason to confuse the picture or take up time with trick training
I also think I sort of muddied the waters by my title of this topic. I was thinking of food as the only positive enforcement, and also focused on the clicker training aspect that naturally follows the food reward
I forgot that I also use both positive and negative rewards, just not food for that positive feed back. A pat and verbal, 'good boy/girl is also a positive feedback that the horse understands
The timing is also important.
Anyone that shows, has probably seen a class in line up, when the placings are announced, and wittinessed a rider giving his horse a pat when they win or place well. The horse has absolutely no idea why he is being rewarded at that point. The correct time to give the horse that pat, would be as you finish a class,, if the horse worked well for you. If my horse did an honest run in trail class , for example, I will give her a pat after my pattern is complete, and not wait until placings are announced
Edited by Smilie

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