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Food Treats in Training: Bribe vs. Reward
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2012 12:22 pm
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Paddle, I have deleted your post on this topic from the other thread because it would be better to start this as a new topic -- re-posted it here, to wit:

From 'Paddle':

My search results [at Google Advanced Search] seem to work best with one word searches. Pressure /release is what I should be looking for. So in the carrot stretches, the carrot is used as a lure as a means of pressuring the horse into the movement- the horse obtains the movement, the pressure is released & the reward of the carrot is given with flat open hand & slight pressure on muzzle for a few seconds to keep the horse from getting lippy.

The horse that I am working with has HYPP so carrots are out-- I have to work with apple slices. I am going to have to have my ducks in a row on using this as I don't want my fingers to go missing.

Because of my absolute novice status I question a lot of what I read if it is not congruent with what I know about working with human bodies but I don't want to dismiss something because of my lack of knowledge re horsess. The forum threads that I read in my search did help assure me that some of my observations were in keeping with what my human knowledge of movement is.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2012 12:24 pm
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Paddle, you are pretty well mixed up on the meaning of all four terms that we are going to discuss here. The four terms are:

BRIBE

REWARD

PUNISHMENT

PRESSURE

Now, before we can have any type of productive discussion about 'how to do carrot stretches', I want you to reply to this by supplying a less-than-three-sentence definition for each of these four terms, in your own words. -- Dr. Deb

paddle
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 Posted: Wed May 9th, 2012 09:28 am
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bribe: if you do what I tell you I will give you X-to get someone to do what you want by offering something

Reward: usually given to show appreciation of person or something they did.

Punishment: when someone does something you don't like you do something to them that causes distress or pain, restriction.

Pressure: a demand placed upon one with a time component. The dictionary has some definitions that go from persuasions (use with horse?) to intimidation. I feel pressured by your questions but willing to learn.

Last edited on Wed May 9th, 2012 10:13 am by paddle

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2012 02:43 am
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Paddle, I see that you own a dictionary. Very safe choice, but one that does not involve QUITE as much mental effort as I was hoping you might be willing to make. Obviously, words as used in horsemanship -- as with any specialty occupation -- have sometimes nuances of meaning which the folks at Webster's aren't thinking of. If you intend to come up to a higher understanding of horsemanship, you'll want to learn not just the crudest nuts and bolts but the nuances.

The most important part of the definition of BRIBE that I want you to discover is this: relative to the action or response desired from the horse, when does a bribe occur?

Relative to the action or response desired, when does a reward occur?

Likewise, conversely:

Relative to the action or response offered by the horse, when does a punishment occur?

Relative to the action or response offered, when does pressure occur?

And yes -- I expect you DO feel pressured by my insistence that students learn to think for themselves. You will find, however, that it gets more pleasant as time goes on; in fact, you can actually become addicted to it. -- Dr. Deb

 

paddle
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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2012 12:33 pm
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As you can tell I am a very concrete type of learner so given your instructions, I took them quite literally especially with the limit of 3 sentences. I should have asked the context of the words. I wrote the my definition & then checked the dictionary to make sure I was not being creative in how I used them was common usage. From your questions, I gather these terms all have to do with TIMING. From my readings & riding under instruction, timing is oh so critical in working with horses & I am working as hard as I can to understand & get the experience of it in riding. It is something I have to work on for the rest of my riding life.!

Bribe: I would have to show the horse the bribe at the beginning of whatever action. Because the horse lives in the now, it would have to stay in the now until it becomes a learned behavior such as everytime the horse sees the carrot this is what happens. So I would say, the bribe is presented always at the initiation or beginning.

A reward would occur at the immediate end of an action in the now of a horse, I have been told within 3 seconds of the action so the horse associates the reward with the action.

Punishment in the horse's world would be out of blue, random & not clear why or what or what is the expectation. I have a STRONG aversion to this word. There is no learning or forward movement, improvement. I have accidentally punished a horse by my poor timing, not asking for a gait correctly or been too quick in reining. My own lack of knowledge & ability I have "punished" & that is why I am taking lessons to have someone tell me so I can correct my behavior & not punish the horse.

Pressure experienced by the horse comes at the beginning & continues until the expected or requested action occurs. Pressure should be as little as possible to get the response. In learning, pressure with immediate release for the try on part of the horse. The release from pressure is when the horse knows or learns he did what was asked- the release would be the reward.

Last edited on Fri May 11th, 2012 03:09 pm by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2012 01:28 pm
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OK, Paddle, disentangling the factual content of your responses from the over-coating of explanations and opinions, you have gotten all four correct. To wit:

1. Yes, timing is important and yes, the aspect of these definitions that means the most is the part that relates to timing.

2. Both a bribe and a reward could be the same kind of thing, i.e., a desirable thing, a "positive", something the horse wants -- such as a carrot treat.

3. The difference between a bribe and a punishment is the timing. A bribe is a "positive" that comes BEFORE the desired action (irrespective of whether the desired action subsequently happens). A reward is a "positive" that comes AFTER the desired action (and obviously, a reward cannot be given until the desired action is actually produced by the horse).

4. Both a punishment and a pressure could be the same kind of thing, i.e., a "negative", something the horse does not want -- such as a bump from the heel of your boot.

5. The difference between a punishment and a pressure is the timing. A punishment is a "negative" that comes after the desired action does NOT occur (soon after, or long after, it doesn't matter which; and it also doesn't matter whether the horse perceives it as random or connects it with some previous action he made). A pressure is a "negative" that comes BEFORE the desired action, and acts as a stimulus for the horse to produce the desired action.

One important point: Go back to no. 4 and see that I did not say "get a whipping". Of course, a whipping would be punishment -- but so is a mild bump from the heel of your boot -- no matter how mild! It is the timing -- that the bump comes AFTER the desired action does not occur that makes it punishment. Conversely, the same bump -- or even a sharp smack with the whip -- would be a pressure if it came BEFORE the desired action, as an inducement for the horse to make that action. In other words, punishment does not merely mean "harshness" or "a 9 on a scale of from 1 to ten"; it is punishment to the horse merely that the person misunderstands the difference between punishment and pressure, and her timing is therefore always grossly "off".

Now that you've succeeded with this first set of questions, Paddle, I want you to read over this post carefully and study it, and then please report back again with your insights as to the next question:

When you are teaching a horse something new, what is the FIRST action (of these four) that you must take?

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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2012 04:15 pm
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I hope I'm not stepping on toes with a response here, but I am particularly intrigued with the line of questions on this topic.

Regarding pressure, is it not also accurate to say that pressure can happen "during" a response (particularly an undesired one), as in blocking, or as exemplified by the often quoted phrase "allow the horse to come into his own pressure?" The timing aspect would seem to be related to "set it up and wait," another often quoted phrase.

As to the first thing to do when teaching a horse something new, I am reminded of something Buck says about the horse "moving toward a release" in contrast to yielding to pressure. In my own experimenting, my horses tend to get into "search mode," as it were, and therefore feel back to me in softness much more easily, when I offer the release first. Meaning, I try to show them the "open door," and let them work at finding it. I wonder if that is congruent at all with the discussion?

paddle
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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2012 10:29 pm
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The first action I must take is pressure. I must give the horse a reason to seek his zone of comfort. In listening to your mannering cd, it is the bump to create the movement & release with any bit of a try. It can be walking towards the horse & stopping when he looks at me.

One thing that is bothering me about terms such as bribe, punishment. reward are all human values for lack of a better term. I think horses think differently from us & the terms describe human behavior & values. My OPINION IS behavior is communication & it up to me to discover what is being communicated if I want to dance. I make an action, what is the horses reaction.

I did not say "get a whipping"--- nor did I.

Last edited on Fri May 11th, 2012 03:44 am by DrDeb

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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 04:18 am
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That's correct, Paddle; the first action is always a pressure, even if it seems to you that it is "just" a request for the horse to do something or to respond in some way. Horses are so constituted that even just being compelled to hang around people is already (to them) pressure.

And Dave, the answer to your first couple of questions is embedded in this. In other words, you are merely using terminology that's characteristic of students who have a little more experience, but the words mean the same thing because the process creates the same result. If you have a sensitive horse, or one that's already aware that humans make demands which, if the horse figures out what is wanted, result in a reward which may be so slight as to be no more than a mere diminution of pressure, then even the suggestion that you "have something in mind" will be enough to cause that horse to try to hunt up the right answer.

This will not, however, at all be the case with Paddle's horse, no more than it was the case with all the horses you had at any time before you became able to understand what Buck or Ray have always been saying.

So unlike yourself, Dave, Paddle by her own admission (and a good admission it is, too) is a very early beginner. She's having her first experiences in horse training and has said that she is willing to work here to get some of the most basic things sorted out. I'm wondering, Dave, whether before making your post you had actually read any of the other threads, which were started before this one, in which Paddle first showed up here and began asking questions? Because if you had done so, you would have realized that your experience is more extensive than hers.

You would undoubtedly also have realized that my own purposes are to assist in Paddle's progress and development. For that IS my purpose -- to help her to on her own come to the same realizations about some of these things that you had already come to, Dave.

Our elderly teacher used to tell a story about how, when he lived out in Elko back in the 1940's, for a couple of years he assisted with teaching a 4H horsemanship group. They were a group of parents and kids of different ages -- and they came to him as a set of factions, each having some kind of petty war with the other: the older kids looked down on the younger ones, families with more money and better horses looked down on poorer ones, parents with kids who had more talent or a horse with more training looked down on the "have-nots". Within a very short time, of course, our elderly teacher had turned this completely around: he assigned the older kids to teach and assist the younger ones. He told the parents that they could either be supportive of everyone, or they could leave. He formed them into a riding troupe; the mothers sewed uniforms; they began to learn how to get horses OK within themselves and with other horses, even in fairly high-pressure situations. All the kids made progress and all of them began to take pride in their work and to value the friendship and unity -- COMMUNITY -- that our teacher was fostering. 

Now, Tom would tell this story and like all the stories that either he or Bill would tell, they never really closed it off, but rather left the hearer to put a bottom line on it. The one thing that Tom would say, though, at the end of this story, was: "....and this all happened because I wanted them to learn that the 'best' student in the class was not the one who could ride the best....not the one who knew the most....not even the one with the most try. The best student is the one who is the most help to all the others."

Now, Dave, I want you to think about this before replying again. You might have seen that I was already in dialogue here with a beginner who is so mixed up or naif that she not only did not know the difference between the four terms we have been discussing, which it is absolutely necessary to get clear on before any further discussion can possibly be cogent; but she is also muddled on the difference between the 'carrot stretch' she's read about in some magazine or other, and actual horse training.

Do you think then, Dave, that you could allow me to do my work here, without any attempt on your part to show Paddle or me or anybody else what you know? If you really want 'dialogue' on some of the topics you raise, you can start a new thread. Then Paddle can read that one at some later point, when the more esoteric terminology which you use will not simply become a stumbling-block for her. I'm asking you to permit Paddle the freedom to continue to 'hunt up' right answers and revelations -- you value this for your horse; you should also value it for Paddle.

And Paddle: You are gaining clarity on the four terms. Your opinion about them, though, doesn't matter a single bit; they are what they are, and all I'm asking you to do is learn the definitions of the terms as we use them in training or educating horses. You will find that it is a very useful habit, if you want to learn horsemanship, not to have any opinions.

Now we move on to the next terms for you to learn, which are:

(1)  RELEASE. What does 'release' mean in horsemanship terms? What important things happen within the horse at, or just after, the moment of release?

(2) LURE. You heard Pauline Moore use the term 'lure' in the thread on stretching, which you have also been reading. What's the difference between a bribe and a lure? What's the difference between a reward and a lure? -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 06:13 am
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Understood, Dr. Deb. Apologies to Paddle as well; I will continue to observe in silence and thereby learn more about teaching.

paddle
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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 10:02 am
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I don't see the carrot stretch as part of horse training but as part of a stretching program-the horse is actively stretching rather than having it done to him.

Release is the moment of learning for the horse, the aha! Yesterday in lesson I had to keep a little pressure on with my leg or the horse stopped doing what I asked. So release it seems needs to be graded to the task & the response. In riding I am working on how much pressure I need to use to get the response I want. I find there are lots of variations for the same action. In one direction I need a 2 of pressure & in the other direction it may take a 4. To me how I use pressure in riding is the learning of the dance.

A lure is for motivation, moving towards the desired object. Presented with the lure, the horse is initiating the movement. A bribe would not be initiated by the horse. Both the bribe & reward are actions from the human not the horse.

I appreciate your time to assist me in better understanding terms. From your comments (opinions) re my sources of information, who I am are your creation. I like making up stories about people too.

Last edited on Fri May 11th, 2012 02:34 pm by DrDeb

paddle
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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 11:15 am
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I want to learn horsemanship, not to have any opinions.

When I was at the very beginning of this journey, some of the instructors that I encountered & was told by people with many years of horse experience how wonderful they were & during the instruction was told to do things with & to a horse (to punish them because they were misbehaving when in reality the cinch was too tight) I did form an opinion. I no longer worked with that instructor. I don't automatically drink the cool aide.

Last edited on Fri May 11th, 2012 02:35 pm by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 03:03 pm
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I'm not making anything up about you, Paddle. You told me yourself in a previous post that you had first learned about 'carrot stretches' by something written in a magazine by Dr. Hillary Clinton.

This folds right in on another point I was going to make to you. This is not about you. Or, I should say: it needs to get to where it is not about you. From where you are right now, though, Paddle, it is all about you. This is not something that you can 'decide' to change, but it will change as your experience grows. One experience that can often accellerate the process is where you make enough of a mistake that your horse bucks you off or kicks you or bites you good and hard. Then indeed you will realize that it is not all about you. The animal does stuff like this because for a long time before he does it, you have not been making it all about HIM.

So: release is NOT the 'aha' moment for the horse. What is release then, in and of itself? It is the cessation of all pressure, or the lowering of pressure to the lowest possible level given the situation. When pressure has been released, it opens the opportunity for the horse to have some time when he experiences inner equanimity; complete peace. This is the only time when a horse can learn anything. You see that you have collapsed the 'aha' moment into the release of pressure, when indeed it is important to realize they are two separate things. The release is not itself the 'aha' moment; it is what makes the 'aha' moment possible.

You also say, "so the release it seems must be graded...." and this also is an error. Release is release, and that means 100% release, TOTAL AND COMPLETE cessation of any pressure coming from you. If you only release partially, you will create in your horse the deadly 'gray area' of which Harry Whitney often speaks. Horses that are forced by their muddled riders to work or exist in the gray area are unreliable, unteachable, and often dangerous. So here's the protocol for you, Paddle: when you ask your horse to do something, ask it outright and altogether. Let there be no doubt in the horse's mind as to what you are asking. Of course you make the thing you are asking of a size and complexity that he can handle, so that you break the overall task down into bite-sized chunks; but you ask for what you do ask for very frankly. Then, when you get (as our teacher Ray Hunt used always to say) "the smallest change and the slightest try," then you release, outright and altogether.

In short, the whole system of speech which talks about applying pressure on a scale of from 1 to 10 is itself in error, and is merely one more sign of how far off base the misguided clown is who has popularized this idea. In applying pressure, you do ALL that it takes, while maintaining a commitment to do as little as it is going to have to take -- in other words, you are to always be searching to see whether your horse will give you the same level of response for LESS. But early in the training or late, if you present a request to go, turn, or stop -- which is all there is to elementary training and all that you will currently have to think about Paddle -- and the horse does not respond to that request promptly and generously, then you repeat the request with enough pressure to get an honest try. So there is no 'scale of from 1 to 10'; it is always (at whatever level of pressure, feather-light or thunderous) 'all or nothing'; no gray area possible.

As to what a lure is: certainly it is not for motivation. Lures do not motivate; indeed their use tends to make horses disrespectful and uninterested, unless very carefully used. Pauline, who is a very fine horse trainer herself, knows this and uses lures well and safely.

As to what a lure is, it is anything the horse wants -- often something tasty to eat such as a bit of carrot. It is like a bribe in that it is proffered BEFORE the desired action, but it is manipulated in space so as to draw the head and mouth, and along with that, the horse's attention, to some position that the horse would probably not have adopted on his own. In short, a lure (which at a more sophisticated level will not be a food treat, but a flag or a sackfull of empty cans) is a tool that is used to attract and hold the horse's attention. A lure is a Birdie-caller and sometimes a Birdie-catcher, and in this form it has enormous importance and utility.

And this is what I am teaching you overall, Paddle -- I am trying to put a fear into you of using food treats wrong. Because in order to use food treats as a lure, you also have to know how to actually manage your own bodily actions so as not to teach your horse to nip or bite.

So, now after you have studied this memo, it will be time for you to tell me how you think food treats are to be handled. What specific bodily actions do you have to make (or conversely, which must you avoid) in order to use food treats either as lures or as rewards, and have it be that the horse does not try to nip, bite, snatch at the food, or try to pick your pockets?

Also, by the way, you note that I have edited several of your posts. The substance of the editing was to capitalize the letter "I", to put periods at the ends of sentences, and to capitalize the initial letter of the first word of every sentence. Also, to delete the ampersand sign and replace it with the word "at". We do not use "thumb language" here, so I will appreciate it if you do not try to correspond with us via your cell phone or any other miniaturized device, but instead wait until you can be in a place where you can use a proper keyboard so that you can communicate as much as possible in Current Standard English. This will enable everyone to easily understand what you have to say. -- Dr. Deb

 


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