ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Too many excuses and not hard enough ?
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 09:54 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Sam, I find it really annoying that you need to put us horse owners in three categories or neat little boxes.  Horse ownership is alot more complicated, like Joe mentions.   Even though I don't agree with a slap in the face for a nip, although I have done so,  I wouldn't call it abuse either.   I'm just looking for a better way.  You seem to think a slap is the only way and are not really open to suggestions.  I'm here to learn, not be dictated to.  How about you?   

Pam 

Wendy
Member
 

Joined: Tue May 8th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 13
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 02:42 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi everyone,

So Pauline, you say that leadership belongs to the one who can move the other horse to where they want it to be.  So the 'slap in retaliation for the nip' method could be likened to a lower order member of the herd pulling faces while moving to where a more dominant horse wants it to be.  After all, you don't see a horse double up in pain if it gets kicked by another.  With that sort of pain threshold a flick on the nose isn't likely to cause undue trauma. 

In the same way that you have differing levels of dominance within the horse herd, there are differing levels of dominance in the human herd.  A good balance would be matching horse to human at a ratio weighted slightly in favour of the human. 

If you looked at it this way it is more like a scale and less like compartmentalising (Is that a word?) Obviously when you are just starting out you would be well matched with a horse from the lower end of the dominance scale, then it would be up to you if you wanted to move up from there.  As we are hearing (from Paulines' stories) not necessarily all horses want to move up the hierarchy either, but that harmony within the ranks will prevail if we lead from the front.  

Good discussion isn't it?

 

    

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 11:44 am
 Quote  Reply 
Wendy - you raise two interesting points here that we haven't taken into account.

The first is that in purely physical terms, even the strongest man, with his bare fists, will not be able to put much of a dent into any horse's pain threshold compared to the damage they inflict on each other.  When I was thinking of abuse that is at the end of the wedge starting with a slap or a whack, I was not thinking of any physical pain that might (unlikely) be felt by the horse.  Although I didn't specify, I had in mind the confusion  and incomprehension a horse would feel who had no idea why he had just been hit.   There has been talk earlier in this thread of time lapse between cause and effect.  There is an Australian researcher, a neural biologist, who recently got his PhD on equine behaviour and learning, who says he has proved that there is only one second, maximum, between an action by the horse and a consequence from a handler, in order for the horse to connect the two together.  I think Kallisti was referring to something like this in her comments about nipping/nipped.  Few of us have that speed of reaction - by the time we've said 'Ouch' and then raised our hand to slap, that second has long gone.  I suspect that the perceived effectiveness of this training method for some non-reactive horses is in fact the horse maintaining a wary distance (mentally if not physically) from the handler lest they again be hit for (as they see it) no reason.    Any prey animal is a master at reading intent in a potential predator - the slightest anger or aggression from us will be seen by the horse before we are aware of it ourselves, leading to confusion and anxiety in the horse - a confused and insecure horse is a distressed horse, the first one to become tiger-tucker if in the wild.

This leads on to the second point about dominance and submission which we have skirted around in this thread.  I don't think leadership is the same as dominance, but what is everyone else's view?

Referring back to my old TB, I can't say that I saw him as a dominant type, but a brilliant leader - yes.  All horses wanted to be close to him, he was their place of security and safety.  Joe talked about the business rescues he was involved with and how effective it was to project a calm, confident leadership role - I doubt that he, or anyone else, would have thought of him as dominant.  There are a lot of celebrity horse trainers who brag about their domination of the horse and teach their fans to do likewise, but personally, I don't want that type of relationship with my horses,  I want them to feel free to express their individual characteristics. 

I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few months as I've observed the different type of relationship that my colt has to his Dad and to the gelding - both are definitely well above him in the pecking order.  Although Dad and Junior do play together daily, it is always at the initiation of Dad, the colt is required to play whether he likes it or not.  Play with the gelding is most often started by the colt, in fact it seems to be the highlight of his day if he can provoke the gelding into chasing him, but they always end up sharing a mound of hay at feedtime, the best of friends.  Whenever the colt has been off by himself for a short while, for a snooze or whatever, his return is always marked by his Dad walking out to meet him in a highly collected body posture (this might happen a dozen times a day).  The stallion will then press the side of his face against the jowls or upper neck of the colt - this is often the start of a few minutes of play activity - roughly translated I think he is saying 'Welcome back Junior, nothing has changed in the 10 minutes you've been away, I'm still the boss'.  The colt's role in this is to never, ever, take on that collected round body posture - that would be taken as a challenge I believe, submission being indicated by his lack of collected posture.  The only time I have seen the colt adopt a highly collected posture was when Dad was out of the paddock, sedated, having his teeth done.  The relationship between the colt and the stallion could well be described as one of dominance, the colt is wary of Dad, although they give the impression of being good mates, he is never cheeky and never initiates any contact.   Despite the gelding being clearly senior to the colt, Junior feels a freedom to be his true cheeky self, seeks the company of the gelding and looks to him for safety and security.

What I'm thinking is that if submission equates to a neutral body posture (neither collected nor in flight mode), then it must be very hard for a horse whose rider is demanding a highly collected body posture when the relationship between that horse and rider is one of dominance and submission.  Given a choice between the two types of relationship between my horses and me, I would opt for the latter  - think I'd rather be seen as a leader, than as being dominant.

Feel free, anyone, to tell me I'm dreaming again.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

 

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 01:41 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Very interesting post, Pauline.  Not knowing the answer to your question, I can only add the thought that some horses appear to make collected movements just for the fun of it  while at liberty, and regardless of the herd.  That being the case (if it is), there may be a material difference between a "directed" collected movement as in your old TB with Jr., and other, "general" collected movements.

Here is something of an analogy:  If I playfully swat one of my richly deserving children, he or she will laugh and scamper.  If I make the same movement with the same force with the tone and body language that they are "in trouble," he or she will cry.  Same movement, same energy level, different context, very different result.

Taking small exception to the idea that the strongest man cannot make a dent in a horse with bare hands -- in college I worked and hung out at the school stable most of the time.  There was a band of mares and geldings in the pasture who were fed grain from a long common table.  One of the horses was a stock little guy of about 14 hands named Chalky -- probably a cross-bred pony of some kind.  Chalky was low in the pecking order and had to sneak in to get his food, often using nips to shove other animals aside. One day my roommate Kenny was spreading out the grain, when Chalky nipped him good and hard.  Now Kenny was a monster, much bigger than me (and I am 6'5" and then at 17 years old weighed about 185 -- now at 53 about 225).  Kenny was very powerful.  In high school he had been an all-Louisiana tackle in American football.  He could lift a hayrick off the wheels on one side by himself and hold it while we removed a wheel.  When Chalky nipped him, Kenny in a burst of temper yelled in pain and swung around and punched the animal in the jaw, good and hard.  Chalky actually sagged and swayed.  He certainly backed off, and he did not nip Kenny ever again.

Now, of course, we would not consider this a Good Thing, and we would argue that Chalky's subsequent manners were the result of fear of Kenny.  So be it.  At the time we thought it was pretty funny.

I'd say that Kenny crossed Chalky's threshold.

Cheers!
Joe

Last edited on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 01:42 pm by Joe

Marion
Member
 

Joined: Wed May 16th, 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 9
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 10:14 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Pauline,

As I was reading your post, I was starting to think about whether a horse being collected under a rider would be assuming the leadership role between horse/rider.  Then you verbalised what was in my mind, too!

There are instances of riders (eg Bettina Drummond, Reiner Klimke) who achieve collection, at the same time as keeping the leadership role.  The horse must be taking his cue from the rider.

You know sometimes the feeling when you want to stretch, or dance, or do yoga, or something physical and you feel that your body is beautiful? And you feel (unselfconsciously) that your body is also looking beautiful, performing in the way that God/evolution designed it?

One day my mare trotted up to me, then performed piaffe, just in the moment.  I felt I was witnessing true beauty and that this was a gift to me, her sharing some kind of joy in the grace of her body.  I had a feeling of 'oneness' with her.  I felt that she was 'offering her beauty to me'.  It never occurred to me that she might have been trying to dominate me - quite the opposite.

When we ride and achieve collection, for a fleeting moment, are we equals in a partnership? Is there give and take? Or is the line of leadership blurring, is it still clear?  Does the horse know the boundaries so very well and in that, joyfully (and with discipline) express himself?  When a horse achieves true collection under saddle, is it a spiritual celebration of his strength and beauty and his partnership with his 'leader', his rider?

I'm not sure that true collection can be grudgingly (conjugage the verb correctly! LOL) given.  Physically, yes, but it doesn't look/feel any good without the participation of the spirit of the horse.

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 10:31 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Marion:
I worry about to much attribution of emotions to horses.  We humans have so much more bandwidth for emotions that a fraction of what we feel would overwhelm them.  I wonder if we sometimes lose track of the animal nature of the horse?
Joe

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 24th, 2007 10:35 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Joe,

It sounds like your friend was very effective in getting his point across and it cured.  He operatted from instinct, which comes from a very deep place within, verses being very emotional.  I think horses understand that language.  What they don't understand is when someone gives a non-committal slap for a nip or bite.  I see people slap their horses because other people are watching and expect them to do something, and because they don't want to look ineffective (this goes especially for women trying to look tough in what is perceived as a man's world), but they are ineffective and they don't fool the horse for one second.  I think if one is going to do something to a horse for a behavior it needs to have meaning behind it, like the example you use with your children,  otherwise you are just a boring nag.  I have no problem with that.  That way it is over and done with.

I remember getting spankings from my father as a child verses my mother.  My father's spankings worked (and they were infrequent) because I never did what he was mad about again.  On the other hand my mother's went on deaf ears because of the lack of  meaning behind them.  I knew she spanked only because she thought she should, not because she wanted the behavior to end.  I would consider my mother's treatment abusive and not my father's.  In the end I respected my father for his honesty and caring for me.    

Pam

Sam
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 149
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 25th, 2007 04:46 am
 Quote  Reply 
Sam I ai'nt

Well, especially Pauline and Joe, you have answered my questions and you've given me faith  that not all of the so called "natural" horse people are tunnel visioned and lacking in common sense.

I've learn't, as expected, that there are soft owners out there but I hope through some of these threads that they will have learn't who they are, and that it is exceptable, in certain circumstances, to use some force in reprimanding your horse for serious vices. We should ALL except that ALL horses are ANIMALS and in order to keep things safe,   we are the Boss.  Some of you (and you know who you are) are so wrapped up in feeling good by having your pet toys and  excusing mis-behaviour as keeping it "natural. To those people, I hope you've had cause to re-think.

Has been interesting and believe it or not, I have learn't a thing or 2

Better let Sam have her forum back for good.

Have fun and keep safe everyone

SAM I AIN'T

Sam
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 149
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 25th, 2007 07:50 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Everyone,

I hid from this thread after himself mentioned 'woolly woofters' it all got a bit too hard for me!! But it has been sooo interesting, I am thrilled to hear all about Pauline's boys all together in their herd, what lucky, lucky horses.  The saddest thing ever is to see a stallion on his own.  This has been an very interesting thread for me as it really brings a 'something' to light for me.  We are all 'guided' for want of a better word by our own beliefs at that particular moment in time.  There is no right or wrong way but there might be better ways, but we might not be ready to hear them yet.  If I return to the incidenct that created this thread, himself believed he was doing what was right at that time, I do not have to join in with this belief as Pauline (I hope it was you!) said we all have choices about what we do.  I am very 'aware' I have become very soft on my horses and am learning that I can be clear to them with my intentions, they are not going to die and neither am I.  I also choose to believe that horses do have a vast range of emotions that  aren't the 'same' as humans but there never the less and I also feel that if Marion believes her mare performed for her at that moment, she is free to take that as the gift it might have been intended.  Same for Pauline and her helping her stallion intergrate into the herd.  These forms of communication between horse and owner are what keeps me in horses and now I choose to find the balance with retaining this belief and looking at things from a horses point of view without  buying into the 'not helpful' interperations of what my equines are saying.    Have fun folks, lots of learing going on here.

Best Wishes

Sam the first   (Ex woolly woofter).......mostly:)

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 25th, 2007 01:57 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I've learned from this thread, too.  It has been excellent overall.  Part of learning is figuring out that you don't know somethng and need to learn it.  That is where I am.  I am very far from being able to read and anticipate horses consistently.  But this thread has clarified some things, and opened up some new ones -- which it how learning works.

Would agree fully that animals do have a significant range of emotions, although I would argue that they are far more limited than our own.  Whether they "give" as in make a deliberate gift, or merely find it agreeable to do things with us is something we will never know.  I am not sure it matters, either.  The bottom line is free, motivated cooperation.

Also agree that there are better ways that we might not necssarily be ready to hear yet.  It takes a while for things to sink in, even with an open mind.  When I started on this forum, I was considerably put off by a certain snobbery that existed in some former participants, that was coupled with what seemed to me to be a spacey, wooley-woofterish use of language about merging souls and so on.  It all seemed very lala and new ageish.  Had it not been for herself's scientific credentials, and the very good sense displayed in her writings, I would have laughed and passed by.  I did wince a lot, and I pulled back for a while, but for some reason did not leave.  Sooner or later, at least part of what DD is talking about began to connect and the light was turned on, at least at low wattage.  I am now ready to hear, and consequently learn, more.

Joe

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 25th, 2007 06:34 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Sam I Ain't,

I am one of the people you put in the "softie" box and I am fine with that title.  I think people like yourself can underestimate us softies though.   That is your nature to do so.

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 26th, 2007 11:32 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello Marion - I was not intending to imply that a collected body posture in a horse is always a sign of domination, I'm sure your mare was not being dominant, perhaps just feeling good and wanting to play.  I occasionally see the gelding collecting himself strongly in play with the colt, but neither of them would dare to do so when approaching the stallion who could be said to have a dominant relationship with them, rather than the leadership role the old TB had with them .   I have not personally seen either Drummond or Klimke so cannot comment directly, but maybe their relationship to the horse was one of leader rather than boss.    The brand of collection currently favoured by the dressage world is different to the collected posture adopted by a horse at play in the paddock, so is not relevant to what I was thinking about.   If I'm interpreting correctly the scenario I see daily with my horses (and that's a big IF - could be quite wrong) in which a neutral posture indicates submission in the presence of a dominant, senior ranking animal, then I wonder how a person who has established a dominance over their horse could expect to have that same horse take on the highly collected posture that (maybe) is indicative of at least a challenge to that dominant person.  This would be quite different to the person who has established a leadership role with a horse and then invites that same horse to take on the highly collected posture in a spirit of play.  Hope this is making sense - to me it's just another reason for finding a better way to handle horses than the use of force.

If you're still looking in, Second Sam, thanks for all your input - this has been a good conversation, we've all learned something.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

Marion
Member
 

Joined: Wed May 16th, 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 9
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 27th, 2007 11:00 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Pauline,  I really like the way you write about things, and what you were describing resonated with some of the things that I have been thinking about.  I think my mare that day collecting herself, was her having a joyous moment, but I didn't feel that she was wanting to dominate me. 

I had not thought of the difference between being 'the leader' or 'the boss' of the horse.  This sounds to me like two very different ways of being with your horse.  I would like to be the leader, and also, encourage the kind of posture that is displayed by the horses in the paddock at play.

I too, have wondered how a rider who has insisted on complete dominance (including the spirit) of their horse, achieves a highly collected posture of their horse.  Can it be possible?

To me, it is a balancing act of discipline and play (for me, too).  Also, recognising my horse's limits (and mine).  I want to encourage her expression, but keep her 'with me'.  I have to be running a kind of emotional feedback loop every second, and stay focussed.  I need to be very clear in what I am asking.  In the act of trying, perhaps my horse is 'expressing' her response to what she thinks I am inviting.  I wouldn't feel that she was dominating me, but hopefully, communicating with me.  I don't want to completely dominate any horse, but I want to feel safe and confident that we understand each other.

I absolutely love watching her when she canters and plays - she is so graceful - to harness this and have her perform on request...

This is the first time I'm verbalising these thoughts, I've wondered a lot about motivating my horse.


 



Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 27th, 2007 02:38 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Pauline Moore wrote: The brand of collection currently favoured by the dressage world is different to the collected posture adopted by a horse at play in the paddock, so is not relevant to what I was thinking about.  
Pauline, how can yo fail to see the natural grace in todays dressage?  Is it the overbent "collection" driven by leg aids that wave around like upside down windshield wipers in a really bad rain storm?

Joe

Zareeba
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 6th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 12:01 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi all,

This is a very interesting thread, although I think it teaches us more about humans than about horses!

There is a lot of talk about 'dominance' and ‘hierarchies' in this thread, but in my view these are red-herrings. When we talk about what is 'normal' for horses, how do we define 'normal'? Do we mean normal as in the way they behave in natural family groups (not 'herds') as seen in feral horse societies, left to get on with their lives without interference? If we do, then the concepts of 'dominance' and 'hierarchies' are virtually meaningless, and aggressive behaviour is minimal - friendly behaviour is much more common (see Joel Berger's 'Wild Horses of the Great Basin' and Marthe Kiley-Worthington's 'Horse Watch - What it is to be Equine' and my own books 'Let Horses Be Horses'  and 'Understanding horse Behavior' for starters).

If, on the other hand, we mean 'normal' as in the behaviour of horses in domestic settings, then a great deal depends on the management of a particular group. It also depends how you define 'dominant'! As for the so-called ‘alpha’ horse – this is another red-herring. If one horse is consistently more aggressive than others, then it may tell us a great deal about that horse, and possibly about how the group is constituted and managed, but it means nothing in terms of ‘leadership’ or social dominance.

As D.A. Welsh points out, ‘An important distinction is to separate true leadership from forcing, and from being first; just because a horse forces others out of his way does not mean that he is the leader, nor is the first one in a walking group necessarily in charge.’ ([size=D.A. Welsh, Population, behavioral and grazing ecology of the horses of Sable Island, MSc Thesis,  ]Dalhousie,  USA
,  1973  pp.205-206)

 This is borne out by the findings of various studies of feral horses.  For example, Telane Greyling, a zoologist who has spent the greater part of the last 13 years among the feral horses of the Namib desert, observing and recoding the behaviour of these horses, fully concurs with what I have said in the last two paragraphs  (Greyling, T.   The behavioural ecology of the feral horses in the Namib Naukluft Park   MSc Thesis  University of Pretoria   1994; also various personal communications with me on this subject)


 

Furthermore, I do not believe that horses can ever think of us as just another (rather funny-looking) horse – unless they are malimprinted (and ‘imprinting’ does not mean what popular ‘gurus’ say it does!).

I do not think that frequent expressions of aggression can or should be regarded as ‘normal’ – they are a sign of something amiss in that particular equine society. Aggressive behaviour is many times more common in domestic groups than it is in feral groups - there are many reasons for this - see the books mentioned above for more detailed explanations than I can give here.

Also there seems to be some confusion about what constitutes punishment. Sam I Ain’t says:

‘If I bump a horse, smack, whack or whatever its NEVER a punishment. Its not anger or given with malice, its just meant to be an unpleasant result to his undesirable action.’ But, Sam, if a horse perceives your action as unpleasant then it is punishment , regardless of your state of mind. Punishment given without anger or malice is still punishment. It is the perception of the animal – and how it affects the animal – that counts, not the intention behind your acts.

In 'Understanding horse Behavior' I wrote:

‘Punishment is often confused with negative reinforcement, but as I said earlier, they are not the same thing. In fact they could be said to be opposites, because negative reinforcement acts to increase the likelihood of behaviour being repeated, whereas punishment (in theory at least) acts to decrease it. We can either introduce something unpleasant as a punisher (positive punishment) or we can deprive the subject of something he or she likes (negative punishment).

‘Many people believe in punishment-based training, either because it is what they have been taught, or because they believe the use of punishment is an effective way to train animals. However, punishment is not really a very good training method. We can use it to tell a human or non-human what not to do, but we cannot convey by this means what we do want them to do. Even if we use it just to get rid of an unwanted behaviour, that behaviour may simply be replaced by another, equally unwanted behaviour; the punishment will do nothing to motivate the subject to switch to the kind of behaviour we do want. In terms of motivation, punishment is therefore rather a hit-and-miss affair. It must be administered immediately and be sufficiently strong to act as a deterrent. The degree of punishment has to be greater than the animal’s desire (or need) to do whatever he is being punished for; or, as with excessive negative reinforcement, the subject may do as we wish, but make only sufficient effort to avoid punishment or the stimulus. Or he may simply make greater efforts to avoid being caught!

‘People often use punishment illogically. One often sees a rider giving their horse a smack with a whip because he has refused a fence. Such riders will often justify their actions on the grounds that the horse was being naughty in refusing, and they want to ‘teach him a lesson’. Quite apart from the fact that the horse might have refused because he was afraid of the jump or unsure whether he could tackle it, how is he supposed to know that his refusal was the reason for his punishment? And how can he know that in order to avoid punishment next time, he had better jump any fence his rider points him at?

‘Another common scenario is that in which a rider will punish the horse for some misdeed when he is back in the stable. This is even more illogical than the rider hitting the horse for refusing a jump. How can the horse possibly know what he is being punished for? The same objection applies when people deprive a horse of his dinner because he has been ‘naughty’. Many people justify such actions on the grounds that ‘it worked because the horse never did it again.’ How do they know he would have done it (whatever ‘it’ was) again anyway?               ]

‘Behaviour analyst Murray Sidman has written at length about the damaging side effects of coercion and punishment, which extend far beyond the circumstances in which they are used. However, this does not mean that we must never use punishment. There may be situations – for example if a horse is behaving aggressively and we do not have enough information to know what is causing the aggression – where we need to take action in order to avoid injury. As Dr Sidman points out, in such situations “…common sense tells us that we have to use whatever effective means are at hand.” But as he goes on to say, the occasional emergency “may justify punishment as a treatment of last resort, but never as the treatment of choice. To use punishment occasionally as an act of desperation is not the same as advocating the use of punishment as a principle of behavior management.”’

So- except in circumstances which present a ‘clear and present danger’ - before resorting to punishment we should always try to find the cause of the undesirable behaviour. The horse may be trying to tell us that all is not well with some aspect of his world; if we punish him, he may simply stop trying to tell us, until the situation becomes so intolerable that in desperation, his behaviour really does become dangerous (so what do we do then? Punish him again?). Or – as in the case of many colts who nip – unwanted behaviour may simply be a form of attention-seeking, and a slap (or whatever) just encourages the behaviour. There are many better ways of changing or preventing unwanted behaviour than the use of punishment.

It is not a matter of being ‘soft’ or ‘hard’, but of taking the trouble to understand why horses behave the way they do – and in order to do this, we have to discard all the rubbish talked by people who say we have to take on the role of the ‘alpha horse’, make ourselves the equivalent of the ‘herd leader’ or similar babble. Read the books mentioned above (yes, I know 2 of them are mine, but I have researched the subject by making my own systematic observations as well as reading reams of scientific material). Then study the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how horses (or any animals) learn. There are at present no really good books specifically about learning in horses (Debbie Marsten’s ‘How Horses Learn’ is very good in parts but seriously flawed in others, especially in the definitions of reinforcements). So I would recommend Karen Pryor’s ‘Don’t Shoot the Dog’, even though her notions of giving the aids in riding seem crude to say the least – even so, this is a good introduction to the processes of learning. I would also thoroughly recommend ‘How Dogs Learn’ by Mary Burch and Jon Hailey.

As for the belief that horses respond better to negative reinforcement than to positive reinforcement, I can assure you that this is not the case! But I’ve already gone on about this far too long…


 Current time is 01:51 pm
Page:  First Page Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  Next Page Last Page  




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez