Ethics

These are ethical discussions about the horse world and choices we can make

Why Avoid Aversives?

Why Avoid Aversives?
What is the difference between P+ and R-? Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Equine Emotions, Ethics

The Need for Food

The Need for Food
Today one of the kids said that they wish they didn’t have to feed treats when the horse does something they want. I explained again that this is how we both reward good choices and motivate future good choices. But they were still bothered, they wished the horse would just do it like a favor, out of love for their person. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Clicker Training, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Food Related Anxiety and Over-excitement

Food Related Anxiety and Over-excitement
Most horses start out at least a little thrilled about the clicker training experience. Teaching a safe, alternate behavior to mugging, such as stand facing forward, is a fantastic way to keep us safe and help the horse learn to relax around food. A key element in this first behavior MUST be relaxation. A horse can tuck their chin or look away or stand facing forward, but be boiling over, trembling with excitement.

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Posted by Jessica in Clicker Training, Equine Emotions, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Poisoned Cues

Poisoned Cues

The idea of poisoned cues first requires a good understanding of what a cue is and isn’t. A Cue is defined as “a discriminative stimulus (SD) established through positive differential reinforcement” this means the learner knows that cue/antecedent=behavior X=positive reinforcement. Remember our ABCs? Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (loop). A “cue” is one that results in a positive (addition of appetitive) Consequence. A cue eventually becomes a conditioned positive reinforcer, just like a click. Remember Classical Conditioning when X=Y? When a neutral stimulus is paired repeatedly with an appetitive stimulus is becomes a classically conditioned appetitive. So when Cue=Behavior=R+, Cue=R+! As simple as that! We can also test this – the animal will work for the ability to get the cue that results in R+, remember this is how behavior chains work! Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Equine Emotions, Ethics, Troubleshooting

BAD Horses!

Bad Horses

“Good” and “Bad”, “polite/rude”, “respectful/disrespectful”, “behaving/misbehavior” are all constructs based on human culture. All horses know are “Works” and “doesn’t work”.  Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Importance of Choice

Importance of Choice

Does positive reinforcement (R+) and negative reinforcement (R-) present the same amount of choice and partnership? We all want a good relationship, we all want partnership and love – no matter which quadrant we’re using.

What is choice? Is there such thing as free choice? If we really want to get into it there is no such thing free choice – every behavior has consequences, consequences influence behavior. No matter whether humans are involved or not. The horse can choose not to run from the predator, but it might not be a smart choice. So honest and complete free choice doesn’t really exist. Add in domestication and choices are further limited, because there are some things that are needed for their own well being. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Equine Emotions, Ethics

No Punishment?

No Punishment?

“We don’t use Punishment here”.
I say this a great deal at my barn (I often phrase it nicer depending on the circumstances). But it’s one of the first things I tell anyone coming to my farm. The intentional use of punishment isn’t allowed at my farm (stuff happens, sometimes we unintentionally punish or we make a mistake or have a habit reaction) but we aspire to punishment-free. The most common response is “You let them get away with Everything?!” (even if they don’t say that outloud). They think this means you allow your animals to walk all over you, to demand food, to be spoiled or to “dominate” you!! (Buzz word – I know!) But fact of the matter is, when we train well we don’t need punishment. Period. “Positive does not mean Permissive”. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics, Troubleshooting

What is an Aversive?

What is an Aversive?

Negative Reinforcement is the removal of a stimulus that encourages a behavior to increase in frequency. This stimulus that is removed must be aversive to the learner. If the learner finds it neutral the removal will not be reinforcing. If the learner finds the stimuli appetitive and it is removed this would be negatively punishing not reinforcing. “Pressure” became a common word to describe “aversive” as that’s what is commonly used (physically pushing, space invading, tapping, whipping or pinching), these forms of “Pressure” would be aversive to most learners (though I’ve met a few who find it like play and enjoy the rough housing). In R- most people use escalating aversives, through some use of pressure. This doesn’t mean all forms of “pressure” are aversive. A massage, a hug, a gentle touch, a good scratch, a kiss, these may be appetitive or neutral to the learner. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics

Control or Communication

Control or Communication?

Most of us would agree, Clicker Training (or reward based training) is a fantastic, kind and fun way to train your horse new behaviors. As Reward based trainers we opt for training opposites or changing the motivation to get rid of unwanted behaviors. But is that all we do? Add or subtract behaviors we like and don’t like?

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Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics

Humane Hierarchy

Humane Hierarchy
We frequently have discussions about when, where and how it’s ethically alright to use other quadrants or techniques in our training and daily handling. Luckily Dr. Susan Friedman put together this amazingly wonderful guide for us to use, the “Humane Heirarchy”.

Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Ethics