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". 
Horses (and all animals, including humans!!) work on a constant measure of cost/benefit analysis. How much does this behavior cost (in time, energy, effort...), what are the usual consequences, and is this cost worth the potential benefits? Then they make a decision. Behaviors that usually have a fair or leaning to the appetitive side of the scale as a consequence consequence will happen more. Behaviors that have an unfair cost/benefit ratio, or lean towards the aversive side of the scale as a consequence, will happen less. These are how the learning quadrants work.

Remember also that each behavior/consequence pair is correlated to all the antecedents. If a behavior has an aversive consequence in one scenario, but an appetitive consequence in another antecedent scenario, the horse may only do the behavior in those antecedents. We use this as a way of instilling stimulus control right? If we want a behavior to only happen with the cue we only provide an appetitive consequence when the behavior happens with the cue.

But how about behaviors we didn't intend? How about the horse does a behavior that we punish - but then when we aren't there they do the behavior and have an appetitive consequence. The horse isn't sneaking, misbehaving, or being fresh, they aren't acting guilty or doing something they know is wrong. They've simply learned "this behavior works when a human isn't around - it doesn't work when there is a human around".

When we add labels like rude, disrespectful, misbehaving - it leads us to thinking of punishment, which really isn't the way to fix a behavior that we don't want. If there is a behavior the horse shouldn't do providing an aversive consequence only works if it happens 100% of the time the horse does the behavior (not just when humans are around). Rather than adding an aversive (Positive Punishment) - fix the antecedents. Fix what was causing the behavior, remove what reinforces the behavior when your not there, fulfill the need that the behavior is trying to fill.

Remove labels and human cultural constructs from your lingo and think about "what makes this behavior work" for the horse, then rearrange it, so a better behavior works.

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