How we view the “fallout” of training

I am very glad to see that people are increasing their observational skills so that they can see and notice when a horse is frustrated by the training process. This is amazingly good news for the horse.

I would like to suggest that we have watched horses being trained with negative reinforcement and we have become so accustomed to seeing the corresponding behaviors¬†of fallout with the method; some even see it as a normal part of training. So the manifestations of a fearful or stressed horse are just accepted, but we truly don’t understand the level of stress we’re creating by the method.

For example if you have a trailer in an arena or pasture with a horse, you will see the horse automatically regulate the distance where it finds comfort. But when you add a lead rope and the human element and the techniques used to teach the horse to go into the trailer (which involves negative reinforcement and pressure) we are not surprised at all to see the horse backing away or showing the whites of his eyes or actually trying to escape.

Yet in my eyes these are all signs of a horse who is over threshold at the hands of a trainer using a technique.

The pressure tools in the hands of the different trainer might yield a different result. You might see a horse being asked for a single step at which point you see the release.¬† In this example another group of people might say that it’s better training. However, if you took the halter off and gave the horse the choice to participate, will the horse still be anywhere in the vicinity of the trailer?

So the fallout of and manifestations of the trainer’s tools are still clearly seen in how the horse immediately responds to the item once the trainer takes away all tools of coercion.

Maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is how the fallout manifest in a misapplication of a technique and how do we avoid those pitfalls?

My thought is as we get better acquainted with the behaviors, then mark the fallout of BOTH quadrants of training, we can learn to be better trainers.

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One Response to How we view the “fallout” of training

  1. Marsha Craig says:

    I clicker trained my mini Appy and because of the successful training she is now a Registered Therapy Animal visiting Tufts Medical Center – only horse visiting a major medical facility in Boston. The week of the Boston Marathon Bombings she was invited into the Boston Sheraton Hotel to do a comfort visit with the volunteers at the finish line that dreadful day. 17 weeks ago we adopted a rescue from slaughter that had been beaten, starved and cattle prodded. Last week she came in the house and did her first unofficial pet therapy visit. She gives kisses, shakes hands, no longer fears people (shy but not fearful), whip doesn’t scare her, trash bag waved over her head – I could bore you to tears about how positive reinforcement and clicker traing has done. Miniaturehorse303 on youtube I’ve got short videos of clicker training the cat and dog together, videos of Precious (the rescue) making progress and of Lily. Lily is potty trained and I’ve just started working with Precious on potty training. My hope is to bring Precious to the point where we can take her for evaluation and have her join the dog, cat and Lily as pet therapy animals. I got my first horse at the age of 62, I’m now months away from 68 – if it wasn’t for clicker training I’d have a wild dog, spoiled destructive cat and two horses, one lawn ornament and one you couldn’t touch.

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