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What's your opinion of this article?

What's your opinion of this article?

Postby FlorayG » Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:31 pm

http://straightnesstraining.com/the-hor ... our-horse/
Be warned, it takes a while to read :?
it looks like a load of pseudo-scientific babble to me
I'm not asking BTW if you think she is a good horse trainer - I haven't watched her work so I have no opinion on that either way - just what you think of the article? It starts off with very clear descriptions of learning processes and seems, to me, to descend into her own personal ideas nothing to do with science.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby Trudi » Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:58 pm

I'm too tired to read the whole thing but for instance this

-R: When trainers accidentally use too long or too much or sudden pressure this might lead to levels of stress. Or when there’s lack of release, the horse might perceive the trainer’s action as punishment. Or when a rider uses steady pressure and steady contact with the legs and the reins, the horse starts to act like a ‘puppet-on-a-string’, relying on the ‘side-wheels’.


is just wrong- punishment is something that is used to diminish a behaviour and to mix up reinforcement and punishment sounds like they just don't understand the science or vocabulary used. There are lots more examples of similar mix ups but perhaps with English not being the first language it is just a case of them using the wrong words because at points they use the correct terms about the correct behaviour.

I like the whole idea that they use 'kinder' techniques and agree that 100% +R is impossible- although you can teach most of it by +R and then just transfer it to more traditional 'looking' cues over time.

It sounds like most of the ST work I watch/read it is trying to be very formulaic so that people get 'hooked' into the system- I know of folks who have failed to stick to it over time because they don't become independent thinkers within the system.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby Chevalblanc » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:58 am

Comes across as a bit pretentious, anything containing the word "empowerment" usually does :wink: . Agree with them about the way we use language being important though (think we've discussed this before), connotations of words like "negative" & "punishment" etc.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby FlorayG » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:50 am

I did actually respond to the article and ask her how could punishment in any way 'empower' a student?
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby spottygiraffe » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:05 pm

I actually really liked it :hide: I am a fan of MdJ anyway, so I went into it with a positive attitude (see what I did there? :lol: )

As Helen said, we have had a few discussions on linguistics/semantics on here before (taking the piss, anyone?) and I agree with all of this as something that muddies the issue:

Nowadays it’s very 'popular' to be a complete opponent of ‘punishment’, just by the emotional feeling the word alone triggers.
For the same reason riders are sometimes extremely drawn to ‘positive reinforcement’, again just by the emotional feeling the words ‘positive’ and ‘reinforcement’ triggers, and not because they have a complete scientific understanding of the concept, knowing all the benefits and costs in all possible contexts.
Also when ‘negative’ is simply interpreted as ‘bad’, some people avoid using the concept of negative reinforcement. Some people even think that negative reinforcement is the same as punishment.
Now we have to respect these views on words and concepts and we have to respect past experiences, beliefs, and these individual ‘models of the world’, but we also have to take care that ‘words’ doesn’t color or cloud our view on a scientific concept.

We have to keep in mind 'positive' and 'negative' and 'reinforcement' and 'punishment' is a 'word choice', which of course can lead to a discussion, which in most cases is a more linguistic or semantic discussion, than a practical one.


It is such an interesting topic in itself and it's easy to pick holes in something when in fact it was just a language issue.

I also like the part about going too far into any one quadrant. I have been so guilty of that myself and have ended up failing because I haven't been able to achieve what I set out to do by using the method that I aligned myself with. I think I'm a purist at heart and like to belong to one camp, the one I feel most passionate about, but I think the best horsepeople are those who find their own way whilst drawing from the best of all of the camps. You need to have confidence and 'feel' to do that though so I think most people are probably more like me and feel more comfortable buying into one method.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby FlorayG » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:14 pm

I totally agree with her that people misuse the words. Your average horseperson wouldn't understand the difference between negative reinforcement and mild punishment. Thus far she's making a valid point. But I don't think she understands them herself.
She goes on to say that you can use more than one quadrant at a time and that just doesn't work. She says pressure, release, reward...but what are you rewarding? The fact that you released the pressure? That doesn't make sense :hmmm: . She gets totally muddled in her own understanding of the quadrants of learning.
I've got no problem with people using -R in the right way (and to her credit she does say that escalation of pressure isn't going to work) but this is pseudo-science. If she is a good trainer (and as I said, I have no idea) then she should stick to what she understands and can use and not try to confuse her students into thinking that one quadrant is no better than another because it's a proven scientific fact that +R works best and +P is pretty much useless except in emergencies.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby Trudi » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:05 pm

We have to keep in mind 'positive' and 'negative' and 'reinforcement' and 'punishment' is a 'word choice', which of course can lead to a discussion, which in most cases is a more linguistic or semantic discussion, than a practical one.

Possibly, although the agreed scientific language of behaviour analysis uses the +/-, R or P terms, they only cause confusion because for the most part folks who are anti CT can't be arsed to read anything about the quadrant theory. I understood she was saying with ST you can use whatever you like, even punishment, as long as you are 'in the green zone'.
There are some really good elements to what she writes but I think to the general horse population it might come across as rather confusing. The take home message becomes 'be kind to your horse' and honestly I think that is not such a bad place to start.
I continually struggle to teach +R to students unless their theoretical knowledge is sound, like MdJ I tend to go for teaching rational traditional equitation. An immediate release of any pressure however light it might be (even a breath can be mildly aversive to some) and honing human observational skills are my 'go to' for most students- pragmatism rules! I'd love a world where we all looked to increase behaviour with the addition of something pleasant so I will keep applying that quadrant myself but for most it is just one step too far so I do understand why she wrote the piece even if I don't fully agree with the sentiments.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby spottygiraffe » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:29 pm

Trudi wrote:An immediate release of any pressure however light it might be (even a breath can be mildly aversive to some)

Trudi, this reminds me of a really good discussion we had once about if pressure isn't an aversive then why do horses move away from it? Could go down a real rabbit hole with just that topic alone.

FlorayG wrote:She says pressure, release, reward...but what are you rewarding? The fact that you released the pressure? That doesn't make sense

I don't know if this is exactly what she meant but my understanding of it is that it's a kind of double reinforcement. You are reinforcing the desired behaviour achieved by pressure and release not only by the release but also by the reward. That seems fairly logical to me.
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby Trudi » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:01 pm

Trudi, this reminds me of a really good discussion we had once about if pressure isn't an aversive then why do horses move away from it? Could go down a real rabbit hole with just that topic alone.


:lol: it is indeed a rabbit hole and online makes it even harder- a :wine: and a good natter would be much better!

Adding +R to a -R is perfectly possible and can add clarity- do the pure +R folks like it...well you won't need many guesses on that one but as I said...pragmatism ever time!
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Re: What's your opinion of this article?

Postby M-E » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:44 am

Have to say I gave after a few paragraphs :hide: a bit too wordy for me :lol: but following all your comments
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