All natural horse care in the west of Ireland

Negative Re-inforcement
Sunday, 14 November 2010

How many of us know the difference between negative re-inforcement and punishment?? Or do we generelly use the term negative re-inforcement in place of punishment?

Holding the reins closed whilst asking for a change of direction is negative re-inforcement. Smacking the horse because it didn't do as you asked is punishment.

Please be aware of the difference between negative re-inforcement and punishment. Weapons or no weapons, punishment is a bad thing. Re-inforcement Positive or negative re-inforcement is a good thing. It's just re-inforcement

Punishment or Violence is not acceptable

In our training I use 4 phases of pressure and if I get no response at phase 4 I go back to Phase 1 and start again until I get even the smallest response and then release! Phase 4 should be no stronger than a 'tap'. It should never 'sting' like a whip.

You can behave like an irritating fly until you get the desired response. It is not acceptable to become the clawing cat, ie predator. Otherwise we widen the gap between prey and predator rather than bridge it.

If I have a task that is taking some time to communicate I will count in sets of 4, ie. 4 at phase 1, then 4 at phase 2, etc. but it never gets any stronger than phase 4. After phase 4 there is nothing stronger than starting at phase 1 again.

You also have to take care that you dont just 'nag' repeating the same phase over and over again. You have to make sure that the horse understands that you will progress to phase 4 if required.

Sometimes it is better to change the way you are ask the question, leave it and ask the same question in a different way to get the same result. It could be that the horse just did not understand your request so change the 'way' you ask.

We do not carry 'whips' just communication/horseman sticks.

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