🔼Appetative vs. Aversive🔼
➡ Appetative Conditioning - conditioning via something pleasant (e.g. FOOD, SCRATCHES).
➡ Aversive Conditioning - conditioning via something unpleasant to avoid (e.g. PAIN, PRESSURE) .
Have you ever "desensitised" your horse? It's quite common, so I bet most of us at least heard the term.
It usually goes like this: Your horse is afraid of something, let's say a poolnoodle. You have your horse on a leadrope and come close with the pool noodle. In Parelli, for example, the rope would be lose and you bring the noodle closer step by step. When the horse stands still, you take the noodle away. The horse learns two things: Standing still will lead in going the scary thing away AND (if well done) in the End: Scary thing (aka Poolnoodle) isn't so scary at all.
So thinking about it... You add something aversive (Pressure / SCARY thing) and the horse learns to accept it. It's not nice for the horse - something unpleasant is touching it and it's scared and learns - it can't escape.
But... There is another option.
Another way would be: Rewarding the horse for doing something.
So poolnoodle is still scary, but you DO NOT bring it closer to the horse. You wait. Until the horse comes TOWARDS it. And then you reward. If your horse is really nuts about it, lay it down and start from the very distance. Reward every step in the right direction. And then reward for touching. At some point, the horse understands that poolnoodle means food and not fear. ;)
Some would just ask... Why doing it so difficult? It's way faster and easier to just touch it and the horse will learn to accept it! I mean it's not gonna kill it, WE know that for sure.
Maybe, yes. We know. But the horse...?
Please imagine this scene:
You are very very scared of spiders. Someone wants to "cure" this and has two options:
1. Put you in a tiny room filled with spiders and close the door
2. Promises you something you really like (diamonds, cake, sweets? 😋) if you just take one single step towards the spider. And more if you take another.
Which option would YOU like him to chose?