There is much confusion about punishment in the horse training world. For example, some say punishment is always abuse and it’s better to use corrections.
But the term punishment has a very specific definition as it relates to how animals learn: when the consequences that are associated with performing a behaviour reduce the strength or frequency of that behaviour, the behaviour has been punished. When people ‘correct’ their horse’s behaviour, in an effort to stop the behaviour, they’re punishing the behaviour. Correct, guide, make the wrong thing hard, be a better leader etc. – all phrases which may be used when people use punishment.
But as this video touches upon, punishment can be problematic as it doesn’t address the underlying reason why the horse is performing the unwanted behaviour. Pain, fear, confusion, prior learning, genetics, environmental conditions and so on can all cause horses to behave in ways people view as problematic.
If you are struggling with unwanted or challenging behaviour with your horse, I can help. I offer remote consults, worldwide.