I have a few thoughts for the New Year. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity. On this forum we have quite a range of personalities and experience, and most of us get along quite well. The internet as a medium of expression isn't ideal, and at times messages get mixed, feelings get hurt, and people go away sad or mad. That is unfortunate, because I believe we can all learn from each other and everyone has something to contribute. I'm relatively new to this forum, and I'm very aware I may have stepped on a few toes from time to time, and if so I apologize. I never say anything with the intention to hurt.
I have found that I am often playing "devil's advocate", and I will admit it is a tendency of mine to do so. "Back in the day" I found myself on the other side of the argument, usually in regards to training horses. I came early to the positive reinforcement camp, when it was quite unfashionable to be there. I seldom approached a training session without a pocket full of carrots, and I believe that habit served me well…....my horses have always been easy to catch, easy to handle, but a nuisance when you want to do any work around the farm because they are always "in your pocket", literally at times. Teaching a horse to stand quietly for mounting, indeed, teaching a youngster to want you on their back, is far easier done with positive methods. Horses are timid creatures, and forcing them into complying often ends badly. By working with gentle methods, I often got results like this (taken in the late sixties). Nothing but a halter and leadrope on the horse, and great cooperation......
I can still ride any horse I have trained this way…....although I am not so gung ho with jumping as I used to be! :)
If you will permit one more example.......if a picture is worth a thousand words. This was taken during a "liberty" training session in 1991 (this horse is now 34 years old, and still with me)
My point is that you can get excellent results and a wonderful relationship with your animals, and nobody has a magic formula. It takes work and consistency, and building trust. There are a lot of methods that yield results, and I am not about to throw away my options to adhere strictly to whatever is currently "politically correct". You know what your relationship is like…....good or bad, abusive or not.......and in the end your animal will tell you whether you have made the right choices. Willing cooperation is the goal I strive for, and I get it more often than not.
As an aside, I might mention that women have been using positive reinforcement to "train" their men for thousands of years. It might not be politically correct to point it out, but they have tended to use the most salient of rewards, which doesn't always result in a flattering assessment of their methods. ;)