maanantai 9. lokakuuta 2017

Dr. Andrew McLean, Harjun Oppimiskeskus, 9.10.2017 by Arnella Nyman

Olin tänään Harjun Oppimiskeskuksella Andrew McLeanin klinikalla. Olen kuunnellut häntä kerran aiemmin, vuonna 2015 4YourHorse foorumissa, Horse Shown yhteydessä. Teoriaosuus oli osittain samaa (linkki edelliseen blogikirjoitukseeni) - paljon hevosen oppimisesta, mikä onkin yksi lempiaiheistani !  Harmikseni vasta huomenna McLean käsittelee enemmän biomekaniikkaa, enkä huomenna pääse paikalle. Tästä ei oltu valitettavasti informoitu etukäteen.

Itse teoriaosuutta olisi mielellään kuunnellut enemmänkin, varsinkin kun omaltakin yöpöydältä löytyvä McLeanin kirja "Equitation Science" on aika rankkaa luettavaa. McLean perustelee ihanan tieteellisesti kaikki argumenttinsa ja tukeutuu jatkuvasti tutkimustietoon. Hän myös myöntää yliopistomaailmasta tutulla kriittisen ajattelun tavalla, että on varmasti olemassa myös muitakin tapoja, mutta tämän hän on havainnut parhaaksi. Hänen metodinsa ei missään kohti vahingoita hevosta fyysisesti tai psyykkisesti.

Kirjoitin muistiinpanoja enimmäkseen teoriaosuudelta, koska valitettavasti demoratsukoiden kohdalla ei tullut paljoa kirjoitettavaa. Valitettavaa oli, että demoratsukoiden ongelmat olivat hyvin perustavaa laatua - olisi ollut kiva nähdä hieman eri tasoisia ratsukoita ja miten Andrew näiden kanssa olisi työskennellyt.

Muistiinpanoni kirjoitin englanniksi, joten ajattelinkin vaihteen vuoksi kirjoittaa tämän blogikirjoituksenkin englanniksi, ehkä näin ollen useampi lukija saisi tietoa hevosen oppimisesta (ja suomenkieliset parinvuoden takaiset muistiinpanot löytyvät linkin takaa, teille jotka haluatte lukea suomeksi).

Tässä siis tiivistelmä päivän annista, in english :)

Andrew McLean - The science behind horse training

- New research has been done about attachment (originally a theory about relationship between a baby and his or her mother, presented by Bowlby and Ainsworth)
  • Attachment between a human and a horse
  • Most horses doesn't have a secure attachment from "childhood"
  • When people touch the horse, e.g. scratch it from the withers (more than 2 minutes, until the horse starts moving his lips) --> a better relationship between horse and human is developed 
    • --> a ground for secure attachment
    • when you scratch your horse until his lips starts moving --> the horses heart rate is lowered 
    • = The scratch can be used as positive reinforcement (especially if you have trained your horse to it, he will start moving his lip immediately when you scratch, and that can be seen as a reward)

- Biomechanically timing of your aids: use your leg aid when the horses leg is leaving the ground (swing phase)
    • this is the only time the horse can react to you aid correctly
Our memory:

Declarative memory:  learning and gaining knowledge, explicit memory, activates the hippocampus, "what we know", teachable things

Non-declarative memory: skills, doesn't need hippocampus, implicit memory, what we do, not teachable - needs to be experienced instead 

--> this is why teaching people to ride is really difficult, because it needs non-declarative memory use!

How horses learn:

Two different viewpoints:

  • - "Hardware"
  • Natural, innate behaviours
  • Template of behaviour
  • Studied by observing animals

Learning Theory: 

  • Modifying behaviour through experience (=learning)
  • "Software"
  • Modifies hardware
  • Known scientists; Watson, Skinner
  • Studied by experiments

- If you are going to understand training and learning, you need to know psychology
  • An example of this is a horse who runs "on you" when leading him: he is not dominant, he is just not taught how to walk besides people

- Horses have 4 basic needs that we should try to fulfil as good as we can: 1. Movement (17 km/day) 2. Companions (allogrooming) 3. Grazing (13hours minimum/day) 4. 2-way clarity in communication (e.g. training - the clearness and consistency between signal and response)

- The horse is born insecure, we have to do his life as secure as possible !

- Horses do not have one leader nor hierarchies in the nature, instead they have a complex system called social organisation and it includes bilateral dominance (dependent on the situation)

  • The human is not the leader of the horse

- A big problem when we ride is that we have the same aid (e.g. our leg) to many different things ! Our leg can mean turning, bending, collecting, going faster etc.  --> The horse gets really confused!

  •  Dr. McLean Suggests that we don't use our leg to bending or turning, because it can be confusing for the horse
  • We have to have clear aids and teach them to our horses, so that they always know crystal clear what we want
- When we train horses we should remember that they are individuals 

Horses Coping Styles:
  1. Run
  2. Fight (e.g. bite or kick)
  3. Apathy

BRAIN: Differences between horse and human 

- Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) (dorsolateral)
  • unique for humans
  • possibility to think ahead and think back
  • we can assume
  • imagination
  • Videographic memory
  • 3 sec. then refresh pathways

  • Photographic memory
  • 3 sec. to fade
  • Remember stimuli that trigger reactions
  • The horse lives in this moment 
  • Trigger reactions
    • --> Classical conditioning works well --> teachable!
  • Don't think back nor ahead

Important: Do not assume that your horse knows something ! You have to teach him and tell him what you want. 

Repetition <-> Reinforcement
 - Our aids should follow within 3 seconds, otherwise the horse does only habituate, not necessarily     learn

LEARNING: Operant Conditioning

Negative reinforcement: should be called subtraction instead. In negative reinforcement you take away something unpleasant, e.g. the pressure of your leg when your horse moves

Positive reinforcement: should be called addition instead. You add something the horse likes when he does right, e.g. a treat or a scratch

Positive punishment: you add something the horse doesn't like, e.g. a whip.(should not be used) This is not a good method: the horse stops trying, gets negative association with the punisher, it can lead to learned helplessness and learned fear reactions.

Negative punishment: you remove something the horse likes

You can combine negative and positive reinforcement and it can be useful in some situations (e.g. use your leg -> take it away when your horse reacts -> scratch and say a word you always use to reward)

Affective states: animals feeling optimism or pessimism
  • is the horse likely to try?
  • punishment leads to negative affective states (doesn't try)
  • reinforcement leads to positive affective states (want to try)
In teaching the horse it is important to remember that everything is context specific and needs to be taught again in a new environment! 
  • 5 is the average number to horses to generalise something
    • for example, train the horse to walk into 5 different trailers --> will walk to any trailer
    • it needs 5 good experiences
  • You should remember the visual picture in classical conditioning: are you teaching your horse the aid (e.g. a word) you want him to know or are you teaching him to react to your body language ?
Habituation: learning not to react

- Different styles to habituate horses:
  • systematic desensitisation: bring the scary object closer step by step (let the horse look at it at least 13seconds, it is the time that takes to the horse to switch from fear to investigation instead)
  • overshadowing: learn the horse to go forward and back from a signal and keep doing this when the scary object comes closer
  • counter conditioning: when the horse sees the scary thing he gets a reward
  • stimulus blending: for example shower your horse at the same time you use aerosol
  • positive and negative reinforcement
Repeated actions turns into habits (build neural pathways), you need at least 3 sets of at least 3 good repetitions in a row! (2 min pause between the sets)

Most of all: remember to be consistent! 

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