PUNISHMENT is a method of training: I am punishing you if you don’t do something that I request from you now.
For example: You say “canter” and if horse does not canter, You use a whip.
Another example: You give cue to do “piaffer” and if your horse won’t put your 100% energy into short steps you will start applying pressure on him or on the hind legs to create more energy. I strongly advice you not to use punishments to teach or restrict any behaviours. We really want to eliminate the need for applying any punishments and that is why we introduce “DON’T DO IT” Cue so early to all of our horses.
On the other hand, BOUNDARIES are to restrict SOME of the SPONTANEOUSLY shown behaviours presented by horses. Boundaries are necessary to keep the situation safe for both of you.
Setting a BOUNDARY is always a spontaneous and emotionless reaction of your body to something your horse spontaneously does. This situation excludes your mind and thinking processes (because you have no expectations and programs about what your horse should and should not do). You make a CLOSING or a BLOCKING action originating from your body when your horse has chosen himself to do something that could be dangerous for you and for him when he is with you.
You never come to training your horse with the idea “I will set some boundaries today”, this is a huge misunderstanding and a sign of fear and thinking processes being activated.
Another important difference between the PUNISHMENTS and BOUNDARIES are EMOTIONS that are the source of your actions.
PUNISHMENTS always come from the feeling of FEAR or ANGER that the given behaviour will or will not repeat in the future. You really are AFRAID about the future possibilities connected with the actions of your horse. Any actions that are coming from the fear can provide only more suffering and fear into your life.
Be careful now, because this fear can be very subtle one, like: “Am I still doing positive training?”.
On the contrary, when SETTING the BOUNDARY you are OPEN that the given behaviour can and will happen again because your horse has a free will and needs to express himself and to learn via reasoning.
You are not punishing the horse or any other animal for what he has or has not done. But from time to time you need to BLOCK or CLOSE some of the spontaneously shown actions just to keep the situation safe.
When your actions are coming directly from you, from the field of life – from curiosity, happiness and unbounded and unjudged action – then it really doesn’t matter how you would call the “Method” you use. Because what you experience in each moment is exactly what you and your horse need now. You don’t train ONE horse during one session, if your session lasts for 20 minutes, you know that there are 20 x 60 = 1200 of yous and your horses there. And each one of them need different approach and different training.
Sometimes it is feeding and clicker training, sometimes is patting, sometimes it is setting the boundary. It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you all the time stay CALM, OPEN, HAPPY, SMILING and CURIOUS and in the moment with your horse.