For Every Action there is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Here’s a video showing exactly why I’m in favor of force-free, pressure-free, joyful, attraction-based interaction that feels good for both horse and human.

Note the angry face on human. Note the angry response from the horse. I think it’s safe to assume most horses don’t like pushing, jabbing, shoving, smacking gestures as means of communication. And here we have a horse that took the bull by the horns, or the human by the hair and said, enough.

I lump this video into the category of “Don’t Give Your Horse a Reason for Bad Behavior.”

It’s my sincere hope that there were no injuries and this young force-full horse handler may experience the beauty and simplicity of attraction-based work with horses. I have a sneaking feeling she’ll be a fan of helmets.

-cw

The Force of the Treat Pouch

Here’s a comment I received from Ulrika in Sweden in regards to attraction-based training.

“Thank you! GOOD name for a NEW way of using the force of the treatbag…ie without force.”

It got me thinking about a very important relationship that I’ve taken for granted until now. And that is the one I share with my treat pouch. I swear, if an alien landed in my pasture and saw me working with my horse, no doubt they’d probably think I was of the marsupial family. Continue reading

Bad Becoming Normal

‘Bad becoming normal’ is simply the concept that when something bad happens within an environment, gradually but prolifically, it becomes perceived as “normal.” Unless you approach the situation from a clean perspective, you don’t notice it. The conditions worsen slowly over time and no one notices the change.
Shanyn Silinski with Dr. Temple Grandin & Dr. Bill Muir

After I read about this concept of bad becoming normal my thoughts immediately began pondering the current state of whack’em, smack’em horsemanship. It’s not only become normal to whack, slap, stomp, shush, wave horses into obedience it’s what’s expected. Continue reading

Hmmm… I Wonder

I was explaining to a new acquaintance of mine a little bit about my training methods. As I spoke, her eyebrows furrowed and she became very quiet. I wasn’t sure if she was interested, confused or ready to debate me. After I finished my passionate diatribe, she began to tell me of her work with autistic children in the school system. Continue reading

Clyde-O-Scope

I’m a Paso Fino sized gal. I fit best in saddles sized for youth. If I’m riding in an arena and I’m wearing a jacket and helmet I’m often mistaken for a child. For the longest time I thought I’d get a nose bleed when I rode a horse over 15 hands. And now I own a Clydesdale. And I’m having the time of my life!

Raleigh, my bay roan Clyde, recently turned three. Continue reading

Free to Decide

I just read a post on a forum about how a woman said she cured a small dog of its aggression. She only had to alpha roll it twice! She bragged about how it was licking her face afterward. I’m curious to see what happens next. Does the dog have to see a chiropractor from being thrown on its back?

I shudder thinking of all the horses that were tripped and thrown onto their backs to break them.

So is all this animal tossing really necessary? Continue reading

The Beauty of Interaction

After I wrote about the bilingual nature of horses and their ability to speak and respond to both pressure and attraction, I realized another facet. It appears that pressure-based communications are reactive and attraction-based communications are interactive.

When a trainer uses pressure-release techniques, they are counting on the fact that the horse will have a reaction. Continue reading

Photos of Tire Pedestals Now Posted

If you’d like to see how I make my tire pedestals, I’ve added a few photos to my previous post, Tires and the Power of Choice. As far as the tire size, I really like 48 inches wide. It gives the horse plenty of room to negotiate and I think it adds to the stability. The only drawback is that tires that wide often have tall sides, which is why I bury them a few inches. Burying them also enhances the stability.

Should you decide to build your own, please build at your own risk. I don’t sell the tires or the plans. I only offer the photos as an example of what I’ve built and what has been working for me. Continue reading

Bilingual Horsemanship

I’ve been experimenting with training my horses with predominately positive reinforcement for almost five years. I use techniques commonly used in training animals such as marine mammals and birds of prey. These are the animals in which pressure based techniques would be a completely ineffective way to elicit a behavior.

The questions I have in my mind are:

  • Just because we can exclusively train horses with pressure based techniques, does it mean that we should?
  • What would it look like to train a horse using predominantly positive reinforcement?

What I’ve found is something very fascinating, at least to me. Continue reading

Unnatural Horsemanship

You’ve probably noticed that a few of my cartoons poke fun at natural horsemanship (NH). The only reason I do this is because, in my opinion, the philosophy of NH is very, very misleading. They say they’re using the language of the horse and it’s a gentler way to train. My question is, Compared to what? Continue reading

“Validate Me!”

Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the blubbering little hobbits from The Lord of the Rings. I was in a pet shop the other day and a very young, lone Quaker parrot was screeching his little lungs out. His cage was not far off the ground, so I knelt down and had a little chat with him in my best parrot voice.

This consisted of chirping noises, a few clicks, whistles and of course a “pretty bird” or two. In less than a second, the little screecher was cocking its head and watching me intently. Continue reading

Oh, The Heresy!

Just thought I’d put all my cards on the table and tell you I train with food rewards, if you haven’t guessed it already.

I unabashedly feed rewards from my hand. I know full well this is a giant no-no in the minds of many, many trainers.

I even reward with food under saddle.  The funny thing about this is, my horses seem to really enjoy being ridden. Maybe it’s because the source of all good things, me, is on their back. I’m like a portable lunch box accessible at all times. They like to take me with them. Continue reading

Aversives: A Fancy Word for “Ouch”

A friend of mine sent me a link to the website of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals.

Lots of big words on AABP’s site, but check out their general statement, which pertains mostly to dog trainers. I’ve bolded the parts that I thought were awe inspiring. How very cool would it be if we had something like this for horse trainers. Continue reading