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.
There is a new fantastic magazine online called Going Gaited.
The talented editors Tracey Buckalew and Teri Overbey have conspired to create a fabulous resource for gaited horse enthusiasts.
One visit and you’ll know why. Continue reading
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’ 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
I feel like I’ve struck gold! I’ve always known that positive reinforcement training for horses is a simple and easy way to train. I have plenty of personal experience to know that it works wonders, but now I have science on my side to explain WHY it works so well. Continue reading
Check it out. Positive reinforcement training goes mainstream on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
Here’s a scene where Sheldon is trying to modify the annoying habits of Leonard’s new girlfriend and neighbor Penny.
The scene continues.
Nothing like a little operant conditioning humor!
Although DaVinci is a noble name for any horse, the name Dynamite would have been more accurate for my volatile and explosive pinto. When we first brought him home, just a few seconds of eye contact would set him off and I was left in a cloud of dust with only a trail of loose stool leading me to his whereabouts. Continue reading
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
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
In the post Free to Decide, I described how a nasty, itchy case of neck threadworms was the major turning point for DaVinci and me. This was the shining moment where he decided that human touch could be valuable. This turning point lead to a wonderful discovery I made last night. Continue reading
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
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
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
My latest training fascination is working with all four horses simultaneously at liberty. No halters, no enclosures, nothing forcing them to hang with me, except, well, their tire pedestals.
We started with one very large tire we found for free. It was about 48 in. across and 18 in. high, with nice, sturdy sides. Continue reading
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
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
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
I can’t set foot in any horse training arena without hearing something like,
The release is the reward.
Horses learn through pressure/release/reward.
Horses work for the release.
That’s great but, notice that the so called reward always comes after something, usually irritating, that needs to be released. Hmmmm. Continue reading
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
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