Natural Pinball-Manship

Remember playing pinball, the coin-operated arcade game? This is a game where the player attempts to score points by manipulating (whacking) one or more metal balls on a play field inside the pinball machine.

As I was contemplating the current popular trends in horse training, I couldn’t help but note the similarities between the game of pinball and pressure/release/aversive/intimidation based horse training. Continue reading

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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

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