DaVinci Update: Spray Bottle of Evil

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

Is the Release Really a Reward?

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

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

A Popular (Inaccurate) View of Pressure

As Irony would have it, I read an article in a popular horse magazine written by a popular trainer defining the language used to communicate cues. It reads, Pressure is any cue that gets a response from a horse.

This incredibly misleading sentence sums up the entire reason for my blog.

Pressure is not a cue. Pressure is a means to enforce a cue. Continue reading

Is My “Damaged” Horse Worth Keeping?

I have a horse named DaVinci who is recovering from what seems to be Post Traumatic Stress. I’ve had him for almost two years now and an outsider looking in might tell me to get rid of him and tell me he’s useless.  Just when I thought he may have irreparable damage and I was considering the thought he may have a mental illness, wondering if he’s even worth keeping, I received an unexpected phone call from a wonderful woman in California, named Roxanne, who works with Mustangs. Continue reading

Natural Born Targeters

In a nutshell, everything I do with my horses is summed up by three, very scientific words:

What Feels Better?

At the heart of that phrase are two other important words. Association and motivation. For instance, if my horses associate me with something that feels good, they’ll be more motivated to pay attention to me, to be with me, to trust me. If they associate me with something that feels bad, you can bet I’ll see all sorts of things that make me feel bad. Like the hind end of a horse as it runs away from me, or the pinning of ears, or the flying of hooves, or the throwing of me off its back. Continue reading

What the Heck Kind of Training Is This Anyway?

If you read my page about Attraction, or if you’ve read anything from my PaintingHorse site, you may say, “Sounds like this is Clicker Training” and then wonder why I’m not calling what I do Clicker Training.  I think a more correct term would be to say it’s Positive Reinforcement training, but wow, is that a loaded term. Continue reading