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Equitation Science / Behaviour

Training the opportunist and the comfort-seeker

November 2012

Of all animals, humans are the ultimate calculating opportunists. While pressing the world around us into our service we have bred and trained a few of the other animals to suit our purposes. Among these domestic species, we are, I think, most indebted to dogs and horses. The nature of this debt is complicated by deep bonds, some of which appear to be more or less reciprocal. There is, for instance, an argument that our interdependence with dogs has been so great that we may have co-evolved.

Different Training Methods... are they really different?

November 2012

Learning theory explains the learning processes that occurr during negative reinforement (pressure-release), positive reinforcement, negative punishment, positive punishment, classical conditioning, and habituation. In this referenced article, Dr Amanda Warren-Smith argues that Learning Theory can help explain all horse-training methods, as well as identify any practices that compromise horse welfare.

UK Politicians Support Monitoring Noseband Tightness

August 2012

Members of the UK’s Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) have expressed their concern over the use of certain nosebands on horses in competition. APGAW is an all party group for members of both houses of the British parliament, formed to promote and further the cause of animal welfare by all means available to the Parliaments at Westminster and in Europe.

Linking science and practice

August 2012

Equitation Science is relevant to all horse training. It includes learning theory, ethology, cognition, biomechanics and sports science as a way of informing a more ethical and effective way of training horses. In recent years the rise of ‘natural horsemanship’ has led to too much emphasis on natural equine behaviour and not enough on learning behaviour. In fact, both are equally important. The difference between learning and training The behaviour of all animals changes as a result of their experiences: this is learning. It enables them to respond to changes in their environment.

The plight of the working elephant - Postcard from Nepal

July 2012

Elephant training throughout Asia is ancient and has its roots many millennia ago in Assam. Like the training of any ridden animal such as horses, donkeys and camels, elephant training techniques are entangled in folklore and legend, handed down from generation to generation. Interestingly, in all ridden species, the prevailing view of the recipe for successful human-animal interactions arises from mankind’s historical preference for hierarchical relationships since hunter-gatherer times – a fixed linear hierarchy where rank is maintained by ritualised aggression.

Trust and Confidence in Horse Training

July 2012

Have you ever wondered why, horses that seem to trust you will still snort and spin at objects and in certain situations even though you are there with them?  What does it actually mean to the horse when someone comments; “your horse needs to trust you more?”  

How 'clever' is your horse?

July 2012

If we are to train and keep horses, we should make it our responsibility to find out as much as possible about them, how they work, what they value, how they think, and how they learn. Understanding that horses are different to humans is very important and can make training easier and successful. Elsa Willans-Davis from the Australian Equine Behaviour clinic explains...

Why some ponies behave badly

June 2012

Pony dreams are not always the reality... While horse riding should be a fun educational experience for our kids, it doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned. Pony problems such as uncontrollable behaviour, pig rooting (bucking), napping, spooking and refusing to load into horse trailers have become so common that few people are surprised any more by what they see. What is going on?

Equitation Science at the BHS Convention

October 2011

Dr Andrew McLean presents at the British Horse Society's 2011 Convention by Lisa Ashton, ISES Education Officer and Director of EquiSci Dr Andrew McLean delivered the 2011 Spring Convention for the British Horse Society to over 300 equestrian coaches, to show that a solid understanding of learning theory (the way the horse learns) is the foundation to safe, successful and ethical horse training, and better for horse welfare. Equitation science is the science of horse riding and training. It includes learning theory, ethology and cognition, biomechanics, psychology and sports science.

The Environment We Create For Our Horses

April 2010

The horse in its natural environment roams freely with its herd mates over vast grassy plains, enabling them to always find feed, water, shelter and to have the room to escape from predators. Rarely is this the case with domesticated horses. If we are to keep horses in our domestic environment, then it is essential that we provide an environment that is as close as possible to the horse's natural environment.

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