Ground work / handling
With the new foal on the ground you feel that you need to do everything possible to ensure it gets handled properly. You may have heard of imprinting and you think you should try it. However, imprinting foals may not be what it seems...
Overshadowing is a technique developed at the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre to habituate horses to objects and situations they find scary. Habituation is a natural form of learning, in which an animal, after a period of exposure to a stimulus, stops responding.
Clicker training is extensively used very successfully to train all sorts of animals but is still not widely accepted for training horses, mostly due to a lack of understanding about how horses learn, and the whole concept of negative and positive reinforcement. As riders and trainers, we generally train horses using negative reinforcement (pressure/release). Pressure, such as from our reins or legs, motivates the horse to offer a response. When he gives the desired response, we remove the pressure. The removal of pressure reinforces the behaviour that preceded it.
Horses are naturally wary of small spaces and they tend to avoid confinement so will often react by showing various expressions of flight response. The three most common situations where horses need to walk into a small space and be confined are floats and trucks, vet crushes and racing barriers. In the May issue I explained the float training process (to view click here), and in this article I will focus on vet crushes and race barriers. The training process for all three is very similar.
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre - www.aebc.com.au Elsa Willans-Davis is a full-time trainer at the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre in Broadford, Victoria. She is adept at training and teaching all facets of the AEBC training system from foundation training through to problem solving, dressage and jumping. Elsa is well know for producing relaxed and responsive youngsters and is a talented performance rider with the ability to correct behavioral problems and training faults, the result being straight, light and correct horses.
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre - www.aebc.com.au In this Part 2 of our series I will explain how I train the basic responses of “go forward” and “stop” from the ground. Before you start Make sure you are wearing gloves, a safety helmet and appropriate boots, and work in an enclosed area with safe footing. Your horse should wear a suitable halter and lead rope or a bridle, and you should have a long dressage whip available. Handler position:
Many people wrongly expect the horse will know he is supposed to stand still when he is tied up or is in a horse box, when in reality we should first train every horse that once you ask him to stop, he should not move nor follow you until you ask him to do so with your lead rope or reins. This is what we call 'Park'.
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre - www.aebc.com.au
In the last article, Part 4 of this series, I explained why and how I train horses to yield the shoulders. The next training task is to teach him to yield his hindquarters.
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre - www.aebc.com.au Head control The prerequisites to training head control in hand are training your horse to go, stop, step back, and park at obedience level (see parts 1 – 5 of the series). Head control in hand is lowering and raising the horse’s head (with a straight neck) from a light downward or upward pressure of the lead rein. Head control helps to polish off your leading training, and teaches your horse to maintain an even light contact in hand.