"Glossary of the Terms and Definitions and of Processes Associated with Equitation, Equitation Science"
by Paul McGreevy and Andrew McLean reproduced with permission.
by Paul McGreevy and Andrew McLean reproduced with permission.
Cadence The result of the combined effect of correct training that a horse shows when it moves with well-marked regularity, impulsion, balanced and rhythmic strides. There should be an enhanced period of suspension between steps that gives the horse the appearance of springing off the ground so the feet lift clear of the ground and float to the next step.
Catenary The slight loop in a perfectly flexible and inextensible rope or chain of uniform cross-section and density as it hangs freely from two fixed points that are not in the same vertical line. The term is used in discussions of rein tension.
Champing (US) See Mouthing.
Cinch bound (US) See Cold-back.
Classical conditioning The process whereby the unconditioned or conditioned response becomes elicited from a conditioned stimulus (Pavlov, 1927). In equitation it is the process where learned responses are elicited from more subtle versions of the same signal or to entirely new signals.
Clicker training An application of secondary reinforcement where the secondary reinforcer is an auditory signal to the horse (or any other animal) that the correct response has been performed and that a primary reinforcer (usually food) is about to be delivered.
Cold-back (girth shy US cinch bound)
Cold-jawed (US tough-mouthed) See Hard-mouthed.
Collected walk/trot/canter Where each step of the stride of the gait is shorter and higher rather than longer. The horse should remain on the bit, the hindquarters should be engaged (lowered), with the horse showing activity, impulsion and lightness. Collected paces should develop from the correct schooling of the horse over time so that it is physically able to travel showing true collection.
Collection The progressive development of increased carrying power in the hindquarters of the horse. The resultant transfer of weight from the forequarters to the hindquarters allows the poll and withers to be carried higher, the hindquarters to drop slightly and the hindfeet to step further forward and to carry more bodyweight with higher and shorter steps. This confers more power to the hindquarters, enabling the horse to perform more collected movements. In classical equitation, collection develops from repeated gait and stride length transitions that occur in three beats of the rhythm. The combined effect of the transitions and the inertia of the animal is that over time the horse‚ physique changes. The propulsion of the body is then in a more upward and forward direction giving greater cadence to the strides and increased lightness of the forehand. Collection can occur in the walk, trot or canter. So, for example, in a collected canter, the strides are shorter and the horse‚ frame is short and compressed. See also False collection.
Conflict behaviour A set of responses of varying duration that are usually characterised by hyper-reactivity and arise largely through confusion. In equitation, confusions that result in conflict behaviours may be caused by application of simultaneous opposing signals (such as go and stop/slow/step-back) such that the horse is unable to offer any learned responses sufficiently and is forced to endure discomfort from relentless rein and leg pressures. Attempts to flee the aversive situation result in hyper-reactivity. In addition, the desired response to one or both cues diminishes. Conflict behaviours may also result from one signal eliciting two or more responses independently, such as using the reins to achieve vertical flexion independently of the stop/slow/step-back response, or using a single rein to bend the neck of the horse independently of its previously conditioned turn response. Similarly, conflict behaviour may result from incorrect negative reinforcement, such as the reinforcement of inconsistent responses, incorrect responses, no removal of pressure, or no shaping of responses. Often referred to as evasions and resistances.
Conformation Features of the external morphology (i.e., the relative musculoskeletal dimensions) of a horse that interest breeders and exhibitors, not least because they can affect its performance (Loch, 1977).
Connection The contact of the rein, seat and leg. This contact may be absent (no connection), correct (an easily habituated light connection), or too strong (unendurable pressure).
Contact The connection of the rider‚ hands to the horse‚ mouth, of the legs to the horse‚ sides, and of the seat to the horse‚ back via the saddle. The topic of contact with both hand and leg generates considerable confusion related to the pressure that the horse should endure if the contact is deemed to be correct. In classical equitation, contact to the rein and rider‚ leg involves a light pressure (approximately 200g) to the horse‚ lips/tongue and body, respectively. Although a light contact is the aim, there are brief moments (seconds or parts of a second) when contact may need to be stronger, particularly at the start of training, or in re-training, to overcome resistances from the horse. Many contemporary horse trainers insist that the contact should be much heavier than a light connection. This view may cause progressive habituation leading to learned helplessness to the rein and leg signals as a result of incorrect negative reinforcement and/or simultaneous application of the cues. Contact may therefore need to be the focus of discussion and debate.
Contralateral That is on the opposite side, as opposed to ipsilateral.
Crabbing A conflict behaviour in ridden and in-hand horses where the horse fails to go straight and the resistance manifests as a sideways and forward (frequently alternating the direction) crab-like motor behaviour. Crabbing may also be associated with a hyper-reactive horse under restraint.
Cue An event that elicits a learned response. In equitation, cues are sometimes termed aids, or signals. Rein, leg, whip and spur cues are initially learned through negative reinforcement and then transformed to light cues (light rein, light leg, voice, seat) via classical conditioning because of the temporal relation between the two. In traditional horsemanship, the cues are divided into two groups: the natural cues and the artificial cues. This distinction is misleading as it neither identifies nor correlates with the two different learning modalities through which the horse acquires its responses to the cues. These are learned through classical conditioning when a response comes increasingly under stimulus control.