Troubleshooting

Having equine trouble? Need help problem solving out of difficult behavior?

BAD Horses!

Bad Horses

“Good” and “Bad”, “polite/rude”, “respectful/disrespectful”, “behaving/misbehavior” are all constructs based on human culture. All horses know are “Works” and “doesn’t work”.  Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Eliminating Unwanted Behaviors

Eliminating Behaviors

As ethical trainers we aim to use positive reinforcement and reduce the use of aversives in our training where we can. This can be difficult when thinking about behaviors we don’t want – particularly ones that can be detrimental to the horse themselves or dangerous to the handler. Some behaviors need to be reduced, for their safety or for ours. Luckily we have options! Karen Pryor’s book is the original source of this information in her book “Don’t Shoot the Dog” (which I strongly recommend), but I’ve adapted the information more specifically for horses. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Troubleshooting

Dealing with Fear

Dealing with Fear
Make sure to read the article on Stimulus Stacking as well.

There are four basic ways of helping our horses overcome fear. Our goal is not to remove or teach them to ignore their instinct to defend themselves (through the freeze-flight-fight responses), nor to teach them to tolerate every stimuli in the world, but rather to help them build a sense of self confidence and encourage curiosity. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Equine Emotions, Troubleshooting

No Punishment?

No Punishment?

“We don’t use Punishment here”.
I say this a great deal at my barn (I often phrase it nicer depending on the circumstances). But it’s one of the first things I tell anyone coming to my farm. The intentional use of punishment isn’t allowed at my farm (stuff happens, sometimes we unintentionally punish or we make a mistake or have a habit reaction) but we aspire to punishment-free. The most common response is “You let them get away with Everything?!” (even if they don’t say that outloud). They think this means you allow your animals to walk all over you, to demand food, to be spoiled or to “dominate” you!! (Buzz word – I know!) But fact of the matter is, when we train well we don’t need punishment. Period. “Positive does not mean Permissive”. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Ethics, Troubleshooting

Stimulus Control

First, I want to say, stimulus control is only for a training/working situation – you can put a cue on stimulus control, but it doesn’t mean the behavior won’t happen on the animal’s own time.
Stimulus control is a personal choice – you don’t need to put a behavior on stimulus control, though I do advise it, especially with potentially dangerous behaviors. Another reason I really like to put behaviors on stimulus control is to put the animal at ease – that they don’t need to be performing ALL the time, throwing behaviors at me. This is why I advise that most behaviors should be put on stimulus control. Though some people like to allow more freedom of expression within a training situation. Continue reading →

Posted by Jessica in Behavioral Science, Clicker Training, Troubleshooting