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Beauty is Pain?

This diagram shows how horse’s express pain through their face, we call this their “grimace” or “pain face”. We’ve studied equine facial and body language expressions of discomfort and pain. In doing so we’ve learned to recognize and even measure the pain expression on a scale. Because horses are stoic,…

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The Quadrants Are All-Encompassing

When some people see the learning quadrants they think it’s too simplistic, too narrow, it’s too limiting to understand all that’s going on within a horse’s mind and their highly evolved social-communication skills. It can appear this way because the quadrants are so simple, but they’re not over-simplified, they’re all-encompassing….

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Life Is Not Disposable

It’s time to end the culture of disposable life. If you are going to use a horse for your benefit you owe them appropriate care throughout life and to their humane end of life. Horses are no longer a Beast of Burden. Modern countries no longer rely on horses for…

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Riding Extinction Bursts

Riding an Extinction Burst? Once a behavior has been learned to be a source of reinforcement and the reinforcement ends extinction will begin. So if a behavior was reinforced but now is not, the behavior will begin to fade. A behavior that is not maintained with reinforcement won’t maintain itself,…

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Conditioned Aversives

Conditioned Aversives “The whip is just an extension of my arm”, “The whip is just encouragement”, “The whip just provides direction”, “my horse isn’t afraid of the whip”. These are super common phrases used by people who just don’t understand how conditioning happens. Conditioning is when A=B. It only needs…

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horse eating from person's hand

Tiny Taina

My tiniest princess dragon. Taina (Ty-ee-nah) So full of rage, underneath it fear, underneath that grief… Trust and hope had been stolen from her. She had retreated into her mind and violently tried to make the suffering stop, but there was nothing she could do. She never truly shut down,…

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Safety Is NOT A Contingency

I saw an argument against using food reinforcement, supposedly from behaviorists, suggesting a horse values safety and comfort more than food. Thus food is not a primary form of reinforcement (despite the piles of behavioral science texts defining primary and secondary reinforcement). It took me a moment to let the…

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When athletes decide to dedicate their life to the sport of their passion, they do so knowing they are making great sacrifices and taking extreme risks. They know they will spend most of their lives obsessively perfecting their skill. They give up any hope at a normal life in order…

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Classical and Operant

Let’s talk conditioning… what’s the difference between classical and operant conditioning? And when do you utilize each in training? Why does it matter? Classical conditioning is what most people are familiar with, the bell rings, dog anticipates food. Some people know this as Pavlovian conditioning or respondent conditioning. Simple pairing…

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Ownership Not Leadership

Did you know that the old theories related to dominance have been debunked? Dominance is not related to leadership, but rather about ownership. The dominant animal has priority access to resources, meaning the other animals in the group know to let them have what they want first. They know this…

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