While commonly seen, aggression over food is not normal horse behavior. This article will look at why this behavior exists in horses, what can be done to prevent it and why it is important you do so. Aggression By nature, horses are not an aggressive species. In free-ranging conditions they spend more time engaging in affiliative behaviors than they do in agonistic behaviors. Affiliative behaviors are ones that promote harmony between individuals, while agonistic behaviors ar
Do horses love being ridden? We need to talk about the elephant in the room. It might be hard to discuss, but it needs to be talked about. Ready? Horses (likely) don't love being ridden. I say “likely”, because while scientists have yet to devise a way to accurately ask large number of horses how they feel about being ridden, there has been research done that looks at horse preferences as it relates to ridden work. For example, whether horses prefer to stay and work in an ar
Aggression in horses is a common reason for owners to seek help from equine behaviourists. Why do horses behave aggressively, and what can be done to change aggressive behaviour? Aggression While aggression is a normal part of horse behaviour, by nature, horses are not an overly aggressive species. In their natural state, they spend much more time engaging in affiliative behaviours than they do in agonistic behaviours. Affiliative behaviours are ones that promote harmony bet
It's frequently said that horses fake lameness to get out of work. Or that they spook to annoy their riders. But horses simply do not have the cognitive capacity to plot and scheme in this manner. They are no more able to mentally plot and scheme than we are able to flap our arms and fly. They lack the cognitive ability as much as we lack the physical ability.
Plotting, scheming and devising are all easily accomplished by human brains. The cognitive qualities that allow us
If you haven't read Part One of Expanding Your Horse's Comfort Zone, it's here. Welcome to part two, where we talk about: ‘Just right’ discomfort: What is 'discomfort'? And how to choose an appropriate level when stretching comfort zones Too much discomfort: What happens to your horse in Manure Hits the Fan Zone, and why it should be avoided during horse training Discomfort and uncomfortable, for the purposes of this post, don't have to be dirty words. They both just essentia
One small shift in how you think about horse training can change the way you train horses, forever. And you'll have a dead horse to thank for it. Horse training or behavior modification is all about affecting behavior. Behavior is anything the horse does that we can observe. Cocking a leg at rest. Performing a flying lead change. Stepping into a trailer, or pulling back when approaching a trailer. Lowering the head for bridling, or raising the head when a bridle approaches.
Spring is made for trail riding. It's not too hot yet. The mosquitoes are still sluggish. And if you're like me, after a long winter you are itching to leave the arena - just you and your favorite equine, off to see some country. But does your horse share that desire? To be successful and stay safe trail riding solo requires the horse be good at two things: accepting temporary social isolation, and having solid basic training. For the purposes of this article we are going to
Why do you need to know what a behavior is and what a label is, and how can knowing the difference help you when training horses? Identifying Behaviors A behavior is anything a horse does that can be observed or measured. If it can be observed and measured it is something we as trainers can affect. When training horses we are usually trying to teach horses to reliably perform wanted behaviors on cue. We may also need to address unwanted behaviors - behaviors we would like the
“Don’t pet your horse when he’s afraid. You’ll just reinforce his fear!” A classic! This myth is also said about dogs and kids, and applying this myth to a fearful animal (or child) results in continual work for animal behavior professionals and psychologists alike. Fear is an involuntary emotion, not a behavior. While behaviors can be reinforced, and made more likely to happen again in the future, emotions cannot. As such, no matter how hard you try, soothing or stroking (se
Google ‘What is natural horsemanship’. You’ll find dozens of pages, with definitions such as, ‘a way of working with horses based on the horse’s natural instincts and methods of communication’. Most natural horsemanship proponents state that it is more natural, fair, and kind than ‘traditional’ horsemanship – which is said to involve force, bullying or intimidation to achieve goals. There are natural horsemanship instructors, trainers, and even home study programs to help peo