Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending an excellent Horse Owner’s Seminar at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine about modifying your horse’s behavior to make working with the horse easier and safer. The presenter was Dr. Gemma Pearson, BVMS Cert AVP (EM) MRCVS. She is the Senior Clinical Scholar, The Royal (Dick) Veterinary Equine Hospital at the University of Edinburgh, and she is also the Veterinary Liaison Officer for the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES)
During her lecture she presented several case studies and tons of valuable information about everything from Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning to Shaping and Retraining Unwanted Behaviors. Presentations from Dr. Pearson similar to the one she presented at MSU can be found online at:
"There are no bad horses, just badly trained and confused horses"
I connected the most with her discussion about the 7 steps to retraining unwanted behavior as she focused a lot on the importance of how establishing a strong "Go" and "Stop/Back" in hand will relate in so many other areas. She utilizes a Dressage whip and clicker training, and watching the results in some of her case studies was truly amazing. She was able to take a horse who was quite dangerous for trailering and have him walking quietly onto a trailer within less than 30 minutes after working on his responses to pressure on the "head collar" (aka halter).
After the clinic, I knew I had to try out this rather basic technique on my three mares, and the results are here in these videos for you. Keep in mind that although I always focus on ground work, this method was slightly new to me so I wouldn't look to me as an expert, but you can find Dr. Pearson's contact information at the bottom of this post.
The three big pieces I did take away were:
Equine Behavior and Equitation Science
Is it primarily a pain, behavior or combination problem?
References for clicker training - search for Georgia Bruce from Australia
By Kyle Rothfus
This blog is dedicated to providing insight about OTTB re-training, Thoroughbred pedigrees and general equine care. You can also track the progress of horses I have for sale through posts here.