Brand New Equine Training Instructor Diploma Course Has Started!

The NAC Equine Training Instructor Diploma course is OPEN!! (now do the Strictly “votes are open” dance) and we’ve had two brilliant introduction Zoom calls today (two, to take account of all the different time zones). Look away now if you don’t want to see an education provider gush about their own course. Our studentsContinue reading “Brand New Equine Training Instructor Diploma Course Has Started!”

Can you spot a stressed horse?

Last December I and my colleagues published a paper describing one of our research studies, in the peer-reviewed journal Animals.  As the Equine Behaviour and Training Association (EBTA) we investigated how horse owners, riders and trainers recognise signs of equine stress. We found that equestrians often fail to recognise the behavioural signs that horses displayContinue reading “Can you spot a stressed horse?”

Announcing two new horse training courses from Dr Helen Spence

Is this you? 🐴You want to train your horse in a kind, effective way. 🐴You have tried using “traditional” methods, natural horsemanship and/or clicker training but you and your horse have ended up confused and frustrated, sometimes just downright cross with each other! 🐴You have tried working with trainers who teach your chosen method andContinue reading “Announcing two new horse training courses from Dr Helen Spence”

New book: The Horse: A natural history

I’m proud, delighted and very pleased with my new recently published book, co-authored with Catrin Rutland, Associate Professor of Anatomy and Developmental Genetics at Nottingham Trent University. An evolutionary, anatomical, behavioural and anthrozoological overview aimed at equine professionals, enthusiastic amateurs and undergraduates, it’s an easily-readable and accessible book that has been academically peer reviewed byContinue reading “New book: The Horse: A natural history”

Training – is it a choice?

Horse – health care treatment video Some of you will know I’m not a fan of some of the purportedly “animal has choice” videos that are out there in the worlds of horse and dog training and management. I see many where the animal is being asked to do something frivolous, not beneficial to itsContinue reading “Training – is it a choice?”

Equine Behaviour in Mind

Applying behavioural science to the way we keep, work and care for horses. I’m very proud to have co-authored this book with a group of esteemed colleagues. Intended for people who work with horses and for owners who want to learn more, Equine Behaviour in Mind provides ideas for practical ways that changes can beContinue reading “Equine Behaviour in Mind”

Desensitisation This article explains the difference between the training practices of desensitisation (controlled exposure to novel objects: horse habituates to the stimulus and stays under observable reactivity threshold) and flooding (intentionally, and unacceptably in my view, taking the horse over threshold by forced proximity/exposure to something that frightens them, until a fear response is noContinue reading “Desensitisation”

International Society for Equitation Science

Countdown to the next ISES Conference, in Denmark 7-9 August.  The theme is equine stress, learning and training.  Keynote speakers include Dr Sebastian McBride, world expert on stereotypies and abnormal equine behaviour, and Dr Andrew McLean of the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, along with PhD researchers in biomedical science and behaviour and stress biology, andContinue reading “International Society for Equitation Science”

Affect and arousal in horse training New study from University of Sydney (Starling, Branson, Cody & McGreevy): The Impact of Arousal and Affective State on Training Outcomes. Abstract: Animal training relies heavily on an understanding of species-specific behaviour as it integrates with operant conditioning principles. Following on from recent studies showing that affective states and arousal levels may correlate withContinue reading “Affect and arousal in horse training”

Conditioned reward effect without a conditioned stimulus: Once conditioned, the visual cortex is activated by reward in the absence of the conditioned visual stimulus, this study found (using fMRI scans in rhesus monkeys) (see link below).  And activation is confined to the specific area that processed the CS.  Reward-only trials strengthened the response.  Dopamine isContinue reading