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?”

A snippet on habituation

Originally posted on Ethology – Wild Equus – Horses – Behavior:
Habituation is one of those terms habitually (see I did it again) used in training and experimental protocols. Trouble is, it is so overused and underdefined that its significance has been frayed at the edges, and is used by most as a term that…

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

Robots, Rollkur and Roundpens

Equine behaviourist Felicity George reports on the 2012 conference of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship by facilitating research into equine training.  Covering a wide range of equine matters including equine and rider phsyiology and training,  our emotional response toContinue reading “Robots, Rollkur and Roundpens”

Canine minds uncovered It’s dogs again, horse people, but this is amazing! fMRI scans of dogs’ brains show neural regions responding to owners’ hand signals.  So now you can see the physiological evidence that shows your dog’s brain really is doing something when you give them any kind of cue.  Great to see the neurobiology in action!  ClickContinue reading “Canine minds uncovered”