Sunday, September 25, 2022
HomeHorse Training'Ought to I Do It With out Any Tack?'

‘Ought to I Do It With out Any Tack?’

[Picture caption: woman sits on chestnut horse who isn’t wearing any equipment]

I acquired a non-public message from somebody asking my opinion on making ready a horse to be ridden for the primary time utilizing optimistic reinforcement (R+), with out using any tack or tools. This can be a topic on which I’ve had sturdy opinions for some time however have by no means shared publicly. This felt like a superb alternative to air a few of my issues, within the hopes that by doing so it probably prevents each horses and other people from experiencing conditions which may end in bodily or behavioural accidents.


As a former teacher and horse coach, I’ve began (and restarted) horses below saddle utilizing what many would name horsemanship strategies:

•I’ve systematically ready horses by way of groundwork coaching and desensitization to tack/tools earlier than using

•I’ve taught them cues to maneuver their our bodies ahead and backwards or transfer one a part of their physique in isolation (hindquarters, forequarters and so forth.).

•I’ve taught them to yield their our bodies to the texture of sunshine pressures, from my bodily contact and tools similar to halters & leadrope, in addition to ‘advised’ stress, from my physique or tools similar to flags.

In brief, earlier than I swing my leg over their backs for the primary time, I do my greatest to make sure that they’ve been taught to calmly settle for any course I might have to present them as soon as I’m on them.

I do that as a result of I’ve each witnessed and personally skilled the ability – and fallout – of an ill-prepared horse being ridden. This usually ends in bodily and/or behavioural accidents to each horse and human. For instance, regardless of me pondering I had adequately ready a horse (when clearly, I had not), one eventful trip resulted in me sustaining a fracture to my thoracic vertebrae and the horse creating a powerful concern of individuals falling off when he bucked onerous.

Regardless of splendid preparation, ‘life’ can nonetheless occur when a horse is initially ridden: the neighbour sparks up her chainsaw; a canine runs into the sector by way of the opening within the fence; or, as has occurred to me, a horse tied up exterior the sector pulls again onerous or somebody driving down the highway paintballs the facet of the sector during which you might be using. In such moments, I’ve been grateful that I took the time to show my horse to calmly settle for tools that aids in me directing their physique in order that I may make use of speedy response prevention.

Response prevention is ‘the process of altering the surroundings to forestall undesirable behaviour from occurring’ (Probability, P. 2003). Response prevention shouldn’t be punishment, however it may be an efficient, low-stress different to forestall undesirable behaviours occurring. In conditions similar to those described above, response prevention is used to forestall a small startle response from changing into a extra catastrophic chain response of behaviour: the horse startles and spooks, the rider slips, the horse sees and feels this variation of place and bolts, the rider falls off. The rider is bodily (and probably behaviourally) injured, and the horse has been subjected to a preventable state of affairs the place concern conditioning quickly happens.

Using tools on a horse for his or her first trip would not assure that bodily or behavioural accidents will not happen. However by way of response prevention, tools, very similar to the fence round an enviornment the place a horse is began, completely can reduce any hurt that will happen.

I perceive absolutely how new trainers could discover it a powerfully interesting image to see a horse being began below saddle utterly equipment-free. Nevertheless, as a medical animal behaviourist and IAABC licensed horse behaviour guide, I really feel strongly that such photos fail to think about the potential unintended, harmful ramifications for each horses and people. For folks and horses, some accidents cannot ever really be healed. Bodily or behavioural scars could stay. Regardless of using evidence-based, low-stress behaviour modification strategies to assist horses overcome behavioural accidents, relapse of discovered fears is unfortunately widespread. This can be a actuality, it doesn’t matter what quadrant we could attempt to make use of when beginning a horse. A lot of my purchasers face this actuality once we work collectively to assist their horses overcome a variety of discovered fears.

In abstract, I really feel strongly that we owe it to each the horses and the great era of latest, R+ horse trainers to color a unique image of low-stress coaching: one which additionally considers minimizing potential trauma by way of response prevention.



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