In Regards to Senor
Thank you for your heart felt replies to the Nature of Natural about Senor. We are very pleased that people are embracing the concept of shaping behavior using a more scientific approach. We believe that the misapplication of the Principles of Learning Theory are widespread and often because of ignorance. Learning theory describes the ways in which animals learn and establishes clear guidelines for correct training practices and methods of behavior modification. Learning theory has been around for a long time but to this day concepts that have been proven to be wrong are being taught often by self-proclaimed gurus of the month that dazzle the audience with sound bites and one liners.
Here’s a quote from McLean and McGreevy’s book, “Equitation Science”:
“In some sectors of horse-training, such as the sport of dressage, the cues and signals used to elicit alterations in the mobility and posture of horses are known as ‘aids’. This word is antique in origin, derived from the French verb ‘aider’, meaning ‘to help’. The notion that cues in any way offer assistance to horses is anthropocentric and has been abandoned in our text because it nourishes the notion of the ‘benevolent’ horse, the horse that is a willing partner. Horse-trainers should respectfully recognize that training is an act of equine exploitation rather than equine enlightenment, and modern equitation must take full account of the cognitive processes of the horse.”
Although this paragraph specifically mentions Dressage the same or some version is true for all disciplines. The harsh training techniques that were employed on our man Senor, are essentially Industry Standard but that is a standalone topic to be covered another day in another blog.
And often what horses are doing is attributed to some version of behavior that is the “trainers” version of how things work. In an attempt to help more horses we must teach people. In the Nature of Natural we are employing tech to monitor heart rate, Heart Rate Variability, GPS and film to analyze what is happening in the moment and use a combination of positive and negative reinforcement to shape behavior. So far this approach has been very successful and horses such as Senor have benefitted from the approach.
Another eye opening quote from the book “Equitation Science” is:
“Among non-race horses, previous studies indicate that up to 66% of euthanasia in horses between 2 and 7 years of age was not because of health disorders (Odberg and Bouissou, 1999). The implication is that they were culled for behavioural issues.” “Difficult horses go from one home to the next and are often forced to trial new ways of escaping pressure and satisfying competing motivations.”
Does this remind you of our little guy Senor and just how lucky he is to be alive and doing well? We will keep beating the drum of education and knowledge on behalf of all horses but especially horses like little Senor.