Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ever wonder…Why does the horse jump? For the love of it? Or simply easier to cooperate?


Just thinking through what it’s like to be a horse is bound to make us better riders and appreciate our equine partners!
Consider, for example, a horse and rider preparing to jump a four-foot wall. Jumping serves the rider’s interests—recognition and a ribbon! The horse, however, takes a risk by jumping, and given a choice most horses would probably take the safe route and go around. An important question is, why does the horse cooperate and jump? Does it trust that the rider will ensure his safety? Or does he jump to avoid discomfort that might result by not cooperating?” Dr. Andrew McLean

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Nosebands – how tight is too tight?


Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western.  While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to default into thinking “If a little is good, more is better! Are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?
The International Society of Equitation Science responded to the dilemma of cranking nosebands in equine sport with a study and by designing a noseband gauge for competition ring stewards:
“Some equestrian manuals and competition rule books propose that ‘two fingers’ be used as a spacer to guard against over-tightening, but fail to specify where they should be applied or, indeed, the size of the fingers.” 
“When this device was used to check noseband tightness on 737 horses at a variety of national and international dressage and eventing competitions, 44% of nosebands were found to be too close to the horse’s face to accommodate the tip of the taper gauge under the noseband.  By extrapolation, this revealed that we are routinely preventing swallowing, chewing, yawning and licking in the name of sport.” I.S.E.S.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Do horses sense fear?

Have you ever been unsettled by your classmate’s handwringing before an exam? Or the patient before you holding their jaw as they emerge from the dentist’s room?
Its not that you sense or smell fear. You’re reading their body language….and catching it like an infection.
Riders often tell me that their horse senses they’re nervous. I ask them if they think their nervousness changes the way they ride and move around the horse.
“Do our horses appear to act up because they’re nervous and anxious when we are? Or is it, rather, because when we’re nervous, our muscles get tenser and our aids become completely different from what the horse is used to? To me that makes more logical sense.” Dr. Katrina Merkies, PhD, associate professor and equine program coordinator, University of Guelph

Merkies says this bond is based mostly on correctly applied learning theory—the science of how horses learn. When we’ve trained them in a way that’s consistent and clear and gives the horse a sense of being able to control his environment by knowing how to respond to cues, we can develop a strong lifelong relationship with that horse.