The Smiling Horse, The Lazy Horse & The Misbehaving Horse

an·thro·po·mor·phism: the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object. It is important to distinguish between two types of anthropomorphism. One is fairly innocent and may merely be used as a way to relate to animals (a) the projection of what may be perceived by some as being strictly human emotional states (or […]

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The Potential Perils of Natural Horsemanship Part 2: Natural for whom? Challenging the myths 

The second part of The Potential Perils of Natural Horsemanship challenges some common beliefs inherent in the practice of natural horsemanship. The ‘alpha’ & the dangers of dominance “Dominance hierarchies, alpha positions or leadership in social groups of horses are man-made concepts that should not form the basis of human-horse interactions” (ISES, 2017). If a trainer/handler […]

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The Potential Perils of Natural Horsemanship Part 1: Round-pen training

  With advances in welfare science and equitation science, great strides have been made in horsemanship, training, and veterinary practices. We now have a much richer understanding of equine cognition, learning abilities, social needs and behaviour, which all play an important role in the evolution of species appropriate training and handling techniques. Natural horsemanship (NH) […]

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Imprint Training Part 3: Minimally Invasive Neonatal Interactions

Because of potential harm through the creation of states of flooding and learned helplessness in foals, imprint training represents a serious equine welfare issue and is not a recommended practice.  Hands-off methods, like gentle handling of the dam and exposure to a motionless person, are minimally invasive and more widely accepted from a welfare perspective. […]

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Imprint Training Part 2: Less Invasive Approaches

While Miller’s methods are extreme, there are less invasive variations of imprint training, which omit the insertion of fingers into the ears, nostrils, and anus, with interactions spaced out over a longer period of time. In one example, the foal receives gentle patting on the head, shoulders, back, hindquarters and legs, and lifting of the […]

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