Setting Up For Training Success
We can use the 5 Freedoms of Welfare and look at them in relation to our training, this allows us to assess and make sure our horses are able to learn effectively.
1. Freedom form hunger and thirst – don’t train when the animal is hungry or thirsty, they will not concentrate and may mug you if you are using positive reinforcement with food rewards, especially if inadequately trained to be calm around food.
2. Freedom from discomfort – check that the horse has all their needs met – environmental (is it a safe area to train in) as well as physical e.g is the tack comfortable.
3. Freedom from pain – e.g back, teeth, feet can cause pain and need addressing before we train.
4. Freedom to behave normally – don’t insist on a horse looking straight ahead if there are distractions – it is normal behaviour to orient towards any possible scary stimulus in the environment.
5. Freedom from fear and distress – are you sure your training doesn’t cause a fear response? Using aversive stimuli to drive the horse forward initiates the a startle response, e.g traditional lunging, and natural horsemanship circling.
I am sure you can think of other examples.