Issue 29 | February 2024 — Horse

Pesky Pudgy Ponies: Equine Obesity and the Behavior Consultant

Summary: Obesity poses a significant threat to equine welfare, affecting approximately 40% of horses in the U.S. and U.K. Fortunately, it is one of the most preventable health issues in the horse.1 While obesity has historically been viewed as a strictly physical...

By Justice Everett Smith, MEd

Positive Reinforcement Horse Training from a Dog Trainer’s Perspective

Using positive reinforcement to train horses isn’t new, but it doesn’t have the same following as it does in dog training. My mare Shea is now 20 years old and was trained in traditional methods based on punishment and negative reinforcement (P+ and R-), although I...

By Christina Young, CDBC

Issue 28 | February 2024 — Horse

Issue 27 | October 2023 — Horse

Issue 26 | June 2023 — Horse

A Review of the Round Pen Technique for Training Horses

Summary: The round-pen training technique, popular among proponents of “natural horsemanship” is said to be effective and ethical because it uses equine ethology to induce desired behaviors. This review looks at what we know about ethology and illustrates...

By Chloe Campbell, BSc

Issue 25 | February 2023 — Horse

The Equine Microbiome: Diet, Disease, and Behaviour

Summary: Gut bacteria play an important role in digestion and overall health in horses, including their behavioral health. This article introduces the equine gut microbiome and explores how changing a horses’ diet could influence their welfare through...

By Holly Heartz, MSESS, RD

Case Study: Dancer — Isolation Distress in a Horse

Summary: An anxious mare’s behavior problems are made worse when she’s taken away from her herd. A history of physical punishment when alone, and frustration on the part of the client exacerbated her isolation distress further. A program of desensitization...

By Carol-Ann Doucet, CHBC

Issue 24 | October 2022 — Horse

A Novel Method for Rearing Orphaned Donkey Foals with Behaviour in Mind

Summary: The suckling behavior of donkey foals has rarely been explored, with most orphans being reared on protocols based on the assumption that their behavior and physiology do not differ from horses. An orphaned donkey foal at The Donkey Sanctuary was reared on an...

By Corinne McCafferty, MSc, CHBC

Case Study: Bilbo – Aggression and Escape Behaviours in a Horse

Summary: A case study of how past trauma and inadequate current environment can interact to create and maintain problematic behaviors. Bilbo, a young mare with a significant history of aggression and causing injury is sold with the advice that she be euthanized for...

By Abigail Allen, CHBC

Issue 23 | June 2022 — Horse

Equine Advocacy

Summary: Horses suffer when they’re misunderstood, and seen as tools to meet human needs. These sensitive animals are subjected to pain and fear because the humans in their life have not developed a relationship with them based in understanding and compassion. This...

By Irene Perrett

Issue 22 | January 2022 — Horse

The Fall Out from Saint Boy: Where Next for Equestrian Competition?

Summary: The equestrian sports part of the the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Modern Pentathlon generated a great deal of public discourse over perceived cruelty, centered around the treatment of a horse called Saint Boy. This article looks at the way that the videos of Saint...

By Hazel Heaton BHSAI UKCC 2

Issue 21 | November 2021 — Horse

Case Study: Tommy, Fear of Clippers

Summary: How counter-conditioning and desensitization was successfully used to change a 21-year-old gelding’s fearful behavior towards clippers. Constructional Approach Training was used as the first part of the behavior modification intervention plan, followed...

By Trudi Dempsey, CHBC

Issue 20 | September 2021 — Horse

Horse & Halo: Caring for Horses at the End of Their Owners’ Lives

Summary: Horse & Halo is a facility that boards horses on behalf of individuals who currently suffer or have died from a terminal illness. This article looks at the history of this unique sanctuary and the stories of some of the horses and their people that have...

By Mandie Stuhan

Case Study: Human-directed Aggression in a Horse

Summary:  A horse who showed signs of aggression towards humans and other horses becomes worse when corrected with physical punishment and natural horsemanship techniques. As a result, he’s placed in a barren environment with minimal social contact....

By Trudi Dempsey, CHBC

Issue 19 | May 2021 — Horse

Working with Horses and Children: Let’s Break Away from Tradition

Summary: How Topaze the horse taught an equine instructor three rules for happy, productive engagements between horses and children: Safety first, take care in matching each child to the right pony, and make sure to keep both of them focused in a happy, positive way. ...

By Nadia Hernandez

Issue 18 | February 2021 — Horse

How Behavior Modification Can Help Equine Veterinary Practice

Summary: 1200lbs of frightened horse is a lot to handle, so how can equine veterinarians minimize that fear in their patients? Restraint techniques that depend on pain are still common practice. Understanding how to use behavior modification to establish a less...

By Katharine Mertens, DVM

Issue 17 | November 2020 — Horse

Target Training for Horses: Hit or Miss?

In the beginning Most equestrians have heard of clicker training, and many now practise it, but compared to traditional horsemanship it is still the new kid on the block. In the 1940s Keller and Marion Breland (and later with Bob Bailey) trained many different animals...

By Trudi Dempsey CHBC

Issue 16 | July 2020 — Horse

Working with Penny, a Fearful Horse

I have been working with dogs and their humans for over 20 years. In the last two to three years I have been practicing the use of training with applied behaviour analysis using positive reinforcement with species other than dogs. Applying the science of learning to...

By Sylvia Koczerzuk, CDBC

Issue 15 | April 2020 — Horse

Looking Back on Research Experiences

CHBCs Catherine Bell, Suzanne Rogers, and Debbie Busby recently published an equine welfare paper in the journal Animals. Titled “Improving the Recognition of Equine Affective States,” it represents a few years’ worth of work, completed independently of our...

By Catherine Bell, CHBC, Suzanne Rogers, CHBC, and Debbie Busby, CHBC

Lyviera’s Journey

Lyviera is a Selle Francais mare who was initially bought by a riding club’s owner to be his personal competition horse. While she excelled in show jumping and was very strong in cross country, she was difficult in dressage, specifically very stiff on one side and...

By Alizé Muckensturm

Issue 14 | February 2020 — Horse

Reflections on Pain in Equine Behavior

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard (or seen on social media) someone say “I’ve had all the physical checks so it must be behavioural” when referring to a behavioural problem. What exactly are “all the physical checks”? A...

By Catherine Bell, CHBC

Issue 13 | October 2019 — Horse

Developing an Agitation Rating Scale for Horses

I have ridden horses for over 40 years, successfully competing at 3-star eventing and grand prix dressage. I have been an Australian representative rider and an EFA Level 3 coach. My many years of coaching, from amateurs through to elite-level riders, has taught me a...

By Sharon Carroll, CHBC

Issue 12 | July 2019 — Horse

Overcoming Fear in a Traumatized Horse: Magnum’s story

Magnum—a paint Clydesdale/Stockhorse cross gelding—came to live with us at the end of 2004. We had recently moved to a large property, and my plan was to get two horses to go on quiet trail rides through the forest. I’d had a lifelong love of horses, but my...

By Heather Binns

Issue 11 | April 2019 — Horse

What Does Maslow’s Pinnacle Mean for Horses?

How best to meet the behavioural and emotional needs of horses is the crux of a typical behavioural consultation. The job of the behaviour consultant is to tread the path of assessing and meeting the needs of the horse, whilst simultaneously managing the desires and...

By Catherine Bell, CHBC

Environmental Enrichment for the Horse: The Need for Companionship

As highlighted in the previous article Environmental Enrichment for the Horse: the Need to Forage, environmental enrichment can be defined as the additions and/or alterations made to a domesticated animal’s environment with the goal of improving welfare.1 There are...

By Louise Nicholls

Cooperative Care: The How and the Why

Cooperative care involves training an animal to not only tolerate handling and husbandry procedures, but to be an active, willing participant in these experiences. In this column, we highlight some useful behaviors to teach clients to facilitate cooperative care, and...

Issue 10 | February 2019 — Horse

Environmental Enrichment for the Horse: The Need to Forage

The most commonly used definition of environmental enrichment is by Shepherdson (1998): “an animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological...

By Louise Nicholls

Issue 9 | October 2018 — Horse

An Evaluation of Parelli’s Training Methods

Horsemanship is the skill of managing and working with horses that is developed through experience and knowledge (Goodwin et al., 2009). Natural Horsemanship (NH) trainers are those who work closely with horses and use understanding of equine natural behaviour and...

By Alice Campbell

Issue 8 | July 2018 — Horse

‘I Love the Job Except for the Clients’: A Story of Changing Attitudes

Recently I came across a list of continuing professional development courses I made back in 2011. It wasn’t a bad list—equine nutrition, physiology, improved knowledge of various equestrian disciplines, and so on. However, it was all about horses—nothing on improving...

By Felicity George MPhil, CHBC

Issue 7 | April 2018 — Horse

Behavior Theory and Stallion Management

Introduction Stallions can be used in different disciplines and they may stand at stud either as retirement or alongside their “career” (Burger et al., 2012). Traditionally they are managed with little regard to their natural behaviour (McDonnell, 2016b); they may be...

By Emily Talbot

Issue 6 | February 2018 — Horse

Introducing a New Horse to a Group

Earlier this summer I purchased a new horse. Before bringing him to our farm, I gave a lot of thought to how I would introduce him to the five equines already living on our farm. I allow my horses as much social contact as possible given that horses are social...

By Jane Jackson, KPA-CTP

Issue 5 | October 2017 — Horse

Why Train Voluntary Cooperation in Horses?

 “But restraint is the only one sort of control, and absence of restraint isn’t freedom. It’s not control that’s lacking when one feels ‘free’, but the objectionable control of force.”  B.F. Skinner, Walden Two Traditional training and...

By Robin Foster, PhD

At the Foot of It All: Hoof Care and Behavior Modification

Over the last couple of years, we have increasingly seen the behavioural side to hoof care featured in videos that have gone viral on social media. One recent example showed “the duct tape method” of getting a fractious horse to stand still for the farrier. Numerous...

By Catherine Bell, CHBC

Issue 4 | July 2017 — Horse

Helping an Overachieving Horse Relax

One of the benefits of training with positive reinforcement is eagerness in training. Getting an experienced animal to come to you or stay with you is not usually a problem. Yet the pendulum swings both ways. We must train our animals what they should do instead of...

By Jane Jackson, KPA-CTP

Equine Video Ethogram

Understanding body language is one of the core skills anyone living with animals needs in order to make the best decisions about their care. If you can see that what you’re doing is making your animal uncomfortable, that’s important information to help make...

By Lauren Fraser CHBC

Issue 3 | April 2017 — Horse

Group Living for Equines

In this video, Certified Horse Behavior Consultant Lindsy Murray promotes the concept of group living for equines. This is Lindsy’s herd of horses that have lived together for over 20 years. The majority of the horses and ponies were taken on as rescues in need of...

By Lindsy Murray

Relapse of Conditioned Fear in Horses: The Four R’s

My 18-year-old thoroughbred is a warrior in most respects. He barely flicks an ear at a motorcycle speeding past as we cross the road; he nods politely and winks at a large coyote standing at the trail’s edge (in truth, the wink may just be a tic in his bum right...

By Robin Foster, PhD

Issue 2 | February 2017 — Horse

Health And Welfare Benefits Of A Varied Diet For Horses

The New Forest pony is a native breed of the British Isles. Many of them are domestic horses that are ridden and worked, but free to roam and graze across a large area of “common” land, which has a varied terrain with a diverse range of plants and trees. Horses have...

By Justine Harrison, CHBC

Best Practices in Husbandry and Handling

It has been a very busy and exciting time since the inaugural journal issue. Video submissions have been pouring into my email from talented trainers and veterinary professionals from around the world. Inspiring stories enhance each video, documenting the journey of...

By Laura Monaco Torelli — Husbandry Content Editor

Equine Video Ethogram

Understanding body language is one of the core skills anyone living with animals needs in order to make the best decisions about their care. If you can see that what you’re doing is making your animal uncomfortable, that’s important information to help make...

By Lauren Fraser

Clicker Training for Horses: A Video Series

Clicker training is slowly gaining ground in the equine world.  Please join me in a series of videos that discuss and demonstrate foundational lessons for both horse and human.  In this edition, we will explore an essential skill for trainers as they begin their...

By Sue Bennett

What Is Clicker Training Horses Actually Good For?

Clicker training is one of the recent success stories of equestrianism. It makes use of a bridging signal to indicate the moment of the desired behaviour, followed by positive reinforcement. We are told that training with positive reinforcement is more ethical than...

By Catherine Bell

What Do Trainers Know About How Horses Learn?

When the June 2016 issue of the IAABC Foundation Journal ran an article on eliminating the use of aversives in equestrian training, I felt inspired to offer a summary of my study on the current use of these methods in equestrian training. The notion that positive...

By Gina Garey

Issue 1 | September 2016 — Horse

Eliminating Aversives in Training: If Dogs, Then Why Not Horses?

I remember it so well. I was reading my first book on dog behaviour and was impressed—the trainer was pictured happily walking a collection of dogs off lead, the book was endorsed by an eminent natural horsemanship trainer I then* rated highly, and it contained...

By Catherine Bell

Relapse of Conditioned Fear in Horses: The Four R’s

My 18-year-old thoroughbred is a warrior in most respects. He barely flicks an ear at a motorcycle speeding past as we cross the road; he nods politely and winks at a large coyote standing at the trail’s edge (in truth, the wink may just be a tic in his bum right...

By Robin Foster