Everyone who owns a horse has opinions on how a horse should be treated and trained. So there are as many theories as there are horse owners. Which doesn’t make it easy for me. Fox’s problems have propelled me onto the Internet, I read horse articles, blogs and forums, all in an attempt to find the magical button for Fox.
At the moment I think I’ve narrowed it down to four general opinions.
1. If your horse doesn’t want to do something do whatever it takes to get him to do it including extreme cruelty
2. You want your horse to be your buddy and to like you so you must be nice to him
3. Your horse needs to respect you as the alpha animal so you must behave as the alpha animal
4. You need to respect your horse and treat him with compassion and he needs to understand and trust you as an equal (I haven’t explained this one very well but the writers of Glenshee Equestrian Centre and Enlightened Horsemanship have done so a lot better than I.)
Obviously I don’t agree with 1 or 2. I’ve probably been using 3 to some degree but I’m starting to think it’s not quite right. There is evidence that dominance based training doesn’t work and doing my canine behaviour paper and psychology papers made me realise that punishment will teach an animal something to a certain degree but it is much more effective to use positive reward for when they do things right.
Which leads to 4. This is an approach I guess I haven’t really tried and makes the most sense to me at the moment. It will take more research on how I can use this method with our particular problems but I think this is our next step.