Friday, January 22, 2010

22nd January, 2010 You won't get me camping

It annoys me when camps develop in any field, especially horsemanship. The more people try to define the exact edges of what they do, and to differentiate themselves from each other - usually for financial reasons - the bigger the nomansland that develops between each camp. It can't be good for horses to not be able to stray over the edges without being shot at by the opposition or called a traitor. There are some very spiteful forums about, even when everyone is striving for non-violence in the horse world, where it seems to be open season rather than open minds. It seems that semantics and science are thrown out of the window one minute and then clawed back in the next - for example when I am told that the imposition of a pressure, no matter how gentle, is either an aversive stimulus on one day but a cue on another depending on whose side you appear to be on. To be frank it gets in the way of helping horses and their owners. For some I think pressure and release is the best approach, for others positive association training with food and for some a combination of the two but always working towards not needing either. On the whole I would always prefer to "ask" a horse, being as gentle and subtle as I can but there are three situations in which I "tell" (still never hitting) and that's when a horse tries to bite me, to run into me or to overtake me. I sometimes, but not always, use a Dually halter, I sometimes, but not always use clicker. I'm happy to put a knotted halter on a pony I'm just being casual with but I would prefer not to use one for loading work. As long as all the things I use are internally consistent, I don't see what the problem is.