Two days of really interesting talks and research on animal behaviour with Per Jensen as one of the speakers at the ASAB winter conference last week
Watching Crufts (yes I know that it is all dogs and not horses) I have noticed a big difference. While watching the Best in breed shows, the agility classes, the obedience classes and the agility classes I started to consider what I had seen at horse shows. At a horse show we often see whips and spurs used on horses to urge them to go faster and to control them. We see many types of bits, bridles and sometimes these are doubled up or even added control is added with martingales.
I started to wonder why we treat our horses and dogs so differently? I agree that most horses are much larger than a dog, and we do not ride our dogs. But we do still to be able to control both our horses and dogs especially when they are in a competition that we are trying to win.
The dog world has gone through a major change over the past 10 to 15 year, gone are the times of dog trainers shouting orders at dogs and owners, to now a much more science based training ethos. So why has the horse world remained stationary, stuck with using aversive method’s to control horses, yes there are a few who are trying these new methods now used by most dog trainers.
Is it fear, horses are big animals, but then dogs can bite. Is it that there are not enough trainers using new methods such as positive reinforcement to train horses, or is it that we are so used to seeing whips, spurs, and harsh bits on horses that this is what we expect. It is very interesting to consider how we treat the animals that we so love and cherish.