Emotion based training and upsensitizing humans.

It is relatively easy to train a horse for a given behavioural response,  but it is not always so easy to train for a good attitude coupled with that requested behavioural response – as attitude is emotion based.

Our mammalian brains are all deeply hard wired to experience emotions. It is good to try to empathise, but anthropomorphism can be risky as the outward signs, priorities and needs vary a bit in each mammalian species, so learning as much as possible about equine behaviour in both domestication and wild feral herds is absolutely essential to be able to interpret the emotional signs given by equines,  but behavioural neuroscience researchers have shown there are  7 Primal Emotions defined in all mammals which are: RAGE (Pissed off), FEAR (Anxiety) and PANIC (Separation/loneliness and sadness) must be avoided in training sessions,  instead seeking to trigger only the PLAY (joyousness)  SEEKING (enthusiastic problem solving) and possibly some of the CARE (tender and loving) emotions, – with the 7th – LUST (being horny) – irreleveant to a training sessions!

Even if your cues or aids seem finely given, reasonable, fair and well timed in your opinion, it may be that if your horse shows RAGE – (pissed off) or FEAR (anxiety) or PANIC (separation/loneliness and sadness) while training with you, or in response to your aids, instead of working on desensitizing your horse, you may need to “upsensitize” yourself – as no matter how good you think you have been in your aiding or cueing,  the only opinion that matters on how good you are as a horseman and trainer is your horses opinion.

Always ignoring the horses emotional responses to your cues or aids is either going to lead to a shut down horse who may seem robotically obedient, but who is dull eyed and depressed and in a learned helplessness state of mind, or it will lead to an angry horse who is then labelled as dominant, aggressive, difficult, fiery, crazy, viscious or over sensitive.

If your horse understands and calmly resonds to aids or cues (even if he doesnt get the responses perfect each time) and seems bright and happy to engage in work with you,  eagerly looks for solutions to problems you set in the training sessions, is not usually anxious or pissed off  – and if things stray into anxiety or anger the horse can be brought out of these emotional states, and if  your horse does not usually seem angry, fearful, panicky, sad, sour or depressed,  then your training is probably going in the right emotional direction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *