Remote-Controlled Cars Used to Study Round Pen Training

During round pen training researchers got similar results from an inanimate object as from a human.

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Round pen training isn’t only effective with humans being the ones working the horses. According to Australian equitation scientists, even a remote-controlled car can create the same reactions in horses. And for them, this is cause for concern.

"Round pen training is said to rely on a human’s ability to mimic another horse through the trainer’s body language, but our research suggests that this may not be true," said Cathrynne Henshall, MSc candidate and professional trainer, under the supervision of Paul McGreevy, PhD, both researchers at the University of Sydney. "We were able to get similar results from an inanimate object–a toy car–which indicates that this training result relies on applying an aversive stimulus which elicits fear, and then rewarding horses by turning off the frightening stimulus."

Henshall presented the results of her study at the 8th International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference, held July 18-20 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In other words, it’s scaring the horses and then removing the frightening stimulus when they behave the way we want, through simple negative reinforcement, she said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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