Smart Horse: Understanding the Science of Natural Horsemanship

In horse training we really have two goals: first, to condition (train) the horse to perform a particular action in response to a particular stimulus (cue), and second, to motivate the horse to perform that action each and every time that stimulus is presented.
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From CHAPTER 3: LEARNING AND REINFORCEMENT

When we say that a horse has learned something, we are really saying that we have increased the likelihood that he will perform a particular action in response to a particular stimulus. However, a horse always has the choice of whether to perform a learned behavior because he still has free will. Therefore, in horse training we really have two goals: first, to condition (train) the horse to perform a particular action in response to a particular stimulus (cue), and second, to motivate the horse to perform that action each and every time that stimulus is presented.

Stages of learning

There are four generally accepted stages of learning that are applicable to both human and animal psychology

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Written by:

Jennifer MacLeay, DVM, PhD, an equine veterinarian, practices and teaches at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Fort Collins. She is also an experienced equestrian.

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