Education of Horse and Rider

The education of horse and rider can be as varied as the horsemen and women who publish and preach their own particular methods. But before any learning can begin, it helps to know learning theory.

Sometimes this basic concept is left out of the teaching process due to long held traditions in horsemanship. In fact I don’t recall anyone teaching me anything about learning theory and it wasn’t until after 40 years of horsemanship and the discovery of various training methods, that I discovered it.

The best book for educating yourself on how to educate your horses.
The best book for educating yourself on how to educate your horses.

Learning theory is not often taught in programs for the horse or for instructors, but really, it should be a pre-requisite. Sometimes this may be because of the difficulty people have in understanding the scientific terminology, however there is one author who has managed to explain it in every day terms and that is Mark Hanson in his book ‘Revealing Your Hidden Horse’.
This book actually details a revolutionary approach to understanding and caring for your horse so that training and learning is optimised. Mark shows us how to consider the horse’s physical health and emotional state so that learning is optimised for both horse and human.

The chapters on ‘Control and Communication’ followed by ‘Positive Reinforcement Training and Relationships’ delve into the fundamentals of training and the tools we can use to develop a positive and productive learning experience.

Another great resource for understanding learning theory is Emma Lethbridge’s book Knowing Your Horse: A Guide to Equine Learning, Training and Behaviour. This book provides the reader with the tools to analyse different training methods and to understand their horse better. If you understand how your horse learns and why your training is effective, you can train faster, more ethically, and more sympathetically.

The following articles are constantly being added to, so check back often or sign up for my Email Updates to receive new ones.

Education Articles

Jenny Pearce – Happiness and Wellbeing for Horse and Rider - I recently re-connected with Jenny Pearce, a friend from way back, a healer extraordinaire and a fantastic teacher. Jenny’s passion for helping people and horses was  so evident during our conversation that as I learned more about what she is now teaching, I’m inspired to share her gifts and wisdom. As an example, watch and read [...]
How do you approach your horse training? - I have just read a book by notable dog trainer, Harrison Forbes called ‘Dog Talk‘, and I liked his perspective on training methods so much I wanted to share it. In quoting Harrison – I’ve put ‘horse’ in brackets to help you visualise better. “Instead of watching their dogs (horses), I find people are watching a [...]
Differences between CAT & Advance-Retreat - What is the difference between CAT (Constructional Approach Training) and Advance-Retreat? By Laurel Gordon with photos and captions by Lynn Scott.  In any comparison between Advance/Retreat (A/R) and CAT, the first thing is that in CAT the horse sets the threshold, not the human. It allows the animal to control the proximity of the aversive [...]
CAT for Horses - By Laurel Gordon Based on a definition of CAT-H by Dolores Arste and Kellie Snyder. While working on her Master’s thesis, behavioural science student Kellie Snyder noticed that positive reinforcement methods like clicker training, or giving food treats, didn’t work so well on animals when there was a lot of fear involved. With the help [...]
Ask Cynthia – ‘Hoof Handling Problem’ - I wonder if you can help me. I have been practising natural horsemanship for over 5 years and am learning everyday. I have overcome some huge problems with emotional abused and damaged horses, but am stuck on the current one. I normally allow a horse to chill a bit and settle into my routines, whilst [...]
Starting Young Horses Under Saddle - How to give your young horse the best start to riding. by Cynthia Cooper ‘Starting’ a young horse is a more positive than ‘breaking’ so I will use this term rather than the traditional ‘breaking-in’ that has become common language for training a horse to be ridden. After all, who wants to end up with a [...]
Giving Horses Choices – The beautiful Boronia - Yesterday at my Young Horse Day workshop I met a wonderful soul in Boronia, a young shire mare. I was asked to work with her because she wouldn’t be caught, especially in the paddock with the other horses. She would give up in the yard as she knew she was unable to get away, and [...]
Treats for Horses – Why Use Them? - by Cynthia Cooper To horses, a treat is not a bribe unless you use it as one. I see it as a reward, or payment for a job well done. It offers incentive for the horse to earn more and they look forward to their work when payment is forthcoming. Giving a horse a treat [...]
Comfort Zones – what are they? - by Cynthia Cooper Comfort zones are a survival mechanism for horses. If they aren’t familiar with something they become wary, putting them just outside their comfort zone into a ‘not too sure’ zone. When they become truly afraid for their survival, they go into their ‘Oh no I’m in danger’ zone where they act instinctively without [...]
Educating My Horses - by Cynthia Cooper Over the many years of being a student of the horse, pony club, Parelli, horse psychology, clicker training and many other great horsemen and women, I have learned a lot. In fact I’m a ‘learn-a-holic’! Learning is something I will continue to do until the day I die! When it comes to [...]

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