Some of you have already noticed the logo to the side of the HenCam page for my new endeavor, The Cooperative Horse. First off, big thanks to my good friend, Lauren Scheuer for the drawing that exemplifies what I want for my horses – engagement, confidence, and trust. Like my work here at HenCam, through the Cooperative Horse, I’ll be helping individuals with their animals, via my writing on the website, and also individually in person and by email, Skype, etc. In this, case, though, the animals weigh about 1000 pounds more than the hens!
I do reward-based training.
This means that I look for the moment that the animal is doing something right, and I show my appreciation by giving a treat of some sort. Positive associations are built. Communication is clear. I’ve done this sort of training with dogs, goats, horses, chickens and even fish. Obviously, the reward varies by the animal, as does the environment that gives them security and comfort during training. So, before you can even begin asking for behaviors, you have to have a deep understanding of what motivates the animal. For that, it helps to study ethology – how they behave in their natural environment.
Research is being done of horses in established feral herds, and what is being discovered is transforming how we care for and train our equines. I’m working on an article about this for The Cooperative Horse website. I’ll let you know when it’s up. But, if you live in the Boston area, you can hear about it in person. I’ll be leading a conversation about horse ethology at a lovely little tack store, The Complete Equestrian Saddlery, in Bedford, MA. on June 30. Details are here. It’s free, and there will be cold drinks and cookies (made by me, in the shape of horses, of course.) I hope to see you there.