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Episode 15: The Connection To Freedom

One thing leads to another. In this case a discussion of the function that a behavior serves takes us to an examination of “polite" behavior. How can we teach our horses how to safely co-exist in the environments we have chosen? There are obvious constraints limits on the freedom that we give our horses. Fences and closed stall doors limit their movements. But when we teach our horses behaviors that we refer to as “polite manners”, we are expanding opportunities to gain access to environments and activities they enjoy. Good manners don’t just benefit us. Good training creates more freedom for our horses.

Episode 14: Are You Truly Listening?

In this week’s episode our long afternoon conversation continues. Last week we focused on cue communication. If cues open up the possibility of a two way conversation, this brings us to the question of how do you respond when your animal says no? You’ve asked for something, and he says: “I’d rather not." How do you respond? Do you let his behavior modify yours? What does it mean to truly listen to another individual - horse or human? What does it mean to “test the waters”?

Cues Not Commands

This episode is part of a long conversation Dominique Day and I were having one afternoon in late May. Dominique had been rewatching the Loopy Training DVD. So our conversation began with a discussion of movement cycles and poisoned cues. Last week we focused in on Loopy Training - what it means and how it brings emotional balance into our training. That discussion brought us to cue communication - the main focus of this week’s podcast. Cues are contrasted with commands. Command-based training is the norm in the horse world. It is: "I tell - you, horse, respond (or else)." Cues, in contrast, are an invitation. There are no threats backing them up. Commands-based training shuts down

Episode 12: Loopy Training

It was Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz who gave us the name “Loopy Training”. That’s a name that seems on first glance to be silly and frivolous but it's really grounded in the very sophisticated concept of movement cycles. This week’s podcast is part of a long conversation Dominique Day and I were having one afternoon in late May. In this podcast we continue on with the discussion of poisoned cues. We explore how loopy training can help retrain behaviors that have poisoned cues attached to them. That takes us into a discussion of what it means to have clean loops and how to use loopy training to create a balance between calm energy and enthusiasm in your animal learners. Not surprisingly food d

Episode #11: The Poisoned Cue

Karen Pryor coined the term “poisoned cue”. She commented that behavior analysts can easily set up experiments that look at pure positive or pure negative reinforcement. But Karen said that’s not the real world. The real world is filled with mixed consequences. What happens when a cue can lead to good things happening or to bad things happening but you don’t know which it is going to be? That’s the poisoned cue. Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz explored this question in a study he conducted with one of his graduate students at the University of North Texas. In this podcast Dominique Day and Alexandra Kurland describe his findings and discuss how this relates to horse training. If you want to wa