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Minna Tallberg: “You Cannot Use Drive Anymore”

by Minna Tallberg, who beforehand contributed the column “Stakeholders Profit from a Standing Quo”

Minna Tallberg (FIN) is a former equestrian photographer and freelance journalist, who now works as a horse coach and author of horse coaching books. She has a particular curiosity in studying idea, behaviour, and welfare points. She has two vocational animal coaching {qualifications} and holds webinars and dwell lectures on horse coaching and conduct in Finnish, Swedish and English.

“You may’t use pressure anymore”

The choice was taken after a press release by the ministry liable for animal welfare concerning aversive coaching instruments. The date was set when all gear utilized in coaching inflicting ache or worry was to be handed in. From this present day on, no coaching strategies based mostly on bodily coercion or horrifying was allowed. The trainers have been stumped and requested: “If we’re not allowed to make use of the gear we have been utilizing, how can we prepare as a substitute?”

A bedtime story I simply made up? No. This really occurred in Finland, because the now retired head of border guard canine coaching, Juha Pasanen, instructed horse folks in his lecture from him in September. A number of equestrian organisations, together with Hippos (trotting and breeding), the Finnish Equestrian federation (using), Hippolis and several other equine schools organized a seminar on horse welfare. Dr. Janet Jones’ webinar delved into what the horses’ mind is able to and what not, Essi Wallenius shared the brand new challenge in creating a welfare high quality protocol for equines and I had the chance to discuss how horses study and what we will do to make coaching extra environment friendly and welfare oriented.

Pasanen, now staff assessor for the EU border guard Frontex, spoke about how the Border Guard in Finland modified the way in which canine have been skilled from utilizing punishment as part of coaching (together with shock collars) to utilizing reward based mostly coaching strategies. Whereas altering the methods you’ve been doing issues for many years was painful, it wasn’t inconceivable. The outcome? Canines that work at the very least in addition to the beforehand skilled ones, and whose welfare is healthier. And consequently, canine handler welfare additionally elevated. Sure, it took years. However it was well worth the effort.

In response to a current evaluate revealed in Animals, “Social License to Function: What Can Equestrian Sports activities Be taught from Different Industries?” the necessity for the equestrian world to vary is true across the nook. Or in entrance of us all. “Public attitudes about animal use are additionally affected by advances in scientific information. That is underpinned by the rising recognition that animals are sentient creatures [56,57] for whom bodily, psychological, and social wellbeing are vital [50] and by the expansion of animal welfare as a longtime science [58].” That is occurring proper now.

One other key quote with regard to current dialogue throughout the equestrian world: “Communication methods which were proven to be unhelpful embody dismissing public issues as reflecting lack of know-how or understanding [2] and adopting a defensive or aggressive response to criticism [9]. Equally, making an attempt to ‘educate’ the general public in ‘the reality’ about equestrian sport will not be efficient, until it shows shared values ​​with all stakeholders [4].”

Juha Pasanen’s lecture on how change was effected throughout the Border Guard canine coaching confirmed a number of attention-grabbing parallels with the present equestrian scenario. The canine trainers themselves didn’t drive the change, the motivation got here from above, ie the boss. The Border Guard is a army group and as such, change is well carried out from the highest, and in Pasanen’s phrases, anybody not keen to stroll the speak and alter coaching strategies to make sure higher canine welfare would have been sacked.

In fact this isn’t the way in which change will occur within the equestrian world. There isn’t a boss, and the FEI for example has proven that it’s going to recommend change solely when it’s compelled to. However I put it that the boss is the society round us, and that pesky new phrase SLO (Social License to Function). When society asks questions, like “why are you utilizing steel rods to poke your horse within the sides” or “why do you hit the horse with a whip when it will not leap” we have to have solutions which are a) true b ) in tune with the fashionable view of animals, not these from two thousand plus years in the past. Or, we modify in order that our coaching strategies are ethically viable. It is potential.

If utilizing pressure, inflicting the horse ache or worry, is outlawed, what then? No, it’s possible you’ll not use the argument that you simply can not pressure a horse to do something he doesn’t need to do. That one has been proven unfaithful so many instances now it will not wash. I might additionally like by no means to listen to nor examine horses biting and kicking one another as an evidence for hitting or kicking horses both, ever once more. Simply give up using and exhibiting? Nope.

Photograph © Minna Tallverg

Horses study in a short time and so they have a frighteningly good reminiscence. Horses could be motivated to behave in a sure approach by many various strategies, solely a few of that are ethically unsound. What you lose once you cease utilizing pressure you get in utilizing systematic desensitization (making it potential for the horse to habituate) and sensitization (making it potential for the horse to study the aids and different cues) and steadily growing calls for in order that the horse can study. Horses are motivated by many issues: launch from strain, together with worry and ache but additionally very a lot smaller strain, like a fly tickling the hair of the horse; transferring, resting, firm of different horses, meals, scratches, exploring, utilizing its’ physique in numerous methods. The one one who will get to determine what reinforces conduct is the horse.

Keep in mind, denying there’s pressure will not be an possibility anymore. It is there for anybody to see. With much less pressure, with strain used solely to allow it to be stopped, reinforcing the right behaviour, to not pressure the horse to exhibit it, you’ll need extra repetitions. That is true for any reinforcement you want to use. Horses study to bang the secure door in only a few repetitions if it results in their feed being given. You do not normally need the horse to study and bear in mind issues from just some repetitions, since you will not be an ideal coach your self. With average motivation – just some pellets of feed, only a tiny irritating little bit of strain – comes a necessity for extra repetitions. Then the conduct will must be established by generalizing it, working towards in numerous conditions, with completely different riders, various gear, and that the majority demanding of all for our horses, in unfamiliar conditions, alone.

Do you need to reply to this column, do you differ in opinion? Eurodressage loves to listen to from you. Be at liberty to ship a “letter to the editor” and contribute to the dialogue:

Associated Hyperlinks
Minna Tallberg: Stakeholders Profit from a Standing Quo
Dr. Inga Wolframm: “What’s a Piece of Tack?”
David Hunt: The Double Bridle as a Sport Problem, not a Welfare Problem


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