Various horse training methods have been studied scientifically.
Baraga et al. (2012, in press) published a paper that compared two distinct techniques of teaching young horses. They provided a scientific methodology to evaluate these approaches’ efficacy by observing the horses’ behavior. A total of twelve juvenile horses were employed, divided into two groups. Both horses were trained using the same learning principle, but they were given different chances to regulate their surroundings.
Group A was confined in a pasture and trained in a tiny circular enclosure in a field. The horse was not confined during training and was chased away until it showed interest in the trainer. The horse’s behavior was observed when the trainer approached it. The horse was allowed to retreat, and if this happened, the same tactic was used to close the animal again.
Physical contact was begun when the horse freely followed the trainer. Saddling the horse was the final step. The horse was permitted to retreat at all times, and all movements were done slowly to give the horse time to examine each stimulus.
The training for group B began in the horse’s stable, where it was housed apart from the rest of the group. The halter was placed on the horse after being pushed into a corner. The horse’s physical contact and saddling were continued until it consented, leaving it no chance to assess the sensations.
After completing the training, two tests were conducted to assess each horse’s behavior. The Observer XT was used for behavioral monitoring and evaluation. The individuals’ heart rates were also measured. The horse was allowed loose in a familiar arena for the human test. A new individual was presented, and the attention and exploratory activity focused on that person were recorded. The horse was groomed and saddled by a known person (the trainer) at a familiar training area for the grooming test (round pen or stall).
The following behaviors were rated:
- Exploration of the individual
- Paying attention to the individual
- Lowering of the head
- Kinetic actions
- Defensive actions
- Avoidance activities are a form of avoidance.
The Observer XT was used to score all behaviors’ latency, frequency, and duration.
ACCORDING TO THE AUTHORS, Group A took more time to train but showed more signs of relaxation during both tests. During both trials, their pulse rates were lower, and all of them approached the strange human, unlike horses in group B, where just one horse came the new human. They also spent more time in close quarters with that individual. The horses in group A had a better time lifting their hooves throughout the grooming test, and the overall time for each group to complete the grooming process was the same.