AERC convention 2016 – Behavior
|February 22, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Oh boy the things I learned at this year’s convention!
- The most beautiful words in the English language is “4-wheel drive, go ahead” in the chain area of Donnor pass.
- Lanes are entirely imaginary during active snow storms.
- Nevada is definitely sparks joy. I’ve been paying attention more to what things spark joy. It started with reading the book “Spark Joy” about recognizing and using that feeling to clean and tidy the house, however I’ve started paying attention to when that feeling occurs, apart from “stuff”. Driving over Donnor pass and into Nevada definitely goes on the list. I have no rational reason for it, but I get butterflies and a stupid smile on my face every single time.
Oh, you wanted to know the endurance and horse related things…..Fortunately there was a lot of those too.
This year I went to the veterinary continuing education seminars instead of the members portion. It’s a little different because I have to go to ALL the seminars, 8a-5p and can’t pick and choose the topics most relevant to me and my Dear Reader – but I earn 16 hours of CE credits over the 2 days which I need in order to keep my license current. (CA requires 36 hours every 2 years, NV requires 20 hours per year). I also get to go to a portion of the convention that many of my Readers and other AERC member don’t get to go to and share some of the pearls of wisdom that are taught there!
The set of lectures on behavior was geared towards reviewing the concepts of behavior that could be applied to needle shy horses. Most of the material was a duplicate of what I got during school and during my behavior rotations in school, however there were a couple of good reminders and some material relevant to horses (most of my school stuff was dogs/cats) that I wanted to share, as well as some cool things I hadn’t come across before.
1. The lecturer had done an experiment correlating the level of arousal (in this case, this word means “excitement/anxiety”, such as pacing, calling, fidgeting etc.) to heart rate. Can signs of increasing arousal accurately predict heart rate? As the horse gets more and more “worked up”, does the heart rate increase?
I’m taking a vote. Yes? No?
Yes…..except for Arabs!!!!! In arabs the heart rate is NOT correlated with outward signs of anxiety.
I think that’s what gets me into trouble with other breeds sometimes.
2. The lecturer asked for the opinion of the room on Arab reaction to stimulus. It’s well documented that in general breeds like the thoroughbreds take less to push them over threshold (threshold = how aroused/excited/anxious they are, which correlates to how well they can learn. A little is good, a lot is not) while breeds like drafts typically take more to push them over threshold.
It was interesting to see what other vets in the room said.
- It’s all the owner
- They attach stronger to the owner, but depending on the circumstances also have a stronger detachment.
- Curious and can and will change their mind and reassess situations.
- Color? Lecture said that there are lots of wives tales and some probably have some truth to them, however they are also probably self-fulfilling prophecies. The lecturer actually wrote a recent article for The Horse on color and behavior.
My opinion is that compared to other breeds, Arabs do not tolerate “drilling” and repetition during training. I agree with the observation that in general they seem curious and willing to give 2nd chances. As with many breeds, it’s hard to generalize since the term “arab” is used to describe horses bred for a lot of different purposes, but the one’s I’ve worked with generally have a work ethic and an agenda (for good or bad).
BTW, here’s a short list of some of my other breed bias’s -Most thoroughbreds I know all have “quirks” that often make them dangerous/unpleasant to handle, the stock breeds are unpredictable and not always honest, Standardbreds are absolutely stellar abbassadors to the equine world except they vary in work ethic, and anything primarily bred for color seems to have a screw or 2 loose.
3. The problem with clicker training is the the movement is mostly fundamentalist. Fundamentalist = the all or nothing crowd. I agree. I think that clicker training is a good tool for both horses and dogs. I think it gets a bad rap from people that insist that everything is a hammer and a nail and that anyone can learn to do it with success. Some things naturally are taught well with positive reinforcement (clicker training, with or without the clicker) and some aren’t. Sometimes you don’t need a hammer, you need a screwdriver. At some point I will write up my thoughts on doing clicker training with my 2 horses over the last couple of months. I promise. But until then, the short version is that I think it’s a fine tool for someone that understands it’s strength and weaknesses and uses it in conjunction with other training techniques.
I’m going to publish the AERC articles as I get them written so that is it for now….it’s time for me to get Fig up and myself out the door for work!