On Dogs, Disappointment, Dilemmas and Decisions

The Dog When I volunteered to raise an Assistance Dog puppy I thought I had prepared myself for the job at hand.  It wasn’t a job as such. It was a journey of learning and professional enhancement that I wanted to pursue. I have a special interest in Assistant Dogs. I have shared a home with a fully trained Assistance Dog. My background as a physiotherapist has given me insight into the physical limitations imposed upon so many people with various movement, pain related and physical restrictions to the extent that I wanted to explore first-hand how dogs were trained…

I Don’t Like Hugs

I’m not tactile. I don’t like hugs. I don’t really like hugs from anyone but my immediate family members. Even my really good friends don’t hug me! I can’t actually remember a time when I did enjoy hugs. Nothing ever happened to me to make me dislike hugs; my parents were fabulous, I never had a negative experience with a hug, I simply don’t like them! When I tell people that I don’t like hugs they generally accept that. No questions, no sideways glances, no “wow, that’s strange!” People just accept that this is part of my PERSONALITY; I’m just…

What’s Happened to Good Horsemanship?

By Ross Jacobs Most of my clinics are attended by people with a wide range of experience and interests. As well as many amateur and occasional riders I often meet very experienced horse people at my clinics. Many have been riding most of their life. Some have even competed successfully at a high level in various disciplines. I get a smattering of trainers from various horse sports. A few have been judges in various disciplines such as dressage or jumping, reining, halter breed classes etc. These are people will a lot of experience and many skills in their chosen field.…

In Response to “The Punishment of Positive Only” Article

I recently read an article that was titled “The Punishment of Positive Only” and was very intrigued by the title. I’m always keen to learn something new and I think it is always interesting to see other perspectives. My concern with the article is that the author doesn’t really seem to understand what a punishment is or how to implement them effectively. A punishment in dog training terms is just something or an outcome that is designed to reduce the likelihood of the preceding behaviour occurring again.

Unconscious Incompetence and Wilful Ignorance

I was recently talking to a life coach about an interesting theory known as the four stages of competence. A subject highly related to the practice of horsemanship. I won’t go into great details here about all the stages of competence, but want to focus specifically on the first stage – Unconscious Incompetence. Every horseperson goes through this stage at the start of their journey. But the tragedy is that a great majority of horse people (amateur horse owners as well as professional trainers and instructors) will never actually leave this stage.

Why Positive Reinforcement isn’t about Bribery and Treats

Whenever I meet people I’m really happy to tell them what I use and why, which in my opinion, is what every professional should want to do – even if the tools they choose to use are aversive. The owner should always be aware of what you are doing and why what you are doing achieves (or should do) results. The first thing that usually gets fired back at me when I say I used food is ‘I don’t want to bribe my dog’ and my reply is always the same – ‘great, we’re on the same page then’.

[VIDEO] Reconstructing the Dressage Horse

More from FourPlusTwo contributor, Shelley Appleton of Appleway Performance Horses.  This is a great case study video sharing the journey Shelley went on working with one of her clients.  If you enjoyed our previous discussion on ethical horse training, you’re going to really enjoy this one. – Ed.

Freak Riding Accident? Hardly

The horse world has lost some good riders in the last few weeks. Sadly, it happens all too often. Horses can be unpredictable and people get hurt. Some of it is unavoidable and some of it is totally preventable.

Royally Stuffed?

Growing up I remembered the ads on tv about looking after “All Creatures Great and Small”(did you sing that in your head? hahah) I thought the RSPCA was a marvelous and benevolent organisation that truly did care about ALL animals. Seeing images of puppies and kittens on the TV knowing that somewhere out there was a group that would stop mean people from hurting them….. it was a comfort. And maybe back then they did really care. As an adult and with the invention of the internet I began to notice a trend in what I was seeing about the…

Absent Pet-Mum and a Sick Fur Kid

For those that don’t know me personally I have spent the last four weeks in the uk. It’s always exciting to go away and meet new people and experience new things. I got to meet new cats, Flapjack and Topsy and check out the local vet when we took Flapjack to the vet for her thyroid check up. Before you go though there’s always the issue of who do you trust with your pets before you go away.