Video Library

Over the coming months we will be adding video footage to illustrate what people mean by concepts such as shaping, clicker training, enriching stables.....

1. Introducing a novel object into a field of horses. Observe the calm attitude of horses who are loose and able to choose to investigate at their own pace. They have a tendency to come close the object, move away and then come close again repeatedly, each approach being a little more relaxed. More commonly horses are rushed into dealing with their fears and not given the time they need. They are forced to approach things they find frightening but then not given the opportunity to move away or perform their repertoire of investigative behviours. This can lead to so-called "behavioural problems" - which ultimately take longer to resolve and have an impact on safety.

2. Donkeys playing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that donkeys play more than horses, more boisterously and it is more often object-focussed. They have evolved to browse very sparse vegetation, rather than grazing abundant grass - could their ethological grazing needs have led to a "mouthiness" which manifests itself in increased object-play? Or is it due to their reduced flight response? Or perhaps an indication that they are living in an insufficiently stimulating environment? All thoughts welcomed, please.[Thanks to Sally Perry for the use of this video.]

3. Resource Holding Potential. Each available resource in a horse's environment has a certain value to each individual horse. Look at how the foals are investigating the bucket before another, older horse approaches the bucket. This is a good example of a RHP contest where one horse contests with another over a particular resource. The foals defer very quickly, because it does not make sense from an evolutionary point of view, to fight over the bucket (especially as the mare is much older and more experienced than they are and the bucket is actually empty) . Notice how the shetland does not make ANY physical contact with the foals, or use any bite or kick threats. She just uses her approach and physical proximity to move them away. Notice also how her facial expression changes as soon as the foals have moved off and her face is in the bucket. [Thanks to Kelly Taylor of Solace Training (Animal Behaviour) for the use of this video.]

4. Browsing. Horses have an evolutionary need to browse on hedgerows, eat leaves on trees and strip bark from tree trunks or logs. This is especially important in winter when other resources may be scarce. This young horse is stripping and eating the bark from these logs. Setting up a "browsing station" in your field is a really great idea. You can speak to local tree surgeons and request logs from oak, ash, poplar and willow trees as these have been found to be firm favourites in equine preference tests. Many types of plant and tree are poisonous to horses, so please check their origin first. It can also be helpful to invest in a book that lists poisonous plants so that you can be aware of what is safe and what is not, in your horses environment. [Thanks to Kelly Taylor of Solace Training (Animal Behaviour) for the use of this video.]