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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 2:18 am 
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http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=17218

Nothing earth shatteringly surprising for us in the results of this new study,
Except the fact that it is getting publicity in mainstream horse circles.

Key points are:

Quote:
According to a new study by European equitation scientists, horses might prefer to avoid rein tension rather than just get used to it. And beyond a certain force threshold, rein tension can cause conflict behavior.
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"This motivation to avoid tension is, of course, what we make use of during training," said Janne Winther Christensen, PhD, a research scientist at the faculty of agricultural sciences at Aarhus University in Tjele, Denmark, and primary author of the study.
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By using young horses, the researchers were able to see how the horse reacts naturally to rein pressure before having the effects of multiple riders and trainers.
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While they expected the fillies to refuse the rein tension the first day of the study and then gradually increase their tolerance over the following days, they were surprised to find that the opposite was true.
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"The horses applied a surprisingly high level of tension on the first day and apparently learned how to avoid the tension, rather than habituate to it," Christensen said, adding that they accepted tension as high as 10 N (Newtons) the first day but only up to around 6 N on the subsequent days. "This clearly demonstrates that horses do find tension aversive."
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Earlier studies, performed by different research teams, on rein tension in more experienced horses have shown pressure tolerance up to 40 N, and the horses did not always display conflict behavior, she said. However, these more experienced horses might have become less sensitive to the tension because of extended training without proper pressure release, and they might have been disciplined for displaying conflict behavior.

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Last edited by windhorsesue on Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:09 am 
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There is something new for me. I'm rather chastened to know that I too once thought that a horse would grow tolerant of the pressure (to me a bad thing) and now I see that they never do.

This explains to me why horse's have, from their human owner's point of view, "problems," of various kinds - that leads me, when I work with their horses to explore lightness with the bit - even to convincing the owners to go bitless if possible.

I've always focused on teaching lightness and the use of loose rein for students, but for myself, strictly on what I believe to be ethical grounds, that bitless is preferred over bitted, and brideless over even bitless.

Donald, Alteal, and Bonnie Magdalena

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:46 pm 
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great that it gets investigated, but my first reaction to this, as to many other outcomes of research would be: duh! :roll: :funny:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:56 am 

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Josepha, I agree, it appears obvious, and I had a similar exchange with Nina on a facebook comment to this study, that it was not aimed at those who are already bitless. Rather like Dr. Cook having horses monitored and recorded for study purposes it allows a reference for future argument as to 'why' bitless. Some folks like to believe this is science when to AND members reading a horses expression is sufficient, but I give thanks to the publishers for allowing it to be a science study. xx

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:39 am 
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I do think, as Donald explains that it might look like that horses grow accustomed to pressure and all the other stuff we humans come up with to put them through. But they do not grow accustomed in that way. What I see is much worse; they sort of actually leave their bodies and minds to actually 'not be there' when the constant infliction of all sorts of 'sensations' occur with which they can never or are never allowed to give a natural reaction.
This however is not just for horses, I have seen it with abused kids, stray dogs and cats but also simply humans who have had a periode of pain due to ilness. Constant pain, pressure, all the things your body and mind tells you to get rid of or run from but can't, sort of falls to the background because your mind retracts and you sort of go on 'automatic pilote'.

This is the biggest factore, I am convinced, all these 'pushy and non sensitive' horses come from.
But the good news, it can be reversed! By giving them absolute freedom and rewarding them every tiny reaction to the lightest of touches or whispers and allowing them to give whatever reaction they feel they should have.
Like Romy explains.... have to find the link again, but it's a sticky with a movie about making horses sensitieve again.

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