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Horse welfare - what we know matters
Written by Shirley Ferber - equine nutritionist, founder of the Equida organization In August, the annual international conference of the Society for Equitation Science ISES 2020 - International Society for Equitation Science took place, due to the global pandemic the conference was held online. When equitation or equitation is a concept derived from the Latin word 'equida' (Equidae), in English 'equine' (Equine), which means members of the equine family. This concept refers to all the activities of training, taming and riding horses and donkeys, or any activity related to work and interaction between a person and a member of the equine family. During the conference there was also a fascinating lecture by Lisa Ashton who is a riding coach and an expert in the field of equitation science and horse welfare in riding and training, a consultant to the International Equestrian Federation FEI, and many other international organizations in the field. In the lecture, Lisa dealt with various topics in horse welfare under the title 'what we know matters' (What we know matters), and talked about how what we know directly affects the welfare of horses. Here is a brief summary of the main points presented in the lecture. Curiosity is the key to improving the welfare of horses and animals in general, but curiosity also encourages vulnerability. Planting curiosity in the minds of people is like planting seeds in the ground, we can choose whether to let the seeds of curiosity see sunlight, sprout and grow in us or we may leave them to dry and wither in the dark. When we recognize a gap between what we know and what we do or a gap in our knowledge, this is actually the opening to curiosity. But this gap may cause us discomfort because in the very act of recognizing the gap we recognize a state of uncertainty and a kind of illusion of helplessness.When we know more, or better, as in 'fact-based equity' Evidence Based Equitation, riding and training based on facts and research, we can do things better for the horses. So what do we actually know? Below is the summary of the examples that Lisa presented. When we know much more than that, and we also always have more to learn. The training of all animals places the trainer as a stimulus for all behaviors , whether intentionally or not, the environment is not the stimulus, but the person. And in a way, stimulation means control. Dominance in horse training is a man-made method and concept. When flight, fight and apathy are all reactions that express fear . Removing an aversive stimulus, or ' negative reinforcement ', including the use of pressure and relaxation. Adding an attraction stimulus, or ' positive reinforcement ', is used to reinforce the responses we do want. A combined reward method, which combines positive and negative reinforcement, is more effective than either of them separately. Concepts from the horse training toolbox Getting used to things - the habituation process, or Habituation to stimuli. Rewards and consequences - use of operant conditioning (Operant Conditioning), to strengthen a behavior that occurs randomly under certain conditions and the frequency of its appearance is controlled by its consequences . Clues and signals - use of classical conditioning (Classical Conditioning), to strengthen the context between a response to an unconditioned stimulus and a conditioned stimulus. Building behaviors step by step - Behavior design (Shaping), a process that enables the refinement of simple reactions into a complex reaction. "As long as we keep our eyes closed to how horses really feel, the truth about horses will never come out to the world". Lisa Ashton (2019) Lisa mentioned the movie Matrix as a metaphor for horse training methods. New (the character played by Keanu Reeves) suspected that there was some kind of malfunction in his world, and his curiosity made him look for the source of the malfunction. And Morpheus promised Neo that if he took the red capsule he would get the truth, but if he took the blue capsule he could go back to his previous life and nothing would change. So the red capsule actually represents the truth, the information based on facts and how horses really feel in relation to different training methods. Recognize curiosity and gain more knowledge. Whereas by choosing the blue capsule, we actually miss the truth and return to our virtual reality. Which is fine, but we are actually missing the true reality of how our horse feels and how the actions we choose to perform really affect him.And so, who we are matters more than what we know .For, we are all responsible for what becomes acceptable in training and riding horses, what is considered fashionable or legitimate, and seek social approval. But if we change the perception of what is considered legitimate, according to what really supports the welfare of the horse, this will be the key to creating the real change for the horses. Source: Summary of a lecture by Lisa Ashton (EquiCoach.life) presented at the ISES 2020 conference, August 2020 Lisa Ashton, ISES 2020. What we know matters
Horse and donkey welfare - the five domains (domains)
Written by < span style="color: textColor5;">Tal Nelkan - Graduated with a bachelor's degree in life sciences, a master's student in mathematics and a certified riding instructor. ( tal.nelken@mail. huji.ac.il ) Before the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, we used to go out to hang out, meet friends and family, go to events, travel and more. But in recent times there were many restrictions that prevented us from doing so and many found themselves more lonely, bored, frustrated and even experiencing depression. The conditions that limit the social and leisure events in our lives affect our well-being, as does keeping animals in conditions that do not allow them enriching and satisfying experiences may cause them to experience loneliness, boredom, frustration and depression. In the first article in the series we described the The Five Freedoms Principles for ensuring the welfare of animals: 1) Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition 2) Freedom from discomfort and exposure to the weather 3) Freedom from pain, injury and disease 4) Freedom from fear and distress 5) Freedom to express normal behavior We explained the problematic of using the word 'freedom'. And that the freedoms refer mainly to reducing the hardships of survival, but they do not necessarily guarantee a 'good' life, which includes positive and enriching experiences. Therefore, researchers Mellor and Reid (Mellor & Reid) compiled a new list of 5 principles The five domains, for the well-being of animals: These principles emphasize more the importance of the behavior, including interaction with humans, and the emotional/mental state of the animals compared to the five freedoms approach. In addition, they emphasize that the absence of suffering from a negative experience does not necessarily equate to a positive experience. The purpose of the model is to enable a systematic, structured, and thorough framework to assess the welfare of the animal. The purpose of each space is to direct attention to the areas that are most relevant for the purpose of assessing the welfare of animals. Spaces 1-3 which refer to nutrition, environment and health, are associated with the field of survival. Negative experience and distress associated with these spaces can be measured physiologically, pathologically, etc. For example, a disease can be characterized by measuring temperature, pulse and blood pressure, testing blood, urine and feces, and more. As mentioned, the feeling of distress in one of these spaces can result from a survival genetic mechanism that causes appropriate behavior on the part of the animal, and allows it to survive the negative situation it finds itself in. Space 4 which refers to the behavioral interactions, emphasizes the importance of the animal's behavior as a measure of how it perceives its environment. This space emphasizes proactive behaviors, which require flexibility in response to a changing environment and (often unexpected) events that occur in its environment. When the animals participate in voluntary, proactive and goal-oriented behaviors, one can clearly see the exercise of initiative in contrast to the survival behaviors resulting from distress in spaces 1-3. Behavioral interactions can be divided into three main types, which we will expand on in the next article in the series: With the environment (alone) with other animals With humans Space 5 refers to the mental and emotional perception of the animal, as the integration of all the other spaces for their effect on the general state of well-being. In conclusion, the Five Spaces Model is an up-to-date model for animal welfare, which emphasizes not only the importance of physical well-being, but also the importance of the animals' behavior and emotional and mental state. This approach is consistent with the conclusions of the latest biological studies related to animal welfare. It is possible to adopt from the "five spaces" model Guidelines for raising animals under conditions that allow them a good quality of life, and we will expand on this and more in the next article. Sources: Mellor, D. J. (2016). Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living” . Animals, 6, 21;