Horse foundation training and equitation science

Professor Paul McGreevy is a veterinarian and professor of animal welfare at the University of Sydney. In this film Paul and his two-year-old filly Sierra demonstrate some of the techniques of foundation training. As seen in the National Museum of Australia exhibition ‘Spirited: Australia’s Horse History’. More:

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9 Responses

  1. geoffg6867
    | Reply

    I have just read the other comments, I don't know nothing about horse training, but to me I can't see any fear by the horse, and plenty of love and kindness by the Professor.. Even the horse looks like it is conveying love back in return. I'm probably wrong but all I can see is a lovely interaction between the two of them.

  2. geoffg6867
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    This is the best training I've seen on YouTube. A real credit to your method, you are a very kind person.

  3. Liz Bennett
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    At 2.32 he leads the horse by the beard……. Rookie mistake………..and you would NEVER EVER tie a young unstarted horse up to a paling and introduce it to a girth! Absolutely dangerous.

  4. Paul Dopper
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    I'm sorry if you are a vet, a scientist or even a published academic, but there is SOOOOOO much wrong with what you are teaching. * * * THIS IS NOT HORSEMANSHIP * * *

  5. Jessica Druker
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    what breed is this horse? how many hands?

  6. Tina Binions
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    This is a very good video, i notice you whistled after the horse responded positively, is this your cue? Are you using operant conditioning?

  7. Amoury Gaming
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    that is extremely cute

  8. Maxine Easey
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    I see quite a lot of aversive stimulation here and considerable use of flooding with non-contingent use of food. The use of the bridge (whistle) and food reinforcement is often not related to the behaviour he has been teaching. For instance, Professor McGreevy floods the horse to having ears and feet handled (she is restrained, and he specifically says not to let go of the ear or foot if the horse tries to pull it away) and negative reinforcement when she stops struggling, but then actually bridges and gives the horse food AFTER the foot is back on the ground. If he wanted to positively reinforce the horse for holding her foot up calmly then he should bridge and reward when he is holding the foot relaxed in his hand. Otherwise he is marking and using an appetitive (the food) for the horse having her feet on the ground standing still and she will be more likely to pull her foot away in future to get that reward, because the behaviour that is positively reinforced is where the horse has her feet on the floor. To my mind this is very much like all the methods of natural horsemanship you might see – Parelli for instance – with food thrown in, often non-contingently. What he does with the bit is exactly how Linda Parelli shows people how to bit a horse. All in all a lot of aversive stimuli being used, quite a bit of flooding, and rather haphazard use of food. He also does not comment on some of the signs of stress shown by the horse. At times the horse is licking and chewing – which can be a sign of stress. 

  9. Catrin Roberts
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    Clear introduction to quietly starting a horse, with good explanation of some crucial elements of successful desensitisation. Good to see the importance of timing and consistency mentioned, and consistently demonstrated. Glad mention was made to the whip as an aid, not a punishment, like at least one high profile 'liberty' trainer teaches. I hope to see more from Professor McGreevy.

    Of course there are a few things to put in the "I would never do bin": that horrible thin cord halter, knots designed to coincide with the holes in the skull and apply pressure to those delicate, vulnerable areas beneath and, that short line to longe with, a young horse needs to work straight and after one circle as tight as that move forwards in a straight line again. Never ever work a horse of any age or ability for more than one circle on a single line, they can't balance at trot and canter, use two long lines, with the added bonus that you can change direction after a few circles and actually teach the feel of the reins — still on a suitable pressure halter of course.

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