Individual Sensitivity in Horses
Individual Sensitivity in horses and how it Relates to Feel and Pressure/Release training.
A horses innate degree of sensitivity will determine the approach of the trainer.
Sensitivity to and tendency to react or habituate to pressure, varies from horse to horse, depending on the horses breed, age, sex, and previously learned responses.
Some horses are more sensitive and reactive to pressure, having greater reactions of movement in response to slighter pressures. These horses have more tendencies towards evasions of over-sensitivity. Sensitivity to physical pressure, but also mental and emotional pressure, occurs more frequently in hot blooded breeds such as thoroughbreds and arabs.
Though any breed can learn to be highly reactive to pressure, especially if they have many learned responses incorporating high levels of fear and adrenaline and flight response
(rapid movement of feet)
Horses can learn to generalize (That is: If one area of the body is taught to respond to physical pressure through experiencing rapid pressure escalation, and resultant high levels of fear/adrenaline and flight response. Then the brain will create a permanent link between the pressure/experience and the fear/ flight response. The brain remembers anything that is associated with flight response and fear/adrenaline because it is potentially LIFE THREATENING, so remembering this reaction/response, is vital for survival.
The message goes straight to the Amydala (The Primitive flight/fight) part of the brain.
So the horse immediately reacts through flight response, the next time the same stimulous/pressure occurs.
This means that instead of taking many repetitions to learn a behavior it can be learned in one trial of the behavior.
Which is why it takes a long time to retrain a horse that has had in the past, an extreme flight response reaction, to mild pressure.
This then becomes a problem if the pressure is required in the every day handling of the horse by the human. Such as leading the horse (pressure at the poll), riding (leg or rein pressure),or handling feet etc.
This will then become a safety issue for the person handling the horse, and the horse itself, as the flight response is not appropriate in todays modern world where the horse is often in confined spaces, where galloping away at top speed is a dagnerous way of dealing with fear. As it can cause injury to both horse and human, when the horse turns into a 500kg missile on legs.
To be continued.....