EQUESTRIAN COACHES' UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION OF LEARNING THEORY IN HORSE TRAINING

Amanda Warren-Smith, PD. McGreevy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To assess the knowledge of learning theory among accredited equestrian coaches in Australia, a 20-item questionnaire was distributed to all coaches registered with the National Coaches Accreditation Scheme in Australia (n = 830). Of the 206 respondents, 79.5% considered positive reinforcement to be 'very useful,' yet only 2.8% correctly explained its use in horse training. When asked about the usefulness of negative reinforcement, 19.3% of coaches considered it 'very useful,' with 11.9% correctly explaining its use. Punishment was rated 'very useful' by 5.2% of respondents, although only eight coaches (5.4%) explained punishment correctly. Release of pressure was considered the most effective reward for horses among respondents (78.2%). These results indicate that many equestrian coaches lack a correct understanding of positive and negative reinforcement as they apply to horse training. Given that qualified coaches play a significant role in the dissemination of information on training practices, this highlights the need for improved education of equestrian coaches. Education to remedy this situation has the potential to enhance the welfare of horses through reduced behavioral conflict and improve training outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalAnthrozoos
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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