Ises training principles

Original ISES Principles of learning theory in equitation

1. Regard for human and horse safety 
By acknowledging the horse’s size, power and flightiness | By learning to recognise flight/fight/freeze behaviours early. By minimising the risk of causing pain, distress or injury | By ensuring horses and humans are appropriately matched.

2. Regard for the nature of horses 
By meeting horse welfare needs such as foraging, freedom and equine company | By respecting the social nature of horses. By acknowledging that horses may perceive human movements as threatening | By avoiding dominance roles during interactions.

3. Regard for horses’ mental and sensory abilities 
By acknowledging that horses think, see and hear differently from humans | By keeping the length of training sessions to a minimum. By not overestimating the horse’s mental abilities | By not underestimating the horse’s mental abilities.

4. Regard for emotional states
By understanding that horses are sentient beings capable of suffering | By encouraging positive emotional states | By acknowledging that consistency makes horses optimistic for further training outcomes | By avoiding pain, discomfort and/or triggering fear.

5. Correct use of desensitisation methods 
By learning to apply correctly systematic desensitisation, over-shadowing, counter-conditioning and differential reinforcement.
By avoiding flooding (forcing the horse to endure aversive stimuli).

6. Correct use of operant conditioning 
By understanding that horses will repeat of avoid behaviours according to their consequences
By removing pressures at the onset of a desired responses.
By minimising delays in reinforcement
By using combined reinforcement
By avoiding punishment.

7. Correct use of classical conditioning 
By acknowledging that horses readily form associations between stimuli.
By always using a light signal before a pressure-release sequence.

8. Correct use of shaping 
By breaking down training into the smallest achievable steps and progressively reinforcing each step toward the desired behaviour.
By changing the context (trainer, place, signal), one aspect at a time
By planning the training to make it obvious and easy.

9. Correct use of signals or cues 
By ensuring the horse can discriminate one signal from another | By ensuring each signal only has one meaning By timing the signals with limb biomechanics | By avoiding the use of more than one signal at the same time.

10. Regard for self-carriage 
By training the horse to maintain gait, tempo, stride length, direction, head, neck and body posture. By avoiding forcing a posture or maintaining it through relentless signalling (nagging).

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