Fear and training: Does a scared horse learn?

Can a horse learn when it is afraid? What part of the brain is affected when a horse spooks? These questions are explored in a free online video featuring renowned horse trainer John Lyons, veterinary neurology specialist John Madigan, and equine behaviorist Jody Ambrose.

Created by Equitopia Center, which is dedicated to creating harmony between horses and people, the new video “Training Without Fear” explores the physiological and psychological impact of fear on a horse’s capacity to be trained.

The video is in keeping with the nonprofit’s mission to provide free online and classroom education to expand universal knowledge about horses, and to teach better understanding of how to work in harmony with equine partners.

Horse trainer John Lyons features on the Equitopia Center's new "Training without Fear" video.
Horse trainer John Lyons features on the Equitopia Center’s new “Training without Fear” video.

“Training Without Fear” raises the question of whether a horse can learn if it is afraid, with the three experts weighing in. Lyons looks at optimal mental states when training and discusses how to avoid heightened states of arousal.

Dr John Madigan with a maladjusted foal. Photos/Video: Joe Proudman/UC Davis
Dr John Madigan. © Joe Proudman/UC Davis

John Madigan, Director of the Comparative Neurology Research Group at University of California Davis, discusses what part of the brain is affected by stress, the hormonal consequence of stress, and when learning becomes virtually impossible.

Certified Equine Behavior Consultant Jody Ambrose shows how to recognize subtle signs of fear and how to increase the horse’s ability to process scary objects.

Equitopia’s vision is to positively impact the lives of horses and their humans by providing a non-judgmental, supportive learning environment that delivers tangible results for its participants.

By the careful selection of industry professionals and supportive services, that agree with the basic guidelines for the care and welfare of horses and humans, Equitopia strives to become a groundbreaking leader in promoting a “Whole Horse and Rider” wellness and training program.

Certified Equine Behavior Consultant Jody Ambrose.
Certified Equine Behavior Consultant Jody Ambrose.

In addition, Equitopia raises funds to help with the rescue, rehab and re-homing of sport horses deemed dangerous or suffering from undiagnosed physical problems and, as a result, are for sale or discarded. Scholarships are available to those struck by financial hardship who are struggling to care for their horses.

www.equitopiacenter.com

In the "Training without Fear" video, John Lyons weighs in on optimal mental states when training and discusses how to avoid heightened states of arousal.
In the “Training without Fear” video, John Lyons weighs in on optimal mental states when training and discusses how to avoid heightened states of arousal.

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