Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship – Janet Jones
It has long been accepted that horses — and other domesticated animals too — can be trained to respond to our requests. How those requests are made, however, is a source of debate: Ask or tell? Firm or soft? Positive or negative reinforcement? Perhaps even more interesting is when we question the degree to which we expect horses to read our human behaviours. In general, we just ‘act like us’ and expect them to ‘get it’. It is a testament to the horse’s great patience that he usually keeps trying until he does!
When we understand the function of both the human brain and the equine brain, we can to communication with horses on their terms instead of ours. And by meeting horses halfway, we not only save valuable training time, we achieve other goals too: we develop much deeper bonds with our horses; we train them with insight and kindness instead of force or command; we comprehend their misbehaviour in ways that allow solutions; and we reduce the mistakes we often make while working with them.
In this illuminating book, cognitive scientist and horsewoman, Janet Jones, describes human and equine brains in collaboration. She explores the horse’s way of thinking, as well as human brain function during athletic mastery. Mental abilities — like seeing, learning, fearing, trusting, and focusing — are discussed from both the human and horse perspective.
Throughout, true stories of horses and handlers attempting to understand each other — sometime successfully, sometimes not — help illustrate the lessons.