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What I Learned from EBH

Published: 2/23/2012
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The book, Evidence-Based Horsemanship, is a cowboy-scientist collaboration by Dr. Stephen Peters and Martin Black. NickerNews provides a sneak preview with this multi-part series. Order your copy here!

Read Part I, by Randy Rieman
Read Part II, What is EBH?
Read Part III, Good & Bad Learning

By Maddy Butcher

I remember my junior high science teacher shaking his head. My friend and I had just figured out that if we blew into the egg incubator, we could lower the ambient temperature and get the heat lamp to turn on.

“Just enough knowledge to be dangerous,” he said as we high-fived each other.

Over the decades, there have been many more serious 'lightbulb' moments when a little insight has boosted me to a new level of learning.

That’s how I felt after reading Evidence-Based Horsemanship. The book gave me new tools to reexamine the way I ride and manage horses.
At times, I felt like a fresh graduate who’d just been told “You have wings. Now fly!”
A slender volume packed with photos, it concludes with these comments:

1.    The horse has survived and thrived for thousands of years in the natural setting. Any changes you introduce away from that natural setting will have an impact. You may not notice it, but varying levels of domestication will indeed impact the horse on a physiological and psychological level.
[Note cribbing horse in photo below.]
If you use its original environment as a baseline and stick as close as possible to that baseline, your horse will be better off.

2.    As you consider Evidence-Based Horsemanship and apply it to your horse training and management, you may want to experiment. As you do, it’s important to understand the idea of controls and variables. If you have multiple horses, you may try something new with one horse (shoes instead of bare hooves, stabling instead of pasture, grain instead of grass and hay), and leave the others unchanged.  The trial horse will be the variable. The horses without any introduced change will be the controls.  After some time, you will probably see differences between the two.

3. As you continue to gather information and learn, consider your sources. Stick to university studies, clinical studies, and other reports without bias and without any ulterior motives (like selling you something). As you consider these studies, keep in mind that the best research involves large numbers of horses. If you are looking at unscientific observation, consider those people who have observed thousands, not dozens of cases.

The weakest information is based on a single case or a single expert’s opinion. Traditions, myths, or “just-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” are similarly weak until tried with scientific method and proven to be effective and good for the horse.

Yahoo! Let’s get out there and play!

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5/31/2012 theresa hilton
Good sound advice, thanks

"Those who look down eventually get there" - Kip Rosenthal