Behavioral, demographic, and management influences on equine responses to negative reinforcement

Understanding the factors that influence horse learning is critical to ensure horse welfare and rider safety. In this study, data were obtained from horses (n = 96) training to step backward through a corridor in response to bit pressure. After training, learning ability was determined by the latency to step backward through the corridor when handled […]

The role of heart rate monitoring to assess workload during maintenance interval training in National Hunt racehorses

Quantitative assessment of racehorse workload and fitness levels can be achieved through heart rate monitoring (HRM), an established reliable indicator of workload. Using HRM can aid trainers in formulating evidence-based training regimes and evaluating individual horses’ progress during training. Despite this, HRM is not used consistently within racehorse training. This study aimed to evaluate how […]

Elephants in circuses: Analysis of practice, policy, and future


Evaluating the Addition of Positive Reinforcement for Learning a Frightening Task: A Pilot Study With Horses

Horse training often relies upon negative reinforcement (NR). This study tested the hypothesis that adding positive reinforcement (PR) to NR would enhance learning in horses (n = 34) being taught to walk over a tarp (novel/typically frightening task). Subjects were Arabians, and the same person handled all of them. This person handled half “traditionally” (NR […]

The positive aspects of correct negative reinforcement

In the scheme of contemporary animal training, horse training is virtually unique because it relies on negative reinforcement (NR) rather than positive reinforcement (PR). Furthermore, horse trainers are largely unaware that they are using NR in training. Instead, they believe in the benevolent nature of the horse and see their task in training as one […]

Preliminary Investigations Into the Ethological Relevance of Round-Pen (Round-Yard) Training of Horses

Recently, training horses within round-pens has increased in popularity. Practitioners often maintain that the responses they elicit from horses are similar to signals used with senior conspecifics. To audit the responses of horses to conspecifics, 6 mare-young-horse dyads, this study introduced them to each other in a round-pen and videoed them for 8 min. These […]

Effects of training on stress-related behavior of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) in relation to coping with routine husbandry procedures

Using positive reinforcement, J. McKinley trained 12 common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) to provide urine samples on request. The study then exposed the marmosets to mildly stressful, routine husbandry procedures (i.e., capture and weighing). The nonhuman animals spent less time inactive poststressor as opposed to prestressor. L. Bassett collected matched behavioral data from 12 nontrained marmosets […]

Primate Training at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

A training program has been in place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since the nonhuman animals first arrived at the park. The Primate Team and the Behavioral Husbandry Team have worked together closely to establish a philosophy and framework for this program. This framework emphasizes setting goals, planning, implementing, documenting, and evaluating. The philosophy focuses on […]

Can training zoo-housed primates compromise their conservation? A case study using Abyssinian colobus monkeys {Colobus guereza)

In this study we tested the hypothesis that the process of training a non-human primate (NHP) affects it’s general behavior patterns, outside of training. A group of Abyssinian colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza, n = 8), housed at Paignton Zoo, UK, were observed for four 12-day periods. Behaviors were noted prior to training, using positive reinforcement […]

Training Nonhuman Primates Using Positive Reinforcement Techniques