Equine Fear Memory

This month I did our problem solving article on trailer loading. In the article I discuss how you need to determine whether the problem is fear or attitude. In our case, it was an attitude problem that we ultimately corrected. Fear issues are a whole set of problems themselves. I talk in my book, Foundations, how a horse is a clean slate until humans shape them in a bad way.

The other day I was reading the book Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Temple is an animal expert who is also Autistic. She makes a strong case that animals think in a manner similar to autistic people. I ended this month’s Problem Solving article with the suggestion to introduce trailer loading at home and to not force the process. This approach is corroborated in Grandin’s book as she discusses fear memory in horses. Below is an exerpt from what Grandin has to say:

A fear memory can have two causes. The first is a past abusive experience and the other is introducing a new thing or a new sensation too quickly. It’s best to prevent fear memories from forming in the first place because a bad fear memory is very difficult to completely correct. A horse’s first experience with a trailer should be very positive. A bad first experience is more likely to create a fear memory.

Just another proof positive that doing things in baby steps like we teach in our program will help make you successful with horses.

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