Serotonin Moments: Martin, West, Amy

As a follow-up to the HorseHead article on serotonin, we visited with several renowned trainers for their observations and experiences around learning moments likely influenced by serotonin. Keep this comment from Dr. Peters in mind as you read of their experiences: “Research on the effect […]

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Another Neurochemical to Know: Serotonin

Neuroplasticity is a healthy brain’s ability to form and reform synaptic connections created through gazillions of moments. Every being – from a lab mouse to a horse to a human – is unique because of these moments and subsequent memories They are experiences stored and […]

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Details and Warnings on Dopamine

For years, horse owners and riders have gravitated to the black-and-white straightforwardness of the dopamine response. Licking, chewing, and associated manifestations of this feel-good neurochemical are simple, visible indices of the horse’s state of mind. But, as with everything, there are finer points and nuance […]

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Feel, Our Brainy Explanation

Years ago, I defined Feel on BestHorsePractices as an intense awareness of action and reaction. Feel is knowing how your thoughts, behaviors, and movements impact your horse. It’s an ability to anticipate and influence your horses’ actions and behaviors. But what does that look like […]

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Attention: Key to Your Horse’s Learning

Sometimes improving our horsemanship – a pursuit dominated by the almighty and intangible “feel” – can be like trying to capture dandelion seeds in the wind or bottle fog. How do we effectively translate what we read or watch cerebrally into our daily interactions with […]

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The Troubled Horse’s Brain

There’s a reason colt-starting competitions rarely feature rescued horses. It’s the same reason contractors would rather tear down a house instead of restoring it. What’s under the surface can wreak havoc on your wallet, your skills, your patience, and even your equipment and facilities. Troubled […]

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Cow Work: Brain Development & Agility Training for Your Horse

Outside of the ranching world, entire populations of riders don’t know and don’t want to know about stockmanship. Ranchers and cowboys are considered reckless, rule-less, a bunch of Yahoos. In my experience, however, some of the savviest horses and riders have ranching backgrounds. These men […]

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To Test Smarts: Ask a Horse a Horse Question

If you want to measure a horse’s smarts, don’t give it math problems or ask it to distinguish musical genres. Instead, test its ability to solve horse problems. That’s the message from scientist Frans de Waal of Emory University. Dr. de Waal, who works mostly […]

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Of Horses, Cows, and Humans

Recently, Dr. Steve Peters traveled to Idaho to visit informally with stockmen and livestock researchers from Treasure Valley Community College, Oregon State University, and the University of Idaho. He was introduced by local and international stockman Martin Black. The pair co-authored Evidence-Based Horsemanship. They will […]

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Close Encounters with the Amygdala

I live in a rural town and don’t travel much. But last month, I found myself driving my truck camper through St. Louis. In heavy traffic. In heavy rain. In darkness. I grew disoriented and nervous. My heart rate increased. My hands gripped the wheel […]

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