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From The CriticsReviewer: Jonathan Hale Foreman, DVM, MS (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
Description: This book was written by two expert Australian behaviorists with extensive horse industry experience.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe "the first equine-training system that is totally based on what is referred to in the behavioural sciences as 'learning theory.'" While laudable, the bold statement that "it will help to ensure that humane, proficient horsemanship becomes more prevalent" will prove difficult to measure as an outcome of this publication.
Audience: The book is intended for "horse industry personnel, and indeed everyone who spends time with horses and ponies." While the intent is to appeal to a wide section of the horse industry, some of the science described may be difficult for the novice, layman, or nonscientist. On the other hand, some of the training techniques may prove difficult to understand by the inexperienced veterinarian who may not have an extensive horsemanship background.
Features: The first half of the book is devoted to the complex sciences of behavior and learning theory. The second half, devoted more to the biomechanics, behavior, and misbehavior of horses at work, is more directly applicable immediately without as much concentrated study as the first half. The book is richly illustrated with photographs and drawings and is supplemented extensively with charts and graphs that help to explain succinctly what is described at length in the text.
Assessment: This is a brilliant and extensive effort at explaining the science behind many common correct and incorrect horsemanship and training techniques. The first half on the science of behavior and learning theory will not be for all readers, but for those who persist, it builds the foundation for the second half where misbehaviors are dealt with from a scientific standpoint. This is an excellent addition to the scientific behavioral literature.