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Equids are cognitive, intelligent creatures that experience emotions such as fear, anxiety, and joy. 

All animals are subject to the same laws of applied behavior analysis (ABA.)  While tactile cues and safety equipment are a realistic necessity of caring for and training animals, any stimulus not paired with a positive stimulus is, at best, neutral and, at worst, frightening and/or painful to the animal. 

Animals who learn to exhibit behaviors to escape or avoid fear or pain have  by definition been subjected to an aversive stimulus.  Avoidance learning is very real, and the threat of pain is just as capable of inducing stress, fear and emotional damage as the pain itself. 

If you know better – please do better!


 



Horses With Voices Introduction 
“The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity. A willing servant, yet never a slave.”—Ronald Duncan

Horses with Voices is a movement, a paradigm shift within the equid world, empowering equids by giving them a voice in their care and training; empowering equid enthusiasts worldwide to adopt more equid-considerate approaches in caring for their equids; and empowering every equid guardian to embrace the science of equid emotion, learning, and behavior.

Why do we need to give horses and their equid friends a voice? Because the science of equid behavior and training continues to evolve. We have a broader understanding of the species-specific needs of our equids—needs that often remain unmet with current stabling and training practices. We have a growing body of knowledge proving that horses trained utilizing positive reinforcement learn faster, learn more complex skills, and are safer to work with than their counterparts trained using forceful methods.

By giving voice to equids—and the people who work with them—we open a door to the complex, rich emotional worlds our equids live within. We give them better lives.

Join us in pledging, committing, to the key principles which truly give our equid friends a voice in their care and training.



The Pledge

Horses With Voices Pledge

1.       Guardian Education – Be Committed to Ongoing Education

  •  I will commit to continually learning more about equine behavior to help me better understand what my equid is communicating via their body language, vocalizations, and facial expressions.  
  • I will commit to staying up to date on science-based behavior research and will be fully receptive to taking onboard new information.
  • I will commit to being informed by science, guided by empathy, and governed by ethics.


2.       Equine Teaching - Methods, Approaches, and Philosophy 

Methods

  •  I will commit to only using teaching methods that promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of my equid.
  •  I will train my equid based on the latest scientific behavioral research.
  •  I will teach my equid to make their own choices and listen to what they voice – 
  • unless it may be unsafe for them to do so.

Approach

  • I will work to combine an understanding of the equid species, their needs, and their perspective.
  • I will always consider my individual equid’s needs over the collective needs of equids.
  • I will create trust between myself and my equid to develop an equal partnership based on teamwork.

Philosophy

  • I will not only seek to do no harm; I will seek to always do good.
  • I will empower my equid to have control and choice over appropriate areas of their life.
  •  I will promise to always treat my equid with empathy, dignity, and respect.


3.       Relationships – The Partnership Interaction

  • I will respect my equid as a partner in all interactions.
  • I will recognize that equids are sentient beings and that they form close bonds with their human partners.
  • I will strive to treat my equid as family, as far as is practical and possible.


4.       Empowerment - Preference and Consent Testing

  • I will encourage my equids to express their emotions and preferences.
  • I will diligently learn to understand and listen to what my equid is communicating.
  • I will acknowledge and take appropriate action in response to my equid’s “yes” and “no” communications, and when they are conflicted.   


5.       Management - Environment and Meeting Species’ Needs

  • I will always strive to fulfill my equid’s species-specific needs by focusing on the 3 F’s:
    • Freedom to graze, walk, play, and roll.
    • Physical access to other equids as Friends.
    • Continual access to Foraging which meets the design of the equid digestive tract.
  • I will commit to providing my equid with fresh water, adequate space, and access to clean, comfortable, safe shelter.
  • I will always be considerate of my equid’s safety and comfort when caring, managing, and handling them in any manner.


6.       Equine Communication and Social Behavior - Understanding Equid Species’ Behavior

  •  I will commit to understanding species-specific social behavior and communication patterns in order to understand the individual communication topography of my equid.
  • I will endeavor to understand how equine emotions drive behavior and their underlying impact on my equid’s observable behavior.


7.       Responsibility - Be Your Equid’s Advocate 

  • I will continually advocate for my equid from an environmental, physical, and emotional perspective.
  • I will advocate for my equid in all life stages, ensuring their individual and unique needs are met. 






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