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Have you ever felt that something is wrong with the way horses are treated?

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Have you ever been told you have to dominate your horse, force them, or use whips/spurs?

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Are you upset when you see horse & rider lives risked for sport?

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Have you ever felt there's a better, kinder way to communicate with your horse?

You are not alone.
Your instincts are correct.
There is a better way.

Are Other Methods Cruel or Abusive?

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Animal cruelty is defined as abuse, the intentional harm or injury of an animal, or neglect, the deprivation of food, water, veterinary treatment, or other species-specific needs. The standard for equine care is neglectful (tiny, unenriched enclosures such as stalls or flat/empty paddocks, deprivation of forage, lack of socialization, etc). The standard for training and handling is abusive and unnecessary (utilization of antiquated pressure-release methods that intentionally introduce aversives, pain, flooding, learned helplessness). The industry standard for physical restraint and force-based exercise are also abusive, and both increase injury and physical harm to the horse. This does not mean all equestrians are cruel & abusive - but it does mean that, unfortunately, the industry standard is animal cruelty.

Why Is The Industry Cruel?

Historically, horses were used for transportation, farm equipment, and food long before they were used for sport or pleasure. Horses played an integral role in human history and when it came to training, the horses had to obey or the humans may not survive. Horse training evolved over the centuries based in force and absolute obedience. Horse care evolved to serve the ease of the human handler and minimize costs.

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Why Should It Change Now?

Most civilizations no longer depend on horsepower. Most workhorses in developed areas are unnecessary given the number of alternatives available. The remainder of horses are used for two main purposes - sport pleasure. Equine sports evolved alongside practical use, which is why they followed the same force-based training principles and human-centered care practices. The idea that horses should be forced to perform for us is outdated & inhumane.

Is Change Already Happening?

Change is happening. The industry is showing gradual improvement. Each discipline, community, and individual progresses toward more ethical treatment every single day. Steph K Equestrian has chosen to be at the forefront of that change. Here, we utilize exclusively science-based, positive reinforcement training methods and holistic horse care principles - which we describe as "Trauma-Free Horsemanship."

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Ethical R+ Horsemanship

Steph K Equestrian describes our horsemanship as "Trauma-Free"

 

Trauma-Free training starts with understanding the horse: their needs, their body language, and their communication signals. This allows us to identify trauma in the horse's background, understand the root of their behavior, and be aware of the horse's communications & emotional state during training.

 

From there, training methods typically follow an evidence-based approach: utilizing the Humane Hierarchy, LIMA, and behavioral neuroscience. Other names for these methods include force-free, fear-free, positive reinforcement/R+, or clicker training.

Trauma-Free training aims to eliminate trauma from training. Equines should not be traumatized by use of aversives, pain, flooding, and force for sport & pleasure. Steph K Equestrian firmly believes that horses should be invited to participate, not forced to perform. We are practicing what we preach by successfully utilizing exclusively trauma-free methods on our wide variety of equines.

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SKE Exclusively Practices Ethical R+ Horsemanship