Behavior change is an individual process, not a one-size-fits-all event – no matter the species an animal behavior consultant is working with.
When working with horses displaying behavior problems, behavior consultants must have knowledge of and experience in using a variety of techniques to address the behavior, depending on the needs of each individual. To further challenge a consultant, the horse’s owner may be skeptical of ‘newfangled’ behavior modification techniques. This skepticism may require that a consultant take additional steps to shape an owner’s behavior in order to achieve success.
Constructional Approach Training for Horses (CAT-H) is a technique that can be useful for addressing both horse and human behavior. For example, horses who display fear-based, escape behaviors meant to either increase or decrease proximity between themselves and a stimulus respond well to CAT-H. It can also prove to be a valuable technique to shape the behavior of human clients: it doesn’t initially require the use of training tools such as clickers or food pouches which may be novel, and thus threatening; in practice, elements of CAT-H may feel familiar, and thus ‘safe’; clients don’t generally have any pre-conceived, negative perceptions of CAT-H or its efficacy.
This presentation will discuss the use of CAT-H to address behavior issues such as fear and aggression in horses, as well as the benefits it can offer in shaping the skeptical client’s behavior.