Andrew Mc Lean? your idea?
Who have eared about Mc Lean behaviorism training? Know somebody working with this method?
What's your impression about it?
I have been using Dr Andrew McLean's techniques for 15 years. They are excellent. His is the only current system which is based on scientific research in horse and animal behavior, though more trainers are starting to use these ideas. The principles on which the system is based are universal and apply to all training methods and all horses. They can be applied to natural horsemanship and conventional training systems.
They are based on the lastest research into how horses learn, how they perceive the world (sight, sound, touch, move etc) and biomechanics.
The system is genuinely based on putting horse welfare as the top priority. It puts how the horse responds at the centre of all cues and techniques, and if the horse doesn't do what is asked, it is always up to the trainer to work out why, rather than blame the horse for being disrespectful or arrogant.
The universal training principles which were developed by Dr McLean and Professor Paul McGreevy have since been adopted by the International Society for Equitation Science which is a group of world leading equine behavior scientists, many of whom are also professional horse trainers as well.
The training principles can be found here:
Learning theory in equitation
For me personally, using this approach has taken me from a nervous one horse rider to a business staring client horses and taking in difficult horses for retraining. I haven't had to spend a fortune on equipment or expensive books and DVDs and I can reliably get the same results time after time. The specific techiques that Dr McLean uses are focussed on dressage because that's his background but they are very simple and easy to apply. The principles on which the techniques are based however are universal and can be adpated to any discipline or system.
Do you have more resources on Dr. MacLean's work you could direct me to? I had a look at the ISES website and it looks like great stuff and I want more. :)
Well he's certainly not a 'natural' kind of trainer at all, but I think the principles of behavioural training are (mostly) sound and are incredibly helpful to grasp with whatever training style you like. Why I say (mostly) above is that the 'laws of learning' are sound and universal, but that behavioural psychologists(including I think AM) tend to take that to mean the whole picture is simplified into 'input' equals 'output'. Whereas I think there's a lot more to it than that.
So... I think his theories are overall sound but have met a number of horses who have been through his establishment(run mostly by students, not himself I believe) & have not been all that impressed generally.
Don't know if anyone in Oz saw a (horrendous) example of attempted horse training when SBS did a documentary on his son, Warwick, 'competing' in the Way Of The Horse at Equitana a couple of years ago, as the only 'classical training' eg.
Dr McLean's website is
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre
AEBC - Home
The ISES website also has the proceedings from past conferences. Dr McLean has given a number of plenaries and papers at these, along with many other world leading scientists. The proceedings can be downloaded from the ISES website for free.
International Society for Equitation Science (ISES)
The McLeans have produced some very good books and DVDs which are reasonably priced. They can be purchased from the website. Also they do travel to the UK on a regular basis, their website has the dates of their clinics.
You are right Loosie, I overstated the comment about being the only one based on science. I will qualify. It was one of the very first systems to discuss the critical role of negative reinforcement in horse training and then consciously apply it to common horse training tasks including foundation training. Fiske (1979) may have been one of the first to identify the role of negative reinforcement in common horse training techniques. There were some early studies, Haag et al (1980) and McCall et al (1993) which specifically used negative reinforcement to train horses but they used electric shock as the aversive stimulus.
The clicker training methods also science based, though they mainly use positive reinforcement. Many horse training systems now consciously apply learning theory, however this has only come about in the past 10 years and to date, most of it is happening in the UK and a little in Europe. Dr McLean's first book predates the majority of the newer publications, though it was not widely available outside Australia when it was first published.
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