The Benefits of Horse Agility

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Episode 06 -  October 2019

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guest: Annette Pedersen: Animal Training Coordinator - Copenhagen Zoo

Special guest Animal Training Coordinator of the Copenhagen Zoo, Annette Pedersen shares how transitioning from riding horses using traditional training techniques to training for agility with positive reinforcement has made a tremendous difference in animal welfare. Learn about the easy to make apparatus the zoo uses to give horses the opportunity to use different muscles and practice balance.  Behaviors have been trained specifically to maintain excellent physical condition. The horse training program has shown how training based in positive reinforcement can result in an exceptionally well-trained horses, eager to participate, well behaved and willing to stop on a dime! Can horses be successfully trained with positive reinforcement? You bet! Take a listen and learn more about transitioning from traditional methods.

Learn more about training horses for agility here:

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Heidenreich, B. E. , Pedersen, A. (2019).  The Benefits of Horse Agility. [Podcast].

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Here are some videos of the horse agility:

Horses use different muscles to operate the teeter totter and balance on the tire tread beam.

Guests get a chance to participate in the teeter totter action.

Here is an agility training demonstration presented for a group of animal trainers who attended a workshop at the zoo.

Guest Bio:

Annette Pedersen started working in Copenhagen Zoo in 1989 as a part of the Danish keepers’ education. After finishing her education in 1992, she got hired for the marine mammal section (Harbor Seals and California Sea lions), which also housed other animals like penguins, Malayan tapirs, barbirusa, etc. Here she helped developing the marine mammal training program until 2008, where she moved to the Elephant section working on transferring the Elephants from free contact to protected contact (PC). Later that same year she got the position as Animal Training Coordinator of Copenhagen Zoo.

Since 2008 her job has been to develop/expand the training skills of the keepers at Copenhagen Zoo, as well as managing animal behavior and training within a variety of species and challenges.

Since 2009 she helped develop the Danish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (DAZA) animal training course, which is still held once a year in Denmark.

She serves the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) as Chair for the Animal Training Working Group and as member of the Animal Welfare Working group. She is also an instructor for the EAZA animal training courses under the EAZA Academy.

2014-2016 served on the board of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), and today serves as ABMA EU liaison helping planning another European ABMA conference in 2020 in Beekse Bergen, Holland!


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March 24-26, 2020 EAZA ANIMAL WELFARE FORUM Apenhuel, The Netherlands

ABMA Annual Conference 2020 in Holland

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