Friday, January 14, 2011

Equine Shock Collars?!?!


You heard me! An equine shock collar! Why do I feel like I'm the last one to hear of these things?

So this afternoon I am browsing through some e-bay items when I saw a link and a little picture that, at first blush, appeared to be a cribbing collar. Even the name, "Vice Breaker" didn't immediately draw my eye but just as I was about to skip on past I noticed what looked like a little remote control device in the picture. Curious, I hit the link and then stared in awe and wonder (I was gobsmacked!) at the larger picture before my eyes! Why, it wasn't a cribbing caller at all! The collar, with little box and prongs and a hand held remote clearly indicated a shock collar! I quickly scanned the ad for conformation but it seemed they very pointedly avoided using the word "shock" (using "correction", "stimulation levels", and "trainer" in it's place) however, sure enough, there towards the end a larger picture read, "SHOCKING- only in how effective it can be in stopping vices and bad habits" and shockingly, to me anyways, was that the product was endorsed by none other than Clinton Anderson.

I have to admit that I didn't quite know what to think. I googled the product and read some of the hoop-dee-law and there were some valid points to the argument for using a shock collar to correct self destructive or dangerous behavior. I found myself humming and hawing trying to decide if I really believe that a shock collar was in the best interest of the horse as they claimed (protecting the horse from itself or others). My first impression was that it was a "cheater" product designed to eliminate the kind of problems that only exist in the first place because of the stressful environments, demands and misuse we impose on our horses. For every argument I could come up with for the use of a shock collar I could find one to counter it.

For example, a cribber. We all know the safety issues not to mention costly damage created by a cribber. However, most of the time those behaviors are created by stress, confinement or boredom. Is it our right to expect that every horse should stand in a stall happily or at least uncomplaining? Should we prevent him from venting his frustration or boredom? I'm not suggesting that you should let a horse crib but I am suggesting that maybe a horse should be removed from a stall if he is beginning to crib. Note my use of the word "beginning". I have known many horses that have continued to crib long after they were removed from the environment that started them on that path (my understanding is that they become addicted to the endorphins that are released during the cribbing action.) So what then? I guess using a shock collar to create a negative response to the behavior might be, at that point, justified?

The gray area of any such device or negative correction is where I find the biggest cause for concern. There are plenty of credible reasons to use negative correction (something that creates discomfort or pain) but I think that too often when we correct the behavior rather than the underlying problem and in doing so we just divert that problem elsewhere- like bopping the gopher head at a fair, it'll just pop up another hole. My concern with the idea of using this collar stems not from all the ways in which it could be effectively, safely and humanely used but in all the ways it could punish the horse for our own mistakes. For example, if my horse tries to nip me when I am cinching him I need to look to see that the saddle fits, there is no girth sores, pinched spots, that I am not over tightening the girth etc... if I used a shock collar to keep him from nipping me I'd probably just end up with a bucking horse instead!

Do I agree with the use of shock collars on horses? *shrugs shoulders* Maybe. Sometimes. Depends...

My real concern lies with the people behind the remote control. I've seen a person yield a stud chain and spurs in ways that hurt a horse ten times more than what any shock collar ever could. It's a little like the use and ownership of firearms... but we'll leave that for another day!

15 comments:

  1. That's nuts! I can't even imagine it. So the person would have to watch their horse to hit the behavior. But how long do most people sit and watch their horses?

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  2. Shock collars cause more problems in dogs than they cure. Really shock collars and those who use them on dogs are a problem. Shock collars used by the average person have been shown to lead towards aggressive behavior in dogs.

    More over, have you ever used one of the shock-type bark collars on yourself? Go ahead! Put one on and talk! Pick one designed for tiny dogs. It's way more than just a tickle, I'll tell you!

    Shock collars tend to leave dogs living in fear; predators living in fear. What do you think it'll do to horses in the hands of the average person?

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  3. Yah I've seen those... (some) Humans will never cease to amaze me at their ability to create "things" to compensate for their ignorance.

    Scary to say the least.

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  4. I've used the dog collar for training the dog, and horse.

    Dog... recent new behavior is to start chasing the horses in the middle of the night. Not allowed at any time. the collar has multiple levels. From the house, without her associating the small zap with "me", she gets a correction for the behavior and stopped. Trained another dog years ago to not hassle the chickens in the yard.

    Horses issue was running down one of the other horses to bite / attack him. This horse was high in pecking order, and other horse was very low. But he would run in panic, and the chance of him getting hurt from being ran down was pretty high. Put collar on aggressive horse. Left immediate area, and waited. Not long, he started to run him down, and the timing was to hit the button as he just about got a mouthful of rump hair from other horse, to associate THAT horse causing him the discomfort as he were to bite him. Only had to do it twice, and he never chansed him in that agressive manner again. I really think he thought that horse somehow caused the pain.

    Used correctly, in the right circumstances, and the right timing, it can be an excellent tool. But I'd not use it for vices, such as pawing, cribbing, as those indeed, have other issues that a correction does not fix. But in my case, with some agressive issues on both the horse, and dog, it has solved the issue before any of the animals needed trips to the vet.

    If the horse were to kick the dog while being chased, it would cause the dog much more pain, discomfort, even death. Result would be the same as getting a zap from the collar, in that the dog would learn that chasing the horse caused discomfort. Of course, my horses won't kick at the dogs, which I really do prefer.

    Just like any tools/equipment we use with the horses. it gets down to the user, as to if it is a good tool for THAT situation.

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  5. I'm inclined to believe that almost any technique/device used is only as good as the person administering it.

    We used shock collars on our coon dogs, but that was my only experience with them.

    I rather like txtrigger's use of it on an aggressive horse. I can think of two of my lunk-heads I wouldn't mind hitting the button on when they get overly mean to other horses.

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  6. Julie Goodnight used one on one of her horses (I don't remember which one) and described in her blog very well. It takes time and patience and skill to execute the correction at just the right time - like txtrigger. It's a correction that they don't associate with their human - it's like the hand of God coming down and telling them to pay attention VERY CAREFULLY.

    I agree with BECG - like all training aids, it's only as good as the person doing the training.

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  7. My gut reaction is that "this is not good..." -- I don't lioke the idea of using them on dogs, either...There has to be a better way.

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  8. I was waiting for CA's name to show up the minute I saw the post and the pic. I've seen it and I don't know what I think about it although I do have two horses who figured out cribbing together actually in a particularly bad winter, as we are having now, and I would love to break them of that habit. Neither is suffering health effects at this time from the habit BUT they wear a tight collar to prevent them from cribbing. It makes them sore just behind the poll and I hate that. If this collar would stop that habit I suspect it would be less painful than these stupid collars. It would be worth it to get them out of those collars. I have heard, however, that if the horses are smart (which these two are) and someone is not watching them 24/7, the horses can learn when they can and can't crib.

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  9. Remote Shock Collars are one of the most effective, easiest and most humane training aids available. Remote Shock Collars are placed on a dog's neck, allowing a trainer to deliver small static corrections of varying strength by remote control. The correction the dog gets from the remote dog training collar is no different than static from walking on carpet. The benefits of working with a remote dog training collar is the trainer can immediately correct a dog's mistakes at a distance far greater than leash training allows. A Shock Collar is a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog.

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  10. I just started my search on using a remote shock collar on my horse, I have seen many comments with positive results as far as cribbing. The problem I am having is bucking. My horse is 8 years old, awesome personality, eager to please and no other probs than he goes into a wild bronc buck when asked to canter. It is not a tack issue bc he does it on a lunge also. I have been thrown from him and really not wanting to experience that again. So I'm wanting to know if anyone has tried the collar from a lunge line only when he begins to buck. My concern is he will associate the shock with me, or even his halter creating a problem with haltering him or with the lunge line. Any suggestions? Or links to further my research? Thanks!

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  11. It is a tool, when misused can cause great trauma. When used correctly, can provide great results. I would never use one until I have used one on myself, and I have. Same goes for tazers, electric fence, TENS, shocking dog collars, and equine shock collars. They all shock, but using the word shock has more trigger effect for humans.

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  12. Syntyche...How did your experience turn out? I've got the same problem..and 17 hands is TOO big to be bucking me off! I have no teeth, back, tack lameness, he's turned out no ulcers, PUPPY dog gentle until he decides he doesn't want to do something....

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    Spencer Schleinitz
    Big Leash Dog Collars

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