Tracking Equines

Nov 1, 2021

horses scent tracking

The ponies started their tracking training with food on flat polymer discs on the ground, then proceeded to targeting the treat-loaded socks, and then following the trail by scent © Vicki Conroy

A while ago I hosted a tracking workshop for dogs at my hobby farm in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, hosted by Margaret Keast of Jigsaw Dog Training and Behaviour Consultancy, who is based in Newcastle, NSW. I had a blast! The dogs seemed to pick it up quickly and certainly seemed to enjoy it, and it was really interesting watching the different breeds involved and how they processed the task differently.

A long time prior to the workshop I had read an article about horses who could track (by air scenting) and were being used for search and rescue to find lost people in Canada. I wondered how horses would engage in the process compared to dogs. And then I wondered if I could teach them how to do it.

As I had enjoyed the introductory day to tracking with dogs so much, I thought it would be fun to try it with my ponies. The worst-case scenario would be free treats for the ponies if it didn’t work. But it would be an interesting exercise watching the different species learning and putting things together, plus the challenge of me trying to teach them.

(Issue 50, September 2021, pp.46-49). Read article