because it was untraditional.
Ironically, I recently learned that
several Plains Indians tribes
imprint trained, including the
Cherokee, Kiowa, and Comanche, as
well as several Canadian Native
American tribes. Today, many
species of animals are being imprint
trained, as featured below.
With foaling season underway, I
recommend Video Velocity’s excellent DVD,
Foaling Fundamentals, if you are a novice. The same
company produced my
Early Learning DVD. Of course, I strongly recommend
you do this training as soon as the foal is born, during
its imprinting period. Done correctly, it will guarantee
a calm, respectful, well-mannered horse that genuinely
likes human company.
Please send any comments or suggestions
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In addition to receiving
skepticism from academics, imprinting had other detractors.
The racing industry, in particular, feared that imprint
trained foals, because they are so calm and relaxed, would
not race well. To the contrary, it enhances performance.
Imprint trained foals have raced in the Kentucky Derby.
Bucki Saint Pat, an
imprint-trained Standardbred owned by a colleague of mine,
Dr. Ron Fuller of Newark, Ohio, has won over two million
dollars. At two days of age the filly was pulling a little
goat cart while following her dam.
Zoo animals of precocial
species (those that are neurologically mature at birth, have
all of their senses functional, and have their peak learning
periods soon after birth) are now being imprint trained via
the same methods outlined in my foal training book. These
include camels, elephants, rhinoceros, and deer.
Gary and Kari Johnson are the
Have Trunk Will Travel, an elephant training and
conservation center in Perris, California. They imprint
train their newborn elephants with great results.
Dr. and Debby Miller with an
imprinted rhinoceros in Kenya.
It was handled at birth by the guard assigned to
protect the mother against poachers, and loves
people. This photo was taken in the wild.
Dr. Miller with Tami Semler and Dr. Miller at Saddlerock
The first video Dr.
Miller made, back in 1984, was “Influencing the Horse’s
Mind.” Using actual problem horses, he showed how, using
scientifically correct methods, equine misbehavior could
be modified or shaped in only a few minutes.
The videographer came with Dr. Miller on
his farm and ranch calls for a week, filming the more
challenging patients. Included in the video are a green, spooky
colt, a severely head-shy horse, a “goosey” horse that would not
allow its temperature to be taken, and an aggressive horse.
“Influencing the Horse’s Mind” also
contains the first demonstration of imprint training of newborn
foals [click on the link below for a clip], a radical concept at
the time. Order your copy today right
“Understanding Horses” is the 1999 companion to
“Influencing.” In this DVD, Dr. Miller explains ten,
genetically-encoded precocial traits in horses, and how they can
be used to shape and modify their behavior. Below, a clip from
the DVD of Dr. Miller demonstrating how his three-week-old
imprinted mule ties, leads, turns, and reacts to various
stimuli. She had only one hour of handling immediately after
birth, and a 45-minute follow-up session the next day.
Light Hands Horsemanship
is almost here! Join us for three full days of clinics at scenic
Intrepid Farms in Santa Ynez, California, May 19-22, 2011. Dr.
Miller and clinicians Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Jack
Brainard, Lester Buckley, Jon Ensign, and special guest
Richard Winters, Ernie Morris, and Sheila Varian will conduct clinics and seminars on
this year’s theme, “Equine Learning: From Birth to
Maturity.” Reservations are
limited, so don’t miss out!
For details, go to
or call 1-530-346-2715.
BOOK HOTEL ROOMS NOW!!!
The Amgen Bike Tour
will be in Santa Ynez the same weekend as LHH. They will be in
competition for hotel rooms so book your rooms NOW!!!
Rooms will be at a premium. Do not delay!!
a question for Dr. Miller?
Send it to
We apologize that due to volume, we can’t guarantee Dr. Miller
can respond to all emails, but we are building a more
FAQ page on our website
to address your needs. All questions may be edited for clarity
Q. Some trainers encourage food treats, and some
abhor them. What is your opinion?
A. Food rewards (not treats) are the most
powerful way of reinforcing behavior positively. But—they must
be used correctly or they can encourage behavior problems. Be
sure you use food rewards appropriately. The Spanish Riding
School uses them, as do most circus trainers.
Shawna Karrasch, a former dolphin trainer, has a
DVD available on the subject,
On Target™ Training. Allen Pogue, a great trick horse
trainer from Dripping Springs, Texas, also has a DVD,
Using Treats as a Training Tool.
Q. Which of your books on horse behavior and how
to handle horses do you recommend for beginners?
A. Well, they are all different, but for a
starter volume, I suggest Understanding the Ancient Secrets of
the Horse’s Mind, available for order
Dr. Miller’s newest books,
Handling Equine Patients: A Handbook for Veterinary Students and
Veterinary Technicians, has just been adopted for
use by two universities as a text book. This comprehensive
volume is also a must-have for horse owners, as it provides tips
on performing routine preventative health procedures.
Equine practitioner Dr. Marcia Thibeault’s
I Make Horse Calls, is now available through our online
store, along with her follow-up, More Horse Calls: A Dream
Don't miss the February issue of Equus,
featuring Dr. Miller's article, "The Power of Imprint
Mark Your Calendars!
Interested in catching one of Dr. Miller’s winter or spring lectures?
February 25-27: Dr. Miller is again
judging Road To The Horse and will have a
booth for book and video sales
Dr. Miller’s 5th annual Light Hands
Horsemanship clinic will be held in Santa Ynez,
CA. For details, go to
AVMA Convention - Symposium on the Art & Science of
Handling Horses. For the first time AVMA will
include a 2 day symposium on equine behavior. All
Students planning to do equine practice, and all
veterinarians who see equine patients cannot afford
to miss this rare opportunity. The speakers include
experienced private practitioners and people from
academia and the insurance industry who will explore
the many aspects of the subject.
Click Here for details.
information on appearances and other dates and locations
Coming in our
April newsletter: The Head-shy horse.
Interested in booking
Dr. Miller for a lecture, demonstration, or book signing?