About me

My name is Dr. Iris Starnberger. I am a zoologist, certified animal trainer, passionate horse “owner”, scientist und bee-keeper.

In my studies, I’ve immersed myself with behavioural biology, signal evolution and communication in the animal kingdom. Additionally, I dove deep into the psychology of learning as well as applied behaviour change.

My passion and my vision is to highlight alternative and science-based methods of animal training – which to date are still not known or applied widely enough.

The term “Zuckerbrot” directly translates to “sugar bread” and refers to the German version of the proverb “with carrots and sticks”, which would translate to “teaching someone with sugar bread and whip”. To me Zuckerbrot represents all animal friendly, efficient and effective science-based methods of animal training and behaviour modification – and usually there is no need for sticks or whips.

The way I train is based upon the animal’s voluntary participation, on fun, joy and mutual trust. Like this, the animal-human relationship blossoms almost by itself and a true friendship is cemented.
To achieve this, we don’t need any of the outdated dominance concepts. If you look at the matter with your “science hat” on, things become very clear: To change our animal’s behaviour, first and foremost we need to change our own behaviour!

Capriola is motivated to follow the target motiviert and she carries herself beautifully. This is just one example for systematic gynastic excercises at liberty via rewards-based training.

By the way, following a science-based approach does by no means exclude your feeling and intuition.

Whether you are interested in activities to keep your animal mentally engaged, in gymnastic excercises or in effective interventions for a so-called problem behaviour – I’m here for you!

Best regards,

Iris Starnberger, PhD


Qualifications and Continuing Education 


  • Online Course “Problem Solving” by Dr. Karolina Westlund-Friman (still running)
  • Online Course “Smart Reinforcement” mit Ken Ramirez (still running)
  • 5-day workshop at the Animal Training Center Graz “Intense Animal Training Week 5” (still running)
  • Webinar “Recent Insights in Equine Emotions” by Dr. Kathalijne Visser
  • Webinar “Recognition of Tension: In and outside the comfort zone” by Dr. Rachaël Draaisma
  • Webinar “Reactivity – A Program for Rehabilitation” by Emily Larlham
  • Webinar “From fat to fit! Intensive course on training theory, creating training plans and intervall training for horses with a lack of training and/or adipositas” by Constanze Twardy
  • Online Course “Animal Emotions” (more than 10 h) by Dr. Karolina Westlund-Friman
  • Webinar “Training Zoo Animals for Veterinary Care” by Peter Giljam (Zoospenseful)
  • Webinar-Series “Control Unleashed for Horses” by Leslie McDevitt, Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson-Vegh, Peggy Hogan‌, Jen Digate and MaryKay Hasseman
  • Clicker Expo Live – 3 days of talks and workshops on modern training methods in an international online conference
  • Online Course “Spanish Walk” with Katharina Möller
  • Online-Course “Non-violent Communication according to Marshall Rosenberg” (12 h) with Tilman Krakau






  • 3-tägige Fortbildung mit Lucie Klaassen
    • Body Awareness for Horses
    • Balanced Rider and Horse Clinic
  • Co-Organisation und Besuch der European Conference on Behavioural Biology (ECBB) in Wien.
  • 1-tägige Fortbildung: Akademische Reitkunst mit Bent Branderup 
  • Pferde-Fütterungsvortrag 2 (Zivilisationskrankheiten) von Dr. Christina Fritz
  • Pferde-Fütterungsvortrag 1 von Dr. Christina Fritz
  • 2-tägige Straightness Training Mastery Clinic mit Marijke de Jong
    • gymnastizierende Bodenarbeit
    • Arbeit an der Hand
    • Longieren
    • Freiarbeit
    • Reiten
  • 3-tägige Fortbildung mit Lucie Klaassen
    • Body Awareness for Riders
    • Balanced Rider and Horse Clinic
  • 2-tägige Sitzschulung nach Eckart Meyners u. Centered Riding bei Rosi Schreiber-Jetzinger
  • 4 tägiges Seminar und Workshop  “Teaching Animals” bei “Happy Fellow
    • Ken Ramirez: Reinforcement Strategies & Concept Training 
    • Susan Friedman: The Technology of Behavior Change and It’s Ethical Application & Reducing Problem Behavior with Positive Reinforcement
    • Helen Philipps: Measuring the Effect of Stimuli and its use in Control Training of the Working Gundog & Practical Application of Control Training for the Working Gundog
    • 4 tägiger Intensiv-Privatworkshop bei Lucie Klaassen und ihren beiden Lehrpferden zum Thema Reitersitz, gymnastizierende Bodenarbeit, etc.



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