Friday, 11 August 2017

Whales, horses, clicker training



On a Nova Scotia horse judging trip, how cool to detour for some whale watching with my son and his friend!

As horse gals we pondered what it would be like to ride 'em!

We could almost touch them-hmmm...could they have been trained to come so close??

Clicker training has long been used for marine mammals and other animals trained at a distance. And more recently, with horses, especially in liberty work,like Cavalia.

The clicker (marine trainers use a whistle) is a "conditioned reinforcer" (the horse has to be taught to understand it) and used to precisely mark the desired behaviour. Whereas treat delivery can be a little slow to link " that's it!" to a horse's s response, clickers are quicker! And in my opinion, feeding treats to horses opens up a can of worms.

Which, come to think of it would been a tasty treat for the whale :)

Monday, 31 July 2017

Confusing horse training jargon…


Mystical, humorous or deliberately elusive – the terms we use in the horse business can leave a rider scratching her head.  I was a coach’s worst nightmare - “What do you mean by that?” I’d ask . I rarely got a meaningful answer.
When coaching ,I’ll often press a rider to explain a term they’ve used. If they struggle to put it into words, we’ll unpack the idea and isolate the aids step-by-step. 
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Einstein.
Training a non- English speaking horse partner is complicated enough without including vague terms which a prompt riders to give vague signals and horses to be stressed out.  I get a kick out of those light bulb moments – my student grasps the “phonics” of a certain skill and gets results on her own.
So why do we do it? Why do we horse professionals have these weird terms? What are your thoughts?
Here are some of my ideas:
  • ·        Unique terms define my personal brand
  • ·        A little mystery  makes my clients more dependent on me
  • ·        I know how to do it, but struggle to explain it
  • ·        Some horse trainer lingo is just – funny!

So here’s some of the top terms I’m often unscrambling:
Pick up his shoulder. Dropping his shoulder. Drive him into the bridle. Disengage his hip. Engage his hind end. Ride him in front of your leg. And the ever elusive half- halt.
What are your befuddling horse training terms?

Saturday, 29 July 2017

A unique “Horse Show Checklist”!


Heading off to a show this weekend?.
(condensed from hunter judge, Laura Kelland ‘s May17 blog)

DON’T go to the show  if:
§   you aren’t getting excellent rides at home, mentally and physically, both you and your horse.
§   you haven’t taken your horse off-property in many months (go somewhere lower-key first).
§   you haven’t done your “homework”: both you     and your horse are fit, and riding AT LEAST one level (regardless of discipline of riding) higher than what you will be doing at the show.
§   you are struggling with a component that you will need at the show.
§   you absolutely HAVE TO take home the winning ribbon/prize/championship (well, ok, unless you are there to win thousands of dollars or the Olympics).
§   you are unprepared in terms of tack/supplies

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

My horse has a red ribbon personality!

Instead of donning a red tail ribbon, train towards and attitude adjustment.

  1.   Set the boundaries. When your horse snarks at another horse, re-establish the boundary through which he snarked . For instance, if he kicks out, move his haunches sideways from the leg on the side he kicked.  If he lunges his head toward his neighbor, back him up. Don’t respond to emotion with emotion.  Just promptly but calmly make him work harder for every threat. 

     2.  Spend time creating and repeating positive experiences beside another horse. Riding beside        another horse, just inside your horse’s comfort bubble and no closer. Relax your body, soften your aids, then ride away. Repeat until the comfort bubble becomes closer to his neighbor.