"Thinking of your horse as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your horse as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help him through his distress."- The Concordia Connection

August 10, 2016

The following post was made by Carolina W. She has been here about two weeks now and will be here a few more. She is from Germany and her family raises Fjords.  She contacted me early this year asking if she would be able to come and learn from me. She has taken Alexandra’s online course but  wanted more!

Do you remember the old fairy tales you were told as a child or read yourself being a little older? Do you remember all these feelings in there, the whole variety of feelings we all (sometimes) have? Like fear and anger and love and hope, new unthought-of possibilities or help showing up while wandering around in a dark wood? Even fairies show up to help you out for your dreams coming true.

Right now, just for a little while, I live with a fairy and all her horses and ponies. She is The Pony Fairy. T...

July 13, 2016

This month’s blog is all about an amazing lady who inspires me and everyone who meets her. Her name is Bernice. Her horse’s name is Altea and together their ages total well over 100. Altea being 20, so you do the math.

Bernice and Altea have been at my barn for about a year, but I’ve known Bernice for many years. She was originally my teacher when I was at University and was fondly referred to by all the students as ‘the dragon lady.’ You did not mess with her.

Bernice had been doing work with the clicker for several years with me off and on at another barn where she was boarding for several years. Zack, her old Arab, had been trained by a wonderful fellow and knew how to do lots of things, including some high school dressage, but he was getting on and had many health issues so things, while they progressed, we...

November 20, 2015

‘U’ has been doing really well and, as you know, even participated in a clinic this year. He was also doing really well with regards to coming to the mounting block and inviting me to get on…or so I thought.

He was happy to come to the block and even let me on. He was also happy to have Shannon continue to play the games we had played on the ground while I was on his back.

We all got so excited about this that we started to go back to more normal riding stuff, fading Shannon out and having me do the click and treat for simply walking around the cone circle.

Well this went well for a couple days and then ‘U’ stopped offering to come to the mounting block!

So what do you make of this?

Traditional trainers would just say ‘get over it’ and make him go to the mounting block and continue with what they wanted to do. But...

October 7, 2015

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since ‘U’ came to live with me. It has been so wonderful to watch him change from a sullen, depressed horse that would stand in the back corner of his stall with a grumpy face and go away air about him into a bright eyed, nicker when he sees anyone and trots over to get a scratch kind of guy.

I know there are those of you thinking that that must have taken a lot of time and effort. Well it didn’t. That is one of the great things about positive reinforcement training. This spring and summer were very busy so everyone got a bit neglected in their opinion (they all love to play); perhaps only getting to play once a week.

During haying, or if I was away teaching, it was even less and yet everyone still made huge leaps forward in their abilities.


Here is the video of ‘...

September 13, 2014

I always get a giggle when people new to clicker training ask ‘But when do I get to ride?’ Those of us who have been with Alex Kurland from the early days remember it was many clinics before we got to get on and ride…at a walk. I also remember the shock when one of the new people got to ride at one of the clinics before having done what we all thought was due diligence. It’s too funny actually. I know all the groundwork I did was very, very valuable to me and, looking back, I can understand a bit better now why Alex did what she did.

The groundwork, and especially the in-hand exercises, was different than anything I had done in my past history. I couldn’t revert back to doing these exercises the way I’d always done them, as I’d never done them before. It allowed me to look with fresh eyes and an open mind at t...

April 15, 2014

I was recently asked ‘If I wanted to compete and still use clicker training, how would I ever ride a whole dressage test? I click and treat for every behaviour, which means my horse stops to get his reward.’

The science and theory behind the way to do this can be a bit of a mind-bender concept for some folk, but I will try and explain it here and hope you can wrap your head around why it works.

The concept is based on chaining behaviours together. This is typically used when you have a good sized list of behaviours already established to work with.

We start by teaching, through positive reinforcement, several behaviors – for example, the foundation lessons. Once a behaviour is well understood and has a strong reinforcement history, doing the behaviour becomes pleasant and the act of doing the behaviour actually...

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