We would all ride our dream horse wouldn’t we?
So, what would your dream horse look like? What would this dream horse be able to do? What would you like to feel confident doing with your dream horse? Be specific and let your imagination run wild. After all it is your wish list, your dream horse!
What if I were to tell you that you could have this dream horse and he might even be the one you have right now? If you can dream it, clicker training can help you make it happen.
Now, think about the horse you have. What would make this horse your dream horse (assuming he isn’t already)? And what would you change about his behaviour, to make you feel confident; doing anything you’d dream of doing with him?
Most of us would say “I don’t like it when my horse …” When we look at behaviours most of us tend to focus on the things we don’t like.
I want you to take all those don’t likes and rephrase then into positive statements for your wish list. “I’d love my horse to stand still when I get on” or “I’d love my horse to run to me from the far end of his pasture.”
Clicker training is about developing a great relationship with your horse. If you have that great relationship your horse will be eager to come and play and learn with you. Clicker teaching (I like the word teaching these days more than training as I think it has more of the cooperative feel to the relationship that we want) helps you to think outside the box and be creative.
I’m old and lazy, so I like to have my horses help me out as much as possible so I get creative. Here is a video of one of my students and her horse at the mounting block. They are not quite to the final stages of the dream horse at the mounting block image, but they are well on their way.
With this video I wanted to show you some ‘out of the boxstall type thinking’ that goes along with clicker training. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a horse behave like Kathleen’s at the mounting block? My horse, Icaro, can be turned loose in the arena and when I go and stand on the mounting block he will come over and align himself with the mounting block until my outstretched hands touch the horn and cantle of the saddle. Why? Because that is a behaviour I want MY dream horse to do.
You might want your dream horse to do different things than I want my dream horse to do and that is just fine. YOU are the one who needs to like what your horse does, no one else. And you are the one who needs to like the way you are teaching your horse. Lots of people do not understand the scientific basis for clicker training and will tell you that you will ruin your horse if you hand feed which can happen if you do not teach rules around food. I’ll leave you with the assignment of making up that dream list and hope you will join me next week when we will continue the journey to get you your dream horse.
I’d love you to share some of the things on your dream horse wish list so that I can be sure to cover them in the weeks to come.
My wish for you and your horse is that you have positive, fun interactions in the coming year, and for the rest of your relationship. Try clicker training and see where it takes you. It could be your best year ever. If the past year’s relationship hasn’t been so good what have you got to lose? If I can help you get there, by helping you make your wish list, or figuring out where to start, well that is one of the wishes on my list. Please e-mail me if you would like help. My wish is to help more people enjoy their relationship with their horse and for their horse to enjoy their relationship with their person. My wish is for everyone to smile, laugh and enjoy their horses half as much as I do each and every day. I wish you all the best for a ‘ven’ 2011*.
*Check out the Poisoned Cue DVD with Jesus Rosales-Ruiz of the University of North Texas to learn about ven and punir and the poisoned cues that we all have. This is a very informative lecture for anyone, not just riders. Quite an eye opener! Put it on your wish list, too!