Uncategorized

Clicker Training And….

Clicker Training And….

Did you know that there is so much more to the positive reinforcement lifestyle and care approach than just clicking and treating when we like what our horses do?

While positive reinforcement simply means adding a reinforcer to maintain and increase the feequency of a behavior, it has been taken beyond just the training session and into an entire lifestyle. With a heavy focus on relationship, choice, consent, and species appropriate care and enrichment.

Usually this lifestyle starts with health and wellness. Meaning we carefully balance their diets to be species, breed, location, and medically appropriate diets. This means heavily forage based in a variety of enriched and slow fed options. As horses were designed to consume forage 24/7 while moving slowly, it helps to have many slow feeders and enrichment feeding stations. It means ensuring they have their regular medical needs met, hoof trimming, dentals, parts cleaning 😉 and their special medical needs addressed. If they have special dietary concerns or management needs. This also includes looking into their mental health and wellness. Most emotional problems can be overcome quickly just by ensuring healthy lifestyle management as well as meeting their social needs appropriately. Horses depend on their peers for safety and comfort, even if they don’t particularly like each other, they depend on each other.

These social and emotional needs can be well met even on small backyard farms or large hyper-managed facilities. By providing enrichment to supplement their needs wherever their life may be lacking or just for added stimulation. Enrichment can be cognitive, social, food focused, scent based, visually engaging, or tactile (like scratching posts or substrates to roll in). But we also need to consider the horse/human relationship in the meeting of their social and emotional needs.

In the horse/human relationship not just is it developed really magically with the use of positive reinforcement. In our training we not only teach and reinforce behaviors but we also positively condition our relationships and connections. We become correlates with the cognitive and engaging fun that we bring. But it’s not limited to just positive trainingm we are also the providers of enrichment and opportunities for fun. As well as just sharing time and space. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in spending our idle time together we become a part of their social unit and dynamic. Especially when this shared time is spent doing something they enjoy, like taking them to the nicest grazing spot in the sun, scratching their itchy spots.

We can also use our positive training to teach our horses 2 way communication techniques and concepts like consent. This can include things like the bucket game, stationing skills, always reinforceable behaviors, yes/no signals, even communication boards where the horse can ask for specific reinforcers. But we also have our own ability to know our horses as individuals and how they communicate their wants/needs. Being a good listener is always more valuable than being a good trainer.

Our comprehensive care goes much deeper than just our use of positive training, but to an entire, wholesome, relationship, science-based, compassion focused care.

Posted by Empowered1, 0 comments
Relationship Goals

Relationship Goals

What are your relationship goals with your horse?

Most people have a beautiful picture of what their relationship with their horse should look like. They picture romantic scenes like galloping along the beach or going into a show ring, removing the bridle and putting on an incredible performance tackless. They imagine arriving at the fence and their horse whinnying from the distance and galloping over to them. We want for our horses to love us the way we love them.

Many professionals say, this just isn’t possible or practical. They say “your horse needs to respect you, fear you, not love you”. This was too much for me to bare, I would rather a disobedient, “disrespectful” horse who loved me, than insist on control over them through force or fear. When I learned this was the only way to succeed it devastated me, I decided I’d just live in my quiet corner and love my horses.

Then I learned I could have both. I could have a cooperative, eager, happy horse, who does love me and love our work together. Through the use of positive reinforcement, appropriate life-style, management, health and wellness care, we can build a partnership beyond our wildest dreams. One that includes the horse participating in their own health care and cooperating with their husbandry. A horse who is eager and engaged in the learning process and wants to find the right answers, because there is something in it for them. A horse with self confidence built from enrichment and a sense of control over their environment, they become curious and bold. And through working with you in a positive, fun manner, as the provider of all things they enjoy, you become conditioned as the best thing in their life.

We quickly become the signal to our horse that we are about to have fun. We can train anything we want with R+, so getting the behaviors we want is easy. But what is truly special is the relationship that comes with it.

Posted by Empowered1, 0 comments