Saturday, February 23, 2013

How a Horse Should Behave Part 3

In Part 1 we discussed expectation. How do we want our horses to behave? In Part 2 we discussed their expectations of us. What do they need from us? In Part 3 we will put it all together.

We have to remember that behavior is learned. It is learned through trial and error. One party tries to exhibit some form of behavior. Whether it's a reaction to something someone else has done, or an attempt to initiate something. If the other party excepts this behavior then they learn in one way or another that it works. Therefore they continue to act in that way. If it is considered unacceptable and it is made clear. It is learned that they probably shouldn't do that again. This is a simple rule I'm sure most of you are aware of. It still amazes me how many things we let slide sometimes. Specially with our horses. This I think is caused by a number of things. But mostly we either think its cute, or think there isn't anything we can do about it. To both of these examples I would say, "Give your horse more credit than that." They are so much smarter and more capable than we give them credit for.

In Part 1, I listed some things I think are very important things to expect from your horse. These things to me are just a minimum to keep everyone safe. There isn't a horse out there that wouldn't do these things for you. As long as they trust you, and you make your expectations clear to them. A skilled communicator can get all of these things in one day or with less than 5 hrs of training on most horses. Not that it still won't need reinforcement over time in order to keep it. All you really need to do is fulfill their needs and they will start to search for your expectations on their own. It's their nature to look for what is expected from the rest of the herd. Specially the herd leaders. Some horses will test, so we must reinforce. but do it kindly or your relationship will suffer. Reinforcement can be as simple as figuring out what need your horse has that you aren't fulfilling, and fulfill that need. Sometimes you may need some kind of reprimand. Again be as kind as you can, just make sure they understand. Know the difference from whether you need to fulfill something or reprimand. If you reprimand unnecessarily your relationship will suffer.

If your relationship is in tact and you have your horses attention and respect. You will know you have this if whenever you are with them they are paying close attention to you and not looking all over instead of at you. They will also be very relaxed with you and not trying to get away or worried about what is going to happen next. You will also see a very relaxed posture while working with them. Now you can start to expect more from them. If you don't have this, go back and work on your relationship and prove yourself as the confidant respectful leader. Get to know your horse and let your horse get to know you.

If you are at this point and do start to expect more of them, then you will get positive results. Your method of disapproval isn't all that important. Unless you are abusive. In this case your relationship will fall apart. Many trainers have many different methods and techniques. Adopt the ones that work best for you. Just like a cue you may use to ask your horse to do something. It doesn't matter what the cue is at all. To much focus is put on the cue and how you ask for something. This has very little to do with why they respond the way you want them to. It matters more how you communicate your expectations and intentions. the cue can be anything you want it to be. So don't focus to heavy on the cue, but more on the how and why.

Hopefully Part 1, 2, and 3 make good sense to you now. In Part 4 we will give some techniques that I use to show my expectations to the horse. My techniques aren't the only way to do things. There are many. Use what works best for you. Not what you think is the best way. There is a difference. Sometimes our own physical, mental, or emotional ability won't allow us to use certain techniques even though we like them better. That's not to say that you can't change to a different technique as you progress in your own ability. Find what works best for you and your horse and use that.
Thanks for reading.

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