Friday, February 7, 2014

There Are No Wrong Answers

This is a hard concept to grasp but if we want to get someones appreciation, we will do it best by not making them feel like they are wrong. A teaching concept I like to use that I call, "Redirect and Reward" is a way of asking questions in a way to gently guide them to the correct response. Always making them comfortable with there decision. In this way they not only start to accept me but also they learn to appreciate me. They also become very confidant, and start to think things out, searching for intention.

At a few demonstration last year I had an example of how this works. I started the Demonstration with a card trick. I tell everyone that this card trick will teach you everything you need to know about working with horses. The card trick starts with me getting a volunteer. I ask them to check the deck of cards to make sure it is a real deck. I then ask them to shuffle the deck. Then we cut the deck, put the bottom half on top and I put the deck in my pocket. I then ask them to make a number of choices. Starting with picking 6 numbers and or Jack, Queen, King. After each choice I ask them if they are happy with their choice and would they like to change any of the choices. If they do, we make the change. We move on to choosing 3, then 2 then 1 until we have a card. Then I ask them to choose 2 suits, then 1 suit. Again every time asking them if they like their choice and asking if they want to make any changes. Once we have a card and a suit, I ask them to say the first number that comes to their mind no matter how large the number is. We then reduce this number numerically until it is a value of 52 or less. I then start pulling cards out of my pocket and when we reach the number value, out comes the card they picked.

This card trick is the best example of Redirect and Reward that I can come up with. I do explain how it works. You see I know the end result by looking at the bottom card before it goes into my pocket. So I keep asking questions till we get there. We choose numbers, if they choose this card we work from those numbers, if not we eliminate the ones they chose and work from the ones that are left. We do the same with the suits. The number they choose is totally irrelevant but say they chose 5280, we reduce it numerically by adding 5+2+8+0= 15. So I take the first 14 card from the top of the deck and the 15th is taken from the bottom.

This tends to amaze people the first time they see it. All it is, is me gently guiding them to my end result. I know what the end result is and I keep asking questions making sure they never feel wrong or intimidated into making a choice. I use this same concept while working with a horse. If they do something other than what I'm looking for, I just redirect them and reward every try. With the one exception that if they challenge me in any way, like try to run me down, bite or kick at me, I will tell them with and unconditional "NO" This doesn't happen if I get a chance to start at the beginning of my program but does happen on occasion when helping someone with their horse and the horse doesn't have much of a foundation. (All problems are do to a lack of something in their foundation)  Its a shame to because a good foundation takes 5 hrs or less to install in most cases. Its not finished at that point, there is still work needed over the next few months to help it cure to being solid in their minds and will need maintenance throughout the horses life.

A lot of problems come from a horse that is just saying, "No I Don't Want To" This horse has lost its TRY, or There Want to Please. Maybe they just got tired of being told no themselves to many times. Working in the way described above will make them feel better about you, the task at hand, and themselves. They learn to think things out and start searching for intention in all things and situations. It boosts their confidence. This creates a very calm and willing horse. With each cue and or situation you work through, they get a much larger vocabulary. This leads to better understanding. Not just that your horse understands what is going on but they understand us and our intentions as well as we understand them to a much deeper level. The more you understand each other, The better the relationship. Remember we not only want them to accept us and what we ask of them. We want them to appreciate us and want to do these things because they enjoy being with us. Its very easily attainable if you keep an open mind and search real hard for understanding yourself.

If we know the end result we are looking for, and we create a path to get there. Knowing there will be challenges along the way and prepare for a way to get past them. There is nothing we can't achieve.

Thank you for reading along.


  1. As you know, my horse can get in the "No, I don't want to" frame of mind. Thankfully, this doesn't
    manifest in aggression when he loses his try. He just decides to shut down and turns in a mule.
    I have found this very difficult and frustrating to work thru. One thing you taught me was to NOT
    give up and let him get away with not trying. Ithen found myself going in the other direction
    and NOT showing my appreciation to him when he HAS given me a good effort and done something
    that he finds extremely scary and unpleasant. I have to learn to quit the lesson sooner instead
    of drilling him to do something again and again. This has backfired because after he has done what
    I've asked he gets frustrated and then refuses after things were going so well.
    I believe he's telling me, "I've stepped out of my comfort zone and done as you asked, now PLEASE
    give me a break". I've learned I need to listen to him and let him know I'm happy with what he's
    given me and thank him by ending the lesson.

    1. I may have mentioned this before to you but in case someone else reads this. Asking them to do something and they lock up is simply lack of confidence to move forward. If we move away for a while and work on building confidence and re enforcing a go forward cue we can come back and try again. If we get back and we ask, we should keep asking without being pushy and as soon as we get a step, stop and reward. Maybe even leave for a bigger reward. make the break very brief and go back and try again evaluating what they will give and what they have given. Working to make it a little better each time. But don't get to greedy and don't spend to much time on it. Quit when its at the best its been.