Horses, like children, don’t all respond equally to the same training method. That’s why I use a variety of techniques adapting them to each horse. Throughout this blog, you will find references to different techniques, but the common theme is that I take it very slow letting the horse direct the speed of training. Techniques that work on Dino, may not be understood easily by another horse and vice versa. It is important to have a variety of methods at your disposal. I also create a training scaffold for each lesson(break each lesson down into small easily understood pieces). If a horse has trouble with one level of the scaffold, I can break it down even further into micro scaffolds to help him understand. The dressage scale is an example of a training scaffold – although the steps are extremely large. Each one gets broken down into a multitude of smaller steps for training purposes.
I am also a big proponent of reward-based training. Without an understanding of equine behavior/psychology and the possession of some solid horsemanship skills, it is only somewhat useful. But, adding reward-based training to a strong horsemanship background, can be quite powerful. Throughout the videos, you can hear me use a clicker or say “good boy.” That is the “marker” to indicate Dino has done a good job. He knows he will receive a reward for his efforts.
My goal is to create a horse that is an “active listener” instead of a “passive listener.” I want a horse that is constantly listening for an aid….actively searching for the next cue. The reward trained horse just simply “tries” harder than a traditional pressure/release trained horse. Reward trained horses offer more expression. They “learn how to learn” and subsequent training is achieved at a faster rate. The pressure/release training that only offers the release of pressure as a reward produces a passive listener and a more tense, less expressive horse. Once you have ridden a reward trained horse that is actively listening, you won’t want to go ever back to “traditional” training. It is a very powerful tool and should be in every trainer’s tool chest.
Now that you know what I want to achieve, it will help you understand the progression of Dino’s training. Enjoy!