It was time to head to Google Scholar.  I didn’t want to see any websites claiming ‘connection, harmony, being… etc.’ with your horse – I wanted some cold, hard facts.  I had no idea what studies had been done on horse training, horse behaviour etc.  I had found plenty of information on worms in horses, so of course there must be something on training!

I did find papers – some studies on how horses learn – and time after time, I read about reward based training and how this ‘method’ was far superior to anything else.  Hmmmm…..

There was really very little information on horses – it seemed very ‘new’?  Or was it that there wasn’t a great deal of interest – or funding – for studies on horse behaviour.  The more I read though, the more I realised that I had been on the right track with the clicker training I had dabbled with several years earlier.

At the time, I hadn’t really studied it – and I was still looking for a quick fix and the ‘fairytale’.  Now I was ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time understanding what positive reinforcement was really about – and how to apply it properly to horses.  I was hesitant – it was much easier to pursue the ‘romance’ attached to horses.  My mind did argue with me for a time about this.  If I could pick up messages from horses – why couldn’t I just train them telepathically?

It was like one part of me was having a toddler tantrum – and the other part was the sensible adult soothing the toddler.

I knew why I was arguing with myself.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy – it would perhaps require me to use the side of my brain that doesn’t really like being used.  I’m not a ‘scientific’ person – I would much rather use the ‘poetic’ side of my brain.  Clicker training did seem a bit ‘mechanical’ – was it just about tricks – would my horses only want to see me because I had food?  Would they become greedy and spoilt?

It seemed to go against everything the horse world was promoting – ‘natural horsemanship’ – now this was proving to be a winner in the horse world.  I constantly heard about savvy, feel, rhythm, timing, going up phases, seven games.  I heard about being the ‘leader’ – it was the only way a horse would ‘respect’ you.  I heard about being ‘the alpha’.

And then from the more alternate in the horse world – I heard about connection, harmony, being at one with the horse, just ‘being’.  I heard about breathing, body awareness, sending ‘energy’, being a ‘holistic’ trainer, going ‘barefoot, bitless and treeless’  (I was never sure why treeless saddles ended up with bitless and barefoot).  I heard about ‘doing nothing with the horse’, ‘don’t ask for anything’.

There were many, many trainers out there, labelling their horsemanship with some beautiful names – but what were they actually doing?  Time after time I noticed behind the fancy names, it seemed to be a version of ‘natural horsemanship’.

I had become cynical after my time with Kert.  No way was I ending up back in a similar situation with someone who says they have all the answers, but cannot deliver.  These courses all seemed to focus on making you a ‘better – more aware person’.  The emphasis was on human faults, buried problems and making you ‘face your issues’.

To me, the time to do that was in long term therapy – not at a week long course.

I realised that I needed to look to science for answers – but there was still a place for my ‘horse conversations’.  Little did I know how easy it would be to blend the two!

COMING UP – ENTERING THE CLICKER TRAINING WORLD

IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS STORY, PLEASE START AT THE BEGINNING HERE – Part 1 – An Introduction

PLEASE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS

2 thoughts on “Part 75 – Turning to Science…

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