What on earth is that feature photo about? It is titled ”Arriving Home”. The link is here to find more weird and wonderful artwork! https://www.deviantart.com/liminalbean/art/Arriving-Home-707909107 Now, read on!
We have gone through the basics of clicker training in the first episode of this series. The horse is reinforced for doing the behaviour the human wants.
Wait…..what’s wrong with that sentence? ……..these words…… “The Human Wants”.
You see, I’ve learnt that clicker training is way more than that. If it is just doing a behaviour that the human wants, we have only partially stepped out of the cultural fog. We may have an arm and leg out, but our head is still in that fog!
We have made it nicer for the horse – as in – come and stand at this target and here is your treat – rather than – let me pull or wave a whip so you stand in this spot. That’s certainly a step up!
But wait – there’s more!
What if the horse has free choice and an equal say in what they do?
That sounds ridiculous! They would just stop in their paddock!
Well they might just stop in their paddock if the alternative is to do something incredibly boring or something that causes pain or fear.
Let’s just give horses a new look while we explore this. In fact let’s pretend we have a paddock full of Centaurs – horses look like this. Hmmm – maybe we need to remove the arms…. And they communicate like horses do!
They have good backs which you can put a saddle on and they eat grass. They are strong and can move quickly! Here’s a photo to give you the idea.
Now you have this image – does anything change within you? This is your horse. How would you like to treat it?
Do you want your Centaur to do what you command – with a treat reward – or do you want to give your Centaur a signal/cue that results in that behaviour being very reinforcing? Of course they have free will not to do it – then you need to examine why they chose something else.
Now Alexandra Kurland has a great book called JoyFull Horses. It is found in her blog – this link will send you to her writing about cues – not commands.https://theclickercenterblog.com/2016/02/10/ JoyFull Horses is full of such wonderful information – take the time to read it!
I’m using this image – and the feature image – to help us move out of the old mindset. Let’s move into a new one!
The idea is to move the mind from all the preconceived expectations and ideas we have about horses. That helps us explore new ideas. We can remove the blocks and we can pretend we are working with a variation of the horse.
Then you can go out there with fresh eyes. You don’t need to break out of the cultural fog – it is just melting away – and with it, your confidence is growing. How will you treat your Centaur? You need to listen hard – it takes great observation and lots of patience. However, the result is worth it!
Until next time!
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