So we now have our Centaur, Bob, with a gleaming eye because we worked out what the problem was by listening to him….
Well…… that all sounds very simple. I could finish the story by saying that was it, we found the perfect solution, and lived happily ever after. Not quite….
Let’s go back to Bob, we haven’t had him very long – oh even that doesn’t sound right if I think of him as a Centaur! Let’s say he only came to our place a short while ago.
Bob has been learning about clicker training here, but he previously lived at a place where he was forced to do things for his humans. No one ever asked him how he felt. He tried to kick them when they lifted his leg. They hit him back, so he kept quiet and suffered in silence – his hip ached every time they picked up his foot… it was like they didn’t even see him!
Now he was enjoying this clicker thing, he wasn’t afraid. He felt more alive than he’d ever felt. Now he could express his opinion. Sometimes his behaviour wasn’t very nice. Where was my quiet centaur? Why was he acting like this? It must be the clicker training, it’s spoilt him!
This is where people often give up on clicker training. They can lose the quiet horse they had. What they don’t realise is that they are in the middle of a transition and the horse was most likely shut down. The quiet horse will return – but in a different way. They’ve been let loose – and they may do what has worked in the past!
When they have more clicker behaviours to choose from, they will have more options to use for communication.
I can assure you, they are not thinking ”Oh, this person is so weak! I can really put it over them!”
When I started clicker training with Danny, he would sometimes go to lunge at me, like he did when I used to circle him too often in the old days. He had come from a pretty awful place. There was a lot of punishment. I guess that’s how Danny learnt to defend himself.
When he did this with clicker training, it was hard not to take personal offence. In my mind I could hear myself thinking ”After all I’ve done for you!”. But what he was doing was expressing himself in the only way he knew how. And at the time it was to tell me I was confusing him – I was expecting too much. There was still some of the old ways in me – some of the fog was still attached.
I started to slow down, to observe, to keep the sessions short, to lose any expectations I might have had. Instead, I became more observant of what I was doing. In fact, he was training me! No! He wasn’t dominating me – he was saying ”I’m confused! For heaven’s sake – slow down!” He just didn’t know how else to say it.
This didn’t just empower him, it empowered me! When I could think of it in that frame – that he was talking to me, rather than dominating me – it changed both of us. Have a look at the photos below.
The first two photos show Danny when he first arrived here – he wasn’t quite five, yet looked old and beaten. The third photo was taken a few months back at the age of 16.
The change in him is due to clicker training – that is – the many facets of clicker training – including skill and mindset. Does that mean it’s perfect? No!!! Because I am still learning! But it’s way better than when he first arrived here.
So – it has empowered both of us! Let’s add empowerment to the clicker training list!
Until next time!
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