Okay – the feature photo is a bit of fun! I was re-enacting the famous Jurassic Park pose. Is this respect? The horses had learnt to stand on their mats by way of being reinforced – I just added the hand pose!
If you go to Google and put in ‘how do I get my horse to respect me’ or ‘how do I be a leader for my horse’ etc. you will get many different results! It’s a very common question! There are obviously many people out there who are feeling inadequate with their horse – and we’ve all been in that situation!
Now I looked up the meaning of respect – here it is – a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
And here is the meaning of leader – the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
Wow! That’s a lot to live up to!
So if we want our horse to respect us, we want them to admire us. And we are told that we earn this respect by being a good leader. And being a leader means giving ”commands”.
Now, would you admire me if I commanded you to do something? Just think of everyday communication rather than a dangerous situation or high pressure job – because that’s what it’s about with your horse. I think you would cringe. “Oh, here’s Miss Bossy Boots again!” You would soon find excuses not to be with me!
So how do the humans know when the horse is respecting them? Good question. Is it when the horse becomes quiet? Is it because they back away from them? What is it?
I just want to put a note in here. I think this is the second time I’ve used someone else’s clip from YouTube in this series. I don’t normally do this because I try to focus on what you can do with clicker training. I wanted to show one of the many videos about leadership. There are lots of nice words – but just look at the video with the sound off if it helps. This is one of many!
There is a lot of ‘word salad’ about all sorts of things. All I see is a horse that has learnt if they come closer will get hit on the nose. At about 15.10 she prepares to walk forward. The horse is naturally hesitant because it doesn’t know if it will be hit again. She was going to give him three opportunities to work it out before she came on stronger. It’s hard for me to watch. To me there is no compassion – there is arrogance on the part of the human.
This site is called Tao of Horsemanship and has over 24,000 subscribers. I didn’t single it out – but it’s a great example of whether the words match the actions.
Here is a video of Ducati doing his backing. Which horse would you rather be?
So – let’s get back to the title. From what I have read and observed there is pressure in the horse world to get your horse to respect you – in other words – to obey you. That’s what I can see from researching this.
There is a fear that if we clicker train – our horses will not respect us – they will be all over us for treats – we will spoil them.
If we go through a process to train our horses with positive reinforcement, they will learn that behaviours such as standing on a mat will be reinforced with food – therefore they will do it again – and gradually stay for longer!
This may look respectful – but respect has no meaning for horses – it is a human term.. It needs to be removed from the horse training language. We are reinforcing behaviours that will allow both ourselves and the horse to be safe in each other’s world.
The mindset of a clicker trainer is very different to other horse training. We focus on the behaviour we want – and reinforce it. When there is a problem we take our time to work out how we can resolve it. ‘Respect’ and ‘leadership’ are not in the clicker training dictionary!
We can relax and enjoy instead!
I will leave you with this video – probably timely as it is so close to Christmas! The horses are standing still because they have been reinforced – not because they are respecting me or see me as a leader! But exercises like this build safety when I have four horses in this area. It creates calmness – and everyone’s a winner!
Until next time!
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