Part 17 – Clicker Training – The Catalyst for Connection!

In clicker training, one of the mantras is to focus on what we want – not what we don’t want. So why am I showing you videos of what we don’t want? Good question!

Well, I will let you in on something…. you may like to go back and read this blog Part 23 – Equitana…… an awakening…. In this post I talk about The Promise. Over the years many horses have said to me “You Made a Promise”. At first I didn’t understand what they were talking about. Then over time I got it.

I had made a promise to the horses that I would help them have a better life – which involves a change of mindset on the part of the human. We need to think about horses differently. When I learnt about clicker training and explored more about behaviour, I could see a whole different way. Then Magnum’s story needed telling. I started writing – and I’m still writing.

I felt that my writing would help to fulfill my promise – to help change the mindset of horse people. Rather than a horse being seen as something to be used, see the horse as an equal. Find a training style that keeps both horse and human happy. Or rather – find a language that both can understand. Horses are incredibly willing partners if they are treated as equals.

However, I could feel an anger and frustration building lately when I was with my horses. Where was it coming from? “You need to go harder! It’s not enough!” I was hearing…… Did the feelings belong to me – or the horses? I think both! In fact, not just my horses – all horses!

I had promised to be an advocate for horses, all that time ago. In writing my story I had thought I was doing enough to fulfill my promise – but somewhere inside me and beyond to the horse kingdom – it’s still too small, too quiet, too nice!!!

So, I’m now adding some videos for comparison. Will it help? Will anyone see them and go “Oh I can see where I need to change”. I don’t know – but I can try.

The message I am getting is to stop being so darned polite!!! Don’t be afraid to be critical! It doesn’t sit well with me ….. but…… perhaps somehow it will make a difference. Maybe this blog will be shared in ‘normal’ horse circles. Maybe it will be controversial somewhere. Maybe someone will see the contrasting videos. The video below can be compared with the next video of Saadi learning rope cues.

Connection???

The video above is hard for me to watch. I’m not sure why it’s labelled connecting with your horse. The horse work starts at about 3.40. This is what we don’t want!!!! And maybe this is where the anger is coming from. I struggle when I see human ego win out over consideration for the horse.

Now – let’s be clear – this person isn’t ‘bad’. We have all handled horses in certain ways in the past, before we found a better way. She just hasn’t found that better way yet! And – perhaps she isn’t searching for a better way.

Now, here is a video of Saadi – teaching the forwards and backwards motion. No it’s not perfect – I could handle the rope a bit better – but it is gentle. Saadi has time to understand – and is reinforced for the movements. This is how a horse should be treated.

Teaching forwards and backwards motion with rope cues.

Now I’ve told you about ‘The Promise’ and shown you contrasting videos, let’s get back to connection.

This is my own theory –

It doesn’t happen sitting in a paddock, or in a roundyard, it doesn’t happen by just meditating – it happens over time – and bit by bit.

Magnum is a good example. It’s taken years to build the trust and is forever ongoing.

And guess what? It would not have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to learn about clicker training and behaviour. Without having that background of understanding, I would have either given up – or assumed something else.

I was told many times that he was dominating me – but I knew he was just scared for his life. His traumas involved humans and have left a deep seated scar. There was no dominance – he was fighting in the only way he knew how.

Clicker training was the catalyst for connection. Being reinforced positively helped me get closer to him. While it is the foundation for the connection, other ingredients were added – such as empathy, compassion, understanding …… and time.

One thing that strengthened it was spending so much time on his hooves. And now I also spend a lot of time on his legs treating pastern dermatitis. One day I was clipping or rubbing at a patch – he had ‘dropped’ and was enjoying the treatment and I thought to myself – all he wants is for this to be treated – imagine if I was making him do something else!

Magnum enjoying a manicure!

How many small things are missed on horses as their humans want them to do something else?

So – let me repeat what I just said before –

Clicker training is the catalyst for connection.

Being reinforced positively creates a friendly atmosphere. While it is the foundation for the connection, other ingredients are added – such as empathy, compassion, understanding …… and time. I will add to that being observant, clear, slow and calm.

And it’s only when the human can truly see the horse as an equal that a real connection can be made.

I will leave you with a video compilation from earlier in the year!

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

6 thoughts on “Part 17 – Clicker Training – The Catalyst for Connection!

    1. I think it’s a useful way of showing these things. Everyone is used to different ways of doing things so it’s nice to see different methods side by side.
      Don’t suppose you have an Instagram page for your blog do you? I always love sharing things on clicker training there, such a supportive community of people doing similar things.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Would be wonderful to connect with you on there! I’ve found it so helpful to virtually meet others who are doing the same training too. It can feel a bit lonely sometimes, especially if you are at a ‘traditional’ yard so it’s been nice to have a community to talk to about clicker training horses.

        Liked by 2 people

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