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Posts tagged ‘accountability partner’

Setting yourself up for Success: tips for trainers

We all know by now how important it is to set our horse up for success in training. We know how to do it: influencing the context in which the horse learns a new skill, keeping the sessions short, splitting your goal into small training steps and be aware of our reward schedule. But what can we do to help ourselves to be successful?

What is your goal?

You only know if you have succeeded if you know your own definition of success. This is very personal. Take the time to think about it for a minute: How do you define your  ‘success’ in riding or training/keeping your horse? Just pause now and try to think of 5 things that define ‘success’ and write them down.

Setting a goal and writing it down

For me setting a training goal and writing it down helps. Without this compass I feel lost. But achieving my goal isn’t the only measurement for success. For me ‘being successful in training’ involves other criteria. Here are two other pillars that define success for me.

Joy

It is important to me that my horse enjoys the training, too. I want an attentive, eager and happy horse.

If a horse shows resistance, fear, frustration, pain and/or signs of a mental shut down (learned helplessness) it doesn’t matter to me if I reach my desired goal. I was not successful as trainer.

I want to succeed as a team, which means we both are enjoying spending time together. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Experience

We all make mistakes, but it is not about the mistakes. It is all about how you handle ‘mistakes’. I never call them mistakes, I prefer to call them ‘points of learning’.  As long as I have learned something new or found a new way to approach a ‘puzzle’ in my training I can feel good about myself. Sometimes we learn a lot more than we thought we would learn when we started.

I don’t have to reach my training goal in order to feel successful in the process.

Accountability partner

In all the books I’ve read about how to become successful there is one tip that is always the same, no matter if it is about a career of becoming a top athlete. They all have their accountability partner. Someone who motivates you, keep you on track and listens to you when you encounter a ‘bump in the road’.

Basics

feel_succesfull_hippologicIn order to set yourself up for success, start with the basics. This means that you profit from other peoples learning points. Why invent the wheel again?

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a seasoned clicker trainer: the basics are key to your success. This is why I like to call them Key lessons. You can find them in the category ‘Key lessons’ in the drop down menu on the right or when you follow this link.

 Celebrate

It is really nice to share your achievements with people who are happy for you. So find yourself a support team on the Internet or in real life. Don’t forget: you could be someone else’s inspiration!

You don’t need other people to celebrate your goals. I have recorded my training successes, big and small, in many ways to enjoy them long after I have achieved them. I made videos and photo albums and I have written them down in my training logbooks. It helps me realize that I already am successful, even if I haven’t achieved my next goal.

How do you set yourself up for success? Please let me know in the comments, I like to be inspired by fellow equestrians. Thank you.

Sandra Poppema
For tailored positive reinforcement training advise, please visit my website and book a free intake consult!

Related posts

Setting your Horse up for Success: Short sessions

Setting your Horse up for Success: Splitting behaviour

Setting your Horse up for Success: Context shift

 

 

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Achieve Your Equestrian Goals in 5 Simple Steps

Would you like to know how you can accomplish your equestrian dreams and goals? It is quite simple really. These 5 steps will help you become successful.

What do you want?
Aks yourself what it is you would like to do or achieve with your horse. Why did you buy your horse in the first place? What did you envision, what was your dream?

#1 Write it down
Buy yourself a nice notebook and make a list with all the things that come to mind when you are thinking of your equestrian goals. Nothing is too crazy, just write it all down. No one is judging. Take the time to dream away andwrite down everything you can think off, that sounds appealing to do or achieve. Don’t forget all the little things that you want to do, too.

_ eaxample_equestrian_goal_hippologic

#2 Categorize
OK, now you hopefully have a long list full of fun things to do with your horse. Next step is to  make categories.

Are your wishes realistic? Can your horse do it and could you do it? If it is not possible in the near future, it might be possible in a few years.

Is it still something you would  like to do? Is it fun, scary, dangerous? Is it a childhood dream or do you really still want to accomplish this? Are your old dreams still valid?

Who’s goal is it? Is it really yours or maybe it is your parents vision for you and your horse? Maybe it is something your instructor wants you to do or maybe it is something ‘everyone should be doing with their horse’, like riding.

#3 Resources
Write down which resources or circumstances you need to achieve it. For instance if hacking out is your goal, you can write down: reliable horse, owning a trailer and pick up truck or a boarding facility near trails or someone you can hire to transport your horse. And so on. This helps you to visualize what things you have to change or what resources are there and you are not using.

#4 Stepping stones
Now that you’ve figured out what you want and what you can, it is time to make a training plan.

A big goal can dis-encourage you, so divide it into many small steps. If you want to trail ride, your training plan might contain steps like: be able to ride my horse in all gaits, horse must stand still reliably, horse stands patiently next to a mounting block, horse loads easily into a trailer, horse is bomb-proof and so on.

If you want to make it really easy for yourself, make shaping plans as well. Think about how you would train your horse to turn him into an easy loader. This is your shaping plan. Make the steps so small that they almost look too easy to even think about it. A shaping plan for trailer loading contains many steps, from ‘horse looks at the trailer’ to the end goal where he loads and unloads easily everywhere and is happy to be on the road.

Now you’ve made your training plan and shaping plans keep them in a visible place like your tack locker or your bathroom mirror. Somewhere you see it often so it motivates you to keep going.

If writing a training plan and/or shaping plans seem too much trouble for you at this point, then keep it simple. Start easy and just hang a list of your goals in your tack locker. Writing things down will make you more focused. Try it.

#5 Find an accountability partner
Write it down and planning it, is sometimes not enough. Share your goals with friends or family! Don’t keep them for your self.

The best thing to do is share them with your accountability partner. All successful athletes and business people have an accountability partner. Why not you? Find one today!

 

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologicSandra Poppema, B.Sc.
My mission is to improve horse-human relationships by educating equestrians about ethical and horse friendly training. I offer coaching to empower you to train your horse in a 100% animal friendly way that empowers both you and your horse.
Sign up for HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free) or visit HippoLogic’s website.
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I wish I had … so I created …


What do you often wish when you’re at the barn? I wish I have a friend at the barn, someone I can ride with and share my successes and ruts with. I am so lucky to have someone like that at my barn.

Over the years I noticed that a lot of positive reinforcement trainers (clicker trainers) are often feeling a bit alienated. They can’t really talk about their (baby step) step successes or share their difficulties at the barn. We use weird tools like fanny packs, clickers, target sticks, mats, round pens where the trainer is in the pen and the horse runs free on the outside and so on. Let’s be honest: the majority of horse owners are not yet ready to try force-free, reward-based training and riding._collage_targetstick

We, clicker trainers, often feel a bit uncomfortable around the more traditional or natural horsemanship people as well. Why?

First of all: we are not born with a R+ key and even if we were, we have learned not to use it. We all have been where most people still are: forcing the horse in order to achieve your goal. Sometimes the goal is just as simple as “He has to listen” whatever that may be.

Second of all: people really want to hear your quick fixes, but lose interest real quick if they learn that clicker training involves changing your own attitude towards horses and training. Most clicker trainers give up on convincing others: it just doesn’t work if people are not willing to look at what they have to change in order to get a better relationship with their horse.

Most horse owners are not really interested in how they can make life easier for the horse, they want to know how they can get to their goal. Quickly. Too bad, because in my opinion it is much nicer to have the same goals as your horse. It feels much more harmonic if I know my horse is working willingly for or with me because there is something in it for her too.

Anyway, as clicker trainer it is often hard to find a like-minded accountability partner nearby, or just someone to reflect your training with. Someone to share your training problems and solutions with, someone who understands what it feels like when your horse just put one foot into the trailer that day, someone who can understand that this was a huge step and knows that you and your horse will get there. One day. Together.

With all this in mind I started a ‘Happy Herd’ in Burnaby, BC, Canada. A platform for_HippoLogic_thinkingOutOfTheBox_clickertraining positive reinforcement animal trainers with monthly meetings with a different theme each time.

I hope to create an environment where horse lovers can share their stories, their successes and their difficulties. A place where we can learn from each other, encourage each other (we all have frustrations, novice as well as experienced trainers) and where people can find an accountability partner to stimulate them to reach their equestrian goals with their horse. Where they can find like-minded people and maybe even make friends in real life. A place where you don’t have to defend or explain your training method over and over. No need to be a professional trainer or seasoned clicker trainer, if you are willing to learn and share, you are welcome! My goal is not to grow big, my goal is to grow strong and to have fun and feel supported. The Happy Herd is a good place to be if you are interested or using reward-based methods to train your animal. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always easier if there is someone to hold your hand?

I started my Happy Herd (where people and horses can be equally happy) group on Facebook. I am organizing our first meeting this month! I am so super excited!

I already had people in the UK and Australia asking me if they can start a Happy Herd in their country. Of course, I would be honoured! Yes, that would be awesome if there started a global movement of Happy Herds. That would make me HAPPY! This is a wonderful New Years resolution for 2016.

Take a look at our Happy Herd.

Sandra Poppema

New Uses for ‘Old’ Tools in Clicker Training, part III

In part 1 of this trilogy I talked about how my vision and use of ‘timing’ and taking emotions into consideration changed the way I train. In part 2 I mentioned how I changed the  way I use rewards now. There is another tool I now use completely different. It is my training journal. Before my reward-based training journey began I already wrote about my training.

Diary
It started like a diary: I wrote down the things I did with my pony that day and I wrote down (preventive) medical treatments like deworming, hoof trims and so on. I still have those journals, and it is nice to reread them. Unfortunately it doesn’t give me any useful information, years later.

Training journal
Now I write my plans for the future, the training plans and I about how the training went in my training journal.

Training journalIf I reread those entries, I can see what my ambitions were, how I approached them and what I achieved. If I read back in my training plan I know which steps I took to achieve my end behaviour and in my journal I can read all about my learning points and what went well. I also have an idea now how long it took me to teach the behaviour. It is also a great reminder what I already have accomplished together with my horse. One really quickly tends to forget about these things and it is temping to only focus on what you ‘still have to accomplish’.

One of the things I did the first year was to make pictures of all my achieved goals and put them in a lovely photo album. Every month one or two goals or milestones. It is a nice reminder of all we have done.
Writing it down
Writing makes things clear. I noticed that if I write my goals down, it is already easier to achieve them. By writing them down, they become clear in your subconscious.

If I have a list of goals in my tack locker which I can see every day, it is much easier to make choices about what to train. Even if I change my original plan for the day, I will most likely choose something that is a stepping stone to another behaviour I want to work on in the future.

Do you write your plans down? Do you think it is helpful? Is it hard for you? If you don’t know where to start, find yourself an accountability partner.

Read more
4 Easy Ways to Start a Training Journal

Sandra Poppema
For tailored advise, please visit my website and book a personal consult today!

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Plan your equestrian dream and make it happen

If you scroll to the topics on my blog you might have noticed that I am writing a lot about planning and journaling. The reason is, that it helps me a lot in training my horse efficiently and therefor I reach my goals. Which I like! Often I reach them even sooner than I expect and that works very motivating.

I wish that every passionate horse enthusiast can achieve their equestrian dreams. It’s such an awesome feeling to tick of a goal off your list and reread your journal or look at your photo’s.

My goals
When I just got Kyra, I made a detailed plan to tame her. My long term goals were: I wanted a horse that I could ride in demos, a horse that would be comfortable with music, could do trick training and could show people expert exercises of the classical dressage. Eerste dag, Kyra mei 2009 (HippoLogic)

Kyra was really wild and really scared about anything and everything was new when I got her. She was born in a nature reserve and she was just several weeks before she was separated from her mom and her herd. It must have been a very stressful time in her life: losing the two things she relied on for her survival.

Kyra was 10 months old and nothing she saw around her was familiar: tractors, people, running children, peacocks, dogs, cows and calves, a stall, radio and so on. Everything scared her, she was stressed about everything. It was sad to see her so frightened all the time. I wondered if she could be tamed at all. I never saw a horse in so much distress. I could feed her from my hand but it had to be through the bars of her stall and only if I didn’t make eye contact. As soon as I opened the door, that behaviour was gone!

Planning
I started thinking about a training plan. If I wanted to halter her I had to be able to approach her. If I wanted to approach her, I would like her to face me instead of trying to run from me and trying to climb the walls in her stall or threatening to kick me. I thought about safety, too. She was in a stall but I didn’t want her to get out before I could approach and halter her. I also didn’t want to get kicked, since I was pregnant at the time.

My list helped me to make a training plan. The plan kept me on track and helped me set a logical order to do things.Horse Quote

Journaling
Taming a wild filly was my biggest challenge until then. I had started horses under saddle before. I had known my first pony since the day he was born and I had taught him all kinds of husbandry skills, groundwork and had started him under saddle. That was different because we grew up together. Kyra was born in a nature reserve in The Netherlands.

This was a new challenge and it felt like a big adventure in which the assignment was ‘tame a wild filly’. That is why I decided to keep a training diary. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could recall how long it took me and what difficulties I would encounter? I thought it might take me a year or so. I started this adventure very open minded and I took it day by day.

Every day I wrote my results down in my training journal. I made pictures of my achieved goals. Writing about my experiences kept me going. It was so motivating to read about what we achieved in such a short time. I got hooked on journaling. It only took me three weeks to tame Kyra, read here what she was able to after 23 training sessions.

_jar_of_success_hippologic

Accountability partner
I never stopped making plans for Kyra and I never stopped keeping some kind of logbook. Sometimes I write detailed reports about our training, sometimes I just make a video or a photo of our achieved goal.

I found an accountability partner and we made detailed plans for our green horses to prepare our horses on the ground for their future under saddle. We started making future plans which contained our ultimate equestrian dreams and distilled our 10 year plan, our 5 year plan, our year plan and 12 month goals from it. Every month we got together and showed each other our achievements, talked about the problems we encountered and helped each other with a listening ear and sometimes with advice.

I started a Facebook group Happy Herd. Join us if you need an accountability partner.

Future
My blog is called Making Equestrian Dreams come true. Fast forward 6 years. I now live in Canada. I brought Kyra with me. She is under saddle now (prepared her with +R only), participated in Horse Agility competitions, an online clicker training competition and I made a few trail rides in the Canadian wilderness. I have plans to ride her without tack more frequently (watch the video on my YouTube channel).

I have made a lot of my dreams come true.

What are your dreams? How do you accomplish them?

Sandra Poppema
Sign up for my online 4 week course ‘Set Your Equestrian Goals and Achieve them‘ and I will teach you how to set your goals, make a planning, how to stay motivated and celebrate your successes!
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Tips for buying your perfect horse

I’ve seen a lot of tips and tricks about buying a horse, but strange enough none of them spoke about how your future horse will fit into your equestrian dreams and goals. What is the most important thing you wish you could do with your (future) horse? Have you thought about this at all?

Emotions versus rational
When people buy horses they are often led by their emotions instead of their wit. That’s ok. If you have examined your KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAdreams and thought about the most important features for your future horse, it is more likely that you will end up with a horse that is a good match.

As riding instructor I’ve seen riders buying horses that weren’t a good fit for their dreams because they didn’t give their dream enough thought before they bought. They were excited to buy a horse and were just focused on buying “a horse”, not “a perfect match”.

I would like to help you prevent this pitfall, because you can end up creating unnecessary (extra removed) obstacles to achieve your dream and become happy. So you don’t have regrets if you discover you had unconscious dreams that give you that unaccomplished feeling.

What is your dream?
Most equestrian dreams have seeds in your youth. When you grow up they stay somewhere in the back of your mind and you don’t realize that they are still there. “Are your old dreams still valid?” is another post about this subject.

Maybe you discover that you’ve always have wanted to ride on the beach, but now you would enjoy endurance riding much more. Or you’ve always wanted a tall, high energetic horse, but now that your older you would be much more happy, safe and comfortable with a reliable, quiet breed.

Ask yourself: What was my dream? And: What are my dreams and goals now?

Does the breed serve your purpose?
If you really want to make your equestrian dreams become a reality, take into consideration which breed would be more likely to serve your purpose.

If you are a bit anxious and your dream is trail riding, I would suggest that you look for a breed that has comfortable gaits and an easygoing character. Think about choosing a gaited horse, for example the Paso Fino or an Icelandic horse.

Read as much as you can about the breed, their history, their purpose in history, advantages and disadvantages. Visit breeders and try out a few horses to compare differences within one breed.

Icelandic horses are small so that can be a nice feature, but some can be very ‘hot’. Does the size of the horse fit you? Does the breed fit your budget? Is owning a purebred very important to you or can you be just as happy with a crossbreed (remove with the same features)? If your dream is to breed or to win halter classes, owning a pure bred is more important than when your future horse is going to be a companion horse. All important questions to consider.

Write it down
Talk about your expectations and you dreams with a friend, so your vision becomes very clear in your mind (read about finding an accountability partner here). Prioritize your list. Is owing a beautiful horse more important than comfortable gaits? Are you prepared to compromise on gender? On colour? Conformation? Size? Breed? Purpose? Health?

What would you do if you came across a horse with itch? Are you prepared to give the horse lots of extra care and blankets? What about laminitis? Do you think you can/would like to handle that? I think you can handle it, but what about all the worries that brings? Are you willing to deal with that? You will be worried if your fur baby is sick, don’t take this lightly.

Don’t forget to write it all down. The best thing about writing your ideas down is that your subconscious will work on them.

Buying with your heart
Of course it will happen: you are going to look for ‘that special horse’ and it isn’t a match, but that poor little thing standing in the back of the barn… She is so adorable. Let’s have a look….KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This is where your list comes in handy. Even when you didn’t bring it, you will immediately know on what points you will have to compromise if you buy the ‘opposite’ of what you had in mind. The white mare instead of that buck skin gelding that is on your list. That is totally fine. Why? Because you make that decision deliberately. You might also see that she has a a lot of other features that are high on your priority list, like comfortable gaits or a gentle character.

You will know that you will be very happy with this horse, even though it isn’t the perfect match on paper it will be in your heart.

Sandra Poppema

The secret of success: find an accountability partner

Y_HippoLogic_thinkingOutOfTheBox_clickertrainingour comfort zone is where you feel good. You can feel like an expert in your comfort zone. That’s a wonderful feeling.

The downside is that you can’t grow inside the boundaries of your own comfort zone. Try something new, something scary. Achieve your equestrian goals, develop yourself as rider or horse trainer.

Accountability partner (AP)
Have you ever heard of an accountability partner (AP)? No? What can he/she do for you, you might ponder?

An AP is someone with who you can share your equestrian dreams, who helps you define your goals and who inspires you and helps you to accomplish them. I think we all need one.

Anyone can be your accountability partner: your instructor, a barn mate or a friend. The difference between a mentor and an AP is that you are mentoring each other. You are equals.

Qualifications
Choose someone who is just as passionate about horses as you are, someone who inspires you, someone who has knowledge and is honest. Honesty is very important because your partner has to tell you what you can do to improve and you have to listen and respect them enough to consider their advice.

There has to be mutual respect. You don’t have to follow his or her ideas all the time, but you do have to listen with an open mind and think his or her advice over. I always encourage people to ask skeptical questions (‘why’ questions), it tickles the mind. _challenge_change

Choose a nice person, someone who can put things into perspective for you. Choose someone with who you can have a good laugh!

Keep your mind open
Ideas about horse behaviour or training with which you grew up with, might not be accurate anymore. Don’t take any information at face value, because ‘your instructor told you’ or someone ‘who has been in the horse business all their lives’.

Knowledge regarding horse behaviour, horse welfare and training has evolved in the last decades. Don’t be afraid to learn and take on new ideas! This can be a bit confronting sometimes, but the up-side is: the advice of your AP is meant to help you and to accomplish your goals.

Stepping outside your comfort zone (or being pushed outside it), can feel awkward in the beginning. But I promise you: it is worth it!

I can’t find someone!
If it is hard to find someone at your barn because there is nobody who shares your training method or way of thinking, find a person or a group on the internet. Use Facebook or Meetup.com to find like minded people who can challenge you, and with whom you can share your success stories too.

I created a platform for equine positive reinforcement trainers in the Lower Mainland, BC, Canada. It’s called The Happy Herd, a place where clicker trainers can share their goals, tips, feel-good stories and ask for advice.

I organize monthly meetings so we all know each other personally. This group works great as great accountability partner. Create your own Happy Herd if you don’t know anybody (yet) who can be your AP.

Work towards a goal
With an accountability partner your progress can double or even triple. Agree to visit each others horse once a month so you can show what you’ve been working on, ask questions and enjoy your time with someone who is really interested in your success.

With an accountability partner you have to work on your goals with your horse. You don’t want to disappoint him or her or tell them that you didn’t work on any of your goals, right?


Confession

I had an AP in The Netherlands and we visited each others barns once a month. Sometimes I only practised a few days before my accountability partner was visiting me and Kyra.

It always surprised me how much progress I could accomplish in just a few clicker training sessions if I set my mind to it. Without her I wouldn’t have trained so much little things and wouldn’t have achieved so many small goals.

These small steps are now merged into big achievements, like a happy horse that trailers well, a horse that is started under saddle with clicker training, a horse that can perform almost all lateral gaits in walk and trot and so on.

Try it!

Sandra Poppema
For tailored advise, please visit my website

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