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.
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.
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.
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’.
In 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.
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.
For tailored positive reinforcement training advise, please visit my website and book a free intake consult!
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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