Positive reinforcement training or clicker training. This was not just “another method” to me. To me it was a completely different approach to training horses. I was told, and I believed, that I had to “dominate” the horse otherwise he would dominate me, I had to be the “leader” to my horse and that horses “had to respect me” and I never could “let the horse win”, whatever that meant.
A step-by-step program
Then a Natural Horsemanship method came along in my world. I was thrilled: finally a step-by-step- program that taught me “games” I could play with my horse, that sounded like fun. Yeey!
The voice in my heart
I wasn’t too happy with building up the “phases” and building more and more pressure on my pony until he moved away like it was described in the pocket books. I think I confused Sholto by starting with this NH method and clicker training tricks at the same time. Sholto tried to tell me in many ways that he didn’t agree with this “natural” training method, but the books said: “Don’t let him win“. So I kept going. I heard a little voice in my heart that said: “I don’t like this accumulating pressure thing“. I ignored that voice.
I practised my new Natural Horsemanship method with a many horses. I didn’t have a real passionate connection with these horses because I hardly knew them. I found it a lot easier to apply accumulating pressure on them, but this voice in my heart kept telling me that this wasn’t really “partnership” nor “friendship” and I didn’t create “harmony“.
Clicker training changed my pony’s attitude completely
Since my pony was about 20 years old, I decided to let the NH method go and take a lot more effort in researching information about the clicker training/positive reinforcement training. After all: he was already ‘old’ and he was not suppose to learn new tricks anyway. He surprised me by learning new things so much quicker as I added a marker signal wit reinforcements of his choice instead of pressure. Wow, my old pony got really engaged in my training.He started to greet me with loud whinny’s and started cantering towards me in the pasture! What a difference!
Instead of “dominating” my pony and what just felt to me as forcing him into new behaviours with accumulating pressure I had to outsmart him with clicker training. Set it up for success, was very useful advice from the NH method. I still use that one, but now I set us up for success, both of us. Notonly me.
Learning another jargon
It was really difficult to “Set Sholto up for Success” because I hardly knew what I wanted and I didn’t have a training plan to follow. So I struggled along for a few years and gained lots of knowledge during this process. I didn’t know at that time that I could let go of terms regarding “dominance”, which apparently doesn’t even exist, inter species wise speaking. New studies have proven that horses make a lot of herd decisions in a democratic way. Which makes total sense.
I don’t want other people to struggle as much as I did, so I developed a step by step training program over the past 15 years. I call it the Key Lessons, your key to Success in Positive Reinforcement training. Click on “Key Lessons” at the top of this page or put them into the search engine in the right to find out more about the Key Lessons.
I am so relieved that I now can be my horses teacher instead of his “herd leader”, be his friend instead of being “the dominant one” and just be his “human” instead of being his “alpha mare/stallion”.
Positive reinforcement training has been truly a wonderful journey. It is not “just another training method” it became a “life style”. It is truly the journey that counts, not the destination.
Read more: 5 Tips for Starting Clicker Training
Read more: Clicker Training 101: How to introduce Your Horse to the Click
Join our Community!
- Are you looking for professional positive reinforcement advice?
- Do you want an affordable program?
- Do you want to turn your equestrian dreams into reality, but you don’t know where to start?
If you have answered ‘Yes’ to one or more of the above questions look into one of the online programs HippoLogic has to offer.
Join our community for online positive reinforcement training tips, personal advice and support in training your horse.
Shape the community
If you’re interested to become a member of the HippoLogic tribe, please tell me what you want in this short questionnaire. Thanks a lot!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
Sign up for my newsletter (it comes with a gift) here: HippoLogic’s website.
Take action. Start for free!
Book a free 60 minute Training Assessment to get a glimpse of a new future with your horse. In this conversation we’ll explore:
Where you’re now, where you want to go and which path is right for you
What’s holding you back so you can make a plan to get these hurdles out of your way.
- Your hopes and dreams and goals so that we can see what’s possible for you and your horse
At the end of the call I’ll give you some ideas and advice for your next step and if it looks like a fit, we can explore what it looks like to work together.
Simply check the best time for you in my online calendar and click to reserve your free call today.
You must be logged in to post a comment.