Here are some barn hacks that will make your life easier at the barn in winter. This winter is one of the coldest in Vancouver, BC, Canada since decades. We had a lot of snow too. Not the nicest weather to work in if you work at a barn. (more…)
Posts tagged ‘horse’
Of course we all know how valuable a training journal is, I wrote several blogs about the subject. There is another powerful tool that gives you insight into your own training method.
Have you ever made a ‘cue list’ of all the commands you use for your horse? It can be very insightful to see.
The first time I made one I discovered I had two different voice commands for trot. My walk-trot transition had the voice cue ‘Trot!’, while I used ‘Whoa-trot’ or ‘Whoa’for the canter-trot transition. So ‘trot’ had already two different commands.
I know exactly how this happened, it was initiated by my pony. I started with using a ‘slow down’ sound before I cued for trot from canter. He started to anticipate on that sound and I anticipated over time to drop the ‘trot’ cue altogether in the down transitions.
How many cues do you use?
Another insight I got from this exercise was that I was amazed that my pony knew over 30 cues in total. My current horse Kyra knows even more than 30.
If you make a list (or use the download I made for you) don’t forget to write down where you are positioned in relation to your horse. Are you standing next to the left shoulder or right in front of your horse when you give the cue, do you use your hands, are you standing up? Your body language supports your voice commands.
If you think of your cues you can also see what voice commands sound similar or where your body cues might be the same. It is also helpful in coming up with new voice cues.
If you are running out of voice cues, start using cues in a different language. French, Japanese or Dutch.
Use multiple languages if you’re running out of ideas
When I got Kyra I started all her trick training cues in English. All the common cues were Dutch. I figured since we live in The Netherlands I wanted her to know the common cues like stand, walk, trot. I didn’t want to use Dutch words for her trick training so I used another language. My voice cues play an important role in Kyra’s training. I used to ride with horse and carriage and in driving the voice commands play a crucial role in communication.
Now we live in Canada and the standard voice cues are in Dutch, while the trick training cues are all in English. At liberty I use French voice commands.
How many cues have you taught your horse?
Download your FREE cue list (Riding-Groundwork_Trick Training).
Are you interested in online personal coaching or do you want to sign up for the next online course ‘Set Your Equestrian Goals & Achieve them‘, please visit my website
All equestrians know that having a horse and working at a barn is hard work. Feeding, watering and turn ins/outs are time consuming. To save some time I made a list of time saving barn hacks I used myself.
Brush on a string
For buckets in paddocks and pastures keep a brush on a string attached to the bucket. Without the string it wanders off… For stalls a dishwasher brush works perfect.
Keep a skimmer handy
For big water buckets that are not emptied daily, keep a skimmer at hand to take hay and leaves off of the water surface. Works much faster than using your hands and in winter you keep your hand dry and warm.
Use a leave blower to sweep the isles
Needless to say that you can only use a leave blower when there are no horses inside. It causes a lot of dust to fly around. Wear a dust mask and earplugs.
Teach all the horses how you want them to behave
This is a time investment but well worth it. Teach them all that they have to keep their heads low while haltering, put their noses into the halters themselves and walk with you without pushing or pulling.
Teach them some food etiquette
Rule about safe and desired behaviour around food is not innate. It is taught.
When I worked at a barn in the weekends it only took me 3 weekends to teach the horses that hay and grain where only provided to horses who kept 4 feet on the ground and stepped back & looked away so I could throw in the flakes of hay in their stalls (which saved time and increased my safety). I hate the noise 15 horses can produce when they are kicking their doors simultaneously.
Master the hay nets
If you need to fill hay nets I hope you use square slow-feeder nets. They are a bit more expensive but you can fill them up in a few seconds.
If you have to fill old fashioned hay nets use a plastic roll-up sled to keep the opening of the net open. They are a $3 -$10 dollar investment and save a lot of man hours.
Key ring knife
When I was a barn help I bought a small key ring knife to open up bales. You can also cut through baling twine with another piece of baling twine and use it like a saw. Or attach a pair of scissors to the wheelbarrow you use for feeding.
Do you have useful barn hack? Please share it with us! We would love to hear about them.
If you want to teach your horse to behave around food or feeding time, visit my website and book an online consult.
WP has a Photo Challenge with the theme ‘symbol‘.
For me the clicker became an important symbol. It represents force-free horse training, friendship, fun and a life time of learning. Let me explain.
The clicker represents positive reinforcement: training behaviour by adding an appetitive to the horse in order to reinforce behaviour. There is no force or coercion in positive reinforcement training.
When I started to use positive reinforcement I had to learn about what my horse likes and dislikes.
Positive reinforcement is a way to give my horse a choice in training and therefor it gives her a voice. For me friendship is not only listening to my horse but also acting on the information she is giving me. Friendship means that I sometimes have to change my approach if my horse doesn’t like it, can’t (physically) do it or won’t do what I ask for whatever reason. For me, the clicker symbolizes this.
Learning new skills, exploring new ways has always been fun to me. The clicker represents also the fun the horse displays when he figures out what the training question is. The eagerness my horse shows in working with me: always coming to the gate in the pasture as soon as she sees me and the soft loving nicker to greet me.
Life long learning
Switching from traditional and natural horsemanship methods to positive reinforcement forced me to develop new skills so I could communicate clearly what I want from my horse.
I had to learn to listen better to my horse and I had to develop my observational skills in order to pinpoint (click) the desired behaviour. I had to figure out what motivates my horse in order to reinforce the behaviour I am teaching her. I studied the learning theory and learning curve of animals intensively. Something I probably wouldn’t have done tothis degree if force was still my go-to method in training and riding horses.
The road to positive reinforcement has been (and still is) an exciting journey for me. I am still fascinated every day by how learning actually works in horses and how we humans can influence it. It is a life long journey with fabulous views!
What represents a clicker for you?
For tailored advise, please visit my website and book a personal consult!
How valuable is a behaviour to you when it is associated by the horse with aversives (-R, negative reinforcement)?
Is a behaviour that is associated with something pleasurable /appetitives (+R, positive reinforcement) worth less, or more to you?
Or do you not care at all what your horse’s associations are with your ways of getting the behaviour?
In other words: do you care for the result more than the way you got the result?
The carrot (click) or the stick…
Which one do you prefer?
For tailored advise, please visit my website and book your personal consult!