Grass Training Step 1

Here is step 1 in your free mini course Grass Training. If you want to join our in depth 2-week online course, then click here. If you’re more of a DIY person and want the self paced course, click here.

Biggest pitfalls in Grass Training

Do you know the biggest pitfall most horse lovers fall into, when they want to teach their horse manners on grass? They use negative reinforcement or punishment to train it .

Pitfalls in Grass Training

They don’t do this on purpose. And hey, to be honest: I’ve fallen into this pitfall myself!

This is what happened:

  • I held the lead rope extra short so my horse couldn’t reach the grass, if he pulled he’d feel pressure. Especially with a rope halter. Yes, it can hurt when they dive strong and quick into the grass and yet … he would dive into the grass the next opportunity he got! 

So no real training (behaviour modification) there. Only prevention. And only as long as I kept the lead rope tight!

What else did I try?

  • Yes, I wiggled the lead rope when my horse took a bite until he’d lift his head. In training terms this is P+ (positive punishment: adding an aversive in order to decrease a behaviour (the grazing)). This tactic hasn’t given me long lasting results…. You? (In the course I explain why this won’t work)
  • I mixed these together with a click and treat for good behaviour.

It still didn’t work. With these techniques I never gotten long lasting results. Only very short -in the moment- results and my horse seemed to forget the whole spiel already after our ride. So frustrating!

Therefor I didn’t had the confidence to trust the process of pure R+ (positive reinforcement) until…


I started to be really precise and take a good look what was I doing that was R-, R+, P- and P+ in my training? I let go of everything NOT R+ and …. I got really, really good results!

This was a difficult process, but since I’ve been through this myself and helped hundreds of people do it, I can do this very efficiently now.

So don’t fall into the pitfall of using R- or P+ in Grass Training. Not even a little bit!

Step 1: Start using only Positive reinforcement and TRUST the process!

  • Click and treat for desired behaviour
  • Use high (enough) value appetitive to reinforcer the wanted behaviour
  • Start small: make a shaping plan to help you start small

In the course I will explain in more detail how you can shift to 100% R+ and why you will get long lasting results.

I also share 6 other reasons people are not successful in teaching a solid Stop Grazing-cue and what you can do to change them.

What do you think is your pitfall in Grass Training? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy Grass Training!

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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
Helping horse people to bond with their horse and get the results they want.

Click HERE to buy  the HippoLogic Grass Training course

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Facts Friday: horses are grazers

I think I can state that all equestrians and non-equestrians know that horses eat grass. They are ‘grazers’. Perfect. Why do people tend to forget this as soon as they keep a horse in captivity? What are the consequences for the horse if we forget that they are grazers?

Physiology of grazers

Grazing animals are built to spend the majority of the day eating. Some grazers have multiple stomachs in order to help digest the food better. Horses only have one stomach.

Horses eat most of their day, up to 16 – 20 hours. They feed themselves with low quality feed with high amounts of fibre (fourage).

Stomach

The size of a stomach of a horse is small and the capacity is approximately 8 liters, the size of a rugby ball. Horses stomachs produce hydrochloric acid continuously unlike humans, who only produce acid when they see or smell food.

So, if we feed our horses only a few small meals a day and they are spending much less than the natural amount of hours eating, they have an empty stomach in between meals.

Keep their stomachs filled

_lentegras_hippologicWhen there are relatively long periods when the horse has an empty stomach, problems can start.Horses require the saliva and the chewed fibre to protect their stomach lining against ulcers. Normally horses produce about 20-80 liters of saliva per day to protect against the almost 60 liters of hydrochloric acid they can produce. The acid gets produced whether they are eating or not, the saliva and fibre is only there when they are eating.

Feed more fibres than grains

In order to keep horses healthy, they must eat a diet with enough fibres (hay). This is not only important for their stomachs but also for the rest of their digestive track.

In short: a lack of fourage can cause health implications like gastric ulceration (stomach ulcers), hind‐gut acidosisazoturia (tying-up), laminitis and colic (abdominal pain).

Recommendation

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAInform yourself about the horses digestive system. I participated in an online course about equine nutrition. It was a course provided by the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. It was very informative with lots of video and scientific resources. It is a 5 week course and it is totally free!

Click here for the link to the free online Equine Nutrition course from Coursera.

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

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