Using clicker training to get my fat horse fit

Kyra was always prone to being overweight. When she turned 8 she got laminitis and the vet diagnosed her with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). That explained a lot: why she got so easily overweight and was always hungry. EMS is like diabetes 2 in humans.


Exercise advice: lunging or round penning

Getting the advice from the vet to “go lunge” or “round pen” my horse, in combination of the crash diet he subscribed didn’t work for Kyra. She was very reluctant and unhappy to do so. I was miserable chasing her around with a whip. She always had listened super well, but these traditional ways were absolutely not good for her. She became very reluctant, even after one time to go in the round pen.

Reluctant horse

She tried to escape, didn’t want to go in the round pen and she basically screamed “NO!, NO, NO” at me. It stressed her out, to be coerced into movement and it stressed me out. I felt it damaged my relationship I carefully build over the years with positive reinforcement as training and two-way method of communication.

All the changes were super stressful

She went from pasture with her herd to solitary confinement. A small paddock (in comparison to the huge pasture she was in before) by herself.

The crash diet was eaten in 2-3 hours or so, which meant that she was not eating for about 20 hours a day. It’s very bad for horses to have empty stomach, because they make stomach acid 24/7. They can get ulcers when there is no food to protect the stomach lining.

The crash diet lead to wood chewing. She ate a hole in her shelter in just one afternoon, she started chewing wood and all the fences were munched on.

She chewed the slow feeder net the next day!

On top of that she started pacing and walked a deep trench along the fence. All in the first couple of days after her diagnoses.

I followed the vet’s advice

I tried lunging (I hadn’t lunged her for 7 years after she had told me clearly she didn’t like the NH method of mr P.) Kyra was very upset about it. She didn’t listen to me any more (yes with a whip she did do it, but that made me feel uncomfortable.

As you can imagine, I felt miserable seeing my horse so unhappy.

Things to improve welfare

These new (undesired) behaviours told me her welfare was compromised and I had to take action and change things. Which was scary… At the same time I noticed clearly how much stress all these changed were causing her.

Avoid long term stress

Long term stress is one of the things you want to avoid when a horse has inflammation in the body. Long term stress alone can lead to inflammation or prevent inflammation to heal. Since laminitis is inflammation of the lamellae, the tissue between the hoof and the underlying coffin bone horses benefit from a stress free environment.

Having a (former wild horse in solitary confinement (paddock) and putting her on a crash diet, was taking away 3 of the 3 F’s. Her freedom to roam in the pasture, her friends, who she could only see from a distance and forage. The wood chewing was a clear indication of having not enough chewing time/fibres.

Her friends in the field

So I changed her diet and gave her more food, more fibre and I started to hand walk her instead of lunging. Every. Single, Day. Until she got better, less pain and wanted to move.

This is what I did (R+ Movement Training)

I used positive reinforcement (clicker) training (R+) to encourage her to move. Yes, I used food rewards! Vet had forbidden to give her “treats”. 😱

Using Treats in Training for laminitis horses

I went very slowly with building exercise and training for forward movement, in comparison with the advice I was given.

I have been using R+ since to tame Kyra (she was born and raised in a nature reserve). Then I switched over to NH, but she quickly let me know she didn’t like the NH exercises nor the way I was “asking” her to do them. (That’s a whole other story).

I used fibre rich foods to reinforce the behaviours I wanted: forward movement, steady pace and later speed and distance (time).

I used grass (yes a handful of long grass for a good effort), triple soaked beet pulp pellets (to soak the binding agents out. Shredded beet pulp is better, but that wasn’t available in Canada at that time) and hay cubes (not all hay cubes are the same and some horses can’t have them because they choke in them!).

Going against the vet’s advice

Going against the professional advice ,I changed her diet. I still gave her way less than before, but enough to keep her stomach going 24/7, since I was afraid of ulcers and gut ulcers. I also used food in training with my Movement Training..

It was a huge gamble, but it worked. Kyra became interested in moving (duh! With food! LOL) and she also started to loose significant amount of weight. Maybe a bit slower than with the professional advice I was given, but she was happier and all her newly developed stereotypical behaviours disappeared!

Kyra stopped wood chewing, pacing, and started to be her lovely self again.

From Whoa Horse to Go Horse

eBook getting my Fat Horse Fit with clicker training

Before her laminitis Kyra was a very “whoa-horse” and not a “go horse” at all. Since she was healthy (so I thought) I didn’t make exercising a priority. Until I had to…

The method I developed over the years after her laminitis is based on positive reinforcement to get the horse moving willingly. All the things to make this succeed, I have written down in the eBook I wrote Getting my Fat Horse Fit.

Support

I didn’t do it alone, I had a support system (also in the book) and a plan!

Having a clear plan was so helpful! I had been going on and off with exercising Kyra in the previous years. She has always been ‘chubby’ or ‘barok’ (Kyra’s sire is an Andalusian), but since she was healthy I started an exercise regime, got distracted, stopped, a few week later started again. I never followed through so she did lose weight and stayed fit and slim.

In my eBook I wrote all the things I learned to be successful to keep the weight off of her with Movement Training. It was a process of developing Movement Training with positive reinforcement and setting up everything else so I wouldn’t fall of the wagon again.

Having the fear of laminitis really pushed me to take action and get Kyra fit. Now I help people do the same. If you’re interested in my course, follow this link.

Warning!

I don’t recommend going against the advice of experienced professionals! Absolutely not!
In this blog I’m sharing my journey and what I did to get my horse from fat (and with laminitis) to fit and healthy.

Exercising played a major role in our success. That’s the message I would like to convey: exercise your overweight horse!

Please do everything you can t prevent your overweight horse from getting laminitis! I didn’t and I regret not doing enough. It might have been different if I would have had a way (back then) to make movement for my who horse fun and interesting! So that I enjoyed it more and would have kept going. Now I have that, and it has been a joy to exercise horses with clicker training.

Join Force Free Exercising Laminitis Horses on Facebook

Happy Horse training you all!

Sandra

Do I need to switch over to 100% Clicker Training? Or can I do both?

When people start using positive reinforcement correctly, they’ll soon notice that their horse is more enthusiastic and more engaged in their clicker training than in their other training. Trouble starts…

Starting with Clicker Training

At first most people choose a fun or easy behaviour to teach. Maybe they start with some trick training and before they know it, they have a very engaged horse. Their horse has discovered that he ‘suddenly’ (in his eyes!) gets treats! Yes, of course that get his attention! He wants more!

Struggles due to Clicker Training

  • Your horse starts to mugging for treats or is very focussed on them and can’t concentrate on anything else
  • He starts to show off his new tricks (or behaviours), even when not asked. This can be annoying, distracting and sometimes potentially dangerous (an un-cued Spanish Walk during grooming for instance)
  • Your horse stops doing what he was doing, because he expects a treat and he’s performing less
  • He offers less quality behaviours once you stop offering treats. Treats can become a bribe and no one likes that, so most trainers stop giving treats and then the horse doesn’t understand why the ‘system’ is broken.

Teaching Your Horse the Principles of Positive Reinforcement

When you teach your horse the Principles, you give him clarity and you prevent a lot of frustration.

How you can help your Horse

  • Teach your horse to pay attention to the click. It’s the click that predicts the reward, not your hand in your pocket. When that happens and he starts mugging: click before you reach for a treat.
  • Teach him an End of Session signal, so that there will be no doubt about when and when not to expect food rewards
  • Put behaviours on cue as soon as they are 90% solid and then stop clicking and offering treats for spontaneously offered behaviours. This way your horse starts to pay attention to your cues and stops offering the newly trained behaviour spontaneously all the time. This prevents frustration in your horse
  • Fade out clicks once the behaviour is solid and on cue
  • Change from 100% reinforcement schedule (reward slighted try) to intermittent or variable reward schedule (only best behaviours get reinforced)

Do I need to switch over to 100% Clicker Training?

When people run into struggles like above, they get hesitant to implement (more) positive reinforcement (R+) in the rest of their training.

I would like to say: solve the struggles you encounter first, so you get confident in your skills. Then decide if you would like to use clicker training in other areas of your training.

I like R+ very much, because it’s really a good two-way communication with your horse. Trainers have to listen, otherwise they won’t get the results. When the horse is not doing what they, want they have to do a little detective work: why isn’t the horse doing what you want? Doesn’t he understand it (are you making the steps too big? That’s called lumping), is he nervous or fearful (how to make him calm), are you clear? And so on.

You don’t need to switch over to 100% clicker training in order to have a good relationship with your horse. I will share how you can do both, but first I would like to explain why you can use traditional/NH with clicker training together. Something you see more and more.

Don’t mix R- and R+!

I don’t recommend mixing R- (negative reinforcement) and R+ in training one behaviour.

Why not: understanding ‘motivation’

There is only one motivation at play: it’s either positive reinforcement OR negative reinforcement.

The horse either does the behaviour because he wants something: an appetitive. This is R+. Or he does something to avoid an unpleasant consequence: an aversive. This is R-.

When we would use pressure to ask our horse to lower his head, it’s the need to avoid pressure that makes him do so. Giving your horse a click & treat on top of that doesn’t change the fact that he’s behaving in order to avoid something really unpleasant that you are applying! No matter how big the food reward afterwards is: you have just taught your horse to respond to negative reinforcement.

Confusing your horse when mixing R+ and R-

In positive reinforcement we:

  • Encourage the horse to offer behaviour
  • Want the horse to take initiative (we can only reinforce after the behaviour)
  • Add a cue once the behaviour is trained
  • He horse expects something really pleasant to happen when he’s offering behaviour. This is a mental start that makes him feel good

In negative reinforcement we:

  • Want the horse to respond to us and do ‘nothing’ unless we tell him to do something (usually the horse’s initiative is systematically punished in the past)
  • The horse must wait for our command (pressure)
  • so that we can release it (reinforcement!)
  • The anticipation on the aversive, becomes the command. The horse responds before the aversive is applied: He feels a light pressure from your leg and anticipates already on the aversive that will follow when he won’t move forward. This is a mental state: expecting something unpleasant to happen.

When we add appetitives (things the horse wants, like a treat) after something unpleasant has happened (aversive in order to make the horse do what you want), the horse can become really confused.

It can happen that the treat becomes ‘poisoned’. The connection of enjoying the treat can become so intertwined with the aversive that he wants to avoid, that he really gets confused. When that happens, trust disappears.

Example: Going to the Dentist

Imagine you need to the dentist. You’re scared because your teeth hurt and feel nervous about what the dentist might do to you.

In positive reinforcement the trainer would give you something wonderful (compliment, money, cookie) when you’re willing to say the word ‘dentist.


Then make it a bit more challenging and give you something worthy when you would call the dentist to make an appointment (you don’t have to go yet!).

Every step towards the goal behaviour (lying in the chair with your mouth open and be able to relax and let the dentist do his job to help you). Receiving the appetitives makes you feel good! Going to the dentist when you want, makes you feel in control and makes it not so bad. Right?

When you would use negative reinforcement the trainer would apply an aversive (pook you in your ribs) until you say the word dentist. Now the fearful word is also connected to a physical feeling: the poking in your ribs.

Next time the trainer wants you to pick up the phone. You’ll be poked until you do so.

Also for making the appointment you’ll be poked in your ribs until you’ve done it.

By the time you are in the dentist chair a lot of aversive things happened that made you go there. These are now associated with the dentist. You’re in the chair because the trainer made you. How would you feel? Confident? Relaxed? Would you like it?

Using R- first and adding R+ would be like the second example. Only you would get a treat every time you would listen to your trainer.

I truly believe that it wouldn’t make the aversive less aversive because the trainer would apply more when the learner wouldn’t listen (that’s the principle of R-: the aversive *must* be aversive or arouse aversive feelings in order to make it work)!

Receiving something wonderful after something bad happened consistently (poking in your ribs) doesn’t make the bad feeling go away or make it less. It will do something else: It will make the wonderful experience of receiving an appetitive change! You wouldn’t care about the money/the cookie/the compliment after you’ve been poked in your ribs to get in the dentist chair! You would happily give up the good in order to avoid the bad (self preservation). The reason you took action was because of the aversive (R-)!

How to use Positive and Negative Reinforcement in training

When you start clicker training and seeing results, you might be worried that you need to do everything with R+. I don’t think you need to.

I do recommend using either using R+ to train a behaviour or R-. Don’t combine them when you train one behaviour. Give your horse clarity when to expect aversives (riding, in the arena etc) and when to expect appetitives (trick training, grooming). Be clear!

Do you struggle with this? Book a free connection call and we can talk about how I can help you get clarity in clicker training. No one switched over to clicker training in a day! All their horses turned out great!

When you’re ready to do more with clicker training, join our community!

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

Pitfalls in Clicker Training Your Horse (Solution to common Pitfall #3)

The 3rd common pitfall is when people focus too much on outcome. What happens is that you forget to include steps that your horse needs, in order to understand what you want.

A second problem can occur when horse owners have a goal and directly aim at the outcome, or worse: what the outcome suppose to look like. They know what they want, and have a vision what it looks like. Without realizing it, they try desperate to go from 1 to 100 in one go. The pitfall is that they forget paying attention to the journey to their goal.

They forget about the steps, that are leading to their goal.

How to tell you’ve fallen into this pitfall?

You know you’ve fallen into this pitfall when reaching your goal seems

  1. Unreachable (frustration has kicked in), or
  2. Isn’t as satisfying as you thought it would be (and that’s hard to admit. Even to yourself)
  3. You feel something is missing. You’ve got the Results, but missing the Relationship with your Horse in the process

Solutions

When we forget about guiding our horse to our goal step-by-step, we are ‘lumping’ instead of ‘splitting’ behaviour.

  • Find someone to help you split the behaviour. Just talking it over with someone will help you get a fresh view on your training
  • Watch your goal behaviour on video (find a YouTube video of the behaviour)
  • Watch the behaviour in slow motion (YouTube settings “playback speed” will help you)
  • Find an experienced R+ trainer. Splitting behaviour is something really important in positive reinforcement training and therefor I recommend finding someone who has done this before successfully.

Example: Training Movement with Positive Reinforcement

Imagine you have an overweight horse and your vet recommends: ‘No more treats!’ and ‘Exercise/Lunging’. That happened to me when Kyra got EMS when she turned 8 years old.

I wanted to lose weight, but I refused to do that with coercion (which would feel like punishment to her after 7 years of R+). So I had to find ways to motivate my overweight horse to move.

I had to start where Kyra was at: about zero. She could (barely) walk, she was so sore in her feet. Yet, she had to! So I used positive reinforcement and I paid close attention to her feedback: fast or slow, hard surface (road) or soft (arena) etc.

I went for a 30 minute hand walk, but at first we would only get to the corner of the road. She stopped so often… I waited it out and clicked for all ‘forward movement’. It didn’t take long before our 30 minute walk was actually 27 minutes of movement! We took it from there and here is the result. When you want to know more, contact me: I have a course about this.

Just starting where your horse is at, is the most important in clicker training. Then take your horse by the hand and guide him gently through the steps towards your goal. The better you do this, the quicker your horse learns.

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

Deworming Rita the (still) Unapproachable Mule

Rita, the Unapproachable Mule that I’m working with in the Donkey Refuge is making progress! I still can’t approach her so close that I can touch her, but she comes pretty close to me now.

Husbandry skill: deworming

The herd she’s in (all donkeys, she’s the only mule) needed their deworming done. Rita hasn’t been dewormed in 6 years because there is NO WAY you can approach her.

They have tried everything and even tried to sedate her in the hope they could get her, touch her or approach her, but nothing worked…

When I started with positive reinforcement (May 2022), it was really hard. I had to learn Rita’s language (I never worked with a mule before and Rita was on top of that very, very traumatized. Still is!)

Anyway, two weeks ago the herd needed to be dewormed and Rita too.

The staff makes these ‘food balls’ with soaked pelleted and sweet food, in which most animal would eat their meds.

Not Rita!

We tried putting the dewormer in these magical balls because she did take them with her antibiotics last month when she got hurt!

Rita bit into the ball and spit it right out! Yak!

I thought, why risk damaging the trust by ‘tricking’ her into eating the dewormer paste?

Here comes Key to Success #1 for Trainers: Principles of Learning & Motivation!

Instead of tricking her, I made sure that every interaction with the food ball with dewormer was positively reinforced.

I
nstead of putting the dewormer in the inside, I asked the staff to put it on the outside… (Yes, they gave me a puzzled look)The Principle is, to train Rita to accept an aversive (with positive reinforcement and choice).

Choices in Training

I gave her choices: There was more to eat than just the ball with dewormer, she got treats (normal food pellets) in other food bowls and on mats.

The aim of deworming training was simply to teach her that the smell is OK. I put food around the edible “deworming ball”

t took a while for her to approach the deworming ball, since she was unpleasantly surprised before when she bit in one of them and got a (not so nice) surprise…🤮

Next step in the deworming training

Reinforcing her to touch the food ball. Again, deworming was on the outside of this edible ball. That took also a few training sessions to teach her to touch it consistently. Goal was to make the smell (and later taste, too) familiar and to associate it with good things happening.

Then I reinforced ‘using her lips to touch’ it and also reinforced pushing it with her chin against the rim of the food bowl and so she squeezed it. At the end of our training she finally ate part of the ball!

Training after that, she ate part of the dewormer food ball, again.

Last training she ate the whole ball, at the end of our 1-hour training. The training after that, she ate it again. All of it. It took her a whole hour again!

Today she choose the food bowl with the dewormer ball first! Which was interesting!! And gave hope! Within the first 15 minutes of our training she ate the ball! WIN! 

Each ball has just a few ml of dewormer on it, but this is such a promising start!

I hope to get her dewormed within the next 3 sessions. I’ll keep you posted!!

What are YOU working on?

I would love to hear from you! What are you working on with your horse right now? I would love to get to know you. Tell me about your horse and your clicker training in the comments!

When you’re struggling with husbandry skills or have a dream behaviour that you want to train and could use some help? Consider joining our Clicker Community.

  • Personal feedback and coaching in a group! You’re not a number in the Academy: we want to know you and your horse(s)!
  • We help you develop and enhance the bond you want with your horse using force-free training
  • We teach you how to become an autonomous, confident clicker trainer that can train anything she wants!
  • We offer an awesome, supportive clicker community with like-minded horse people!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

The Confident Clicker Trainer

Clicker Training almost always enhances and enriches horse-human friendships. But even the most compassionate trainer can sometimes do things they regret, like falling back on coercion when their horse doesn’t listen.

Join my free 3-part training

This 3-part series offers strategies for clicker trainers that support and enhance the bond with your horse in training. Learn to make the right choices, even on bad days.

This masterplan prevents you from taking it out on your horse and damaging the trust bond, you’ve so carefully built.

Saturday December 10

Part 1: How to stay loyal to ethical training even when you’re pressured to fall back on traditional training.

Sunday December 11

Part 2: Defining a clear vision for your goals with your horse.

Monday December 12

Training 3: Step-by-step plan to implement positive reinforcement so that you accomplish your dream behaviours with clicker training.

Stop having regrets or feeling guilty when frustration kicks in. Your horse needs your friendship and guidance, so he can thrive in training.

Register to get the Zoom link. By registering you give permission to be added to HippoLogic’s mailinglist (from which you can unsubscribe anytime). I will be sending out worksheets, reminders and a link to our Facebook group.
Join us on Facebook

Happy Horse training!
See you on Zoom!

Sandra

What to do when your horse gets chubby (Fionn’s progress)

Fionn and Odin are getting a tad bit chubby! They have to get back to a healthy weight asap! I would like them to be like this. This photo was taken in May 2022. Fionn (right) looks a bit chubbier because he has a different build than Odin (left), who is more elegant.

I started to develop ways to teach horses to offer movement in 2016, when Kyra got laminitis and was a 9 out of 9 on the body score index.

Kyra even got rain puddles on her back when it rained. Yet, I told myself she was “OK”. After all, she was (fat and) healthy for the first 8 years of her life… So, I postponed doing something about it. Because I just didn’t know how!

I started exercising her, but I got discouraged… I stopped. I told myself ‘It isn’t that badShe’s a barok horse.”. I did what I could: slow feeders and less food at night…

Exercising enough with positive reinforcement was hard. It “didn’t work” and I didn’t kept going with it. In hind sight I expected too much, too soon (‘lumping’) and quit. I wish I had known then what I know now.

Little did I know that EMS shows itself between 9 and 12 years of age. She just turned 9 and one month later… Laminitis! I won’t let that happen again.

Fionn and Odin gained a bit of weight in August and I’m doing everything I learned, in order to reverse that. I’ll d get them back at a healthier weight, before it’s too late. I know now how to do this with clicker training. I don’t have to worry about damaging the bond I built with both of them in the past 10 months, since I got them.

Here’s what I learned training overweight horses back to health

  • Laminitis can be prevented! And healed.
  • Obesity in horses can be managed (even when horses suffer from diseases like EMS)
  • Most regular weightless advise damages other parts of the welfare of the horse (like putting them in solitary confinement and/or on a crash diet that the vet advised me for Kyra)
  • You can get them healthy and HAPPY while helping them to lose weight with exercising and management changes

Most important of all:
What you have to do when your horse gets sick (laminitis) is only temporarily! I spent 2-3 hours, 7 days a week during the first 6 – 8 weeks or so to get Kyra back to health!

It’s important to realize that, when you’re in a similar situation: This is not forever! And… when you prevent your horse from getting sick, you’ll save lots of time, effort, money and worry!

You have to put in a huge amount of time, effort and money to nurse your horse back to health once he gets sick.

Once I got Kyra to a healthy weight and laminitis free I could change back to my regular amount of spending time with her. It was devastating to see her suffer! The amount of worry and sleepless nights (apart from the financial burden of a sick horse 😉 ) is huge!

Mini’s and laminitis

This time I will do anything to prevent this from happening. Especially because I know miniature horses/ponies are prone to EMS and laminitis.

I’ll keep you posted with some of my training. I’m so happy that I know exactly what to do now and I don’t have to look the other way, until the vet would confront me with some bad news. I won’t let that happen again!

Videos of Movement Training with Positive Reinforcement

From the blog R+ Movement Training for Overweight Horses
Here’s how to start. This doesn’t look like anything of the goal behaviour! After all, this is not negative reinforcement! Watch the second video of training day 4 to get the idea what it will look like eventually when we built duration.

Fionn at training day 4: the target is been faded out and my body language is getting smaller and smaller already.

More reading

Tips for Treats

Move Your Horse with a Click

Do you really need to stop giving treats in training when your horse needs to lose weight?

Join R+ (movement) Training for Overweight Horses Program

Is your horse overweight? Did the vet recommended: No more treats!” or “More exercise” to get your horse in shape? Join my R+ for Overweight Horses program. We’ll address your biggest struggle in getting your horse to move with positive reinforcement. You can only join after a personal conversation, so I can tailor this 2-week online coaching program towards your horse, your situation and your needs! You can book a call here.

If you want to get better at things like:

  • Building duration in exercising your horse with R+
  • Getting your horse in shape and lose weight without a crash diet
  • Creating fun in movement training so you don’t have to keep running along

This is for you. Check out the information page here!

Sandra Poppema, BSc

Founder of the HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Sandra Poppema BSc HippoLogic Clicker training coach

If you liked this read, please share or share your comment below!

R+ Movement Training for Overweight Horses

Teach your horse in 3 simple steps forward movement at liberty. Use positive reinforcement (R+), so that moving becomes appetitive! Stop struggling and running along when you exercise your horse at liberty! Let your horse do the movement! Show him that it pays off. Teach him to love it, so he’ll offer active walks, trots and canters.

Step 1

Teach your horse to move around a cone!

Advantages are plenty:

  • No need to build a Reverse Round Pen
  • No lengthy set up and clean up time
  • No running along with your horse (after all, he’s the one that needs the exercise, right? ;-))
  • No target stick that becomes a crutch and difficult to fade out

How to do it

Reinforce the slightest try. In this video you’ll see, that the start won’t look anything like the goal behaviour at all! Be patience! This is not negative reinforcement where you can almost see the end goal behaviour immediately!

Step 2

Teach your horse to Leave the Cone Alone. Not only teaching him to ignore the cone, but also to leave the cone. And be good with this!
When you taught him that, you can teach him to go to the next cone, and the next.

How to do it

Reinforce the slightest try. Don’t be afraid to click and treat plenty. Especially in the beginning! Until your horse gets the idea.

You’re building Confidence with your clicks! And you give your horse Clarity with your clicks! Both very important to build a bond with your horse in the process. Win-win.

Step 3

Add cones: two cones, three and then four.

Once you have 4 cones you can shape your square into a rectangle. I call it the (HippoLogic) Reverse Rectangle. I took the Reverse Round Pen idea just one step further. This makes it easier for the horse, and … no clean up time!

Advantages of working your horse in a Rectangular shape:

  • Creating straight lines to move along, are much easier for your horse than to keep moving in circles (which is very hard and unnatural)
  • When it’s easier for your (overweight) horse, it’s probably way less aversive as when the exercise (going around in circles) is hard
  • The short sides gives you plenty of opportunity to reach your horse to feed him
  • Corners will help make your horse use his inner hind leg and balance him
  • Corners will help teach your horse to use his body well
  • Alternating a corner with a straight line will allow your horse to relax after a bend. This makes exercising easier and more appetitive than working on a circle or small square.
Train Your Horse to OFFER movement with R+

Join R+ (movement) Training for Overweight Horses Program

Is your horse overweight? Did the vet recommended: No more treats!” or “More exercise” to get your horse in shape? Join my R+ for Overweight Horses program. We’ll address your biggest struggle in getting your horse to move with positive reinforcement. You can only join after a personal conversation, so I can tailor this 2-week online coaching program towards your horse, your situation and your needs! You can book a call here.

If you want to get better at things like:

  • Building duration in exercising your horse with R+
  • Getting your horse in shape and lose weight without a crash diet
  • Creating fun in movement training so you don’t have to keep running along

This is for you. Check out the information page here!

Sandra Poppema, BSc

Founder of the HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Sandra Poppema BSc HippoLogic Clicker training coach

5 Reasons to make a Dream Board for Your Horse Today

Many horse women tell me “I can’t trail ride, because my horse is herd bound and therefor it’s not safe to take him out.” Or they tell me they don’t know how to help their herd bound horse overcome his separation anxiety. It breaks my heart to hear when people have totally accomplishable dreams and yet they can’t make them happen. Here’s how a dream board can help you!

Make Your Dreams Happen

The only way to make your dreams come true is to have a clear vision of what you want. This sounds like an open stall door, and it is.

I always say: “If you want to go somewhere (accomplish something) you need to know where you want to go. ‘Anywhere’ is not a place on the map.”

Reason #1: A Dream Board will help your brain focus!

When you make a Vision Board you create your personal road map for your equestrian dreams!

By making a Dream Board you make the decision: this is what I want! The moment you do that, all kind of amazing things happen in your brain!

With making a decision about what you want, you put this in your unconscious mind. Now that part of the brain will go searching for ways to get it! It’s really cool!

When I was in high school I fell head over heels in love with a boy in my class. He had an oldtimer car, a white Lada. Whenever I was biking though the city I wished I ran into him.

I thought it was a special car, since I never saw one before… Every time I saw a white Lada, my heart made a little jump: Is that him?!

Amazingly, suddenly the whole city was full of tiny old, rusty white Lada’s! They were all white! (That’s because my brain was’t looking for yellow, green or silver ones).

Kyra, a wild horse born in a nature reserve

Put your brain to work! Pick a goal, but be specific! Don’t look for “Lada’s”, look for a tiny, old, white rusty Lada with a specific motor sound!

Pick your ‘destination’ and be specific! Give your brain a treasure map: That’s what I want! Your subconscious brain will help you find it!

When I made my Dream Board when I was a little girl, I wanted to ‘tame a wild horse’. Impossible right? I lived in The Netherlands, a very tiny country with lots of cities and people.

Yet, when I got an offer to get a horse that was born in a nature reserve, and was actually wild, I jumped on the opportunity!

I never tamed a wild horse! But, because I recognized this was one of my wildest dreams, I decided to say Yes!

It still was very scary to take on this responsibility, to be honest! I did it and that’s how I got Kyra! She was super herd bound and positive reinforcement training turned out to be my solution. Kyra became a confident horse that I could take out on trails. Safely! Without a bit!

Reason #2 A Dream Board is a Visual Tool (and your brain loves pictures!)

Have you ever noticed that your brain works in pictures? Yes, the voice in your head is a sound and uses language, but really your brain loves pictures.

When you think of your horse, you see him in front of you. You know how his manes feel, his warm neck when you stroke him. You can remember the smell of his warm breath on your face. How he lifts up his head in the pasture when he hears your voice…

Did you ‘see’ your horse when you read this? That’s your brain making images!

When you collect images, they’ll become powerful reminders!

Making a bucket list and writing it down works, too! By writing in detail what you want, your brain will create the image for you.

But finding a picture that symbolizes what you want, is even more powerful! A pictures says more than a thousand words!

When you want to trail ride but your horse is currently very herd bound, you might envision what could happen. Maybe you’re afraid he’ll rear, buck and run back…

But when you put pictures on your Dream Board that represents safe, fun, calm and controlled trail riding, it looks like this:

You get more of what you focus on.

You decide: fun and happy trail rides? Or scary ones? Most people focus on (have an image of) the scary things that could happen and things they want to avoid…. Focus on what you want! Your Dream Board will help you do that!

Reason #3 Making a Dream Board is fun!

Making a Dream Board for your horse is FUN! You can let your imagination run free! With the internet you can easily find images (no more magazine clippings!) that suits your dreams perfectly!

See what others have on their dream board in our Academy! How they are making their dreams come true and how they do it. Get inspired and expand your mind of what’s possible for you and your horse!

Reason #4 Create a powerful Reminder of Why you have a horse

Once you have your dream board ready, and you’ll place it where you can see it on a regular basis, you have a powerful reminder why you got a horse in the first place! To enjoy! To have fun with, to enjoy nature or to love and be loved.

Reason #5 It makes your life Easier!

Once you have a Dream Board or Vision Board for your Equestrian Dreams, it will make it your life easier. When you exactly know what you’re looking for you can easily recognize and find:

  • The right boarding facility (adjacent to trails or the beach, where you can enjoy being in nature with your horse)
  • Your dream horse. When you really want to ride, you won’t end up buying a rescue that you can’t ride. But when you want to develop a deep relationship with your horse, that same rescue horse might be the perfect choice for you.
  • A mentor or coach that can help you accomplish what you want. If you want to train your horse yourself, you’ll find someone that can coach you to do it. If you’re really specific and want to train your horse with clicker training find someone that can help you do that!

Start Today

Now you have 5 very good reasons for making a Dream Board for you and your horse, why not start today? I would love to see your dream board! If you’re on Facebook please tag me!

Do you want to do this in a group? Join our workshop. The last Saturday of September we’ll start the Clicker Training Academy year off with making a Vision Board for our Horses for the coming year! Because I know how powerful having your own Dream Board is, and how much it will help to make your dreams come true, it’s a invaluable tool for your clicker training.

If you would like to join our workshop Dream Board for Your Horse, book a call with me. Here’s my calendar.

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

What would you like to accomplish with your horse in 12 months?

What is ONE thing you would love to accomplish with your horse (using R+) within the next 12 months?

That’s one of the questions I asked my Facebook community and I’m looking forward to the answers everyone gives.

The answer is of course, very individual. When I ask this question, most people don’t have an answer right away.

I think this is a good question to ponder about and let it sink in: What would make your heart sing, if you could do X with your horse?

Benefits of writing your goals down

When people have a goal write it down AND share it, they immediately increased the likelihood of accomplishing it!

Please share yours below!

In the Clicker Training Academy we have monthly interactive workshops on Zoom. In September we’re going to create a ONE YEAR Personal Clicker Training Plan for each member! It’s about:

✅ Becoming aware of your wishes for your horse

✅ Creating your personal guideline for your clicker training

✅ Working diligently towards your Personal goals with clicker training.

✅ Living the life you want, accomplishing what you wish to do with your horse

Send me a n email (hippologic@clickertraining.ca) if you want to hear more about the workshop or the Academy.

What will you accomplish with clicker training?

It will be so much fun to look back in 12 months from now and see how MUCH you’ve accomplished, just because you created a focus!

I would love to tag you in one year in this very same post to ask you: “How much of your goals have you accomplished?” ❤

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

Teach Your Horse to Behave on Grass (Grass Training)

This article has moved to my own website: https://clickertraining.ca/teach-your-horse-to-behave-on-grass-grass-training/

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, BSc

PS if you’re going to visit my site, why don’t you join my FREE Clicker Training course!

Need help training your horse?

Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!

Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.

Book here

Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy

Join us!

HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy transforms horsewomen into clicker trainsters
https://mailchi.mp/5d676526ba5a/clicker-training-academy

No #1 Tip for Equestrians in Shedding Season

In one of the Facebook groups I am in, I posted a video of all the hair Kyra is shedding and I asked: ‘What is your number 1 tip in shedding season?’

Get a vacuum

Lots of people replied with ‘shop vac’. For who don’t know what that is, it’s a heavy duty wet/dry vacuum. They are fairly inexpensive (cheaper than an equine grooming vac and also bigger). You can buy a curry (brush) to attach, so you can groom and vacuum the hair off of your horse at the same time.

I bought a curry for dogs since that was the only one I could find online. It’s a bit small with 3 inch diameter but it works great!

First I thought it was a bit snobbish to vacuum my horse, yes I admit. I thought this is only for people who want to be done quickly.

I can tell from experience: I’m spending more time with Kyra. She loves the shop vac! Since I don’t have to spent time raking and cleaning up after a grooming session that’s time I now can spent connecting with Kyra. With the shop vac I spent more time grooming instead of less, because it’s fun! It’s so rewarding to get all that hair off of her.

Shop vac are awesome in grooming your horse! Cheap and they work well wet and dry. They handle lots of sand and hair!

Training Plan to Introduce a Vacuum To Your Horse

I only needed three 5 min at liberty sessions to be sure Kyra would be good with the shopvac. This was my shaping plan in 3 steps.

I always try to incorporate 5 senses when introducing a new potentially scary object: vision (observe the scary object), then investigate the object with smell and touch (nose, teeth). They might want to taste it (licking) too. It’s all part of investigating. The sense hearing comes into play with unknown objects that make sound, like a vacuum.


1. Introducing “The Thing”

I let Kyra inspect and investigate it. Approaching, sniffing and engaging (as long as it doesn’t damage the shop vac) is all clicked and reinforced with medium to high value treats. Kyra is at liberty in the out door arena so she can determine the distance between her and the vacuum and determine her own pace of investigating and satisfying curiosity.

Then I walked around with the shop vac and I click and reinforce ‘standing still’. She’s at liberty and can move away if she wants. I make sure she stays under threshold and pay attention to her body language. I do this because later on I need to move the shop vac near her hindquarters, front and sides.

2. The sound

Repeat step 1 but now the shop vac is ON and makes noise.I click and treat generously so the sound only will be associated with good things happening.

3. The ‘Feel’ (suction)

Now the last part is to introduce Kyra to the ‘feel’ (suction) of the vac! Make sure the horse doesn’t get bad experiences. For me it was a bit scary when Kyra wanted to sniff the hose/curry. I prevented her nose to be stuck or sucked onto the tube/brush with my hand.

Beware of Static Electricity!

People also gave me a heads up about static electricity and using lots of Static Guard (a spray you can find in the laundry department of your supermarket to eliminate static). Kyra is already great with spray cans so that was not part of this shaping plan.

Click the FB icoon to watch Kyra’s video on Facebook.

Result

It only took a few sessions for Kyra to realize how the vac helps her to get rid of the loose hair.

She really enjoys the vacuuming and I use it as reward for behaving and cooperating while after changing the dressings on her infected hoof (see this blog).

In 30 minutes I get 10 times as much hair off of her than with currying manually! So it works GREAT!

Questions about how to train this yourself? Contact me (hippologic@gmail.com) I offer online horse training support.

If you have trouble introducing and using a vacuum with your horse you’re probably ‘lumping‘. I can help you make a proper shaping plan.

7 Reasons of why this is my no #1 Tip for Shedding Horses

  1. My Horse loves it!
  2. I don’t end up with dust behind my hard contacts (that really hurts my eyes)
  3. I spent more time grooming than cleaning
  4. No more raking after grooming
  5. No more hairs flying around ending up in your mouth
  6. About 97% LESS horse hair on your own cloth (just an estimate) that gets in your car and home
  7. My horse loves it. Oh, yes I said that already…

Join HippoLogic’s Facebook group

Become a member of our Happy Herd on Facebook and get access to my Facebook LIVE’s.

Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
Establishing, Enhancing and Excelling Horse-Human Relationships with Positive Reinforcement

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Do you want a well behaved horse on and around grass? Check out my Grass Training clicker course and enhance the bond with your horse.

Grass Training (online course)

 

Use Target Training for Horses two times more effectively

Find the blog you’re looking for, here: https://clickertraining.ca/how-to-use-target-training-for-horses-2-times-more-effectively/

Make sure you subscribe and follow the new blog location!

Join HippoLogic’s Facebook group

Become a member of our Happy Herd on Facebook and get access to my Facebook LIVE’s.

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 make training a win-win.
Get your free 5 Step Clicker Training Plan.

 

5 Benefits of having a System in your Training

Sometimes people think positive reinforcement doesn’t fit into a system because this training method is horse-centered.

HippoLogic online clicker training academy

They figure since every horse and every situation is different, it’s impossible to create a system. You know what? It’s true that every horse, every training and every trainer is different.

If you focus on what every training, every horse and every trainer needs and what they all have in common, you have the fundamentals to create a system. That’s what I’ve been looking for the past decade and that’s how I discovered the Key Lessons in positive reinforcement horse training. They derive from those fundamental pillars I will explain here.

Benefit #1 Clarity

With a system comes clarity and with clarity you know where you are in your training and where you want to go.

Benefit #2 Goals

Now you have clarity it’s easy to set goals and get results in your training.

Benefit #3 Action

When you have clarity  and goals in your training you know what your action must look like! Instead of taking different approaches at the same time, now you know exactly what step comes first. This is setting yourself (and your horse!) up for success!

Benefit #4 Meaning

With clarity and a goal comes meaning, especially if you base your goals on you values. What values are important to you in training? Horse first? Results first? Fun first? Welfare? Clear communication? What values are in your top 5 for horse training?

#5 Momentum

When you have action and clarity you get momentum in you training. We all know how awesome that feeling is!

There are two more benefits! You don’t think these 5 are enough?

Join me in this free webinar to hear more about HippoLogic’s training system. Click here to get an email with the link to our online classroom.

Free discovery session with Sandra

Want to hear more about HippoLogic’s training system in person? Book your FREE Discovery Session to get a glimpse of a new future with your horse. In this 60 min conversation we’ll explore:

– Your hopes and dreams and goals so that we can see what’s possible for you and your horse
– 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.

At the end of the call I’ll give you some ideas and advice for your next steps and if it looks like a fit, we can explore what it looks like to work together.

To get started, simply book your free session here.

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
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’s free and it comes with a gift) or visit HippoLogic’s website.
Follow my blog  on Bloglovin

_A dream without a plan is just a wish_Hippologic_equestrian goal setting

Join me in this free webinar to hear more about HippoLogic’s training system. Click here to get the link to our Zoom meeting.

6 steps to start riding with the clicker (4/6)

How to take positive reinforcement and use it in riding? I will share practical tips in other blogs, but let’s focus on preparation. How can you make yourself successful?

Key Lesson for Riders #4: Training Journal

The only way to know if you are making progress in riding with positive reinforcement is to keep track. A training journal is the best tool to do this. Science has proven that if you write things down you can remember it better. You can also reflect better by yourself if you put things in writing.

_traininglogbook hippologic sandra poppemaDo you want a training journal that helps you improve your riding skills? Don’t use it as a diary, use it as the powerful training tool it can be. In a diary you write down what you’ve done and how you felt about it. My training diaries from 20 years ago are all similar and I read things like: ‘I rode, it was fun but the canter sucked. I did 3 tracks and every time my pony fell to trot all by himself.’ Maybe I added my opinion about my pony that day, but this is not constructive and didn’t help me improve and develop my skills.

Only when I got my horse Kyra (she was born in a nature reserve and totally feral when I got her) I started to change how I used my training journal. That’s how I know it took me 3 weeks to tame and train her. With that I mean: Kyra changed from trying to run away from me and climb the opposite stall wall when I opened the door to a horse that actively sought out my presence, wanted to be haltered (and cooperated by keeping her head low), allowed me to touch her all over, including her legs and belly. I could lift her legs and cleaned her hoofd. And… I made a start to lead her over the premises. If I didn’t kept that journal I would have forgotten!

Tip #1 for a Training Journal that works

Keep it positive so you will read it back. If you write down how horrible rider you were today, it’s no fun to read back and you won’t learn from it!light-bulb-1926533_640

I have experimented the last 10 years with keeping journals and what made it easy and most useful. I advise my students to put at least 3 things that went well in it. It can be just 3 bullet points. This will make you feel good and motivated. I also ask my students to reflect and write down 1 (only 1!) point that they want to improve.
Did you notice I didn’t write ‘one thing that went wrong’? No I want one learning point, so next time you know what to pay attention to. This will help you learn faster!

If you had ‘failures’, call them learning points if the word ‘failure’ makes you feel bad. ‘failing’ is the way we learn. After being a success coach for 8 years I don’t feel bad anymore when I hear the word ‘failure’ because it gets me all excited: Yeey, there is something to learn! I LOVE learning! This is how most of us feel about failures. So until then, start changing your language into positive language.

Failure → opportunity to learn, learning point
‘X went wrong’ → I learned Y (canter sucked → I learned to pay attention to transitions/my balance/and so on)
My horse sucked at X → I got feedback/information about X from my horse
My horse refused to do X → My horse was [reason/cause eg scared] to do X today

Tip #2 for a Training Journal that works

Connect‘ it to your Key Lesson for Riders: Shaping Plan. Make sure you work on the things you planned to do and give yourself feedback in your training journal about the one thing you wanted and worked on. After your training you might notice that you have to adjust your shaping plan.

If you trained under saddle what you had in mind, you are going in the right direction to accomplish your dreams (step 1 Key Lesson for Riders: Training Plan).Set Your Equestrian Goals and Achieve them_HippoLogic

Of course it can happen that you decide not to go with your next step in your Training and Shaping plan. That happens: it’s too stormy and it might not be safe to ride. Write that down too and the reason you decided to change plans. You might discover a pattern after a while…

All this gives you valuable information about how you train and also how often you train. If you stick to the plan, and if you won’t you can figure out how you can change your plans. Maybe they are a bit too advanced or the opposite: not challenging enough.
Some people tell me they don’t like to do all that stuff, that’s too much effort. Those are the people who keep at the same level year after year and don’t improve their riding skills. Some even buy a different horse. This won’t solve the cause: if you’re not evolving, you won’t improve. Yes, it is work! How much are you really willing to improve? With a little bit of help it’s not hard. I provide my students with templates that are quick and easy to use. Make this a habit.

Tip #3 for a Training Journal that works

Celebrate your successes; big and small! I love to celebrate my milestones with a picture or a short video of the behaviour I accomplished. These might not be impressive to other people, but they are important to you. So make sure you share them only with your tribe: the people that enjoy your successes and know how important it is for YOU.

I have videos of Kyra of the first few rides I ever did. For an outsider they are as interesting as watching pain dry. Why? Nothing spectacular is happening for them. For me it is: This is Kyra who is my first horse that I started under saddle with R+. How exciting is that? I rode her the fourth time all by myself, with no assistance. This was also a crown to my preparation work: hours and hours of practising the HippoLogic Key Lessons, all work-in-hand, long reins, teaching her verbal cues and making her feel comfortable with me and everything around her (she was after all a wild horse).

Training journal

I also made photo books of every year with our milestones. I love to go through them, because they make me realize how much we’ve accomplished.

Questions?

Free discovery call with Sandra

If you want to get to know me or have questions about clicker training from the saddle and how I can help you with that, book your free discovery call. Plan your call in my calendar. They usually take 60 minutes because I really want to get to know you and your horse.

Ultimate Horse Training Formula, Your Key to Success 

_key to success_hippologic1

Would you like to use clicker training in your every day training, learn to use it in all situations and for all horses, even in the saddle?

Do you want…

  • a well-trained horse? Trained by you?
  • more knowledge and skills to clicker train horses?
  • more confidence in your training skills?

If you are ready to get the results in riding and training you really, really want, the Ultimate Horse Training Formula is perfect for you.

You’ll improve your training skills and you’ll develop skills trainers need in order to be successful, because my specialty is to help people implement their knowledge into practice.

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
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 HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free and it comes with a gift) or visit HippoLogic’s website and join my online course Ultimate Horse Training Formula in which you learn the Key Lessons, Your Key to Success in Clicker Training.
Follow my blog on Bloglovin

Next blog: Emotions in riding. How they influence your results. What emotions do you want to redirect (and how to do it). Not only the rider’s emotions are important, also the horse’s emotions need to be addressed.

tack free riding bridleless bareback

Tack free riding was one of my childhood dreams!

6 Steps to Start Riding with Positive Reinforcement (2/6)

‘How do you implement clicker training under saddle?’, is a question many equestrians ask themselves. The answer is simple: the same way you implemented it from the ground. So, how do we start best?

First you have to learn the principles of Learning and Motivation, see this part 1 of this series. Step 2 is to set a goal.

Key Lessons for Riders #2: Training Plan

You have to start with the ‘end in mind’: set a clear goal. The more clear your goal is, the easier it is to accomplish. When you have a clear goal you can divide it into smaller steps. Something that is very hard to do with a vague goal. Then it’s also easier to cross off each smaller step. That also feels really good: if you can cross off a sub goal. It keeps you motivated! So those are 3 valuable tips already: set a clear goal, divide it into smaller steps, cross off each step when accomplished.HippoLogic advises to use checklist and write down your horse training goals

Write your goal down in your Training Plan. Here are some more tips that will help you write your Training Plan.

Tip 1 For a Training Plan that actually works

Take a good clear look at your values! What values do you have and do they fit your goal? Maybe they don’t fit in your goal? It not, than you have to revise your goal.

Here can you find list of values, take a look and what values do you feel fit your way of horse training and horse riding? Some of my values that are important in my riding and training are are love, integrity, animal welfare, intrinsic value of the horse, honesty, skills and trust(worthy).

When I took my personal values into account suddenly it became clear: my goal to be an _trailride1competition dressage rider wasn’t compatible with my values. Animal welfare is very high on my list. In the 80’s and 90’s pulling the horse behind the vertical was very much rewarded by judges. Riding with a double bit and spurs didn’t fit either: Less is More, right? I wondered what I loved about the riding dressage competitions and if I could take that and honour my values? I loved: riding for an audience, inspire people what you can accomplish with good riding and training and how beautiful it is to see a rider and her horse in total harmony. It took a few sessions with my mentor to figure it out.

Finally I came to the conclusion that riding in a show- or demo team would fit: no judges or rules what to do and when to do it (even if the horse isn’t ready in that moment, or feeling pressured to perform at cost of the horse). If you write your own choreography and something happens you can go with the flow of your horse and still give a wonderful show.

Yes, that would make perfect sense! Suddenly I had my motivation back for riding. Then something amazing happened: I saw a small ad in somewhere. A showteam with Andalusian stallions was looking for team members! That’s how I became a member of Showteam Alegría. I was part of Alegría for years and we did many performances. Unfortunately Kyra and I moved to Canada before Kyra was under saddle, so I never actually rode but it was such a great experience and so much fun.

Tip 2 For a Training Plan that actually works

Once you’ve determined a clear goal which fit your values the next step is to divide it_reinforcing_rider_hippologic into smaller steps. What does your horse need in order to get to your goal?

‘Riding in a show/demo team’ is a clear goal, because the choreography was designed by ourselves and fitted all individual horses. The next step was to ask myself what Kyra needed to master?

If I give shows she needs to become a good traveller (trailer loading), she needs to be calm and confident around music, lots of people, applause, dogs, strollers and a million other things (despooking/mind set) and she needs to master her exercises for the performance (trick training, long reining -> “ground work”). In order to perform, the horse also needs to be OK with grooming, being washed, braided and so on (husbandry skills). So my pillars in my training plan became: Husbandry skills, Mindset, Groundwork and Riding. That’s what I teach my students to do, too.

This helped me very much to make a visual. Here is an example of a training plan for dressage test level 4. I would train all exercises of the test first in from the ground (long reins, work-in-hand or at liberty) before training them under saddle.

You can make this as detailed as you need, depending on what your horse needs. A lot of this is also applicable if you want your horse to become a reliable trail horse.

training-plan-example

Tip 3 For a Training Plan that actually works

Now you have a detailed Training Plan you can seek out the perfect instructor/mentor for the knowledge and skills you need to learn or improve. If you are not familiar with despooking your horse using positive reinforcement only or don’t know how to teach your horse lateral gaits, find some one who does. You can contact me, for instance.

Together with your values it will be much easier to find a mentor/coach that can help you achieve your goals. This safes time and money! How many clinics have you

unicorn-1981220_640

attended that you thought would be helpful and awesome only to be a disappointed and go home disillusioned because ‘in harmony’ or ‘positive horsemanship’ was not what you had in mind when you booked yourself a seat.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s way easier to find. Even if you feels you’re looking for an unicorn.

I hope this gave you some ideas.

PS I am currently working on an online workshop to help equestrians with making their own personalized Training Plan. Contact me if you’re interested in this interactive workshop. I would love to know if there is enough interest to make this happen.

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!

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
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.

Start for free!

Book a free 60 minute Discovery Session to get a glimpse of a new future with your horse. In this conversation we’ll explore:

  • Your hopes and dreams and goals so that we can see what’s possible for you and your horse

    Key to Success in Horse Training

    Your Key to Success

  • 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.

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.

Follow my blog  on Bloglovin

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5 Steps to Accomplish Your Equestrian Goals in 2019

For those who are following my blog or my students it is obvious: I like to accomplish things! It also makes me very happy if I see other people accomplish their goals! That is why we live, right. To evolve and learn and enjoy life!

Goal setting? But horse riding is my hobby…

target-2303326_1920Not much horse owners think in ‘goals’ if they think about their horse. It’s a hobby so they don’t think it applies. I think it does!

Remember why you bought your horse in the first place: to ride, to trail ride, to drive or to have fun with (specify that). Are you?

There are your goals. They are just a bit buried and you have to unwrap and reveil them. ‘Riding my horse’, what does that mean to you? Trail riding? Winning dressage competitions? Once a week a lesson with your own horse, ride 3 times a week for 20 minutes or ride 5 days a week for an hour?

Are you living your dream?

Do you do what you had in mind when you bought your horse? Yes? Congrats and I want to hear all about it (share it in a comment)! If not, why not?Set Your Equestrian Goals and Achieve them! What is your horse dream?

Maybe you did bought your horse to ride and you did ride him for many years, but he is a senior and you stopped riding. Or you did ride your horse, but fell off and now you’re scared to go back on. Or you bought a young horse and then got into clicker training and you simply don’t know where and how to start…

Step 1: Knowing what you want

If you know what you want it’s easy to get it. Sometimes you have to dig deeper and ask yourself at least 5 times ‘Why’? This gets you to the root of what you want. Why did you get this horse?
Another approach I use in my online goal setting course for equestrians is to find out what you dreamt about before you got a horse? Or go back to your childhood to get clues about your dreams and desires.

Step 2: Get help in order to speed things up

Improve your clicker training skillsWhen you know what you want you can search specifically for the help you need to get it. If you want to ride your horse with R+ or create a stronger bond than you look for an experienced positive reinforcement instructor. If you want to ride competitions you can narrow your search for an excellent rider that has didactic skills to help you too.

No one has accomplished great things on his own! You don’t have to. If you get the help you need to accomplish your goals it is time and money well spent! It saves you time, money, frustration and making unnecessary faults (that can impact the relationship with your horse or with yourself!) if you don’t want to invent the wheel again.

Don’t worry about ‘skipping the learning process’ there is plenty to learn! I speak out of experience.

Step 3: Divide your goal into achievable steps

clickertraining.ca gets you the results and relationship you want

Clicker training improves the bond with your horse

When you know what you want you can divide your goals into smaller steps. This is one of the 6 HippoLogic Key Lessons (Your Key to Success) for trainers: make a plan.

The more steps the easier it is to accomplish them. Write them down, so it becomes very clear. Don’t forget to celebrate each step in order to stay motivated!

Step 4: Find yourself an accountability partner!

This is where I see things go off track easily. It is easy to make plans, but without coming into action nothing will happen! When nothing happens you will feel bad. If you feel bad you get paralyses and voila: procrastination happens!

Laying down next to meAn accountability partner (another Key Lesson for Trainers) is the one that will help you avoid that pitfall! He or she can also motivate you and help you get new insights and ideas to accomplish your goals.

I have helped many equestrians over the years. It works! You need to get weekly accountability in order to make it work. That is what I offer in my membership program.

Your need someone to cheer you on and celebrate with you! Who can do this better than the person who knows what your starting point was!

Step 5: Keep track, so you can look back

Check list for horse trainingIn order to stay motivated through the year (some goals take time to accomplish) keep track of your accomplishments. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you haven’t accomplished much. Your brain is always looking to the horizon (that what you haven’t accomplished yet) and it is very motivating to look back once in a while to see how far you’ve already came! Keeping a training journal and filming your training sessions/riding lessons is a really good way of keeping track.

Need help? Accountability or professional support?

January 1st 2019 starts HippoLogic’s online course Ultimate Equestrian Goal Formula. You will walk away with a clear goal and a clear training plan to accomplish it.
Are you going to make your Equestrian Dream come true in 2019?

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
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 HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free and it comes with a gift) or visit HippoLogic’s website and join my online course Ultimate Horse Training Formula in which you learn the Key Lessons, Your Key to Success in Clicker Training.
Follow my blog  on Bloglovin

PS Did you know HippoLogic has a membership (accountability) program?

Keep Going Signal clicker training

Train Your Horse to be a Model

snow pictures by hippologic

December is a fun month to make beautiful pictures of you and your horse. There might be snow, you can put on a Santa hat or take a picture of you and your horse in front of a Christmas tree. How about teaching your horse to play Jingle Bells? So many ideas, where to start?_smile_tricktraining_horse_hippologic

December pictures

A few years ago I wanted to make pictures of Kyra and me. We got it done but it took way longer than anticipated and it was quite frustrating for me. Kyra didn’t want to wear the hat and keep her ears forward, she shook her head or kept her ears to the side.

Luckily with some clicker training this was solved, but it took longer. I envisioned to walk to where we wanted to make the Christmas card pictures and _avatar_60x60_Xmashippologicget it done. I didn’t envisioned that it would take way longer than one hour before the first ‘good’ picture was taken. (I made a mental note to be prepared next time.)

This year I am prepared!

Training plan

I planned to make a cute December video of Kyra and lots of Christmas themes pictures I can use the next few years. I am currently training her to ring a bell so she can “play” “Jingle bells”, wear a wreath around her neck and hand me a Santa hat. This year I will train her so it won’t be as frustrating as last time. When the person with the camera is ready, we will be ready too!

Maybe you have the same issue making December pictures of you and your horse?

Since it’s always nicer to play with friends I want to invite you to join me in this month HippoLogic Clicker Challenge if you think this will be fun.

Imagine the first day of snow and you can immediately make the perfect December video and Christmas card pictures.

bell-214297_640In one training session Kyra already learned to ring a hotel bell and ring Christmas bells. Take a  look and get inspired!

 

 

Join me in the online HippoLogic Clicker Challenge

HippoLogic Clicker Challenge December

Join us!

If you join the HippoLogic Clicker Challenge (HCC) you get the Challenge emailed to you. I made 4 different levels so if you are a beginner or seasoned clicker trainer, you will get challenged.

I provide you with 14 days online help in our FB support group so you have accountability to get it done!

The HCC runs from December 1-14, 2018. On December 14th you can upload your final video. I am looking forward to it. There are still spots available! Sign up ends Dec 4th.

(If you’re not too busy decorating your tree and buying gifts, you can enter the one that runs from Dec 15th-Dec 30th. Send me an email hippologic@gmail.com)

Click here to join

_step6mane_hanger_hippologicWant to make a DIY horse wreath? Click here (less than 30 min, no mess)

Share your l♥ve for horses

If you want to share this blog on your social media, use one of the share buttons below. It’s very much appreciated!

I love to hear from you, so please add a comment or let me know if you have a question. Share your December video in the comments! If you liked this blog, press the like button.

PS Do you know about the HippoLogic membership?

Happy Horse training!

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get results in training they really, really want. Getting results with ease and lots of fun for both horse and human is important to me. Win-win!
Sign up for HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free and it comes with a gift) or visit HippoLogic’s website and join my online course Ultimate Horse Training Formula in which you learn the Key Lessons, Your Key to Success in Clicker Training.
Follow my blog  on Bloglovin

5 Tips to Improve the Bond with Your Horse

There are many things you can do to improve the relationship with your horse. Even if you already have a great relationship you can still implement these.

1. Listen to Your Horse

Listen to your horse clickertraining.ca

Listen to what your horse communicates

Stop labeling your horse and start describing his behaviour. If you use labels you give away your power to listen. If you have a ‘stubborn’ horse, or a ‘lazy’ one or even a ‘smart cookie’ it feels if you don’t have any influence on his behaviour. Nothing is further from the truth. Study horse behaviour and spent time watching your horse.

2. Act to what your horse communicates

If your horse doesn’t want to come near a new object or doesn’t want to jump over a jump, he is telling you something about his emotions about the object. In order to improve your bond you don’t only have to listen what he has to say, you have to let him know you care. The way you do this is to make him comfortable and increase his courage and confidence about what you want him to do.

3. Break up your training in small steps

A Shaping plan consist of enough small steps for your horse to be successful in your training

Break up your clickertraining so every step leads to success

Your horse has no idea what you have planned for him today and in the future. If you are teaching him something new, make sure you set him up for success and break it down in small steps. Positively reinforce him for every effort he makes, even though it might not look like the end result yet. This is called splitting behaviour in animal training. I teach my students to set and plan their goals so they become very successful.

Milestones in horse training are always based on small steps.

4. Make training, riding and taking care of him fun

Strengthen everything you want your horse to do for  you with something he likes too. Don’t think only about you want if you value the bond with your horse. The more positive reinforcement you use (the more you give), the more you get back from your horse. All people I know that started using clicker training notice very quickly how much your horse suddenly pays attention to what you do if you use a bit of clicker training.

5. Keep track of your Training

One of my pet peeves is to keep track of your training. This helps you to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve already improved. This goes for your training as well as your relationship. My horse Kyra was wild when I got her (feral, I mean!). She didn’t want to have anything to do with me or people in general. Now she seeks out human contact and is the barn favorite. How great is her live now because of that!

clickertraining is fun

Clickertraining makes safe horses if you do it well

When you keep track (and there are many ways to do this!) you can put where you are now in perspective. We are all very tempted to only look at all things we haven’t achieved yet and that can lead to feeling like a failure. I am a fan of comparing yourself only with yourself, not with someone else. You might compare your worst with someone else’s best. That is not setting yourself up for a proud feeling!

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!

HippoLogic.jpg
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 Discovery Session to get a glimpse of a new future with your horse. In this conversation we’ll explore:

  • Your hopes and dreams and goals so that we can see what’s possible for you and your horse

    Key to Success in Horse Training

    Your Key to Success

  • 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.

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.

Follow my blog  on Bloglovin

5 Benefits of using a Shaping Plan in Horse Training

The blog you’re looking for has moved to my website: https://clickertraining.ca/5-benefits-of-using-a-shaping-plan-in-horse-training

Sandra Poppema, BSc
Founder of HippoLogic
Enhancing Horse-Human connections through clicker training

5 Steps to your Personal List of Horse Training Goals

Set Your Equestrian Goals and Achieve them_HippoLogic

In April I asked the members of my Happy Herd Facebook group  “What struggle in Horse Training would you like to overcome?” One of the answers was “I wish I had a system or list with “to work on”-goals for the week”.

Here is how you can create your personal list of training goals that keeps you going.  It is not a simple 5 step list, it’s a process. Ready? Make sure you have a pen and paper.

Here is the video

 Step 1: Personal values

Make a list of the values you find important in the relationship with your horse and in training. If you take a moment to really think about your values it will become clear why it is so hard to work on certain goals. Chances are that they don’t fit your values anymore (see step 3).

Step 2: Future goals

Think about what you would like to have accomplished in 10 years, 5 years or 1 year from now with your horse.

If that’s too difficult, think of other equestrians. Ones who you admire. What can they do with their horses, that you would like to do, too?

Are there YouTube videos about horse training that inspire you?

Or just think back before you bought your horse: what did you have in mind when you were looking for your perfect horse? What was your goal?

Step 3: Does your goal fit into your values?

What part of your goal or goals fit your values? If it all fits: Great!

Are there parts of your goals that don’t fit in with your values? No worries, now you have your list with values you can think about the part or parts that don’t fit. Think about how you can adjust your goals so they do fit.

In the video above I give an example how I made my goals fit my values.

Step 4: Split your bigger goal into smaller goals

Now you have goals that fit your values think about the different aspects of that bigger goal. For trail riding you might need to practice trailer loading to go to trails, or if you need to cross a road you want your horse to be safe in traffic (despooking) or you need to work on separating your horse from the herd.

Think about how you can split these bigger goals into smaller goals.training-plan-example

Step 5: Make a list

If you made a list of your goals and all aspects of your bigger goal you can split them even further into smaller parts. Now you can make monthly goals, weekly goals and daily training sessions.

You can dedicate each month to a specific theme: January for despooking, February for separation training, March for traffic training and so on. Or you can work each training on a tiny bit of despooking, a tiny bit of separation anxiety and a tiny bit of something else that contributes to your goal.

[Step 6:] Just do it!

The last step is to plan your sessions in your agenda and stick with them for a month to see if this works for you!

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Or simply hit the like button so I know you appreciated this blog. Thank you!

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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
My mission is to improve human-horse relationships. I reconnect horse women with their inner wisdom and teach them the principles of learning and motivation, so they become confident and skilled to train their horse in a safe and effective way that is a lot of FUN for both human and horse. Win-win.

Sign up for HippoLogic’s newsletter (it’s free and it comes with a gift) or visit HippoLogic’s website and discover my online courses that will change your life.

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