Empowering Equestrians to Train their own horse with 100% Force Free & Horse Friendly methods

Posts tagged ‘ultimate horse dream’

Attitudes to let go of… when you Clicker Train Horses

Positive reinforcement training or clicker training. This was not just “another method” to me. To me it was a completely different approach to training horses. I Secret of succes is ...was told, and I believed, that I had to “dominate” the horse otherwise he would dominate me, I had to be the “leader” to my horse and that horses “had to respect me” and I never could “let the horse win”, whatever that meant.

A step-by-step program
Then a  Natural Horsemanship method came along in my world. I was thrilled: finally a step-by-step- program that taught me “games” I could play with my horse, that sounded like fun. Yeey!

The voice in my heart
I wasn’t too happy with building up the “phases” and building more and more pressure on my pony until he moved away like it was described in the pocket books. I think I confused Sholto by starting with this NH method and clicker training tricks at the same time. Sholto tried to tell me in many ways that he didn’t agree with this “natural” training method, but the books said: “Don’t let him win”. So I kept going. I heard a little voice in my heart that said: “I don’t like this accumulating pressure thing”. I ignored that voice.

I practised my new Natural Horsemanship method with a lot of other horses. I didn’t have a real passionate connection with these horses because I hardly knew them. I found it a lot easier to apply accumulating pressure on them, but this voice in my heart kept telling me that this wasn’t really “partnership” nor “friendship” in a way I was looking for.

Clicker training changed my pony’s attitude completely
Since my pony was about 20 years old, I decided to let the NH method go and take a lot more effort in researching information about the clicker training/positive reinforcement training. After all: he was already ‘old’ and he was not suppose to learn new tricks anyway. He surprised me by learning new things so much quicker as I added re__collect_moments_hippologicwards instead of pressure. Wow, my old pony got really engaged in my training.

Instead of “dominating” my pony and what felt to me as “forcing” him into new behaviours with accumulating pressure I had to outsmart him with clicker training. Set it up for success, was very useful advice from the NH method. I still use that one. A lot.

Learning another jargon
It was really difficult to “Set Sholto up for Success” because I hardly knew what I wanted and I didn’t have a training plan to follow. So I struggled along for a few years and gained lots of knowledge during this process. I didn’t know at that time that I could let go of terms regarding “dominance”, which apparently doesn’t even exist, inter species wise speaking.

I am so relieved that I now can be my horses teacher instead of her “herd leader”, be her friend instead of being “the dominant one” and just be her “human” instead of being her “alpha mare”.

Clicker training is truly a wonderful new experience. It is not “just another training method” it became a “life style”. It is truly the journey that counts, not the destination.

Read more: 5 Tips for Starting Clicker Training

Read more: Clicker Training 101: How to introduce Your Horse to the Click

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

 

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Are your old dreams still valid?

When I was looking for a horse a few years ago a friend of mine kept asking nagging me about my ‘goals’. What was my purpose with this soon to buy horse? She was not satisfied by my vague answer ‘I just want to ride dressage’. She kept asking ‘What do you mean by ‘just’ and what does  ‘dressage’ mean to you?’.

Dressuur-amazone Annemarie Sanders-Keyzer tijdens de Olympische Spelen in Seoul 1988

Annemarie Sanders-Keyzer and Amon during the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988. Source: http://www.anp-archief.nl/page/2109653/nl

I remembered vividly the poster in my room when I was a little girl. Annemarie Sanders-Keyzer was in that picture with Amon. She rode in the Dutch dressage team in 1986 and they won a silver medal at the World Championship Dressage. In 1988 she rode in the Olympic Games in Seoul. That’s what I wanted! At least that was my dream when I was a young girl.

Many years later I still held on to this dream ‘to become a dressage rider’. In reality I don’t like competitions with animals! There is too much stress for the rider(s) and therefor too much stress for the horse(s). This is why I had to revise this equestrian dream.

I still enjoy watching good dressage. I mean: when the horse is dancing and horse and rider become one. The riding which gives you goosebumps if you watch it. Pure balance and beauty. I want this without the competition part where the riders ego often gets priority over the horses well-being.

I also have a love for classical dressage like the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. I am intrigued by the ‘airs above the ground’. There is more: I love trick training. We have a lovely word for it in Dutch that embodies the concept very well. We call it ‘freedom dressage’ and it implies that the horses are taught tricks without force or fear.

I searched for a way to get all these different dressage parts and showing it to a public, without the downsides of a competition in one goal. I found that in a demonstration/show team ‘Alegría‘.

I am the woman in the yellow Spanish dress at 0:10-0:15

I joined them while I was ‘in between horses’. I was looking for a horse and I already knew that a Lusitano or Andalusian horse would be my next choice.  Show team Alegría has as mission to promote the Iberian horse breeds. This was my chance to get a preview of what it would be like to ride dressage on an Andalusian horse in front of a public and do trick training. I really loved being part of the team. Unfortunately I immigrated to Canada before Kyra was started under saddle and I have never ridden in front of a public. But this is still my dream. I am working every day on tiny goals that help me prepare Kyra for this. _Liggen

So my thought of today is: What are your dreams? Maybe you still have an old dream from your childhood? Are those dreams still valid? If not, can you adjust your dream somehow so it fits into your standards and values you have today?

Sandra Poppema

Imagine your horse in 2020. How to start today

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Setting goals makes my life at the barn interesting. It keeps me on track. My goals are my guideline, not a straight-jacket.

Volle bos manenWithout my training goals I would be lost. I write my goals down and then I think about the things I ‘need’ in order to accomplish them. Do I need special equipment? Do I have enough knowledge? Do I need to create a special environment: ‘traffic’ if I want my horse to get used to cars, motors, tractors and so on? Does this sound a little vague? Let me give you an example. When Kyra came into my life, she was a feral filly and almost one year old.

Today Kyra is 6 years old. She is bombproof (flag, tarps, balloons etc), we did a few trail rides and I taught her to jump- instead of stumble- over cavaletti. She can walk, trot, canter, leg yield,  shoulder in, haunches in, leg yield in hand, in hand, on long reins and under saddle.

She accepts toddlers and unknown and even inexperienced riders on her back. She also has a few tricks up her sleeve like pick up and fetch objects, shake ‘No’, laying down, back crunch, kiss, standing on a pedestal, groundtying, smiling in two different ways and  more.

How did I accomplish this?

I started to find out what my ultimate horse dream looked like and then I made a 10 year plan. So my plan says that when Kyra will be 11 years old she will be experienced in Classical Dressage, she will be an excellent demonstration/show horse/trail horse/lesson horse (on her way to become a School Master) and she will be fully bomb proof and know a lot of trick training tricks. She will be still very sensitive, willing to learn, healthy, happy and physically well prepared for her ‘job’.

Kyra became a reliable and toddler proof horse

Next step was to divide my 10 year plan into a 5 year plan, 1 year plan and 12 monthly goals. I divided every monthly goal into a lot of building blocks. In this way I see each step of our progress. The first monthly goal was ‘simply’ taming her. I didn’t know how long this would take or if I could do it at all. So I made my building blocks very small, like looking at me was already worth a reward.

Within about 3 weeks I could halter Kyra, touch her all over, lift her feet and clean them and lead her over the premises. I kept a training diary, that’s how I know how long it took. I think I wouldn’t accomplish all these without a my planning and preparation. Don’t forget to keep a training journal, see this post [click here].

Sandra Poppema

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