MAKE IT EASY AND BRING CLARITY
When you’re Setting Up for Success, you’ll know how to use the environment to work for you instead of against you.
By first asking, ‘What does the behavior entail?” you can start to identify the best training conditions. For some behaviors, you may want a bright, energetic horse, for others, a quiet, attentive attitude. How can we help our horse be more inclined to give us a step in that direction? Ask yourself:
- When does my horse tend to be more energetic? When is my horse less energetic?
- When are they more focused? When are they least focused?
- Is my training session at a particular time of day? Have I adjusted it and noticed a difference?
- Is energy different on the ground versus under saddle?
- Can I use that situation to create forward movement and a brighter response to my cue, during my training session?
Let’s say we’re trying to teach the horse to stand quietly for the veterinarian to give an injection. We’ve thought out the training plan and the steps that we intend to take in order to shape this behavior. We also want to ask ourselves:
- Would it be better to work on this in the morning or the evening?
- Would it be smart to work on this during the dinner feed time?
- Would it be best to do this in a paddock with a playful foal next door?
A lot of these scenarios will most likely bring out more energy and create distraction. We would try to think of a time and place when the horse tends to be the quietest and the most relaxed. Maybe after a day of being outside in the paddock, or after a long trail ride and their dinner, when the barn is quiet. This could be a good time to help build some success with this behavior. Once we have the behavior well-established, we can begin to vary the location and times we practice, so the horse begins to understand they will be rewarded for the same behavior in different situations. By the time the vet arrives, we’ve got a solid foundation of lots of reward for standing quietly, any time, any place!