Friday, July 31, 2015

A Parked Car Is Not Moving Slowly...... is not moving at all.

Rushing a horse through training is dangerous. The two most dangerous training aids ever used by humans are a calendar and a watch.

But, acceptance of a lack of progress as a virtue to prove that one is not rushing things is a dangerous trap to fall into. It stymies both horse and trainer. A horse should be trained as slowly as necessary for the horse to learn and as fast as possible for that same horse to learn.

By that I mean that horses should be trained to master each step in the process before moving to the next step, but the moment they do master that step one should  move on to the next one. The issue is not how long a step is taking. The issue is whether the step has been accomplished. When one skips a step because it is difficult, one is going too fast--regardless of how long it takes.

Years ago I spent months trying to get Ghost Dance to accept a saddle without first having her completely comfortable with all of the monsters. Some might say that I was doing good, was patient and was allowing her to learn at her own pace. That is not correct. I was failing her. She spent all of that time being stressed over my efforts to put a saddle on her. Had I spent a week working her with the monsters until she was completely relaxed she would have taken the saddle in a day. It might have been a bit of a stressful day for her, but it would not have been months spent with the stress of trying to avoid a saddle.

Teaching a horse to be comfortable with the exact same challenge week after week without moving on is not training. It is rut work.

Rut work is no more enjoyable for a horse than it is for a person.

I have often seen kids who are delighted with their horse's progress in the round pen and disappointed in their horse's inability to learn to lunge. So they quickly go back to round pen work--which the horse has mastered--because it gives the kid a sense of accomplishment by "succeeding" in the round pen instead of "failing" on the lunge line.

Clinicians can only make big money selling to those who continue to fail in their training. When they can convince an audience that that failure is evidence of their patience and moral superiority to those who get results from working a horse that audience is then prepared to buy their next video.

The picture above shows the exact opposite approach. Pam has worked slowly and patiently with this Corolla mare while at the same time moving on to the next step the moment the horse was ready. She has provided the horse with security by showing the horse that she is in control. She has built a relationship with the horse based on factors that matter to the horse-primarily the factor that the horse feels safe in her presence.

Understand the point here--had she not shown leadership to the horse she could not have progressed so quickly and more importantly she could not have produced a happy horse who is safe to be around.

Sometimes math matters and the math that matters to me in horse training is that a horse deserves to be trained with 51% control and 49% affection.

This mare is not a parked car. She is moving up and moving on.

No comments: