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"What is the fine line between punishment and abuse"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   April 9, 2012 19:06

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"


Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson

 

A question was posed "What is the fine line between punishment and abuse"

 

The only book that I have ever seen that succinctly addressed the topic of punishment is "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider In the Principles of Classical Horsemanship", written by Alois Podhajsky who states: "Any punishment is wrong if the knowledgeable onlooker is unable to understand for what reason the punishment was administered. And in such a case, how would the horse know why he is punished? The rider with high ambitions and little knowledge will be more inclined to revert to punishment than the more experienced rider. He will try to obtain by force what he cannot achieve by the correct use of the aids....."

That said, I don't for one second pretend to be holier than anyone out there when it comes to controlling my own frustrations and emotions. To me, a relationship with a horse is like a relationship with a person. There are going to be fun times and hard times, and you're going to fight with each other and make up. When one can recognize their frustrations and inabilities as a weakness then they can educate themselves in the areas where they are weak - should they choose....and that, I think, is the line between punishment and abuse. We are all human, we all have our weaknesses, and when it comes to horses we ALL start at experience level 'Zero'....plus we don't all have experienced masters of equitation to lead us gently through the necessary learning curves. When a person is unwilling to address their own weaknesses through education, so that they may better themselves, then their repeated acts of frustration become acts of abuse.

 

There is a common saying amongst dedicated horse folk that, when it comes to horses, you stop learning when you are dead, and with the modern wonders of technology, there is endless informational and educational material available right at your fingertips.  When training horses frustrations are a fact of life....but how you handle those frustrations, and your decision on prolonging those frustrations are a matter of choice.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com


 

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single horse driving | training

Spring and Forward Impulsion!

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 24, 2012 08:46

 

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"


Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson

 

Spring is a fantastic time to work on anything that requires forward impulsion!  Horses are fresh, and they already have that forward mindset, so using the energy of your horse to your advantage can allow you to get a start on the training season, and clean up some rusty cues.

 

Activities that you can work on include things like collection, lateral work, walking with purpose, haunches, in, flying changes, piaffe, passage and extended trot.  Many times throughout the year it can be a drain to constantly push your horse forward to try and get the necessary energy out of him.  Using spring freshness to burn some energy off in your favor is a great opportunity for some wonderful training sessions that leave you both feeling like you've accomplished something!

 

Never let spring deter you from riding your horse.  If you go into the ride with the right mindset, you don't have to be intimidated by your horses spring energy level, rather you can use his natural desire to work in your favor, and go forward.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Are you creating a raving pocket monster by giving treats as a reward?

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 25, 2012 09:11

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson

 

Treats as a form of reward tends to stir up passionate feelings in the horse training industry.  It seems like there are two sides to the debate, either you love using treats as rewards, or you hate it.  As a professional trick trainer, I use treats as rewards to mold my horses behaviors, where I couldn't otherwise evoke that behavior with a physical touch but, I also realise that a horse should act independent of food as a motivating factor. 

The problem with treats actually isn't the treat...it's how the handler/trainer USES the treats that CREATES the problem.  Left to its own devices, a tidbit of food is just an inanimate object, no different than a blade of grass.  When used in conjunction with training, that same tidbit becomes either a reward, or a dreaded bribe.  You can avoid creating problems with treats if you remember one simple thing....horses EARN their treats, they are NOT owed them.  Earning a treat is the same as earning a paycheque.  If you do your job, and do it well, you get your paycheque - or in the horses case, a treat.  If you fail to do your job, or fail to do it well, then you don't get your paycheque treat.  When a treat is earned, it rarely causes a problem.

So, why do some horses turn into raving pocket monsters at the mere mention of treats, and more importantly, what can you do to avoid that? When food is used as a bribe it becomes a problem, simple as that.  Some examples of bribing a horse include; 'befriending' a horse using treats to make it 'like' you, using treats to redirect a horses misbehaviour, and indiscriminately dolling out treats for lackluster effort during training.  The 'fix' for treat monsters is really quite simple!  If you decide to use food as a motivational reward, decide ahead of time what the horse has to do to EARN the treat reward, and then stick to the plan.  Once your equine friend realises that you are no longer dispensing tasty tidbits like a broken candy machine, they will change their work ethic to earn their just reward.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com