Lessons With +R

Another post I’m writing here to add to the Academy page. This month the theme is riding with +R.

I was lucky to be able to haul two horses out for a lesson yesterday. Even luckier that the lesson got to be with a trainer who, as well as being a very skilled trainer and rider, also uses positive reinforcement. If anyone hasn’t met Andrea I highly recommend checking out her page. She’s always sharing great training advice and it’s fun to see the horses she’s working on. You can find her here https://www.facebook.com/millshorsemanshipandhoofcare/

Taking lessons can be difficult when trainer and trainee don’t follow the same training principles. Some people get outright upset at the thought of feeding food while riding, or at all. Finding a trainer who is willing to allow you to train your own horse in the way that you want to is one of the most important things we need to look for in  a riding instructor. Many trainers who don’t do clicker training, or positive reinforcement themselves will still be willing to wait a moment while you reward with a treat or even get in on the game and point out places where you should be clicking.

Because we didn’t have to worry about whether we agreed on using a clicker or not, she had her own treat bag strapped on all through the lesson, we were able to get right down to business.

I was hoping to get through a few anxiety issues with Heildorf and she immediately put him to sleep with the tapping techniques she’s been working on. So we left him to sleep and got Rusty.

Rusty and I don’t have any problem areas we needed to work through so we began a basic dressage lesson to see if she could find any major holes and offer us specific things to work on.

We worked at a walk, if there are holes there then there’s no reason to start trotting. Stretching and bending were a great starting place. Being able to click him and let him know exactly where and what he offered that was what we were looking for made short work of each separate piece allowing us to move forward quickly. Andrea could instruct, I could help him find the place, and click  him for it as soon as he got there. Knowing exactly what we wanted helped him know what to offer. He could go straight back to the correct movement and avoid any stress, he gets very upset when he doesn’t understand exactly what is being asked of him. If we don’t recognize the signs he gives showing his upset it would escalate or he would quit offering all he has to give.

We were able to cover lots of ground quickly. Finding proper movement and position is LOTS of work for a horse who is out of shape. By letting him find the right thing quickly then  rest, he was able to do the work without wearing out and souring.

The lesson was wonderful and being able to click and reward him all the way through made it fun for both of us. Riding should be as enjoyable for the horse as we are able to make it. Endless drilling without any reward for the right answer is no fun for anyone.




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