Cailie & Roói
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21st March 2023
It was our first time working together, although I had watched you guys working in hand on some videos., so it was about me watching how you worked together and getting to understand Rooi. The main thing we wanted to focus on today is forward motivation, and so we made sure we were really clear with what was being asked of Rooi, he's hugely sensitive and intelligent and so there is a big opportunity to learn but equally the same level of opportunity for him to become confused as you can see him trying to understand every gesture you are making.
Because if this I wanted to simplify what you were asking of him, and also how you were asking, so we broke down the two forms of training you use, positive and negative reinforcement and tried to make them super clear and simple.
What I noticed was that intitally the use of pressure was not consistent with the ask, this left Rooi with huge margins of whether he needed to focus/listen/answer or not. By simplifying how we were asking to, once you choose to apply a pressure you must keep repeating that pressure until you get the right response, this made it very clear to Rooi what he needed to do to release the pressure. We then had to work on the release and quietness Rooi needs to have the feeling of calm, making sure the moment Rooi tried to do what you wanted we removed the pressure. Initially I encouraged an immediate reward too, but as we progressed the removal of all pressure and you sitting quietly seemed to work even more than the reward of positive reinforcement.
This is something to be aware of and keep in mind, Rooi could be a horse that likes calm quiet as his reward over a lot of praise and noise. Some horses, like humans like their piece and find too much stimuli even if its positive like hugs and pats just too extreme, he may enjoy more the quiet happy energy you hold inside as a reward with a treat at times of real achievement? Just a thought and something to maybe look at and become aware of.
By being consistent with this method Rooi picked up what the go request was very quickly and was soon happily offering go as an answer even to the lift of focussed energy from you with no actual physical or vocal aid, demonstrating how sensitive he really is and how tuned in to your energy and watching of everything you do. This is really key, as any extra signals, extra noise that isn't needed out may mislead his thinking will just make it harder for him to understand what you are asking, so this is where you have to be super disciplined with what you are doing with your body and voice, keeping it very streamlined and easy for him to see and understand.
By the end of the session you both had made huge leaps forward in your progress, again demonstrating how quick learners you both are.
Things to be aware of and continue to work on:
Timing the go button more so less aid is required.
Working on more steering
Practicing sitting quietly when he is moving and stopping the habitual leg aid
Timing of release of aids, being very clear when a response is good with the release
Working through obstacles to give you both aims, try not to ever just wander, at this stage always have a point to focus on and head towards, the wandering can come much later when we know the basic aids are sorted.