Rewarding a "try"!
So, how do I know when a horse is trying to understand what I want? Good question. Lets say that we are working on flexing from the ground. What I WANT: is for the horse to flex his head back to the girth area of his body. That’s what I WANT. What I look for is for the horse to think about doing that. So, when I pick up the lead rope and apply light pressure and the horse starts to look in the direction I’m encouraging him to go, I let go of the pressure and rub him on the neck, tell him what a good boy he is and just let him stand there. What I WANT is not always what I GET in the beginning, but in order to help the horse understand what I’m after I have to break it down for him, in a way that he will not get nervous or scared.
Next I will ask him to flex his head a little further to his side, but noe all at once. In time, and not much of that, he will start to understand what I’m after, and because I have rewarded his TRY with a rub and a rest, he starts to understand that I will be fair and allow him a chance to rest and think about what has happened. I’m building his confidence in me and I, because I can now start to control his movements, will gain confidence and trust in him.
This same principle of “TRY” works the same way in the saddle. Let’s say we want to teach our horse to move off our leg, like in side passing down the rail. When I put my leg on my horse and he moves off my leg, I stop and reward the horse, letting him know that he had done the right thing. If I have taught him, on the ground, that giving to pressure will be rewarded, he will start to understand that if he will at least “try” things will get better.
Every horse is different to some extent. Thank goodness that they are not so different. If they were it would be very difficult for any of us to train them. They are enough alike that we can adjust our training method to suit each of them. Some are very sensitive. Others are more dominate and will require a heavier, but fair hand.
You can build “try” in your horse just like you can build it in children. You can also make “trying” impossible for horse and people. It takes a little time to get a feel for it but it can be done and the progress you will make with horse and people is amazing. So “TRY”
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.