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Positive Reinforcement Only VS. Positive and Negative Reinforcement Training in Horses: Part III

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Positive Reinforcement Only VS. Positive and Negative Reinforcement in Horse Training: Part II

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Happy new year everybody! I don’t know about you, but I sure can’t believe it’s already 2014. For the new year, Tumblr Horsemanship is getting a new name I thought up while discussing horse mentality: “HSL: Horse as a Second Language”. I thought it felt appropriate for the types of topics I cover and the mentality I apply to the reasoning behind my techniques. We’re all just doing our best to learn how to speak Horse, because god knows horses aren’t going to learn English!

I just wanted to apologize to all of my wonderful followers and new followers that I don’t post more often…I just haven’t had the time recently to write up my usual gigantic text bricks, but I’m always working on thinking things up and coming up with new ideas, and will try to get something out in the relatively near future. Thanks for sticking with me and please enjoy the content I have posted…and as usual, feel free to ask any questions you like or submit content!


Happy Trails,
Buckets and Bales

I thought I could include this bit from a message between my good friend and me after last night's horsemanship post:

ponyonapony:

On positive-only reinforcement vs positive and negative reinforcement in horse training:

What I think I need to explain better is that the idea isn’t just “if horses are rough, I can be rough”, it’s that horses should be approached and dealt with in a way that makes sense to how their minds…

I’m going to share a conversation I’m having with a good friend of mine on the subject of positive reinforcement only vs. positive and negative reinforcement in horse training.
I decided to share this because I think this is an excellent learning opportunity for anyone interested in going into working with horses, in order to decide what they think is best for them and their horses.
I’m only leaving out the first two messages in this exchange (one from each of us) because they were more personal, but from here I’m including everything that is said.

Feed a Pumpkin Treat

thedailyhorse:

got an extra pumpkin? want to make sure your horse isn’t left out on halloween?

make them a special fall snack! 

Happy Halloween everybody!

princesscudlebum said: So I'm 14 and I have 2 horses I need to train.one is a year old and one is 4 months. How do I begin ? But my dad is going to help but he wants to send them away for like forever but I want to train them myself with his help which is better ?

Given your situation, unless one or both of you has a massive amount of experience working with horses with different temperaments at different levels of training (which I’ll assume isn’t the case given your dad’s decision), I would definitely highly recommend sending these horses to a trainer rather than trying to train them yourselves. I’m not going to say that at 14 it’s impossible for someone to have enough experience to train a horse, but, even with support, it is extremely rare that that would be the case. Some of the best riders and horsepeople I’ve known are/were that way from a very young age, but to train young horses, you also need many years of experience with many types of horses in order to handle the unique situations you will be confronted with, otherwise you are walking into a very dangerous situation that could end in either you or your horses being seriously damaged, physically or even mentally.

It’s actually really great that your dad is willing to send them in to a trainer for a long time, because both horses should have a highly skilled hand working with them over the next few years, given their very young, delicate ages, especially the yearling (for now). If you were unable to get a trainer for them, I would very strongly recommend that you re-home them and instead buy a horse with a lot of solid training under their belt, or, of course, if you have a lot of riding experience already, a horse of any riding-ready age that has at least been started.

Anyway, I would recommend talking to whatever trainer you guys would be working with and asking them for a personal recommendation about what they think you should do with each horse until they are of age to be started under saddle (note that they should definitely, definitely be with the trainer then!) Some people recommend doing minimal training and then just letting horses be, for the most part, until they are nearing starting age, while others recommend a ton of handling from birth to that point, as well as everything in between. Since these horses will certainly need a skilled, regular trainer, minimally now and in a couple of years, I would make sure that you work closely with whoever that will be and do whatever they think would be best for the horses.

If you have any further details, have any other questions, or want me to elaborate on anything, please don’t hesitate to shoot me another ask!


Good luck :)

*This video is not mine!

This is an excellent short video by one of my favourite trainers in my area, Warwick Schiller, answering the question “What do I do when my horse gets out of control?”

A lot of people forget this about horses: they want to be treated like horses. People want to treat horses like people. Of course they deserve kindness and respect and appreciation, but the kindest, most respectful, and appreciative thing you can do for them is treat them not like a human, not like a dog, but like a horse.

-My Trainer (on training horses)
(via orlesbian)

**Not my quote! I just really liked it. -Tumblr Horsemanship

(Source: the-halfcheron, via thedailyhorse)

Biting

Have you ever encountered a horse who just bites? Usually it’s either pampered, temperamental ponies or grumpy older horses who seem to pick up this awful and downright dangerous habit. I once worked with a pony who just constantly bit me, and seemingly without any warning. I think he had been fed one too many carrots and developed a nasty nipping habit that just didn’t get handled properly, then he sat for too long on his bad habit (because of the general lack of desire to be around a horse that constantly nips) and became lazy and sour. The entire time I tried to groom him he had a sour look on his face and would turn to bite me absolutely every time I came within the reach of his jaws…and when he bit, he really meant business! He regularly left bruises in random locations of my body- it was terrible! It was clear no one really knew how to approach his serious problem…either that, or they just plain didn’t want to, because in order to face his habit I had to regularly bite the bullet and allow myself to be bitten so that I could correct him afterward, then I had to be willing to dish out nastiness rivaling his own. Let me tell you, it was not fun! Addressing a serious habit like this is definitely not for just anybody to take on, but if you’re feeling brave and have enough audacity to face the hooved Jaws in your barn, here’s exactly what I had to do to turn this bad apple into a golden one.

First, it’s important to realize what the horse in question is thinking when he bites. Basically, he is taking a dominant role in your relationship, and he feels that because he just does not like what you’re doing, he has the right to demand that you stop in the same manner he would if it were another horse bothering him…and, in most cases, this type of demand works just as well on humans, so he’s probably had a lot of experiences where people left him alone when he told them to. So, if that’s how he’s chosen to play, what would a more dominant horse do if he treated them that way? Appalled that this lower creature dared trying to tell her what to do, she would immediately deliver a harsher and more dominant punishment, then proceed to go about her business. This is exactly the role you must take in this extreme situation.

So, keeping that in mind, I started bringing a riding crop out with me and carrying it in my pocket while I groomed. I tried to go about my business as if he weren’t a horse that bit, then when he bit me, I pulled the crop out and whacked him back as hard as I could (I can not stress how important it is that you avoid the face altogether, both because this will create a headshy horse and because you can actually very seriously damage sensitize eyes, ears, and nasal passages. Also, you don’t want to create welts or anything, but it should really sting.), then went back to what I was doing. I didn’t get mad, I just got dominant. After awhile, being very clever, he did start to figure out that the crop had something to do with it, so I would leave it behind and just smack him hard with my hand if he bit (and believe me, this stings your hand a ton, but it’s usually necessary). With this horse, I needed to keep this up for about two weeks as he slowly started to get the picture, and then he no longer had a biting problem.

Now, mind you, at no point did he become scared of me because I was the “mean lady with the crop”. He was pretty alarmed, but certainly understood why it was happening because I responded immediately and meant business, but didn’t get angry. During this time I was regularly working with this horse, doing groundwork and riding and the like, and establishing a relationship with him where he was able to figure out that I was trustworthy but also in charge of him. This is equally important! Just because a horse bites a lot, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t send him positive vibes when he is behaving and treat him with the same trust and respect you would any other horse. Doing other productive work with him is also extremely important to teaching him that you are his leader. After I worked through this issue with him, he became a phenomenal partner for me for many years to come and is now working as a near-perfect lesson horse for young kids. It was necessary to use quite a bit of force because he was demonstrating extreme, dangerous behaviour, but with consistency and patience, his bad habits became a complete thing of the past.

Good luck facing your nippy nightmares!

Happy Trails

Positive Reinforcement Only VS. Positive and Negative Reinforcement Training in Horses: Part III

Read More

Positive Reinforcement Only VS. Positive and Negative Reinforcement in Horse Training: Part II

Read More

Happy new year everybody! I don’t know about you, but I sure can’t believe it’s already 2014. For the new year, Tumblr Horsemanship is getting a new name I thought up while discussing horse mentality: “HSL: Horse as a Second Language”. I thought it felt appropriate for the types of topics I cover and the mentality I apply to the reasoning behind my techniques. We’re all just doing our best to learn how to speak Horse, because god knows horses aren’t going to learn English!

I just wanted to apologize to all of my wonderful followers and new followers that I don’t post more often…I just haven’t had the time recently to write up my usual gigantic text bricks, but I’m always working on thinking things up and coming up with new ideas, and will try to get something out in the relatively near future. Thanks for sticking with me and please enjoy the content I have posted…and as usual, feel free to ask any questions you like or submit content!


Happy Trails,
Buckets and Bales

I thought I could include this bit from a message between my good friend and me after last night's horsemanship post:

ponyonapony:

On positive-only reinforcement vs positive and negative reinforcement in horse training:

What I think I need to explain better is that the idea isn’t just “if horses are rough, I can be rough”, it’s that horses should be approached and dealt with in a way that makes sense to how their minds…

I’m going to share a conversation I’m having with a good friend of mine on the subject of positive reinforcement only vs. positive and negative reinforcement in horse training.
I decided to share this because I think this is an excellent learning opportunity for anyone interested in going into working with horses, in order to decide what they think is best for them and their horses.
I’m only leaving out the first two messages in this exchange (one from each of us) because they were more personal, but from here I’m including everything that is said.

Feed a Pumpkin Treat

thedailyhorse:

got an extra pumpkin? want to make sure your horse isn’t left out on halloween?

make them a special fall snack! 

Happy Halloween everybody!

princesscudlebum said: So I'm 14 and I have 2 horses I need to train.one is a year old and one is 4 months. How do I begin ? But my dad is going to help but he wants to send them away for like forever but I want to train them myself with his help which is better ?

Given your situation, unless one or both of you has a massive amount of experience working with horses with different temperaments at different levels of training (which I’ll assume isn’t the case given your dad’s decision), I would definitely highly recommend sending these horses to a trainer rather than trying to train them yourselves. I’m not going to say that at 14 it’s impossible for someone to have enough experience to train a horse, but, even with support, it is extremely rare that that would be the case. Some of the best riders and horsepeople I’ve known are/were that way from a very young age, but to train young horses, you also need many years of experience with many types of horses in order to handle the unique situations you will be confronted with, otherwise you are walking into a very dangerous situation that could end in either you or your horses being seriously damaged, physically or even mentally.

It’s actually really great that your dad is willing to send them in to a trainer for a long time, because both horses should have a highly skilled hand working with them over the next few years, given their very young, delicate ages, especially the yearling (for now). If you were unable to get a trainer for them, I would very strongly recommend that you re-home them and instead buy a horse with a lot of solid training under their belt, or, of course, if you have a lot of riding experience already, a horse of any riding-ready age that has at least been started.

Anyway, I would recommend talking to whatever trainer you guys would be working with and asking them for a personal recommendation about what they think you should do with each horse until they are of age to be started under saddle (note that they should definitely, definitely be with the trainer then!) Some people recommend doing minimal training and then just letting horses be, for the most part, until they are nearing starting age, while others recommend a ton of handling from birth to that point, as well as everything in between. Since these horses will certainly need a skilled, regular trainer, minimally now and in a couple of years, I would make sure that you work closely with whoever that will be and do whatever they think would be best for the horses.

If you have any further details, have any other questions, or want me to elaborate on anything, please don’t hesitate to shoot me another ask!


Good luck :)

*This video is not mine!

This is an excellent short video by one of my favourite trainers in my area, Warwick Schiller, answering the question “What do I do when my horse gets out of control?”

A lot of people forget this about horses: they want to be treated like horses. People want to treat horses like people. Of course they deserve kindness and respect and appreciation, but the kindest, most respectful, and appreciative thing you can do for them is treat them not like a human, not like a dog, but like a horse.

-My Trainer (on training horses)
(via orlesbian)

**Not my quote! I just really liked it. -Tumblr Horsemanship

(Source: the-halfcheron, via thedailyhorse)

Biting

Have you ever encountered a horse who just bites? Usually it’s either pampered, temperamental ponies or grumpy older horses who seem to pick up this awful and downright dangerous habit. I once worked with a pony who just constantly bit me, and seemingly without any warning. I think he had been fed one too many carrots and developed a nasty nipping habit that just didn’t get handled properly, then he sat for too long on his bad habit (because of the general lack of desire to be around a horse that constantly nips) and became lazy and sour. The entire time I tried to groom him he had a sour look on his face and would turn to bite me absolutely every time I came within the reach of his jaws…and when he bit, he really meant business! He regularly left bruises in random locations of my body- it was terrible! It was clear no one really knew how to approach his serious problem…either that, or they just plain didn’t want to, because in order to face his habit I had to regularly bite the bullet and allow myself to be bitten so that I could correct him afterward, then I had to be willing to dish out nastiness rivaling his own. Let me tell you, it was not fun! Addressing a serious habit like this is definitely not for just anybody to take on, but if you’re feeling brave and have enough audacity to face the hooved Jaws in your barn, here’s exactly what I had to do to turn this bad apple into a golden one.

First, it’s important to realize what the horse in question is thinking when he bites. Basically, he is taking a dominant role in your relationship, and he feels that because he just does not like what you’re doing, he has the right to demand that you stop in the same manner he would if it were another horse bothering him…and, in most cases, this type of demand works just as well on humans, so he’s probably had a lot of experiences where people left him alone when he told them to. So, if that’s how he’s chosen to play, what would a more dominant horse do if he treated them that way? Appalled that this lower creature dared trying to tell her what to do, she would immediately deliver a harsher and more dominant punishment, then proceed to go about her business. This is exactly the role you must take in this extreme situation.

So, keeping that in mind, I started bringing a riding crop out with me and carrying it in my pocket while I groomed. I tried to go about my business as if he weren’t a horse that bit, then when he bit me, I pulled the crop out and whacked him back as hard as I could (I can not stress how important it is that you avoid the face altogether, both because this will create a headshy horse and because you can actually very seriously damage sensitize eyes, ears, and nasal passages. Also, you don’t want to create welts or anything, but it should really sting.), then went back to what I was doing. I didn’t get mad, I just got dominant. After awhile, being very clever, he did start to figure out that the crop had something to do with it, so I would leave it behind and just smack him hard with my hand if he bit (and believe me, this stings your hand a ton, but it’s usually necessary). With this horse, I needed to keep this up for about two weeks as he slowly started to get the picture, and then he no longer had a biting problem.

Now, mind you, at no point did he become scared of me because I was the “mean lady with the crop”. He was pretty alarmed, but certainly understood why it was happening because I responded immediately and meant business, but didn’t get angry. During this time I was regularly working with this horse, doing groundwork and riding and the like, and establishing a relationship with him where he was able to figure out that I was trustworthy but also in charge of him. This is equally important! Just because a horse bites a lot, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t send him positive vibes when he is behaving and treat him with the same trust and respect you would any other horse. Doing other productive work with him is also extremely important to teaching him that you are his leader. After I worked through this issue with him, he became a phenomenal partner for me for many years to come and is now working as a near-perfect lesson horse for young kids. It was necessary to use quite a bit of force because he was demonstrating extreme, dangerous behaviour, but with consistency and patience, his bad habits became a complete thing of the past.

Good luck facing your nippy nightmares!

Happy Trails

"A lot of people forget this about horses: they want to be treated like horses. People want to treat horses like people. Of course they deserve kindness and respect and appreciation, but the kindest, most respectful, and appreciative thing you can do for them is treat them not like a human, not like a dog, but like a horse."
Biting

About:

My name is Pony and I am a young horsewoman who has studied the way of horses my whole life. I do not claim to be a professional, just someone who is feverishly passionate about horsemanship.
Anyone who ever thinks that they know all there is to learn about horses is absurd. I will always have a hell of a lot more to learn, but I like to think I have a solid foundation.
I created this blog in order to write down my thoughts about horsemanship in today's world, maybe have a few friendly, productive discussions, and more than anything to share and gain knowledge.

Thanks for giving me a bit of your time,
Happy Trails.