This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.

Bella, Grace and Jack

Bella aged 6

Bella aged 6

Treat Delivery

Jack aged 7


Monday, 10 November 2008

For me learning to wait for the horse to offer instead of persuading him (make vs allow) has been quite a learning curve as this work with the lunge showed up my tendency to really want to go 'oh come ON, you know what to do!!!'

Me too, especially when a bit pushed for time, but it's such a powerful way of motivating them isn't it? They seem to appreciate being given the chance to decide for themselves so much, and get so much more willing because of it.

I can't say I blame them - I find it very hard to say no to a polite request but hate being told what to do. If I was a horse I'm sure that I would always either do it with very bad grace or do exactly the opposite, if I felt that I was being MADE to do anything.

The other thing that amazes me is that I can ask once and just wait, and even if it seems to take an age they never forget what the request was, which just goes to show how unnecessary keeping on repeating it was. When I think of all those times I nagged and nagged away at Jack to move, both in and out of the saddle, I feel so guilty! I'm sure that if I had just given him time to think and decide, he would never have become so unresponsive in the first place. The trouble was that he needed SO much time to consider his options that I always thought he was ignoring me or not listening. Now I'm certain that he was just trying to decide what to do for the best. No wonder he got so fed up with my impatience and perfected the art of tuning me out!

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!