There are many training methods available and it is a great fun to try different approaches without fear and without judgements and prejudices.
Model/Rival System was developed by Dr Dietmar Todt, and later modified by Dr Irene Pepperberg into her label-training procedure aimed to explore and show to the world the intelligence and cognitive potential of parrots, in this case Alex, the Grey African parrot. Dr Irene Pepperberg noticed that when she started to introduce the complex concepts to Alex, his motivation was a little bit lower. To change the situation and provide new stimulation, Dr Pepperberg asked one of her human-assistants to take part in the training, as if he was a parrot. Dr Pepperberg was asking the human-assistant questions, that she would normally ask to Alex, the parrot, and the assistant was answering the questions. These were the questions to discriminate colors, shapes, and quantities of different items. When the human-assistant was answering correctly, Dr Pepperberg was applauding and praising him generously, in the same way she would applaud and praise Alex. Alex was observing the whole process himself, and soon wanted to get involved. In that moment, Dr Pepperberg was asking question to both, a human-assistant and Alex, and they could start to “compete” over Dr Pepperberg’s attention, praise and to win the possibility of touching the object they have been asked about (which happened to be very important and self-reinforcing for Alex, as parrots like to check objects with their beaks). Whenever the human-assistant answered, because Alex didn’t want to, or was distracted, or simply needed a break, the human-assistant also was taking the object, but in his hands, and exploring it’s shape, surface and structure.
The Model/Rival System is said to be based on competition. Yes, there are two peers and one chance to do something, so there is also a chance for one of them to win: to answer, to do something, to get the reward. And Competition and limited resources is something that highly resonates with people. It can make them positively exited and motivated, or like wanting to back up and not participate in the action at all. How come the same situation can cause such opposite emotions and outcomes?
It’s because of the TENSIONS.
Some time ago, I was speaking with a student of mine who plays piano. The lady said that she left the Conservatory/Music School, because she didn’t liked at all the concerts and playing in public, and that she personally doesn’t like competition at all and did all the could all her life to step outside of it as she disapproves it. To her surprise, I told her that on the contrary to what she says, she feels to me like a very competitive person who above everything else likes winning, and that what blocked her in her musical experience was not the lack of competitive drive, but on the contrary to that a too high competitive drive. Of course, at first she disagreed with me, but later after few more days she came back and she confirmed. She was so competitive that she could not perform, because she was so afraid of loosing or not being good enough that she preferred not to compete at all, then not to win.
This is something I see so often also in my work with horses: my own horses and the horses of my students, and in my work with people as well. The more ambitious is the person and the horse, the less they will want to compete, and the more they will appear closed or almost sleepy when the requirements become higher. The answer to this situation is not to step away from requirements and competition, and not to rise them higher as well, but to find the root tension that causes such a response and unblock it.
When we enter Model/Rival System with our horses we can truly learn what being a model and competition means. We can see that it means fighting for limited resources and becoming better than others and proving others are not as good as we are only for us, and only in our mind. When we enter Model/Rival System with our new awareness and an intention to connect, and not divide, we can see the true meaning of being a role model and true meaning behind competition.
Being a Role Model means to provide support.
True meaning of competition is to encourage others to try more, and to see that it’s within their reach to do more than they give themselves credits for.
For the trailer loading, as this is in itself a very simple procedure and a task to do, remember just about one, but a very important thing: Introduce the trailed today, so tomorrow entering it is easier.
Do not try to do everything in one go. Take plenty of breaks. Do not try to win anything today or proof that you can do things, work only towards one goal: To Make Things Easier For the Future.