– they make PERMANENT /Warren Buffett, quote from his letters to investors/
After almost 3-week Holiday break I got back to the stable, and only learn how much my horses had been thinking during that time, and how many puzzles, little bits of the training, they joined together on their own. They grew proud when I took them one by one to the riding arena, and they were all so positively impatient to SHOW me what they have DISCOVERED about this orthat exercise on their own.
I started thinking what exactly lead us to this wonderful training side-effect, and it hit me that it’s all about approach to the repetitions, and understanding what they can bring us.
Here I listed for myself, and for you what I do on a daily basis:
1. I note my success rate: If the behaviour is unfinished It’s crucial to understand that we have equal chances when repeating it to make either failures or successes permanent. The good rate between correct trials and mistakes should vary from 1 mistake for 10 trials, to 1 mistake for 3 trials – depending on a horse and training advancement. If your mistake rate is higher – you are practicing mistakes.
2. I’m not obsessed about ending on a success: During our everyday trainings I don’t repeat one exercise more then 3 times. I ask my horse to do something, and reward if the tendency in execution or understanding are moving the exercise in the right direction. I give a lot of space to make mistakes, and reason from them. No luring, no tricking into doing something.
3. Zero tolerance for jinks and dishonest engagement: If the exercise I know my horse understands is not meeting the criteria we already trained – I give no feedback to the horse, and move to another exercise, or even finish the session. Later, in the box or on the paddock they have a lot of time to think, and they DO think: why we finished the session, how come it ended so soon, etc.
3. I always try to approach the same exercise from 2 or 3 different perspectives: This gives horses a wonderful chance to have their “EUREKA!” moments when they combine the little bits of the exercises together on their own. “Oh, so this… and this… lead to that?!”. It makes me laugh a lot ;-)
4. I praise, and prise, and prise again my horses: I’m happy and always so positively surprised about each successful trial my horse makes. I don’t look for perfection, I look for FUN. I show my horses that I value AUTONOMY which leads to ENGAGEMENT, which on the other hand leads to COOPERATION, which leads to UNDERSTANDING and PARTNERSHIP.
And for me this is all about it – being partners who understand each other, and experience each moment together.