Due to circumstances, it was needed that I homeschool our son during two different years of his schoollife. Because he is learning disabled, I quickly had real life experiences of how children learn differently
One popular model with homeschoolers is by Fleming and was based upon earlier Neuro-Linguisitic programming:
1. Visual learners: thinks in pictures, diagrams, photos, videos. etc…
2. Auditory learners: lectures, discussion, audio tapes, etc…
3. Reading/Writing preference learners: textbooks, manuals, etc…
4. Kinesthetic or tactile learners: moving, touching, manipulatives, etc…
While public school is geared towards #2 and #3, not all children learn best with these methods. Having the first account experience of both a girl (now 12) and a boy (now 16) it has been fascinating to see how they have evolved into the individuals they are up to this point.
Now to horses… horses also learn differently depending upon their personality, age, gender and history. Here are some of the differences I’ve noticed and how this may play into how to approach their training:
Clicker training: with pony, this is an effective training method. If I had the time, I could teach her to keyboard using this method LOL! 😛 She is very food driven. While you may be afraid to hand feed food-driven horses, CT actually teaches the horse to respect the treat giving even more, so is actually a good option for food-oriented horses.
OTOH, CT didn’t work well with my mare Dear One. She found it boring and food was not a big incentive for her. This is where clicker trainers and I differ – I do not hold the philosophy that CT works for all horses equally well.
Training based upon Bonding: (Carolyn Resnick and Hempfling) The shy, withdrawn, abused, or used-up horse does so well with this training. BigT, like many former schoolhorses or horses that were used hard by young riders, is a prime candidate for having directionless time spent with them. With abused horses, trust and connection have to be made before formal training can proceed with success.
OTOH, I do not think this type of training should be the primary method for “pocket ponies”or dominant horses. Spending time with your horse is always helpful, but limit it until the boundaries are well established or someone is likely to get seriously hurt with too much closeness.
Roundpen work: Roundpen work has it’s place though I don’t use it as often as I used too. Nowadays, I favor it for the horse who is dominant and has boundary issues such as for LadyZ, a pushy “pocket pony” horse who doesn’t have much respect for humans (BTW I got kicked again today! though she quickly had a post-kick expression of “oops! me bad!” and didn’t do it again).
For the sensitive, shy or abused horse or even young horses who don’t know what you want, I would hold off or not use this method at all. From the horses’ viewpoint, this puts the human in the most aggressive and control position possible. Use it with care.
Leadership with Leading: (i.e. Hempfling’s work, and perhaps Dorrances Horsemanship through Feel) I’ve worked all my horses with taking them for long walks and working a lot of time on the leadrope. I am not a Hempfling expert by any means and I do just the best I can from watching his books and videos.
IMO working a horse through leading is 1.) simple; 2.) takes no special knowledge or equipment; and 3.) works for all horses no matter temperment or background.
Body Connection work: (i.e Linda Tellington-Jones TTeam and Peggy Cummings Connected Groundwork/Riding) Linda’s method does cover training a young horse to saddle; both feature techniques that would be very good for the horse you are having to rehabilitate – i.e. bad habits of leaning, going crooked, being behind the bit, etc… because they work on the way the horse moves.
Works well with the experienced riding horse who seems to have training issues that can’t be overcome through traditional methods.
Unfortunately, what I see too much of is horses being treated like cookie cutouts. It’s one of the reasons I decided to keep Z at home this summer. I don’t need her trained like a robot… from that you get a robot-horse and I’m much more interested in a living, breathing horses who still has curiousity even if it comes with a bit of a kick to it.
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