They say you should start a puzzle by putting together the edges and the frame first – and all the blue bits. I feel like I’ve been doing that for years and I’m never getting close to seeing the Big Picture 😦
I took the time to re-read my training philosophies and it helped me better understand what is going on: there is too much MIRACLE OCCURS HERE bullshit that has been frustrating the hell out of me for years.
It’s time I turn this around by first identifying what is not working for me and how I can change it:
1.) While I admire the work by Klaus Hempfling and Cavalia, the issue for me with them is there is too much “miracle occurs here.” While I’m slowly understanding their advice, since there is no linear training outline where I can see progress, it becomes a frustrating process, which causes me to give up.
We all have different ways we learn and I need more concrete steps. Give me the logical “how-to” behind it, not just the warm and fuzzy. Give me a method to gauge progress so I can increase the horses’ skill level.
2.) I went back to the Art of Natural Dressage forums and after seeing the videos and photos with commentary at the Instagram account @Intrinzen I now get it. I get the exercises and I see the progression from exercises to performance.
Before, I just couldn’t see it – where I lay the blame here is trying to read a European forum where English is not their first language so you have large blocks of texts, broken paragraph lines etc.. making it hard to read and with not a lot of good quality video or photos.
We all have different ways to learn, and I work best with video accompanied by text. I also work best when I see “connections”; when I don’t see the need for a bow, I don’t bother to train it. These ‘tricks” can have training applications but I need to know the why? because a trick for a trick’s sake is not my thing.
I also have to be more compassionate with myself and where my life was at that time. I was extremely frustrated with Z, who was dangerous, and Tristan was starting to fail in health, and husband was off working out of state, while I was trying to get kids through high school and college. Life had a bit going on then and being able to understand complex ideas required more focus then I was capable of.
3.) I definitely have a problem reconciling the two ends of the training spectrum – on one end there is the “the horse decides everything, without it, you will not achieve the bond or performance” to the “direct, control and teach the horse everything” schools of thought.
I am trying to bring these two worlds together and they are like stuffing two cats in a bag. I’m battling my own conventional thought – the way I was taught to train horses, conventional wisdom, and my own nature of “just do it for heaven’s sake!” attitude.
To commit to this path with Dante, I will need to be on the watch for those old ideas to come back – the easy way to get something done, the “just do it” frustration that makes us revert. I will have to keep my mind open, use creative problem solving, and constantly be asking myself – hey gal, why did you go back to that? and re-correct.
4.) One thing that stalled me was watching the False Prophets and knowing they lied. It turned me away from the free will horse path. There is a lot of Parelli and Liberty work that is still operating on pressure and force tactics.
The games you see are really tricks – something the horse was taught through force (usually the iron fist in the velvet glove) because the trainer wanted them to learn it – and not because the horse chose to be involved.
This is a very fine line and if you have an observant eye and have watched a lot of videos and reviewed photos you know what I mean.
5.) My frustration with not getting anywhere with Z, really dinged my confidence level. I’ve come to realize this week that she was above my pay grade – and that even two professionals found her a difficult horse. I have to let that “failure” go on my part. What I was not able to do with Z has nothing to do with what I will be able to do with Dante.
The world has changed since I started clicker training 15 years ago. Even this last year there are more videos, articles and clarification of what I could be doing to make what I want to happen- happen.
I need to use those resources and come up with my plan (it’s now in a blog post draft) and my own roadmap to get me to where I want to go – the same connection I had with Pepper with another horse – maybe even deeper and stronger since Pepper taught me so much and I’ve grown up some.
Dante is a good horse – I just need to get him well, spend time with him and have the wits and courage to train him the way I’ve always wanted.