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[RC] [RC] re: teaching horse to be braver - Deanna German

Teresa,

I hope your advice is good, because what you describe is almost exactly what
I've been doing. Lots of positive reinforcement for being brave, lots of
pressure and negative reinforcement for being silly. I know I'm getting
through to the pea brain when she flinches instead of spooking bigtime --
which shows me she's starting to think about things a little. Then I praise
the socks off of her and even sometimes give her a little tidbit from the
saddle (when I remember to pack something). If this was my retriever dog,
the message would have gotten through by now. I've never had to drill this
horse to get her to learn something cognitively, but this seems to be really
hard for her.

But if I manage to keep myself in the saddle, life is good and, hey, there
are always pain relievers, right?

Deanna

(If I ever even think about getting another part-Saddlebred in the future,
someone just shoot me!)

------------------------------

But a few things: to get started -Only ask for speed in areas where
there is not going to be any unpleasant surprise around a corner (ie
a stubble field, two track trail up on a mesa ..... ) you want to
build trust that you are not going to ask for speed except where it
is safe.

At a ride - let go of holding her back from the group all the time.
Horses ARE herd animals, let this mare follow the group if she can
handle their pace.  At 8yrs  you should be able to ride her with a
group for a while and then break away at your choosing w/o blowing
her mind.  

Are there any positive reinforcements for not spooking and negatives
for spooking?  If she gives you some requested speed on terrain
she's comfortable on, slow her down before you hit the scary section
and praise her for being so brave, maybe even give her a carrot
--when you're training and she spooks: give her a thump with your
leg; or double her back and forth past the bogey w/o letting her
slow down and make it mean extra work to have spooked.  --or with
some horses taking the head around to your knee is a pretty good
negative reinforcement.  Ya kind of have to judge what works best
for each horse, but it sounds like at this stage of her training she
needs some specific reminders that spooking is bad and means some
kind of penalty and going faster w/o spooking will garner rewards. 


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