Equiosity is the podcast about all things equine with a special emphasis on the horse-human bond.
Episode 271 Svenja Sawinski Teaching Relaxation Pt 1 Finding Stillness
We all know there are many forms of standing still. There’s standing at full attention like a soldier on parade. There’s standing at ease watching the world drift by. There’s standing still ready to spring into action like a sprinter at the starting line.
Often people get to four on the floor with their animals and stop at that point. As long as the feet are still, they consider they have taught stillness. But what happens if that horse or that dog is quivering with expectation, trying to figure out what to do to get you to click? You may have four on the floor, but you’re a long way from a relaxed learner.
We’re starting a four part series in which we explore standing not just with four on the floor, but standing in stillness so your learner is truly relaxed. This doesn’t happen by chance. It is the result of a systematic training process. Svenja Sawinski is our guide in this series as she shares what her Arab/barb cross has been teaching her about stillness.
In this episode Svenja introduces us to Daryan and explains why getting to this “Grand Prix” level of relaxation was so important for this horse. She shares her early attempts at teaching stillness, and the lesson that finally made a difference for Daryan.
Episode 271 Resets Pt 3 Merry Go Rounds And Railway Tracks
This is Part 3 of a conversation that was sparked by the on-line coaching session that I host once a month for people in my on-line clinics.
In Part 1 we talked about resets - what they are and how they can be used to help horses rebalance so they are more in sync with their handlers.
In Part 2 this led to a discussion of shaping on a point of contact, the WWYLM lesson and visualizing your horse as a marching band.
In part 3 explore some useful metaphors that help in understanding lateral work. We’ll begin with Merry-Go-Rounds and then move on to railroad tracks. Dominique has been discovering how useful these images to help her understand lateral work.
At the very end of the podcast I talk about the connection between the horse training and my children’s books. Everything is connected to everything else. I hope you listen all the way to the end to understand the connections. Clicker training really is Modern Horse Training. It represents a shift in attitude towards horses.
When I’m thinking about Modern Horse training I’m thinking about the contrast between today and that time when horses were beasts of burden.
Our relationship with horses is different today. The reason why we have horses has changed. Our horses are our companions and our friends. They aren’t pit ponies down in the coal mines forced to haul coal out of the mines. They aren’t the London cab horses that were written about in Black Beauty. Thankfully, those days are behind us. We have the luxury to really examine our training and to update it to make sure that it really does work in the best interest of our horses.
When I’m sharing clicker training, I want to touch more than the lead rope you hold in your hands. I want to touch your heart because that’s how we truly, deeply connect to one another and change forever how people train horses.
The children’s books for me are part of that. So thank you for indulging me as I continue to talk about the Kenyon Bear Books. I encourage you to order them to see what they are about. Everything is connected to everything else.
Train well and have fun with clicker training.
Episode 270 Resets And Lateral Work Pt 2 - The Why Would You Leave Me? Lesson
This is Part 2 of a three part conversation that was sparked by the on-line coaching sessions that I host once a month for people in my on-line clinics. We were talking about balance, which is no surprise. We’re always talking about balance. Embedded in that conversation was a discussion of resets. In part 1 we defined resets, discussed their importance, described how they are taught and used.
In this episode we begin with the “Why Would You Leave Me?” Lesson. I describe what this lesson is, how it is taught and the relation to resets. We discuss how to help horses that tend to overflex and horses that are very crooked. I use the metaphor of a marching band to help visualize the process of teaching horses how to become better balanced.
Episode 269 Resets And Lateral Work - Do Overs
This is Part 1 of a three part conversation that was inspired by the coaching sessions that are part of my on-line clinics. We are talking about resets and lateral work. Resets give you do-overs so they are a key element of teaching good balance. If your horse starts to step forward out of balance, instead of letting him continue on so the balance issue just continues and becomes more and more of a mess, you reset him back to the beginning so he can try again.
Resets can become corrections. If the only time you ask for a reset is when things are going wrong, the focus will be on behavior you want to stop. A better way to think of resets is they are part of the dance. You cha cha forward and then you cha cha back. You teach resets so your horse is familiar with the dance steps and has been reinforced well for all the elements of the dance. When resets become dance steps, they become a useful tool for building great balance.
Episode 268 Trick Training Pt 2 - Sneaky Training
This is part 2 of a conversation Dominique and I recorded on December 28 2023. We were in a year end mood which meant we began our conversation by looking back over a year of podcasts.
We had just finished up several head spinning topics with conversations with Anita Schnee about Feldenkrais work, with Joe Layng on public and private events, and then with Michaela Hempen on assessing animal welfare.
We were both feeling the need for a topic about more practical training applications. Dominique chose the trick training chapter from my book “Modern Horse Training” as a good focus for a lively conversation.
In part 1 we began with a discussion of the many benefits of trick training. We talked about why even “serious” trainers should consider trick training. I would say I fall into this category. I don’t teach tricks to amuse other people. I teach them to amuse my horses, so I tend to think of trick training as part of an overall enrichment program.
In this episode we talk about a sneaky way to introduce a wide variety of tricks that easily morph into very practical husbandry training.
Episode 267 Trick Training Pt 1 A Modern Horse Training Perspective
We’ve just finished a series of head spinning topics, so we’re changing gears to talk about trick training. Our discussion is based on the trick training chapter from my book, “Modern Horse Training”.
We begin by talking about the many benefits of trick training. If you’re a “serious” trainer and you don’t think tricks are for you, change the name to enrichment and you may see many uses for teaching tricks.
What makes one behavior a trick and another serious training? When you teach your horse to paint is that trick training, enrichment, a useful step towards teaching a horse to accept a dose syringe or all of the above?
Horses learn a lot from trick training and so do handlers. Tricks are easy to teach. What isn’t so easy is bringing the trick into balance so it doesn’t turn into a nuisance behavior. Learning about stimulus control is one of the many benefits of good trick training.
100% Progress In my mindset and my horses.
I have been listening to this podcast for awhile now. I have been on the clicker training journey for about a year and a half. Listening to this podcast was a lot to take in so at one point I thought I could use a refresh so from episode 80 back to the beginning, I have restarted and am understanding concepts. I was able to use the knowledge I have relearned and had a wonderful time with my horses. I am now so proud of everything I am capturing and able to put into practical. I also bought Alex’s revised book and can’t move past the foundation lessons yet because I want to make it solid.
Great place to start!
If you are interested in clicker training horses, but short on time, then this podcast is a good place to get info. Listen while mucking stalls, picking fields or even on lunch breaks from your desk job!!
Gems for the positive trainer
Alex and Dominique have created a marvelous podcast on the power of positive training. While they call it Equiosity, the questions they explore are important to training any species in a positive way. The importance of choice can’t be over emphasized. How we use our training tools (food delivery, mats) has wide implications. There are bonus articles for members. Listen and enjoy!