A Matter of Perspective

Training

Assuming you are in complete control of another being, animal or human, is a false perception which can lead to errors in judgement and raises significant safety issues.

Firstly, we can only control another beings movements, not his mind. We may think we control his mind, when we exert our will over him and make him do what we want, but we cannot control his thoughts or emotions, which is of major importance when learning, and if we are to stay safe.

For example, you want your animal to learn to do as you ask. Humans tend to keep trying if something doesn’t work, so from our point of view, this may mean one of the following things.

Continuing until you do get the result you were after.

Not worry about how you get that result, just that you get it; the end justifies the means.

You can easily see that from our perspective, being successful means you have achieved what you set out to do. But what about the animal you are teaching? Were they successful? If they did what you wanted, then yes, you could argue that they were also successful.

However, that is not necessarily the case. In order to be successful you have to see things from the animal’s perspective, not yours. Have you left the animal better off than before you interacted with him? If you’ve continued a lesson far longer than was productive, so that you could finish on a high, you feel satisfied, and might sigh with relief that you have persevered and it was worth the effort. However, the animal may well have a different view. Is he likely to feel relief from finally doing what was asked? Or is he likely to feel relief for the fact that it has finished and there are no further demands on him?

Similarly, what will the animal take from a lesson that is conducted from the viewpoint of the end justifies the means? Again, you will feel relief that finally the animal has understood you and done what he was supposed to. And once again, the animal will feel relief that the interaction is over. By trying to make ourselves successful we have made the animal we are working with unsuccessful, as what he has learnt from engaging in the encounter is not a positive or rewarding experience.

Will he be willing to engage next time? Not likely, and certainly not with enthusiasm. He may also have learnt that avoidance or active defence is his best course of action to ensure he is not put in this situation again.

Coming back to the title of this piece – a matter of perspective – teach yourself to analyse everything you intend to do from the animal’s perspective, and you will set yourself and him up for fun, engaging teaching sessions that result in success for both of you.

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Liebster Award

I have just been nominated for a Liebster award, by Kelli, fellow blogger and participant of the Writing101 course I’m taking.

Kelli’s blog is https://aquirkysomething.wordpress.com As Kelli says, it’s about ‘A day in the life of an Actress/Wifey/Dog-Mom. 3Takes. 1Blog’. Take a look, it’s a great read.

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Here are the rules:

+Mention/Link/Thank the blog that nominated you

+Answer the nominee’s 11 questions

+Nominate 11 small bloggers and link them below

+Create 11 questions of your own [for your nominated blogs to answer]

+Notify your names via social media

aquirkysomething Questions/ My Answers

1. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Definitely a tea drinker.

2. What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off? An early start, I’m not one for missing the day. A good, leisurely breakfast, followed by Matt (hubby) and me taking our puppy Wolfie, out somewhere, making him happy. A quiet afternoon, maybe some soft music, and a good read. Another outing with Wolfie, late afternoon, then cook a great dinner, and relax for the evening.

3. What inspires or influences your writing? I’ve always liked words, and Matt first inspired me with words I had never heard of, I tried them, remembered them, liked the way they felt. I was first inspired to write something for other people to read when I received comments from friends about how I worked with my horses, and that people would be interested. The process of writing a book has made me realise that I love writing, and I wish to continue.

4. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It’s half full, how can it not be? That path leads to misery and discontent.

5. If it’s raining: Umbrella , Rain-boots, or Dance ? Dance, I love weather.

6. Your favorite song . Now that’s hard. Just one? Big Country – In this place

7. If you could take a road trip , where would you stop, & why? Italy. I would love to visit Italy. Experience the culture, food (I do love good food), wine (really love good wine too!), and countryside. Tuscany really appeals to my heart, and Milan appeals to experiencing excitement and a lifestyle I wouldn’t normally be part of.

8. If you won the lotto , what would you do? Why? Reach more people, teach them all I know, help more animals live a better life. Make a difference. I’d also drink more champagne, I love it!

9. A surprise getaway vacation pops up. Mountains or Beach? Mountains. I like winter, cold, snow. The majesty of a mountain. I would love to visit Switzerland.

10. If you had a super-power ..what would it be & why? How interesting this question came up. I’ve thought about this a lot! To be invisible and have a forcefield around me. Kind of the same powers as Violet in The Incredibles. Why? I’m shy, I often feel like I want to be invisible. A forcefield – keeps wasps and other scary things away, stopping me worrying about them!

11. If you could tell your past self , advice in one sentence, it would be .. Don’t take twenty years to find out who you are, insecurity is normal, start now, live life, and see where it takes you.

My eleven nominees for the Liebster Award are

https://stephaniecardozo.wordpress.com

https://thistlesandwhistles.wordpress.com

http://girl-independent.com/

https://fourleggedscholars.wordpress.com/

https://prettypoodlesandpets.wordpress.com/

https://carleylightfoot.wordpress.com/

http://muttabouttown.com/

http://vacationsonearth.net/

http://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/

https://johnandmargaret1607.wordpress.com/

http://travellingbanana.com/

And here are my questions for my nominees.

1 What is your favourite cuisine?

2. What’s your ideal day?

3. What inspires or influences your writing?

4. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

5. Who inspires you?

6. What is your favourite book?

7. Why did you start a blog?

8. What is your favourite animal and why?

9. If you could go on vacation anywhere, where would it be, and why?

10. What job did you want to do as a child? What job do you have now?

11. If you could tell your past self advice in one sentence, it would be?

Thank you Kelli, for nominating me for this award, really appreciate it, and congratulations to my nominees.

Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 19th July 2015

As you can see by the date, I’m a bit behind with this diary.

I’ve been working on the final edit of my book, A Tale of Two Horses, writing articles for magazines, and we’ve recently bought a new puppy, who seems to be taking up all my time!

Following on from our short outing beyond the safety of the yard, I went through the usual routine in the exercise yard. Then I put Charlie’s lead collar on attached a lead rope and walked around. As expected Charlie was perfectly comfortable with this.

We walked over to the gate, Star watching us. A touch of anxiety in her body language I think. Charlie and I walked to the gate, turned around and I took his headcollar off. I did a couple of exercises with Star, then fetched her headcollar. Put it on no problem, she’s quite happy with that. Her problem comes when you ask something of her when she is not familiar with it. She simply cannot cope with that. So, I attached the lead rope and just asked for some left and right targeting. She did that fine. Then I asked if she could do a right turn. She looked anxious, and put her head up in the air. That’s her way of telling me she can’t cope, so I followed her lead and raised my arm so there was no tension on the lead rope. Tension would ensure she got even more anxious. Without any pressure on the lead rope, or from me trying to get her to do something, her head came back down, and she started to take a step for the right turn. Click and reward. More than I expected, and a great result. At that point I finished things. Always good to stop on a high, and I want to make sure that she has no negative emotional reaction to this work, ensuring that this is normal, routine, and eventually, when we do go out, a pleasurable experience.

Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 10th May

Monday

Today we practised with distractions. When out and about their behaviour needs to be reliable, and I need to know what their reaction to various interesting or scary things is. It’s a busy morning, and people, horses, cars and tractors are about. Quite unusual, as we live in a very quiet area and nothing much happens. We practice ‘ready’, ‘look up’, ‘lets go’ when there is a distraction, adding in other exercises once their attention is back on me.

Wednesday

Charlie and Star are doing really well. Star was really interested today, and I worked with her most of the time. Charlie decided that he didn’t want to play and spent most of his time eating the hedgerow! No problem, it’s quite a straightforward matter to build up length of attentiveness, whereas if I try to get him to do more than he is able he is not going to enjoy it, and will be more reluctant the next time.

Thursday

Charlie has decided that he doesn’t want to miss out on training games today! He’s happily following me around like a shadow. I do a little more with him and leave him eating grass to work with Star. She’s doing well, and we’re back to balancing movements. I often talk out loud to myself, and I was deciding what to do next, when I said, ‘Right’. Star immediately turned right! Clever girl, she was listening to me when I wasn’t talking to her.

Saturday

A busy weekend for us, so not much training time. I did find time to just be with them, and give them a nice brush, which as usual results in a good roll in the grass. I also now have Chilli the cat asking to play. She tears around the exercise yard when we are out there, playing with anything she can find. Once I finish with Charlie and Star, Chilli runs into the barn ready to ambush me! She’s not ambushed Charlie and Star yet, but it’s only a matter of time..

Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary w/e 26th April.

We haven’t done a lot this week. Partly due to various appointments, and partly due to making the farm safe for our new puppy, who arrives in about 5 weeks time. There are so many places where a puppy can get under the fence, barn doors, or into the fields. We’ve not had to consider this before, as Indie was 4 when we moved here, and far too big to get though any gap that wasn’t a gaping hole!! So, puppy proofing is the main activity.

I’ve found time to do some short sessions in the barn with them, but only two longer sessions this week.

Wednesday

Today we worked on balance. Being able to control each foot independently is a really good skill. Yes, I know that they control all four feet independently when they are moving, but it is just as important for them to be able to shift their weight so they can move one foot whilst the others are still. Take picking out feet as an example. In order to lift and hold one foot off the floor, they need to be balanced on the other three. And that balance is different to when they are walking. So, on the spot we do free shaping – ‘what can you do’? Click & treat for each shift in weight, foot or leg movement.

Friday

This is what I call an indulgence session, as it’s all about just spending time with the horses, doing nothing in particular. I don’t have a lesson plan, or anything specific to work on. I can just enjoy being with them. There is another reason for this type of session, and it is all about increasing our relationship, understanding and language between us. Your horse may enjoy grooming, just listening to you spend time talking to him, or going out for a lead walk. Whatever it is, the question is ‘what do you want to do today’? It is Charlie and Star who decide what we do in this session. If I try grooming and they are not in the mood, then we try something else. The only agenda is to make them happy. Charlie wanted a walk, so we wandered around the exercise yard, having a chat and giving Charlie head rubs. Star was content in the barn, so I spent time chatting to her, and she put her head into my chest so I could play with her mane, and she promptly dozed off!

Charlie & Star’s Clicker Training Diary.

To get up to date, this is their clicker training journey so far.

We have worked in protective contact, which was me the other side of the fence to their paddock, so if things got a bit excitable, I was not in danger of being trodden on or ran into! Then we moved training to their stables where Charlie and Star could wander at will.

They have learnt step back, step forwards, turn around, this side, wait, targeting, look left, right, head down, head up and ready. We’ve done this standing still, not when they are wandering about.

Now we are at the stage where I’m working with them at liberty in their exercise yard, putting all these exercises into practice when walking around.

This morning was cool and misty. Despite the lack of sunshine we have been used to seeing this last week, there is no reduction in midges. They are everywhere!

I open the gate to the yard and both horses come up to me for a piece of apple or carrot. They know this is training and games time, but alas, I have no food. There’s a little grass in here, and I like them to go in and settle a bit before I start so they are not too excited about what we are going to do. Charlie, bless him, can be somewhat enthusiastic, and he’s quite a big horse, who doesn’t realise his size! So, sorry guys, no food yet.

I leave them to it and come back a few minutes later with the all important apple and carrot pieces.

I’m working with both of them at liberty, in the yard at the same time, so space management is important. Part of training is teaching them to be close to me and each other and not compete over the food, along with not getting over excited. Being with mum means being calm and balanced. Whoever comes up to me first gets to do something. Today it was Star. She is the kind of horse who likes to stand where she is, and all attempts to entice her to move are met with failure. She needs to feel comfortable and in control, not be manipulated. The more you try to get her to move, the more she is an immovable object. So, it’s great to see that her feet actually do work! Up to today, she has pretty much remained standing still whilst I’m teaching her, only moving to graze. But, this morning we have a breakthrough. She is following me around really happily.

Keeping an eye out for Charlie, I finish with Star when he shows interest in coming over, and move to working with him. He goes steady to start with then gets a little more enthusiastic. Calm and balanced he is not! Time to put some slow exercises in to offset this. I might change who I’m working with a few times, depending on who is more actively asking to do something. Back to Charlie, and we are working on voice cues to turn left and right, wait and off we go again. He’s doing really well, and likes this so much I get a good head rub halfway along our walk.