We move as One
Photo by Susan Fino
Relationship-based/Natural Horsemanship & Positive Reinforcement
*Relationship-based horsemanship explanation and philosophy to be included here shortly....
as soon as I have a moment 🙃
Last year, I changed We move as One Natural Horsemanship to simply We move as One HORSEMANSHIP. This is because We move as One has grown to utilize strategies beyond natural horsemanship to now also include Positive Reinforcement strategies (sometimes called "clicker training"). The philosophies of Natural Horsemanship and Positive Reinforcement training are somewhat different but, in my opinion each offers some very helpful thinking as well as methodologies to improve horse/human communication and trust.
Both training techniques look at horse training from a different point of view than traditional horsemanship and the applications of each are limitless and each gets us closer to discovering our own individual vision of a:
"We move as One" magical connection.
Understanding Natural Horsemanship and
Positive Reinforcement Training philosophies
How desired behavior is communicated:
Overall training goal:
-Slow escalating pressure and very quick release when the horse makes the slightest try or improvement
-the LIGHTEST of pressure....either physical or energy & the FASTEST release
-Adding pressure and then subtracting (-) something to create a reinforcement
-Correctly practiced, closely replicates how horses communicate with each other
-Can easily correlate on-the-ground training with in-the-saddle work
-Difficult to have timing perfection for very split-second behavior goals
-Teaching a cue or "bridge" followed by a treat OR teaching a vocal cue for a treat that will in itself bring about good feelings (like: "goooood")
-Perfect timing with delivering the bridge cue or good feelings cue
-Waiting for desired behavior and then adding (+) something to create a reinforcement
-Easier to get perfect timing to zero-in on a specific behavior
-Can be more positively motivating for the horse
-More easily adaptable for protective contact training
-Can be cumbersome to deliver treats while holding a rope or reins and/or crop/stick
FYI: It's important to realize that it's said natural horsemanship utilizes negative reinforcement strategies ... that the word "negative" does not mean "bad". All it means is that something is taken away (minus). By the same token, the word "positive" in positive reinforcement just means that something is added (plus) to reinforce a behavior. The cornerstone of natural horsemanship is based on "pressure & release" whereby the goal is the lightest pressure (energy and/or physical) with the quickest release from pressure or taking the pressure away. The release is the reinforcement of the desired behavior.
Both Natural Horsemanship and Positive Reinforcement mindsets help you re-think what you've previously learned and begin establishing a language with the horse that will
easily make sense to....the horse!
Natural Horsemanship is based on understanding and utilizing the basic psychologies and instincts that motivate the horse's innate behavior. At its best, natural horsemanship uses clear imagery, body language, along with proper pressure, corrections, and releases ... with the the goal of ultimately getting across your requests via the lightest, quietest, and softest aids.
Positive Reinforcement has basically the same goals but with its methodology, it enables us to better clarify our communication and usually improves the horse's motivation. Also, sometimes we are able to communicate and have the horse comprehend the behaviors we are seeking a bit quicker. Additionally it allows us to develop strategies with the horse using protected contact. (Protected contact means training certain behaviors through a paddock, corral, round pen, etc....to keep the horse and human safe until some boundaries have been developed.) Later those strategies can be built upon with direct horse/human contact.
With both Natural Horsemanship and Positive Reinforcement Training, it's key that you're watching and learning to read what your horse is conveying with his or her communication back to you; that you 1) honor your horse's concerns or confusion 2) slow-down or WAIT to be sure that your horse is emotionally ok and your horse understands what you're asking of him or her. Ultimately, you become your horse's benevolent leader, whereby your horse wants to perform, is a willing partner and feels safe and relaxed with you.