We move as One
Photo by Susan Fino
Natural Horsemanship &
Positive Reinforcement Training
Recently, 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
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.