Thank you all for your stories about patterns and their everyday use in your training. I received some interesting ones but a few themes ran through all of them.
1) Many people didn’t realise that they were utilising this ‘pattern learning ability’ to the extent that they were; others only realised once undesirable behaviours had become established.
2) Once one behaviour/routine was consistently repeated, others were introduced in the same manner; only a very small percentage of the people getting these positive results were going about it in a predetermined and organised way.
3) Those few people that: 1) decided what simple behaviour they wanted their horse to do (e.g. back up when owner enters stable with food) 2) worked out a simple lesson plan with specific goals and steps to achieve them, and 3) took the time to measure progress (a few seconds in some cases) and reward the horse; not only had a better result but had implemented many different behaviours that led to a safer and more enjoyable relationship with their horse.
We often feel that we don’t have the time to do the things we would like to do with our horses, however these little things – put your head down to be bridled, step back when I enter the stable with food, stand quietly when tied and even walk calmly on and off the trailer, don’t take a long time to teach. In fact, just being aware of these little things that so often get overlooked, setting your goal behaviour and lesson plan for achieving it, will get you well on your way to having a more enjoyable equine partner. In addition, if you start addressing all these ‘little’ things your horse’s overall demeanour will change dramatically – if you thought he was fabulous before....just you wait, he will be even better!
Take 5 minutes to think about what behaviours you could change with your horse. Often we know what we want the horse to do but we are not sure how to go about teaching it. If you would like me do write you up a lesson plan for your specific goal, just let me know, I would be happy to do so.