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Emotional Level in Training

Kate Fenner - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Consciously and carefully controlling the emotional level of the horse when training will lead to faster results and a significantly less stressed animal.

Emotional level, or what the scientific community refers to as arousal level (not a good term to use in a searchable blog post unless you want all sorts engaging in comments), is a key factor in training success. Sometimes it can be too low - where the horse is not learning at all and not engaged in the lesson. On the other hand it can be too high - where the horse is stressed, anxious or even frightened. In either situation, learning will not be optimised so to a certain extent you are, at best, wasting your time. Of course, leaving your horse in an over-emotional state for any period of time will be very detrimental to your overall training.

In order to learn we must, at least to some degree, raise the horse's emotional level to engage him in the lesson. It is tempting, especially when you come across a very emotional (flighty) horse, to always try to be lowering his emotional level. You know what I mean - keeping him calm and pussy-footing around him. Unfortunately, the only way to get your horse to learn the lesson is to raise the emotional level. This means that if you have a horse that is naturally highly emotional you must then raise it even more to engage him.

By raising the emotional level and then lowering it again throughout the lesson we learn to control our horse's emotions. You can never just take the emotional level in one direction. You can only learn to bring the horse's emotional level down by raising it in the first place. 

Next time you are training your horse think about his natural emotional level. Consider whether or not you are raising it and lowering it and ask yourself how much control you have over this aspect of your horse.

Regardless of what you are teaching, the more control of the emotional level you have, the better your outcomes will be.

See the FREE STUFF page for emotional level training videos.

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