People ask me why I’m always talking about shaping behaviors. Quite frankly, it’s the most powerful technique I have found for cultivating a mindset in a horse, one that is based on active and willingly offered creative efforts, with the intent of inventing some sort of behavior that I want.
The motivation for the horse is receiving something he wants, so the process is reciprocal, a win-win for both.
In the past I learned to motivate a horse to guess what I wanted using pressure. I even trained more than one of my horses to be ridden with no tack. So why would I trade those skills, learned through years of effort, for a different technique called shaping with positive reinforcement?
Because I like the results so much more, for many reasons.
I even used pressure/release/click/treat for awhile. The horses were more willing than with pressure/release, but to me, shaped behaviors are still heads above.
I WISH with all my heart I could set up a virtual, mental upload of the techniques, so that people could walk out and just start shaping behaviors. But in the same breath, I’m seeing just how important it is for people to gain this knowledge through the mutual process of discovery with their horse.
I’ve learned, from teaching this tool, that when people slow down and learn to accept and reinforce WHAT THE HORSE CAN GIVE THEM WITHOUT INTERVENTION, they are profoundly moved and become very excited about how capable, smart and willing their horses really are!!
They see the possibilities of shaping new behaviors, and they revel in the mutual bond with their horses in a whole new way.
I’m not exaggerating, it’s true. That is the gift of learning to reinforce and shape behaviors.
So I stay the course and continue to share. Looking forward to seeing more and more of you join in.
Peggy Hogan – the best “whisper” is a “click”