Friday, February 23, 2007

If you're experiencing a recurring training or behavioral issue with your horse or dog, and feel stuck, here's something to try.

Send your animal an image of the outcome you're trying to achieve, rather than focusing on the "bad" or improper pattern that keeps being repeated.

For example, I received two requests this week from riders whose horses were having trouble with canter departures. After communicating with each horse, I was able to pinpoint the reason for his or her difficulty, and provide recommendations as to how to work through the problem. In both cases, I also suggested that the rider send her horse a picture of how she would like the departure to be executed, knowing that the horse would pick this up and more easily grasp what was being asked.

We can all get into the trap of visualizing undesired results in a situation like this. We unconciously condition ourselves to fear and expect the worst, and then voila! The worst happens. By clearly imagining and focusing on the outcome you are trying to achieve, and then sending that detailed image to your animal, you'll enhance your training and both of you will be able to move on more confidently.