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Capture What You GET Not What You WANT

When we want to teach our horses something new, we should not be too demanding in the beginning.

It’s much more fruitful to appreciate what you GET, rather than to expect what you WANT.

So in the beginning, always capture what you GET with a release, reward and a moment of relaxation.

So when you think:

“Hmmm, this could be something”….


“Yes, that’s kind of into the right direction”…

Then capture it!!

Even if it’s the slightest tendency!

It doesn’t have to be a full step!

With the slightest try of your horse, just BAM! 💥 👊🏻

Capture it!

And Release, Reward, Relax!

Then wait for a few minutes!

And Repeat.

Now when we use all these RRRR‘s:

– Release, Reward, Relax, Repeat –

it always builds a lot of trust and confidence.

Plus, it increases our horse’s figuring out state.

So he starts to become a creative guesser.

And then he’s more willing to put effort in it.

And when he starts to offer more…

You can ask for more…

and get what you WANT!

Then, capture what you WANT with RRR.

And then you will get more of that what you WANT in the future!

Because whatever you reinforce, you’ll get more of that in the future!

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One thought on “Capture What You GET Not What You WANT

Comment author said

By Marlies on 5 July 2019 at 07:50

thank you Marijke. Browsing through your articles this morning has provided some useful food for thought. Specifically: I have a horse that responds very well to positive reinforcement and even more to being asked nicely. eg I can drop his lead rein and ask him to stand and 90% of the time he will just park off there and wait. If you tie him up he will make sure you watch and then very deliberately break the halter. I have accepted that that is who he is. He is a sucker for praise and he likes dressage training – loves to show off for people and other horses. If I want to ride him I walk up to him in the field, remove his fly sheet and mask and ask him to come. He follows me without a halter. He will do almost anything for you as long as he understands and you ask nicely. Insist / use force and the whole horse shuts down and glowers (Make me, you puny human, I’d like to see you try). If the grooms want to catch him with a halter he will probably come if there is a carrot in sight but otherwise he’ll play catch for 15 min. At some stage he has had a very negative experience with whips and it’s only been in the last year of our 5 year acquaintance and his 18 year life that he has allowed me to bring anything resembling a whip within 5 m of him. I can now use a peacock feather to point / touch a body part I want him to move- a momentous improvement 🙂
Anyway: for the last 2 years at least he has offered piaffe like steps on hacks, more recently passage. Frustratingly, there is never an experienced instructor lurking behind a bush in the nature reserve when he manifests this behaviour. I have read as much as I can find and watched many videos on training piaffe to try and mold this nascent movement into something less tense and more correct – but much is shrouded in mystery and in all the videos there is a whip involved. For the first x your articles have offered me some more concrete route for what I need to do. He manifests piaffe like movements when he is frustrated ie he wants to go faster than I will allow. Most commonly it’s if I ask for a halt and he can see no obvious reason why we should remain stationary. This means that my strongest reward for a correct behaviour eg trot like movements rather than a stationary walk is to let him do what he wanted to do: go forward (I have been slow to do this in the past as he has been understandably tense through his back at x and I didn’t want him to go forward hollow). Klaus Balkenhol was going on about how a piaffe should transition to passage and from there to trot. For the first time I understand the sense in this. As he can be tense, I can use a vocal praise as a bridging stimulus, and it may be best to use a specific vocal cue, so that he associates this with a release that is coming very shortly – this should help him relax. As you say I need to praise something, establish that and then mold it. I have been in such a toestand that I’ll be teaching him the wrong stuff by mistake that progress has been painfully slow. But his general training is coming on nicely and he is more and more in self carriage and on his butt, so the movement should become easier and easier for him anyway. I have hope 🙂


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