We pride ourselves with the way we approach training young horses. Traditionally "breaking in" a young horse requires force of all our will throughout the entire process.
Humans make them lunge because of the threat of a lunge whip (positive punishment) It is all based-on pressure (negative reinforcement) on and off at the appropriate time. We do not train any horse to be fearful of making the wrong choice. It does not have to be this way at all! We train them with positive reinforcement so that they love the whole process and choose to participate willingly and happily.
We train horses in the same way as a marine trainer would train a killer whale- and let’s face it-you are not going to put a rope on a killer whale and square it up and then get in the water with it! So why do we do this to horses? Its builds distrust, fears, and frustration.
All our work with horses is based on ethical and kind methodology, using clicker training to build all forward cues, halt and turning. We introduce the tack slowly and build in high reward so that good things happen when the tack comes out.
We teach them to problem solve and work things out for themselves and train them to control their impulses themselves. This creates a very sensible, rational brain which can make good choices instead of being reactive. Much work is done to desensitise them from the environment. For example, target training teaches a horse to touch or interact with a given stimuli- my horses move towards flapping bags for reward. They go and investigate road works because they want to target the road cones for reward! Think of that- a young horse who wants to move towards scary things instead of running away! It is a wonderful way of producing a calm, level headed young riding horse in opposition to reactive or flight driven.
Every single young horse will voluntarily move towards the mounting block and stand quietly for mounting, because we have built in high reward. They want you to get on and they want to move forwards when asked because the whole process has been a pleasure for them.
We work hard to have them feel safe on the roads. It is not just traffic training, it includes desensitising to the stimuli they will meet on the pavements- dog walkers and dog barking, men up ladders, children running or kicking a football around, road works, cars/driveways being washed with power washers etc. All these things usually cause fear; we train in such a way as to make your young horse feel very safe when exposed to all of this and where they show interest instead.
We build in calm and relaxed throughout the whole process of starting any horse. It is worth its weight in gold. No force, no pain, no punishment.
I am the first in-house horse trainer in the UK to adopt ethical, science based practice in commercial horse training. If you want to get away from the Traditional or Natural Horsemanship techniques of forcing our will on horses and want to have them trained on the emotional level, where voluntary participation, inquisitiveness and joy is the base of it all, then please do give me a ring or email.