Too Much Motivational Drive Isn’t Necessarily A Good Thing!

Posted in: Academy Online Courses, Clicker Training, Equine Training, Positive Reinforcement Training, The Academy of Positive Horsemanship

Getting the foundations strong and solid when wanting to train with food is THE single most important piece of the puzzle for successful training using positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement training is certainly a very effective training technique. But it’s important to get started with strong foundations which will set you up for making great progress and the most of your journey with it.

Our focus is always on your horse working with relaxation and softness instead of focusing entirely on the food or getting tense around the food.

I cover this all in great detail in my Introducing Horses to Positive Reinforcement Training course inside The Academy of Positive Horsemanship but I still find that many of my clients have moved through this part too quickly or not at all. So we always end up going back at a later date to really solidify things.

Without TRUE natural relaxation in your horse in the presence of you with food on your person, the ancestry primal emotional SEEKING system is already activated in their brains and often too highly aroused before any training has even begun. Emotionally, arousal levels are only going to be accentuated further still by training them in that heightened emotional state.

The horse just isn’t relaxed and calm. His body is, in fact, overly aroused due to too much arousal in his SEEKING system. Too much emotional arousal of any kind isn’t a good thing and too much motivational drive to achieve and seek out resources from this system can and does cause stress too.

The close overlap between SEEKING and the anger system, RAGE, means that if we don’t have truly relaxed horses in the presence of us and food, it’s very possible that this over stimulation will result in producing some frustration or even anger. The RAGE system is a system that animals choose to turn off in laboratory settings if they have the choice to do so – its unpleasant and not enjoyable. It also acts in opposition to the SEEKING system… the horse isn’t having a good time emotionally.

It can take a little while to achieve true relaxation like this, it has done with the mare I have in for training at the moment. Without it, we just aren’t setting the horse up to succeed within training this way.

In order to achieve a genuinely calm, relaxed horse who is able to focus on learning behaviours, the emotions MUST be our first focus.

Get the emotions right and the learning and thus the behaviours will flow simply and easily.

To find out more – join our online Academy Club. Our Introducing Horses to Positive Reinforcement Training home study course includes videos about the science-based behaviour theory alongside the practical know-how to safely introduce this training to your horse and get going with training behaviours. You’ll learn how to regulate that emotional balance between relaxation and motivation so your horse is able to remain genuinely relaxed and before, during and after your training sessions as well as find out about how to use the 7 different ways to form behaviours. You’ll also get started with exercises to develop your horse’s confidence and optimism whilst building a relationship with you that can be trusted and relied on to be consistently enjoyable.

This course gives you the complete foundations to be able to train whatever you want to using positive reinforcement.

You can find out more about The Academy Club here

Members also get access to webinars by guest lecturers, Q&A’s, weekly meet ups, live online practical training sessions, access to support groups, access to our online courses and so much more. Join us here