Clicker Foundation Clinic

I’m just back from a weekend Clicker Foundation Clinic with Becky Chapman at Ashen Equestrian Centre.

It was WONDERFUL!  Becky’s the most amazing teacher and gave us a fantastic weekend full of laughter and learning.  I’m looking forward to getting home and working with Frankie now, feeling much more confident – and really looking forward to coming back here in June for the Alexandra Kurland clinic.

Here’s some video from the weekend:

Thanks go to Amanda Martin for my “fabulous treat delivery”, as she helped me to really clean it up. Still, I can see here that I’m taking the treat to where Barnaby wants to take it, rather than where I want to give it.

Practising Tai Chi Rope Handling Skills for Head Lowering with Steps. In my first session with him, using minty grass nuts as treats, he would hardly lower his head at all. He slowed right down (even “zoning out” and just not moving for a lot of the time) and Becky pointed out that I’d slowed right down to match him (good lesson – I need to be more aware of my tendency to do this, it’s also what I’ve been working on in my riding lessons with Pru – getting the horse to match my rhythm rather than the other way around!). This is the 2nd session with him where we swapped to using chopped carrots as treats – what a difference in motivation!

Practising Tai Chi Rope Handling Skills for Head Lowering with Barnaby.

Some of the things and thoughts I got from the course:

  • Deliver treat and take hand away from horses mouth. Start again immediately treat has been delivered. If horse drops treat don’t pick it up / if I drop treat pick it up.
  • Use treat delivery to reposition the horse.
  • Don’t allow the horse to move me – if he starts moving, be a post and bring him back to where I want him / if he moves into an awkward position for the task, the puzzle is for him to work out how to get into a better position, not for me to get him out of it.
  • Don’t let the horse bring me up/down to his rhythm, work at the rhythm of my choosing.
  • I can use a verbal click and it doesn’t have to be perfect every time!  And it will certainly improve with practice 🙂

Becky is absolutely passionate and a great success at everything she does, and she was talking about wanting to be the best and most compelling thing in her horse’s life. This is where I’m not quite so ambitious and the discussion confirmed for me that I don’t want to even attempt to compete with turnout and other horse companions (I don’t really believe that it’s possible for a human to be “better” or more compelling than these things – why should we be?) so what I’m aiming for is to be the next best thing to those, and if I can be that then I will be more than happy 🙂


About Sophie

Living in Portugal on a permaculture smallholding.
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