All podcasts

#34 Positive Reinforcement Training with Adele Shaw of The Willing Equine

Adele Shaw is a Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant, an endorsed trainer with the World Bitless Association, as well as an internationally recognized mentor and trainer focused on creating a positive relationship between horse and human through science-based training and care practices. This holistic approach examines the horse’s environment, lifestyle, and physical and mental soundness to ensure that the horses are not simply surviving, but truly thriving in their life and relationship with their human caretakers.

While training with positive reinforcement is fairly mainstream in a lot of areas of the animal training world, it's still in its infancy in the horse community. Adele’s mission is to make this information accessible and achievable for the average horse owner through The Willing Equine.

In this episode, we discuss misconceptions, advice, exercises, and so much more related to positive reinforcement training.

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

[SPEAKER 2]On this week’s episode, we’re talking with Adele Shaw of The Willing Equine.

[SPEAKER 1]Positive reinforcement, just like negative reinforcement, is not a method by itself. There are a million different ways to apply varying amounts of positive reinforcement into your training methodology.

[SPEAKER 2]Welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast from wehorse. My name is Danielle Crowell, and I’m your host. Adele Shaw is a certified horse behavior consultant, an endorsed trainer with the World Bitless Association, as well as an internationally recognized mentor and trainer focused on creating a positive relationship between horse and human through science-based training and care practices. This holistic approach examines the horse’s environment, lifestyle, and physical and mental soundness to ensure that the horses are not simply surviving, but truly thriving in their life and relationship with their human caretakers. While training with positive reinforcement is fairly mainstream in a lot of areas of the animal training world, it’s still in its infancy in the horse community. Adele’s mission is to make this information accessible and achievable for the average horse owner through her business, The Willing Equine. Adele, welcome to the wehorse podcast. I’m really, really excited to have this conversation with you.

[SPEAKER 1]Hi, thank you so much.

[SPEAKER 2]So you’re very well known as a positive reinforcement trainer, of course.And I would love to go back to the very beginning and talk about what inspired you to get started with positive reinforcement in the first place.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.Uh, so it was actually one horse that came into my life and You know how we often have those individual horses that just really change things for us.And of course the horses that had come before her were very important and taught me so much, but she was one of those that like changed everything for me.Um, her name was tiger and I got really stuck between a rock and a hard place with her based off of, you know, All of my past training and what I knew, and I had a lot of experience at that time.I was teaching professionally.I was doing some, um, riding lessons, things like that, but also had been working with people’s horses a little bit.Um, I had been riding competitively in both hunter jumper and massage for a long time. And I had many years of experience with horses.I’ve been riding since I was eight and I’d worked with, you know, some of the really big name programs.I had worked under many local, very popular trainers and even more internationally recognized.I had done clinics and stuff with Olympic riders and anyway, so I had a bunch of experience.And so then I get this horse and she’s. Nothing’s working, right?Nothing was working that I knew.And I was just kept hitting a wall with her and she was very dangerous to be around and on.I had also fully exhausted medical searching, you know, saddle fitting.She had custom saddles.She had custom bridles.She had, um, the best hoof care we could find.Uh, she had, I was meeting all of her basic needs, like the, you know, the freedoms like forage friends, all of that. and got body work regularly, worked with multiple body workers.What else we did, we worked with lots of different vets and I was just kept hitting this wall with her and she was really dangerous to ride and it took a very long time to catch her out of the pasture, sometimes like couldn’t at all. And, uh, so I was like, man, somebody has got to change because I either have to sell this horse or put her down.Um, cause I couldn’t just keep her.Cause at the time my mentality was that a horse needed a job.So her just sitting in my pasture, wasn’t going to work for me. And a lot has changed since then.So I had some influences, some friends from social media.This is back when Instagram was more like it originally was, and where people actually really developed, you know, relationships with other people and connected and um they were had been dabbling with clicker training they’re like why don’t you try it with her and i was like no you’re never supposed to feed horses by hand like that had been drilled into me and i’m like this isn’t gonna work ironically i had been clicker training with dogs for quite a while at this point i was competing in agility with dogs and um i was like but she’s a horse that’s not gonna work uh so but i was like you know what what do i have to lose i don’t have anything to lose at this point so Yeah, so that’s how I started experimenting with it.A little bit of a spoiler alert, it didn’t go well at first.I actually gave it up after a couple of months, because I thought I had actually made her work.So I was like, before I started with what do I have to lose?And then I realized, oh, I have more to lose.I created a bit of a treat monster, cookie monster, whatever you want to call them.And she was just even more anxious than before, because I was That’s a whole topic there.But, um, am I, so I gave it up for a while, took a break and then my friends were like, maybe you should try again, but with some professional coaching and I was like, novel concept.And so, um, yeah, I gave it a try again.And that I’d like, I’ve never looked back since then.And so she was such like that moment and working with her just changed the trajectory of like my professional career and even my life.Like it’s impacted my life tremendously.

[SPEAKER 2]Do you have plans for August 30th?Well, now you do.We’re bringing you a night of connection like never before with T-Touch founder Linda Tellington-Jones and Olympic silver medalist Sabine Schutkary.Together, we’re bridging the gap between competition and riding goals with relaxation, trust, and bonding. In our free online event, you’ll learn from the experts about things like calming nervous horses, how prioritizing a strong bond can give you a competitive advantage, building your horse’s trust, helping your horse feel their best, and so much more.Everything will be actionable and ready for you to start implementing with your horse immediately.No matter what your goals are with your horse, our goal is to set you up for success. It’s happening on Wednesday, August 30th at 5 p.m.Pacific, 8 p.m.Eastern.And did I mention it’s free?So what are you waiting for?Go to slash go slash event.That’s slash go slash event and claim your free ticket.We can’t wait for you to join us for this exciting online event.And now back to the episode. Hmm.I love how so many people that I have on this podcast and so many different equestrians that I know, we all have like that one horse that completely changes the game.And if you, if you’re listening and you haven’t had that horse yet, you probably will at some point where it’s like everything, you know, completely turns on its head and it changes everything that we thought we knew.

[SPEAKER 1]I’m a big believer that many horses are that horse or could be that horse but we have to get to a certain point where the stars kind of align and it’s like the right horse and then we’re ready to change for this horse.I think that’s really what happened with this mare is like I had had many horses before her that could have benefited tremendously from what I do now and they would have like it would have been great.And I wish I’d been able to offer that to them.But it wasn’t until her that I was in the right position.Like I was ready to change.I didn’t think I was and it was painful.It wasn’t fun, but it would just happen to work out with this particular mare.And it was like, meaning that my, I was in the right position to be ready to change and to learn.And so, yeah, that’s, I’m a big believer in that.That’s like, you have to be ready for it and then that right horse will happen.And then it’s, yeah.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, absolutely.You spoke to a couple things that I definitely want to get into with the podcast, you know, relating to food, you know, and things like that, the food rewards.But let’s go to where you had listed at the beginning you know, all of the different experience that you had had working with horses prior.And my assumption is going to be that it was with negative reinforcement.And because that is how most of us, I want to say 99% of us get our start in the equestrian industry is we learn from negative reinforcement.Are you able to define the difference between negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement so that people can kind of understand the difference.And then if there’s any misconceptions, you know, cause I know myself originally starting out purely with negative reinforcement, there was a lot of misconceptions that I had about positive reinforcement training before I truly got to know more about it.So can you just kind of define a little bit of that for everybody listening?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.So negative reinforcement you can think about all pressure and release type training where people talk about, you know, you, put a little pressure on and then the horse does behavior, you take away that pressure.That is negative reinforcement training.Negative reinforcement is just like the technical scientific terminology for that.The struggle with the terminology pressure and release is that we get hung up on that word pressure, but we can talk about that later.Positive reinforcement is when the behavior is motivated by the receiving of something that’s appetitive.So with negative reinforcement, We have to remember that the word negative doesn’t mean bad or wrong or unethical or anything.All it means from a scientific terminology perspective is the removal of something.And that reinforces the behavior that came before it.So when you, um, put a little pressure on the horse in the round pen, let’s say you’re kind of moving them with your body.And, or you could even say, you know, the whipper, it doesn’t even have to be anything extensive, a little bit of movement of the rope, you put a little pressure on them.And then when they move forward, you withdraw that you like, take it back, you, you know, soften it. all of that, that is the relief of that mild aversive that says, yep, that was the right behavior.That was it.It reinforces that behavior.And pretty much all horse training up to very recently has been based off of this approach.With positive reinforcement, though, The behavior is motivated purely by getting access to an appetitive.So something pleasant, there can’t be an aversive that comes before and then they’re, they’re responding to that.And then we just happened to add a cookie on top.That’s not how positive reinforcement works.They can be thinking, okay, based on my past history of interacting in this situation, I’m going to try moving forward because usually I will get, you know, a clicking food or something.So, okay, I’ll give a better example of this.When I’m training a horse to move forward, let’s say we’re going to go back to that kind of example of being in a round pen where you want the horse to move forward.With negative reinforcement, you would put that little pressure on.They, again, it could be super mild. And then they make some movements forward and then you release that, you take it back, you soften it.And that reinforces that behavior.So with positive reinforcement, what I would actually do though, is wait for the horse to kind of organically just want to move forward.And then I would take an opportunity to be like, yep, that got some, like some hay pellets, that’s what I use usually.And then they go, oh, that’s interesting.If I move this foot forward, hay pellet arrives.And then they start repeating that because they want access to that reinforcer, that appetitive, that pleasant thing. And then from there, we build that into something that’s much bigger, like doing multiple rounds of the walk trotter canner around the round pen.But there’s not something that they’re trying to seek relief from.There’s something that they are trying to move forward to.They’re trying to seek out something and gain that.So yeah, there’s a really big difference between the two as far as what is motivating the behavior for the horse. This is a really important thing to bring up is that the horse decides what’s appetitive and what’s aversive.The horse’s behavior shows us whether they were positively reinforced for something, negatively reinforced for something, or if something was punished even.We don’t necessarily get to decide what is appetitive for a horse, what is positively reinforcing.You don’t say you positively reinforce the horse, it’s you positively reinforce that behavior that the horse just did, or negatively reinforce that behavior that the horse just did.

[SPEAKER 2]um I could go on and on with examples but do you feel like that was yeah absolutely I liked how you like used a very concrete example of like the round pen so that it it gave that visual and I’m wondering is there any behaviors or like things you notice in a horse you think I really think this horse could benefit from positive reinforcement training um like different things that they may do or ways that they react to things.And then also, are there any horses that you don’t think are best suited to positive reinforcement?

[SPEAKER 1]Um, so with the first question, the horses that I feel would benefit the most from it.Well, first of all, I’m going to say that I think all horses would benefit tremendously from, um, at least some use of positive reinforcement, but you could use all positive reinforcement for all horses if you wanted to. By definition, all forms of operant conditioning work.Positive reinforcement works for every horse.Negative reinforcement works for every horse.Positive punishment works for every horse.And negative punishment works for every single horse.There is no horse on this planet that doesn’t respond to all four of those.It’s the rules of learning for all animals, lizards, snakes, elephants, lions, tigers, people, horses.The horses that I am even more I would say like I’m extra encouraging people to implement positive reinforcement with is when you get into situations where you’re going to ask them for a little bit of movement with some pressure or ask them to do something with some pressure.And you’re seeing clear signs of distress.Like they are not super happy about it.You might see a tail swish.You might see a kicking out.You might see some tension happen in the body.You might see triangulation of the eyes, things like that.You’re seeing clear communication from the horse that they’re finding this unpleasant. If your horse is responding, however, very calmly and just like, yep, this is cool.You’re not seeing a lot of tension.You’re not seeing a lot of reactivity.Then they’re probably doing just fine with whatever you’re doing.So really looking to your horse and letting them tell you how they’re feeling about the situation.On the flip side, we can also see this with positive reinforcement.Um, there is because it’s a growing. way of working with horses.I’m going to jump in here real quick and say positive reinforcement, just like negative reinforcement is not a method by itself.There are a million different ways to apply varying amounts of positive reinforcement into your training methodology.And there’s different techniques and you can have five trainers that predominantly use positive reinforcement in the same room, and we’re all going to do it a little bit differently.So Just like you’re going to get five natural horsemanship or negative reinforcement or competitive type trainers in the same room, and they’re all going to do it differently.Um, so we just need to keep that in mind.Pressure and release is not a method.Positive reinforcement is not a method.Um, so.You can be adding clickers and adding food into the equation, all that, and be causing your horse quite a bit of stress. They can be tense, they can be tight, they can be triangulation of the eyes, tail swishing, kicking out, things like that, because there’s a lot more going on in the picture than just, I added the click and the food.So that doesn’t automatically make it a positive reinforcement situation, contingency.So with that being said, it’s not that there are horses that shouldn’t have positive reinforcement or they don’t do well with it, it’s that some situations especially some handlers need more coaching and there are better ways to apply it so maybe that particular way of applying positive reinforcement is not working for that particular horse and so we might need to look at a different variation of it or a different way of applying it or needing some more coaching or maybe we need to look at the rest of their life and it has nothing to do with the you know these 10 little minutes in this training session or 30 or whatever it has to do with the rest of their You know 23 plus hour day you know how much forage are they getting how much stress are they experiencing on a day to day basis, and I would look at all of these things for any horse, no matter how you’re training them.yeah so. I’m not sure if that answered your question, hopefully.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, yeah, it did.And I guess a question that came from that is, what is your opinion on blending the two together?If you have a little bit of negative reinforcement and a little bit of positive reinforcement, is it totally blurry for the horse and makes things just unclear?Or do you think that that can be done?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, it’s such a great question. um, encourage people to separate them.So a lot of people that start working with me, what I’ll have them do is continue what they’re normally doing.If they’re taking riding lessons, um, or if they’re just wanting to go out and trail rides, whatever it is, or even just basic handling, like being able to move the horse in and out of the stable, out to the pasture, like keep that how it is, as long as it’s not problematic, as long as your horse isn’t dangerous or something like that. And they’re not clearly in a lot of distress.Go ahead and keep that as it is.But then on the side, let’s learn about positive reinforcement.Let’s learn about shaping plans.Let’s learn about creating behaviors and stimulus control and all of the techniques and the behaviors and skills that we need to learn as handlers to train in this new way. And then as you want to go and start replacing some of the other behaviors.So like, let’s say going back to the example of being able to lead the horse from the stall to the pasture, let’s say it’s okay, but not great.The horse has a tendency to drag you to grass.It may be, it has a tendency to get a little frisky, might occasionally rear a little bit.And you’re like, I’m not loving this situation, but I’m keeping it like that for now.Um, then I’ll say, okay, once we’re ready, let’s go over here. to that leading behavior.And let’s replace this situation with positive reinforcement techniques.So we’ll, you know, set the horse up to follow a target.Let’s say we’ve taught them to follow a target.Now we’ll bring it into this situation.Now, can you follow a target from your stall to your pasture?And, um, we’ll have implemented leading behaviors with positive reinforcement, all of that.That’s just kind of one example.And that’s how I teach people.And if they want to start eventually transitioning everything over, and so it’s almost all exclusively, you know, that’s what we’re, the goal is, is positive reinforcement.Fantastic.If they only ever use it for like five or six behaviors, cool. I think it still adds a tremendous amount of benefit to their everyday life.It can improve their relationship with the horse.It gives the horse something to do that isn’t riding based usually, like if you’re just dabbling a little bit.But as far as using them at the same time when people want to go about doing what they’ve always been doing and then just add the click and the food afterwards.I think there’s a really high risk of creating a lot of conflict for the horse.I have seen it done well.I just don’t teach it that way because there is such a risk. of creating a lot of conflict and confusion for the learner, for the horse.And oftentimes what I’ve seen is that the primary motivation for the behavior is still negative reinforcement.It just happens to be a little bit better because they get some food along in the process.I don’t consider that a positive reinforcement trained behavior.I consider that a negative reinforcement trained behavior that maybe has some counter conditioning with adding the food in, maybe has added clarity and timing because of the click. But that’s very different than the process I take with when I’m trying to use exclusively positive reinforcement as the motivator for that behavior.It’s just that process looks very different.

[SPEAKER 2]And now if somebody wanted to make the transition, let’s say that they previously were working with their horse from a negative reinforcement standpoint, and they wanted to start to transition into exclusively positive reinforcement. How would you recommend that they get started?Is there any certain equipment, aside from obviously the clicker and things like that, or basic exercises?How would you recommend they begin that transition?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, one of the best things that I would recommend is to find somebody to learn from.That’s something that I wish I had done right off the bat.I created a lot of problems with my horse.I made things way worse, as I explained earlier, in the beginning because I didn’t have that guidance and I was trying to just do what I had done before by adding the click and the food afterwards.And it created a tremendous amount of problems. so much so that I ended up giving it up, saying it didn’t work for horses, or at least it didn’t work for my horse, and I kind of badmouthed it for a little while.I’ve seen that happen many times.And then when I came back, I still was… It’s not like it is now, obviously.I have many years of experience now. but I’m much like I was set up for success a whole lot more with that coaching and with a community too.So having a support system is really helpful because a lot of times we’re, you know, we’re at a boarding facility and we’re the only ones there that are doing clicker training and there’s a lot of naysayers and a lot of negativity.And so when that’s your environment that you’re set into and then you don’t have your support system and you don’t have coaching, it’s going to be really hard to be successful.It’s not impossible, but it’s harder.Um, so that would be my recommendation part of them.And then as far as the actual training goes, a lot of people, um, get excited and they’re like, yes, this is awesome.It’s super powerful.It’s fantastic.The horse is having fun.We’re having fun.And they really want to jump into these big, exciting behaviors.Like, um, I, worked with somebody one time where the first behavior they taught their horse was Spanish walk.And the first behavior you teach your horse with clicker training will likely be the most well-remembered and well-versed because it’s the very first thing.It’s the exciting one, and you guys practice it over and over again.And so it will keep coming back, and it will come back a lot.And you’re also probably going to make most mistakes with that behavior. Probably not putting it on cue very well.It’s just going to be offered all the time.It becomes the new exciting shiny penny for the horse and for the handler.So my recommendation is to start with what I call a default neutral, but you could call it just about anything, a calm, attentive behavior, something like that.I asked them to stand with me. With a little bit of space between us you know a little bit of a personal bubble and I asked him to stand with me with their head neutral so lined up from nose to tail all four feet still not frozen not a robot they can still move if they need to get a fly that’s fine they’re just relaxed they’re just standing with me I tell people to envision. what it would be like to hold your horse for the farrier or for the vets or even just like waiting in line to go into the show ring or something.You just want them to stand with you calmly.They don’t have to be frozen robots.They just are like standing chill and reinforce that a lot, like all the time.And you’re going to do that in between practicing other behaviors.You’re going to be doing that just pretty much anytime you can.Cause I want that behavior to be the most reinforced behavior.I want any time the horse goes, Oh shoot, I don’t know what to do to default back to a neutral position.So that’s where I would start with any horse.That’s where I start with every horse too.Um, and that way it’s the most.Like practice the most reinforced behavior.And so they’re most likely to default back to that one because if for no other reason, it’s a really important for safety purposes.Mm.

[SPEAKER 2]Yes, absolutely.And now, riding.So if somebody wanted to get started with positive reinforcement, and they still wanted to ride at the same time, or they still had competition plans, how would they go about that?Can you do positive reinforcement and ride at the same time?Can you compete at the same time?Can you make that transition and still do it?Do you have to have a break?I’d love to discuss that. Because I know it’s going to be a big thing.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.You know, just like referencing earlier when I mentioned how I like to encourage people to start exploring positive reinforcement. I encourage people to keep doing, you know, the riding, keep going towards their competition goals, doing all the things that you want to do.And then let’s, you know, play with positive reinforcement on the side.Let’s learn some new novel behaviors on the side.Let’s learn, um, let’s problem solve a particularly, you know, like maybe you only ever use positive reinforcement to teach your horse out how to lead out to the pasture, but then, or lead to the arena and then you go and ride.That’s fine too. Although I would encourage people to look at maybe the motivation behind why their horse is struggling to be led into the arena or out to the pasture.That could tell you a lot about how they feel about that situation.But I don’t have any problem with people wanting to use it under certain contingencies, but not others.With positive reinforcement though, once you get to that point, if you’re kind of going all in and you want to do this and kind of replace everything else, You can absolutely ride and you can absolutely do different high level type behaviors.I know trainers that are doing fantastic training with higher level dressage movements.Um, I know people that are jumping that with horses that have been trained almost exclusively with positive reinforcement.The competition environment is hard because the rules and the environment and how the competitions are set up basically are not conducive to I would argue not even just positive reinforcement, but just horses in general.I think that they are set up with lacking consideration for the horses needs at an ethical level, at a, you know, species appropriate level.So I’m, I’m not anti competitions.I’m just saying they’re a hard, it’s a hard environment.It’s a hard situation to put a horse into period.Um, But even if your horse can and is prepared for a competition type environment and handles it very well and isn’t super stressed and all that, again, the rules are not set up to allow for a lot of positive reinforcement.They are specifically set up to allow for tremendous amounts of negative reinforcement and even positive punishment.We see it a lot in the competition arena. But if you were to try and scratch your horse or click and give us some food and then go back into your test, you’d be excused.It’s just not going to work.Even some of the Liberty competitions, I’m not seeing a lot of accommodations being made for a different kind of reinforcement being used.Meanwhile, it’s almost continuous use of negative reinforcement in the same test, in the same pattern, whatever. your horse isn’t supposed to receive any reinforcement during the competition.It’s that it’s only supposed to be a certain kind.And so absolutely, you can ride.I take my horses on very long trail rides.I do dressage with them.Western dressage, classical dressage.I jump with them.I’ve helped quite a few people work with horses that were doing competitive hunter jumper or other disciplines to problem solve some areas. And, um, I know some people that are competing, it’s just more challenging if you’re going to try and make that full switch over.Um, my recommendation is to keep doing your riding stuff, keep doing your competitions as you are now start dabbling with positive reinforcement, let it grow, see how much you want to use it, how much you want to incorporate it, and then see if your goals kind of start to change.Or maybe you could at some point do that.Um, like we’ve talked about earlier where it’s. really a combination of negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement, but you start incorporating, you know, more food rewards into your regular riding, um, and seeing if your horse likes that and if it’s okay, and if it’s effective for you guys and it’s working and it’s making things better and your horse seems happy, then go for it.I think that’s great.So every horse human team, I think is a little bit of an individual here.

[SPEAKER 2]I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second and, um, put myself in the shoes of one of your students.So let’s say I am making the transition to positive reinforcement and I call you up and I’m like, Adele, I am trying to lead my horse and he’s not moving or I get on their back and they’re not taking a step forward or, um, I can’t get them to come away from their buddies in the field.

[SPEAKER 1]What do I do?Well, all three of those are very different.I always, because I base my training and just how I work with horses on the human hierarchy and Lima, my first question is always, okay, let’s look at the environment.Let’s look at how this was set up.Is there something happening that’s causing the horse to not want to go into the arena or I can’t remember some of the others where you asked, but, um, let’s look at that.Let’s see what’s happening.Is it because their buddy is back in the barn and you want to take them out to the pasture and they’re having to leave their buddy behind?Well, that’s an easy fix.We just take the buddy out with them.Um, or we go and we do specific training that helps teach, you know, condition them that being away from their buddy is awesome.And then they get to go back.And so there’s specific training protocols that we can use for that. So we’re always going to look at environment first.We’re going to look at how the horse is feeling.Are they, you know, is there a medical concern here?Is something wrong?Is the horse maybe not wanting to lead out to the pasture because the pathway is rocky and their feet hurt when you walk over the rocks?None of this has to do with positive reinforcement.All of this has to do with learning how horses communicate and learning to be good caregivers and being just like educated and proactive trainers and caregivers.We can always do things to step in before we look at it as a training protocol.Very few things actually, very few problem behaviors are truly like training alone.It’s almost always connected with some sort of pain or some sort of environment management.There’s always something else related there. But let’s play.So let’s pretend that, you know, we make sure the buddy goes out, we’ve checked the feet, we’ve done all this stuff.And while we can’t truly say this horse is, you know, a hundred percent comfortable because we can’t ask them, we’re going to assume, you know, at this point we’re like, okay, we’ve exhausted a lot of options and it’s training.Let’s look at training now.I tend to do them kind of both at the same time.I let them overlap. I am going to teach that horse how to touch a target and then start to follow it probably and then start teaching them to go for longer and longer periods following this target.And then I can even transition, I can fade out the target so they don’t need to use that at all.And for anybody who’s listening, a target is like, it really doesn’t matter what it is, but oftentimes what you’ll see is like a stick with like a ball on the end. I teach them to follow it they are targeting it they are moving with it.I can fade out that target so they’re leading as if there’s no target there and I can even transfer this to barn staff, make it really easy for them, you know they we put this all on a big chain so the horse learns like. Okay, the person comes into my stall, they put the halter on, they put the lead rope on, then they lead me out to the pasture.When I get there, they turn me around, they shut the gate, they take off my halter.And then I can, you know, talk to the barn management, I can say, you know, here, just give them a little handful of these pellets that I’m going to sit here by this pasture is at the very end or something like that.So the reinforcement, the positive reinforcement is only happening at the very end of this big sequence of behaviors that they’ve learned in stages beforehand with me or their owner, whoever. And I’ve done this for quite a few, um, cases.Actually, I had one case where it was a little mini pony and he was biting people continuously when they tried to lead him.And so, and she was at a boarding facility and other people who didn’t have positive reinforcement handling training.Couldn’t they, she, it just wasn’t going to be practical.They, the horse needed to learn how to put a halter on and lead out to the pasture and then just be put out there and no clicking and treating in between. And so that’s what we did.That whole protocol I just mentioned to you, that’s what we did.And he leads beautifully now.He hasn’t, as far as I know, he hasn’t bitten in years.And he is wonderful going in and out of the pasture now.We haven’t had any problems. Um, so yeah, that’s, I would take a training, training protocol like that.And I would reduce the frequency of reinforcement that was needed to be practical for that individual situation and still making sure that it’s positively reinforcing for the horse.So it takes time and takes practice, just like with, you know, traditional negative reinforcement type training. you don’t get on a green for a course and assume that they’re going to be able to go for long periods without releases.Same things happening here.So it just takes some strategy and skill and learning from for the human.

<p>[SPEAKER 2]I love that answer.And I love how you opened it with let’s look at everything rather than just the training, because I feel like that’s something that so many people bypass or overlook.And it’s it can be speaking from personal experience, incredibly exhausting when you overlook those things because no matter what you do, it’s never going to resolve if you don’t go and find the original issue.Um, so 100%, I love that you opened with that because it’s, you know, in my opinion, the most important thing of all is, is making sure that it’s not something in the horse’s environment that is causing it to, um, for you to think that it’s a training issue?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I tell people quite often, I can’t train away pain.I can’t train away poor management, poor, you know, their needs not being met.It is not about positive reinforcement.It’s about just training, period.Like, you can’t train these things away.You could temporarily suppress the symptoms, the behavior symptoms, but you can’t make them go away by training if there’s an underlying cause for the behavior that has not been resolved. Yeah, all behavior has a function, all behavior has purpose.And it’s our jobs.This is why I don’t go by just horse trainer title, like I’m a certified behavior consultant.So my job is not just about training, actually, most of it is not training.Most of it when I do a behavior consult is like, puzzle, you know, solving, like problem solving.I’m like a detective, I come in for a horse that is attacking people.And I’ve had that happen recently.And turns out it’s Vision problems and painful feet.And, um, yes, we did some training cause we needed to counter condition, you know, people being around and learning that they’re safe and she’s not going to be harmed.Um, but the biggest thing was getting her feet comfortable and helping her with her vision, which for her, it was like sun blindness.So like in the brightness, she couldn’t see.And, um, so just putting on a really intense UV mask. a fly mask helped tremendously.So she could actually keep her eyes open so she could see people.So she wasn’t so scared all the time.Um, but yeah, and that’s big part of what I do is not just not training is problem solving for the horse.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.Yeah.I love that.What type of food rewards do you recommend?Um, so for example, my horses have access to 24 seven forage.They have, you know, a great big hay box.It’s always full.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And, um,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]What would you recommend for somebody like me to feed them?Would it be… So I’m just going to list off some of the obvious things.There’s the option of treats, which can get really sugary really quickly.You mentioned hay pellets or the different forage pellets.I know some people that use some handfuls of hay or grass and things like that, which In my personal opinion, if the horses have access to hay 24-7, would that be as enticing?So what is your overall opinion on the different types of food rewards that people can use?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I love this conversation.We could probably do a whole podcast episode on just this alone.I think people far underestimate the importance of selecting the type of reinforcer and how you’re using the reinforcers and how the environment, the antecedents, and what you’re training can also modify the needed reinforcer and the individual’s preferences for certain reinforcers.Training timelines, goals, things like that all play a part.So I use a lot of variations of one primary type of reinforcer, which is forage-based.I almost never use a reinforcer that has added flavor, added sugar, added molasses ingredients, grains, oats, anything like that. almost always it’s some form of Timothy, you know, maybe like a coastal Bermuda, like if it’s loose, or alfalfa, or I know, in some areas, like, there’s different kinds of hay you might use, but I try and get as close to what they already have 24 seven access of.And for a couple of reasons.First, we need to talk about the idea of contra free loading, which is don’t exactly quote me on this, but contra-freeloading is when the, you can have two equal value reinforcers as far as like the actual object itself.So like loose hay in the pasture and loose hay in your hand, whatever for the training. But because doing something to access the reinforcer is valuable to the learner, it actually ups the value of what’s available for training.So I can train with loose hay that’s in my pouch, and they can have loose hay at their feet, and it’s the same training session, and they will opt for what I’m offering them because it makes it more valuable just by wanting to do something to get it.So that active effort increases the value of it Also, the form at which it’s being fed increases value or decreases the value.So I’ll notice that when I feed hay pellets by hand versus when I put them into a food pan versus scattering them on the ground.The one that’s the highest value is going to be from my hand because most horses have experience of like, oh, by hand means it’s novel and it’s a treat.So that increases the value of the reinforcer.From a food pan is usually associated with getting meals.Some horses, It can increase the value of the reinforcer, but for a lot of times I find this is like a middle ground versus if you scatter it on the ground, they have to like kind of look around for it.And it’s just kind of like grazing and they do this all the time.And it’s just not as exciting.It’s not as reinforcing. So how you’re delivering it impacts the value of the reinforcer.And I’m not going to go too much deeper on this because, again, I could do a whole episode on this.But most of the time, to simplify, I’m using just a basic hay pellet or like a really broken up hay cube. Um, even most of the time it’s Timothy, I find that’s even lower value reinforcer than alfalfa for most horses.And for some horses I’m going with loose hay.I just have a big pouch, big, you know, like big bag and it’s a little bit cumbersome, but it works for certain horses until I can get them to the point where they’re okay with pellets.They’re not too excited by them.Um, or it’s a safety thing too, if they’re not chewing them properly. things like that.So I’ll use just like a loose hay in my pouch and I’m feeding that and they have loose hay available.And that’s something that I’m very careful with.Whenever I’m training, there’s always an alternative reinforcer available.So I don’t have the only hay that’s available.This helps reduce the potential that they’re only doing what I ask for the food.So this is really important.And this is also why I use very low value reinforcers, because I want them to be very quick to be like, yeah, I don’t feel like doing that.And the hay pellet is not so exciting that it’s going to kind of quote, force them to do the thing just to get the treat.So if you start using like really molasses-y things, horses will do just about anything to get a molasses, like a Mrs. Pastures kind of cookie.I’m only bringing those out if like it’s the middle of the night, we’re in a lightning storm, and the horse is colicking, or they’ve got to get in the trailer, and they hate the trailer.I’m bringing out Mrs. Pastures because we got to get them in. But even then, honestly, if you do the training right and you build the trust history, you build the reinforcement history and you’ve prepared them and you’ve adequately introduced different distractions and difficulty levels and all that so that when you are loading a horse in the middle of the night during a lightning storm, which would be terrible, but let’s say it happens, your horse should walk right in because they’ve been prepared for this.So I don’t always have to bring those out.That’s just like an emergency. really got to make this happen.I’m kind of intentionally, you know, coaxing them into doing something that they’re not comfortable with.But I don’t want that to be my everyday training.My everyday training needs to be, you know, we’re on the same page, it’s very cooperative, they’re very willing to communicate to me that they’re not comfortable with this, they don’t want to do this, I don’t want them to feel pressured into doing anything at all.That’s really important.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And then just to reiterate, you recommend keeping it within the same forage family.So for example, if they eat Timothy hay, you go with Timothy like pellets or other like loose Timothy hay, not for example, alfalfa.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, it’s possible.Like for me, really in my area, mostly what we have available is coastal Bermuda and they don’t really pellet that.I’ve at least not ever seen it.And so I end up using a lot of Timothy. because I don’t, I can’t get coastal Bermuda in pellets.But if I bring out alfalfa pellets, which they don’t often get, they get a little bit of alfalfa every once in a while, but it’s still higher value because it’s alfalfa, it’s a novel taste, it’s fun.And we have to remember horses aren’t like, they taste a lot of different flavors.I’m not saying they don’t taste things, but what their preferences are obviously is towards grass and hay and stuff.So we’re sitting here thinking like, oh, it’s just grass.Like that’s not exciting at all.But to them, alfalfa is super exciting.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, absolutely.And now, there was another question that had come up.It was the food one and, oh, clicker.So what is the opinion on specifically using a clicker versus having like a specific word or you make a sound with your mouth that is specifically, you know, for those same reasons that you would use a clicker?What’s kind of like that?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I prefer to teach people with a mechanical clicker.So like the little things you buy at the store and I have one specific type that I use.I just have tons of them.I have like, they’re just coming out of ears and pockets here.Like I’ve got them in my car.I’ve got them in my purse.I’ve got them everywhere.Um, the reason being is because they are super easy to transfer between handlers. And they sound the same every single time.They’re very precise and they’re fast.And it’s a very distinct sound too.The problem with words is that oftentimes the words are choice.The word choice that we use, like the thing that we use like good or yes, or good boy or good girl or whatever it is, it’s too long.It doesn’t stand out amongst us talking.Like imagine you’re on a trail ride and you’re just chatting with your friend and you’re like, good boy.Like it doesn’t have a distinct, you know, sound that comes out, unless you’re very specific about it.Um, like for me, I have a bridge signal or basically the clicker, but it’s a word.And I say, yes, but I don’t, I don’t talk like that, but it’s very sharp.It’s very short.And I make, and I say it much louder than that.Like it’s a high pitch, like, and it stands out amongst the rest of my conversation.Cause I’ll be teaching.And if I use, if I just were like teaching and talking along, like I’m doing now.And I said, yeah, so whatever, like the horse isn’t male to pick up on that.Um, The other problem I’ve run into with words as bridge signals is they’re really hard to transfer to other handlers.I have students and interns and stuff that come from all over the world.And so, you know, as much as I want to, like, I don’t, to me, I don’t have an accent, but clearly I do.And, you know, if you were to come and visit and say the same words as me, you may not even be able to pick up on, like our voices just sound different.And even if we don’t have an accent, just the difference between the the volume at which we speak and the tonality of it all changes.So if you’re going to have your horse work with multiple different people, they need to have something that is easy to transfer.You don’t have to stick with exclusively a mechanical clicker.So like I mentioned before, my horses all have a mechanical clicker bridge signal, but I also have words that I have trained that are specifically for me. that they understand what it means.But I don’t usually have my students use those words because they’re hard to transfer.So you can have more than one bridge signal.But I think for clarity and precision and consistency and ease of understanding for the horse, especially at the beginning, and this is what I tell people, just humor me, give me like three to six months with a clicker, mechanical clicker.And then if you want to change it to a word after that, have right at it.I don’t really care.Like you go do you and have fun.And if it’s working for you and your horse, perfect, amazing.But in the beginning, let’s start with a mechanical clicker.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So learning new things is always like exciting, and it can seem, you know, fun.And I don’t think a lot of people or enough people talk about how overwhelming learning new things can be and how to overcome the roadblocks that inevitably come up when you’re learning new things.So what advice would you give people that are making the transition to positive reinforcement or starting it for the first time and are feeling overwhelmed and maybe just want to go back to that comfort zone of what they’ve always done before?What advice would you give?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, so this also this component, this piece of it also plays into my recommendations for people to start small, and let it build as you’re ready for it.If you’re anything like me, you want to go all in and just be like, yes, this is my new thing, you want to hyper focus on it, you want it to, you know, transform your world and you just just dive way in headfirst. And I think a lot of people are this way.And I feel like sometimes I’m like up there, like I’m like, you know, back here, like almost as if we’re like a rider, like trying to hold back the rains, like settle down.Like we got this, we’ll do it slowly.So that’s one of my biggest recommendations though, is slowing down and letting it happen piece by piece.Just start with one thing where you can be successful. Get some clarity around it, practice, you know, with positive reinforcement.I’m specifically thinking of like training a new behavior.Like let’s just start with one, maybe two.And don’t worry about the rest of everything you’re doing with your horse.Just leave that as it is.Let it be comfortable.Let it be known.Reinforced behavior is not only for you, but for the horse.Cause it’s something we don’t think about as we’re learners too. which is a really good point that you brought up.If I were to take a horse and just dump them into the deep end somewhere and say, you must do this right now, like that’s flooding, right?And so we tend to flood ourselves.That’s a good point.Or let our environment and people around us flood us with information.And so we have to be careful not to do that.We have to be careful to let this kind of drip feed it to yourself.Let it be gradual.Let yourself do it one thing at a time. It doesn’t even have to be about training.I know for myself, part of this whole transition, it wasn’t just about positive reinforcement, but going back to when I said, like, first, I look at the environment and how’s the horse feeling and all that, all of that had to happen to like, I’ve had to learn a lot about hoof care and you know, even learn how to trim horses feet myself.I’ve had to learn about dental care, like a lot about dental care for horses, people know very little about dental care, and just kind of trust whoever to do their teeth.And it’s amazingly, that’s amazingly problematic, actually, and causes a lot of behavior issues that we don’t even realize.Bodywork, I’m right now kind of deep diving into bodywork.But I’ve wanted to know all of these things for a very long time now, like let’s like rewind like 10, 12 years.I’m like, okay, tomorrow I’m going to know about body work, dental care, health care, you know, training, all this.And I had to stop myself and be like, okay, let’s start with one.What’s priority right now?And I decided it was at that time I was learning about positive reinforcement.And then I just kind of gradually worked my way in, started working with the coach, you know, letting it kind of take over everything I was doing, but it took a while to get there.It wasn’t like overnight. And then when I felt like I had a good handle on that, I was like, okay, I’m ready to take on studying about hoof care and transitioning my horses to barefoot and all that.So I was doing it in stages.And then after a while I was like, okay, I’ve got some bandwidth again.I feel pretty confident letting that information kind of move to the background.And now I can start studying equine dental work and you know, all that. So taking this approach with anything that you’re doing with horses, whether it’s about training or, you know, holistic care or just better horse keeping, like their environment, all of that, how you’re feeding them.I mean, just forage based nutrition and all of that, that’s a whole overwhelming product or topic in itself.So, yeah, basically my recommendation is to try and just take off one bite at a time. time, let yourself learn about it, let it become something that you’re really comfortable with, and then make the conscious decision to go to that next step.You can make a list if you want of things you want to learn about.That’s great to just try not to let that list overwhelm yourself, overwhelm you.And then the other thing I would say is, I still think working with a coach is going to help you a lot because your coach is going to be able to come in and say, I know you just watched all these videos on social media and you just read five books and you know, you’re doing all this stuff, but what you and your horse need right now today, that is the most important thing is this right here.So they can really funnel all of this overwhelming amount of information into what is most important for you to at this moment.And then you can always go back to the other stuff later.Um, but I find that that really helps my students who are like, I just didn’t even know where to begin.I didn’t know what was most important.It’s so overwhelming.Do I teach this first?Do I teach that first?Am I doing it wrong?And I can come in and just be like, totally, I see all of that.Let’s start here, just one step at a time.And then we call that thin slicing our criteria.So we have the criteria of learning, let’s say, about positive reinforcement.Well, that’s like a huge goal, right? Let’s break it all the way down to the very first piece of information that you need to know.Here it is for you.And that’s what we would do for our horses, too.You break down these big goals, these big training behaviors, big goals like you want to go to a competition.OK, that is a huge goal to then you’ve got a thin slice and thin slice and thin slice that down.If you’re talking about a full maybe that you’re going to raise, what do they need to learn first?That can be really overwhelming to think about.Like, where do you even start?And so a coach can help you do that.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Mmm, I love that.I love what you said at the beginning like don’t flood yourself like it’s it’s such good advice Talking about social media you had kind of mentioned, you know if you saw these videos and you wanted to learn it and social media can be a great place to build connection and to learn new things and to be inspired and it can also be a a not so great place, you know, with opinions and all of those things.Are there any stereotypes or things that you maybe had to overcome when making the transition to positive reinforcement?And the reason why I ask is because I do feel and I’m hoping that there’s so many things that I hope for change within the equestrian industry. And one of them is the lack of, we diminish the amount of division that is between disciplines and industries and training, such as positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.So have you felt any stereotypes when making the transition and how did you overcome that?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh boy.Um, so keeping in mind that when I started introducing clicker training to my horses and myself and positive reinforcement and started learning about this, there were maybe like two accounts on Instagram that even dabbled with it.Um, it wasn’t talked about, it wasn’t thing.There was only two books about it and they were older books.Um, there was no courses, there was no clinics, there were no, It just wasn’t, it wasn’t really a thing.So I was definitely going against the grain.Now, not as much as like a couple of the people that came before me, of course, but still, yes, the amount of stereotypes, the amount of judgment, like every day, every day, just sometimes as many as like hundreds of comments of like, You’re never supposed to feed the horse by hand.You know, this is dumb, this is stupid, just all of the word choices that people could use.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And that can be, especially when, I know you had mentioned that previously too, about you thinking, oh, I’ve been taught I’m not supposed to feed the horse by hand.And so then when people are coming and saying that, it makes you start to question, you know, what you’re doing and all of those things.And it really can create a negative spiral for a lot of people.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, it created a daily existential crisis.I think, honestly, how did I get through this?Because it’s not nearly like it is now.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Or just what advice would you give to somebody who maybe is struggling to show up authentically with their horse?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. I will say I’ll be up front I had my own fists like I boarded at my own, you know, not boarded I kept my horses at my own place.And so I didn’t receive much judgment unless the vet was there and they often are not big supporters of training this way, which is sad and unfortunate. Um, especially since now, considering all the vets that work with my horses, like these are the best horses we work with, like hands down, but then they still, I know they think I’m crazy on the side and I’ve heard them say things too.And I’m like, I, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.I’m crazy, but also my horses are the best horses you’ve ever worked with.So something’s not adding up here.Um, anyway, uh, so that really helps that I had like my sanctuary, my place where I went back to where there was no judgment. A lot of people that’ll be boarding at facilities and such, I, my heart goes out to you guys because it is much harder when you’re daily being observed and criticized.And, um, but thankfully it’s growing and thankfully people are becoming more aware and it’s not such as a weird, um, concept anymore, at least not in many areas.Um, but as far as like social media goes and my experience there, even my experience working with other professionals, like. body workers or vets that would come in and be judgmental of what I was doing. feel like I’ve driven, I’ve said this a few times, but I’m going to keep driving at home community is really important.Having your support system that you can go back to after a bad, bad visit where the vet was just going on and on about how bad clicker training was.And then you can go back to them and be like, this is what happened today.And they can come around and support and they can encourage you and they can be like, it’s okay that they thought that way, because you know, you know, this, this and this and this and you can go back and look at like, where things started and where they are now, and people to remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing, that support system to keep you on your path.And if you’re out there doing it alone, it’s just so hard.And you don’t have to pay for a community.There’s a lot of like, I know some different Discord channels.I know some Facebook groups.Facebook groups are, be careful with those.That’s my warning. But there’s different programs to like mine that have a big community that comes with it.There’s also you can get into talking with other creators on Instagram.That’s how I started.That was my community is, um, I started reaching out to other people that were doing clicker training and we would chat back and forth and we created like message.We would moved over to like what’s happened stuff and we would just talk like all day.And that was basically my, my barn friends were on WhatsApp and we would send each other videos all the time and help each other out.And it was so, so helpful because I felt like I had my community, my, my support system.So even if I was having these other experiences, they were not the they were kind of the exception to the rule of, you know, the support that I was receiving.They weren’t the majority.And it wasn’t all the naysayers as the majority, the majority was my support system, those people that I trusted.And the other thing that I would encourage is just Well, documenting, having videos and such can be really helpful to go back and remind yourself of where you came from and why you’re doing what you’re doing, because that can be easy to forget.And just keeping some sort of log of, you know, because there’s been so many times where I’m like, man, are we making progress, whatever.And then I go back and read training records or watch videos.And I’m like, oh, yeah, we’ve come a long way, a long way. And I think the third thing would be that It’s really easy when you discover something new that’s exciting and changing your world to go and really start to preach it to everybody else.And I started off here too, where you just get on social media and you just start kind of shouting it from the hilltops and start yelling at other people, like, why aren’t you getting it?Be careful doing that because it creates a lot of hostility.It invites people onto your pages or whatever to judge you, which is going to have its effect.It also creates that division that you were talking about, just, we’re just throwing insults at each other back and forth.And, you know, we have our two different camps and we’re like, you’re bad.No, you’re bad.And it just creates more division, more problems.And I think you really, in a sense, like the way you interact with the people around you, the energy you give out is what you receive.And so if you want that support system, if you want people to reinforce your efforts and be there to encourage you and to also be respectful in responses to you when they don’t agree with you, I think you have to really give that out too.So yeah, I think that if I were going to say one more thing, it would be that As always, the primary focus should be your horse, you and your horse.You are a team.It’s you guys against the world, essentially.And so try not to make decisions just because you feel peer pressured into them or that somebody else has an opinion or they’re, you know, whatever it is that they’re saying or doing.Try and really focus on what you feel like your horse needs and what you need.And if it’s working for you and you guys feel like you’re in a better place than you’ve ever been, and it’s going, then that’s all that’s important.That’s, that’s really the. That’s it.That tells you everything you need to know, regardless of what anybody else says.So just try and stay really focused on you guys as a team.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So good.I want to like underline and star and highlight like every single thing that you said there, like all of your points.Very, very good.I loved it. Overall, what is your hope for the future of the equestrian industry?And I know that we’ve talked a little bit about that, but is there anything, you know, that you really hope that you see in terms of a change?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh, that’s such a big question.And it’s so hard to answer just with one.But I think if I were to pick one, is that we would start refocusing on the horse and not what they can give us and not what they can do for us, but how we can be a team, how we can give back to them, how we can listen to them and respect them.We’re so focused on them respecting us.There’s one other conversation.We’re so focused on them doing what we want, them being obedient, them winning us ribbons, them doing their job, them, you know, living up to their bloodlines, you know, just everything that they can do for us.And we get really focused on that.And I know people will say, well, I, you know, he’s a comfy stable and he’s fed like a king and queen.And my argument to that is that that’s not what a horse interprets as living as a king or queen.Like we need to actually step back and look at our horses and ask them, Not literally but well kind of like who are you what do you need as an individual and as a species and we need to get back to the real basics of.Horses are you know they’re foragers they need forage 24 7 like they need access to it they need space to move they need. to be provided the basics that even animals that live in zoos and are provided, but we’d fail to provide our horses.Meanwhile, stating that they’re being kept in, you know, race like kings and queens.And we’re like, they’re not even being provided their basic needs that they need as a species. So I would like to see the horse industry as a whole really step back and evaluate what it is we’re doing to horses, what can we do to help them thrive in their domestic environment better, and can we change some major, very common practices that were designed for our convenience and because we thought it sounded good. to better meet their needs.Like, let’s go actually meet the actual horse that we have and love horses for being horses, not for what they can give us.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So good.Adele, we have four questions that we ask every podcast guest.They’re just like a quick rapid fire question.And the first one is, do you have a motto or a favorite saying?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, and I have like five. And I’m always, this is what’s really funny about me is like, I have all these sayings or quotes I’ve picked up from professionals that I highly respect, but I often butcher them when I say them.They’re in there, I know they are.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s like it’s in my heart, it just doesn’t come out well.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, I get it.So one of my favorites is effectiveness is not enough.And that I’m quoting Dr. Susan Friedman.I love that. just basically live by that.Just because something’s working or getting the result, which is a subjective result that we deem as effective, isn’t enough.It’s not enough to base our decisions off of, we need to make sure that, you know, the horse is happy and healthy and is consenting and just like all of these other things that go with it.So it’s not just about effectiveness.There’s a lot more to the story.I think that would be the primary one.So I’ll go with that one.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, that was, that’s a good one.That’s a good one to have. The second question is, who has been the most influential person in your equestrian journey?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh, man. So some of the most effective, or sorry, some of the most influential people in my questioning journey have actually not been equestrians.They’ve been, usually they are either a dog trainer or they work with exotics.There’s a couple of big, you know, more well-recognized trainers that I could mention, you know, like really enjoy learning from Hannah Branigan, Ken Ramirez, Peggy Hogan’s another great one.And there’s quite a few more.I didn’t even scratch the surface.But honestly, I have to say my husband, he’s not a horse person.He’s not a, maybe not influential is the wrong word, but he’s been, like so supportive and really encouraging me and pushing not pushing me forward but like just just really supportive in this equestrian journey is it’s not always rainbows and butterflies right it’s ups and downs especially as you’re going pro and you’re fighting not getting burned out and you’re you’re fighting um you know just just wanting to spend every minute at the barn rather than, you know, doing finances or something and being successful in business too.He’s been really influential in helping me push my career forward and growing as a horse professional.And so I would say just kind of on the other, like he’s been really influential in the business side and just helping support me.And then the trainers that I mentioned, as far as like improving my equestrian journey from a training perspective, a ethics perspective.Oh, Susan Friedman, of course, would be another really big one.So yeah, I feel like I have like two different primary influences there, two different categories.Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]No, that’s, I mean, at the end of the day, like it’s your answer, right?So it’s, it doesn’t have to fit exactly with our mold.The third one is if you could give equestrians one piece of advice, what would it be?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Um, I think it would be kind of going back to the, you know, that the hope for the future of the equestrian industry is kind of connected to that is I would love to see and encourage my encouragement to equestrians would be my advice to them would be to really step back and with open, honest, openly and honestly, and with curiosity, learn about horses again without all of the stereotypes, without all of the just real salesy types of training things, without all of the conditioning that most of us have growing up in the horse world.I mean, just even going back to like, you should never hand feed a horse.Like that was drilled into me and conditioned into me.So going back, and that’s just one of many, Going back to the beginning, you know, kind of almost like you’re a kid again and you’re excited, you’re going to have your first pony and you want to learn everything there is to know about horses.But like with what we know now, I think that would be my biggest piece of advice is to kind of start fresh as much as you can.You can’t completely, I’m not saying to ditch everything you knew before, because a lot of what I learned before has served me now. but I think it’s really valuable to go through this exercise of like, okay, forget what everything I’ve been told, forget everything I’ve learned.Let’s go in like objectively and with curiosity, start back at the beginning and like, let’s learn about horses again with what we know now.And I think that’ll provide a lot of clarity, a lot of confidence in your decisions.Um, and it will bring a tremendous amount of value and transformation in your relationship with your horse, because you’re going to start to actually, understand your horse at a deeper level and know them at a deeper level and be able to be more effective with your training, more effective with your management.You’re going to see a lot of problems kind of miraculously resolve themselves when we go and treat horses as horses and see them for who they are.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]There’s a, um, a phrase that I learned and it wasn’t related to anything to do with horses.Um, but it’s to have a beginner’s mind. And I think that applies so much, you know, it can go to horses, it can go to business, it can go to literally anything in your life is to go back to having like when you think that you have a good grasp or when things aren’t working or, you know, whatever it may be.If you go back to having a beginner’s mind, then sometimes you can fill in those gaps that maybe you missed the first time around.So I think that’s a, that’s really good advice. The first one or the fourth one is please complete this sentence.For me, horses are.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]What are horses not?Horses are.Tremendous teachers and. just really important and tremendous teachers that are there and ready for us to learn and for us to be open and humble and not even so much just about horses. I can’t tell you how much my horses have taught me about myself and about my kids and about people’s behavior.And I think they are just such important teachers in our lives if we allow them to be.And that’s really the critical thing is we have to have that beginner’s mind.We have to step back and really see the horses for who they are and allow them to I don’t know that they’re directly saying, okay, I’m going to teach this person, but just to be a source that we, you know, somebody that can, or a being that can be there to help us through our learning journey.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.Horses teach us more about being a human than most humans can teach us.Awesome.Where can people find you and how can they connect with you?And please, Feel free to plug your, I know that you have some online coaching and mentorship and programs and that’s a, let everybody know where they can follow you, how they can connect with you, how they can learn from you, all of the things.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, um, my website is going to be the best place to start.It’s the willing equine, uh, or sorry, he willing you’re going to find everything from there, including my other social media, all my social media stuff, my podcast, um, everything from there. Also, my courses are on there.I will say I am in the process of, probably when this episode is released, I’m just about to release a new series of courses and kind of revamp my program just a little bit.So if you get onto my website and it’s not up yet, just give me a couple of weeks and it will be ready to go.But yes, I do have my academy, which has a bunch of courses inside of it with a supportive community that you can join. And I also teach clinics and things.But you can find all that on my website and then also eventually the updated website.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Awesome.And we’ll link that.And then we’ll also link your Instagram and your Facebook for people to follow you.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]OK, perfect.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Thank you so much, Adele, for joining us, for giving us all the information.I’m taking a lot away from this, and I think that our audience will, too.There’s been so many questions answered.And if anybody feels that little pull towards learning more, then, of course, check out our show notes for all of Adele’s links.Thank you for listening to this episode of the Equestrian Connection podcast by WeHorse. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a rating and review as well as share us on social media.You can find us on Instagram at WeHorse underscore USA and check out our free seven day trial on where you can access over 175 courses with top trainers from around the world in a variety of topics and disciplines.Until next time, be kind to yourself, your horses and others.</p>

View all

More episodes for you