Reward

Summer is fantastic: there is nothing to read on the news papper, nothing good on the radio, the weather is swedish (=10 degrees and rain) but we are off work! And there is this marvellous invention: podcast!! I am very hungry of good podcasts, with a preference for history, documentary, and people talking about their lifes or passions. I recently found this podcast about riding: ridpodden. This is in swedish though but wonderfully talked by Lisen Bratt Fredicson, who is a famous jumping rider, 2 times at the OS.

On the first episode, they are talking about hormanship. They killed a lots of ideas and I was happy to hear about that: don’t go and take your horse as he/she was a toy, it is not a teady bear either, don’t give food to your horse direct by your hand. Show your boundaries clearly and be consequent. Horses are not nice to each others when they are living together, they just know who is the boss and how they have to behave. The boss never gives food to a lower ranked horse. If you begin to give food with your hand to your horse, you will give contradictory signals to the animal: on one hand, you are lower ranked and on the other hand you are the boss because you want to decide. This is totally unecessary.

Respect is also another thing they explained. When you meet a stranger on the street, you don’t go and hug this person. This is the same thing with horses. When you meet them for the first time, don’t expect the horse to be your best friend at the first sight. If the horse don’t want to be close to you, respect it. Of course, the horse also has to respect you and if you need to make something with the horse right now, make it, but respect the fact that the horse maybe don’t want to be hugged.

They even talked about the fact that a human being is the only animal that is looking after reward. Other animals don’t need that tp be satisfied: if nothing wrong comes, then it’s all good. The exception is dogs/animals that are trained and if they do something good, the trainer gives them something to eat. This is not a natural behaviour, the dog could be happy as well even without food, just by looking at the trainer and seeing that he is satisfied with the trick. This is the same thing with horses and clapping. To clap them don’t give the horse any satisfaction. This is a random human sign to give reward, but this is not translated like that by a horse. If you clapp your horse randomly while riding, he/she will not understand what you are meaning. The voice is a much better help for that. On the other hand, you may clap your horse for example just once during a riding session just when you finished for the day and will just go down and dry. If you clap at this only moment, your horse will translate this like a “good for today, i can relax”-sign and it will be a way to communicate. This was what they told in the podcast and I like their idea. This is all about to be consequent. If the horse is making the mooves you want her/him to do, just give it back with your behaviour, your voice but clapping will not help.

That a horse has a mood that varies with the period of the day was something I wasn’t aware of until I got my own horse at home. This meant that I meet her every morning, lunch and evening and could see the difference. Actually, this is not that difficult to understand but I think that too much teenager forget this and transform their living horses in my little pony. A horse is still a horse. And because a horse won’t scream if something is hurtful or painful, you have a responsability to read your horse perfectly.

Anyway, this podcast is wonderful! Listen to it if you understand swedish and you’re interested in horses (pretty high level though in technicality)

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This was my horse and me somewhen in 1999, so not yesterday…

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