Experimentation and How to do it Successfully

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In one of my previous blogs I mentioned that I had asked another trainer for help with a specific training issue while I went away for a month.

Briefly…

I had gotten Merlin used to being around a horse trailer but didn’t have one myself that I could practice getting him in and out of. So I asked a young trainer to do that one thing using her own trailer while I was gone.

Well, the results were good and bad. She sent me a video of Merlin getting in and out of the trailer without issue. That was the good part. I assumed everything went well.

However, when I got back I noticed that Merlin was now a bit spooky walking around the trailers, which was odd. And a week later when the farrier was working on Merlin, he wouldn’t stand still and was agitated. This was also new.

I didn’t like it. He was nervous and edgy. But only doing these two things. Then I learned that the young trainer had decided to work on Merlin standing longer for the farrier. Which had not been an issue previously.

I guess she was trying to impress me with doing something else with Merlin. However, it backfired because it actually hurt Merlin’s training instead of helping it. She must have used force or punishment because Merlin was now fearful and head shy.

Ok, lesson learned. Even though I like to push the easy button whenever possible, sometimes something that seems easier may actually make things tougher. Like this case. I should have asked her more questions and I should have done more research on her training methods. Oops.

Lesson – I should have done it myself!

So, I have been out every day for the past ten days hanging out, listening to, and talking to Merlin. Plus we have been going back to our basic lessons of how to pick his feet up and hold them for me.

Luckily it has been working since Merlin and I have such a good relationship and a close bond. However, I did have to apologize to him for leaving him in the young trainer’s care. I needed to regain some of the trust he lost when I left for a month.

Well yesterday for the farrier, he was perfect. He was calm, quiet, and held his feet up for her longer than he ever has, very patiently. He is so big that she forgot that he just turned 18 months old and is still learning to balance on 3 legs with his ever-changing growth and weight gain. Plus that he is still a stallion. After hearing that, she was even more impressed with Merlin’s patience and trust.

I love working with young horses because they usually don’t have any fear traumas yet and they love to learn. Plus they normally don’t have any bad habits that they need to unlearn.

Well this whole experience reminded me of how important it is:

  • Be careful who you leave your horse with when you are gone
  • To do your own training yourself, when you can
  • And how crucial experimentation is in the training process

So I wanted to pass on a few of my tips to you on #B & #C as today’s lesson on successful experimentation…

  1. Let Go – Forget about what you’ve been told in the past and work only in the present. Every horse and every situation are different. Something that worked with one horse may not work with another and that’s ok. You want the best for your horse, so work with him and accept him for who he is now.
  2. Believe – When experimenting, believe in yourself. Believe that you and your horse will figure whatever it is out, together. No matter how long it takes. Believe that you have the ability to do what you need and/or that you can improve your abilities to get the job done.
    A belief in yourself will help you build self-trust, intuition, innovation, and self-confidence. It will help your horse build trust and confidence in you as well. You don’t have to be a perfectionist. We’re experimenting, remember?
  3. Ask a Question – Use Critical Thinking to start, ask yourself “what is my goal?” and “what information could help me reach my goal?’ If you don’t have the information you need to reach your goal do some research. There are some good books, internet articles, and even some free and inexpensive programs out there that may help you learn what you want.
    You need to have a clear idea of what you want to learn – the goal of your experiment. If you’re going to spend time and effort doing something, take the time to define your goal, and from there, ask your question.
  4. Do Research – The idea here is to increase your knowledge about your question. There are so many types of experiments and experimental designs to help you answer almost any question you have.
    While there are tons of ways that you can break down experiments, I like to look at the “big picture” first. What is the ultimate end result you want to reach with your horse?
    This is super valuable in helping me find answers. When you conduct research you can learn so many new things about you and your horse.
  5. Design Your Experiment – So now we’re going to look at how you can design experiments using the feedback you’re getting from your horse. I like to look at the ultimate goal and then try to figure out a design backwards. That’s where the small experiments happen. But I design an overview plan to reach my goals with small steps to get there.
    You can do the same by setting baby steps up for yourself and your horse without judgment. Remember no punishment, no force, and no fear.
  6. Do your Experiment – Now put your plan into action. Here you use a mix of intuition and the knowledge you’ve gained from doing your research. Give a little to make and maintain a healthy relationship with your horse. Approach the situation with a gentleness.
    Try to keep your focus on the present moment. Listen with the intention of listening, not responding. Listen to what your horse is saying, feeling, or experiencing with his actions and body language. Work through the experiment with a relaxed posture and a calm, slow voice.
    When you first start experimenting, it’s best to manipulate one independent variable at a time to measure how much of an impact this particular variable has. Once that one variable works, then move on to the next. Take your time and don’t rush through it.
  7. Analyze your Results – Put the puzzle together, piece by piece. Understand that when you do a step that succeeds it gets you closer to your goal completion. But when you do a step that fails, you also learn and get closer to your goal.
    No judgment, no pressure, no force. When you find something that you need to change and try again, make the change. Shift your ideas and keep moving forward, step by step. Keep it positive and fun and it will work.

Now to touch on #A – Finding someone you trust to leave your horse with when you leave. Or finding someone you trust to help you and your horse reach your goals.

Looking to experts and asking for help is one of the best things you can do to keep growing your skills and learning more about experimentation. You can do this through books, online programs, articles, and private or group coaching.

But do your research and choose wisely. Choose someone that you resonate with and have the same basic principles of how to treat horses, your horse. Look for an expert that wants the best for you and your horse. Someone that loves horses and will love your horse as if it was their own.

Here are a few places to do some research on what I can do to help you and your horse if you’re interested…

On my website I have free lessons that you can find here… https://teddiezieglerhorsemanship.com/lessons/

On my Facebook page I have free videos which may help you answer some questions… https://www.facebook.com/teddiezieglerhorsemanship

Plus, I have a few online programs that are very affordable to help you… https://teddiezieglerhorsemanship.com/learn/

And I have developed a more in-depth personalized course that has all the feedback you need to improve your relationship with your horse, reach your dream goals, and transform your life with horses.

If you are interested in developing a more personalized program to reach your goals, give me a call and let’s chat about it… https://teddiezieglerhorsemanship.com/coaching/

I wish you all the best with whatever you want to do with your horse that will develop a better relationship and a closer friendship and partnership. I hope this lesson helps you do your own training and become successful with your horse.

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