Today I’m talking about willies and training… If you have a horse who drops, you’ll know what I’m talking about! If not, you can probably skip this one 🙂 However, it is about emotions and over-arousal so it’s also relevant if you have a horse who gets:
> Too focused on the food
> Tense and pins their ears, swishes their tail or has muscle tension
> Too frantic and can’t slow down, stand still or relax
As usual, I’ve turned to Panksepp’s studies on emotional neuroscience to find some answers. He was a groundbreaking scientist who identified 7 structures in the brain that are the seats of 7 core emotion systems shared by all mammals. If this is new to you, head over to Rachel’s fantastic series on the emotional systems now (then come back here!). I looked again at his work to see if I could understand why some horses drop when training and have used his info to create some interesting theories, which I share in this video. I also discuss my own experiences and give you some practical training tips to help, too.
I’ve actually been looking into over-arousal in training since about 2011 and found lots of solutions to create more relaxation and relationship with my own horse, Freckles. I presented on that journey at the Equine Clicker Conference in 2013. Since then, I’ve continued to refine my training with an emphasis on calm connection and finding the emotional balance of both relaxation and motivation. This has improved the communication and made the horses more chilled out, both in and out o training sessions. No more manic energy or horses who are overly focused on the treats and the behaviours but not on their human!
If you want to find out more, there’s a full discussion on this topic (along with actual extracts from Panksepp’s book) in the CT Club, my full 2013 presentation on Over-coming Over-arousal, as well as hundreds of videos showing you how to train your horse and prioritise your connection together. We’d LOVE to have you as part of the Club, along with our super friendly, supportive members from around the globe! See you in there 🙂
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