I cover this all in great detail in my Foundation Basics lesson tutorials inside The Academy of Positive Horsemanship (around 5 hours of material) but I still find that many of my clients have moved through this part too quickly or not at all. So we always end up going back at a later date to really solidify things.
Without TRUE natural relaxation in your horse in the presence of you with food on your person, the ancestry primal emotional SEEKING system is already activated in their brains and often too highly aroused before any training has even begun. Emotionally, arousal levels are only going to be accentuated further still by training them in that heightened emotional state.
The horse just isn’t relaxed and calm. His body is, in fact, overly aroused due to too much arousal in his SEEKING system. Too much emotional arousal of any kind isn’t a good thing and too much motivational drive to achieve and seek out resources from this system can and does cause stress too.
The close overlap between SEEKING and the anger system, RAGE, means that if we don’t have truly relaxed horses in the presence of us and food, it’s very possible that this over stimulation will result in producing some frustration or even anger. The RAGE system is a system that animals choose to turn off in laboratory settings if they have the choice to do so – its unpleasant and not enjoyable. It also acts in opposition to the SEEKING system… the horse isn’t having a good time emotionally.
It can take a little while to achieve true relaxation like this, it has done with the mare I have in for training at the moment. Without it, we just aren’t setting the horse up to succeed within training this way.
In order to achieve a genuinely calm, relaxed horse who is able to focus on learning behaviours, the emotions MUST be our first focus.
Not a member of The Academy? Sign up to get access to hours and hours of detailed material giving you the tools to understand your horse’s emotions (based on up to date scientific research into emotions) and how to produce a genuinely relaxed horse that is ready to be trained positively.
Members also get access to webinars by guest lecturers, Q&A’s, weekly meet ups, forums, access to online courses and so much more. Join us here – http://
This entry was posted in Academy Online Courses, Clicker Training, Equine Training, Positive Reinforcement Training, The Academy of Positive Horsemanship and tagged Academy of Positive Horsemanship, Emotional Systems, Jaak Panksepp, RAGE system, SEEKING system, stress, Too much motivation.
Bookmark the permalink.Cornwell Media