Welcome to the forest!
I'm Heather Nelson and I help compassionate horse people like you create meaningful relationships with their horses and train with positive reinforcement.
It's time to light up and inspire your horse to want to interact with you! Forcing your horse to comply with your every wish feels downright crappy for both of you.
You can learn a new way to communicate based in science and motivate your horse to interact with you and even improve their movement.
It's not just a matter of throwing away your traditional pressure tools and stuffing your horse with cookies however...there is a lot to learn!
Does this mean your horse turns into a cookie monster??
The sad truth is that there is very little information in the world on how to safely train horses with positive reinforcement. Traditional pressure and release training has dominated horse training for 5000 years! That's a lot of past history handed down through the generations. People have only been practicing positive reinforcement training since the 1970's and even then it was mostly with marine mammals and hadn't reached the horse world.
We are all breaking new ground here!
You know that you don't need to ride your horse into battle or get to church on time. You are not ok with treating your horse like a dirt bike and you want to include them in the conversation. But where do you start?
If you bring out food rewards without a plan your horse gets so excited that he mugs you and might even knock you over.
Horses go crazy for food!
Suddenly she's rifling through your pockets and nickering and maybe even offering every trick up her sleeve and you seriously start to wonder, "Did you just ruin your horse?"
It begins with the relationship.
Ask Nothing. Sit. Wander. Read. Journal.
Start a dialogue.
Pay attention to what your horse likes to do.
Ask for easy tasks.
Let go of the outcome.
There is no right or wrong.
It doesn't matter if your horse accomplishes exactly what you ask for.
The important thing is that you have an exchange.
It must be a safe communication.
Ask for specific activities that your horse can say yes to.
Your horse will try harder and be willing to go to work.
Motivate. Inspire. Remember to Play!
. . .
Once my horse chooses to work with me...
I can add tack for refinement if I wish
The majority of the horse's education happens with my feet on the ground.
Lunging allows my horse to move out as I practice shaping. I can see that my horse still listens to my aids from further away. It is not about running around in circles.
In groundwork we stay in front of the horse and have the most influence. It's easiest to influence the spine and help the horse find straightness through the body.
Long reining allows me to work closer to the hindquarters and encourage independence in my horse.