Australian Brumby Challenge ©
VBA Lark Week 2:
One of the big things we are working towards with Lark in these early stages is what I refer to as mindset or positivity training. All horses are neophobic meaning they have a fear of new things. This can mean it is very easy to train a horse into a pessimistic outlook on life. If every time they are approached with a new stimuli it causes fear or discomfort they start to always be prepared for the worst and will always have to be forced over/under/through new situations.
We are therefore going to great lengths to associate every new situation Lark is placed in with highly reinforcing benefits. This started with her looking at me making me go away which gave her a sense of power and control over her environment. Now she will volunteer to approach me to begin every new session, she puts her own head through the rope to be caught, when the pressure of the rope is applied in a direction she knows she will be given the time to think through to a solution and will actively do so, when a new object is introduced she will reach out and touch it on cue and for the first time this week Lark willingly approached a stranger to initiate contact.
We’ve achieved all of this within our consistent training pattern cue/ pressure followed by her correct response equals marker ‘good’, release of pressure and reward of Lucerne hay. I’m trying to lace the hay with oars at the moment to try and get Lark used to a greater variety of feed as having a bum bag of oats on my hip is a lot more manageable then handfuls of hay, plus once used to a greater variety of feed we can start adding supplements and balanced nutrients to her diet to get Lark looking amazing.
I’m really so pleased with the way Lark is starting to take on the human world she really has a lovely inquisitive and soft eye about her now and seems genuinely excited when I approach her yard. While I know I will be saying goodbye to Lark at the end of this journey a quote from one of my favourite books has been coming to mind lately. As the quote itself is quite dark I’ve adjusted it to suit my feelings in going on with Lark. “To truly educate someone you must understand them and to truly understand anything is to love it.” I really feel I can say I love Lark now and even when she finds her new forever home I always will.
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