Episode 47 // LIMA for Humans & Supporting Change: Part One
For our 47th episode on the podcast Brie Simpson of PATH Equestrian joins me to discuss "pure" positive reinforcement, LIMA (and the humane hierarchy) for human learners, damage control vs structured training, setting you and your horse up for success, transitioning from traditional training to positive reinforcement, and so much more! We hope you enjoy this episode and would love to hear if you have any questions for Brie and I on this subject. This is a topic that is near and dear to both of us and we hope that this episode helps you, as a listener and potentially someone working to incorporate R+ into your interactions with your horse, and encourages you!
"Brie Simpson is the founder and owner of PATH Equestrian in Ontario Canada. She is studying to be a Certified Horse Behavioural Consultant (CHBC) through the IAABC and has been training and working with horses for over 14 years. She has dedicated her last 4 years to researching and studying equine behaviour, positive reinforcement training, the learning theory and equine enrichment. Brie is extremely passionate about improving the day-to-day life and basic handling of horses and wants to help advance the equine world into using more compassionate, humane and science-based methods of training." https://pathequestrian.com/
Adele: [00:00:00] Hey there. Welcome to the TWE Podcast. The podcast where we talk about all things related to horse training. Horse keeping and being better horse people for our horses. I hope you enjoy this episode today and if you'd like to share your thoughts with me or have suggestions for future podcast episode.
Please feel free to reach out to me through social media or the TWE website, the willing equine.com. On my website. You can also find a ton of great information about horse training and keeping in general, as well as check out the TWE services and just learn more about us. Also, we have courses and memberships that you could sign up for.
Before you do that though, I would love for you to listen to this episode and I hope it inspires you in a positive way today.[00:01:00]
Hey guys. Welcome back to another TWE podcast episode. Today I have a very special guest, Bree Simpson. Bree Simpson is the founder and owner of PATH equestrian in Ontario, Canada. She is studying to be a certified horse behavioral consultant through the I A A B C and has been training and working with horses for over 14 years.
She has dedicated her last four years of researching and studying equine behavior, positive reinforcement training, the learning theory and equine enrichment. Brie is extremely passionate about improving the day-to-day life and basic handling of horses, and wants to help advance the equine world into using more compassionate and humane science-based methods of training.
So without further ado, Brie would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit more about yourself and what you do and where you're located and all the stuff that is makes you,
Brie: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm located in Kitchener, Ontario, if [00:02:00] that kind of narrow things down for people. I would say that I'm an equine behaviorist. I don't like saying that until I have my certification. But that's kind of been what the last four years of my life have been building up towards being. I spent a lot of the last, I wanna say, year or so, really narrowing in on positive reinforcement training taking courses and kind of figuring my own methods with positive reinforcement training adding in kind of the ethology, enrichment and all that stuff through it. But the last year has been like really bogged down on that . And yeah, that's, that's pretty much it. I have three horses right now. Two of them are rescues and they've kind of been my projects and kind of doing a full restart on one of them with positive reinforcement. So that's been a bit of a journey for the last six months, but it's been awesome.
Adele: Thank you so much. Well, we were talking about I don't know how we even got started talking. We were talking on Instagram. I love having, getting into deep conversations on Instagram with different people that I [00:03:00] love watching their training and I respect his trainers. And just have so many creative ideas to share with everybody. And somehow we got started talking about. This idea of pure positive reinforcement and how it can really trip people up and help the, and make them feel like either they don't even wanna give it a start because it's all or nothing like it appears to be that way, or they kind of stumble throughout the process and then give it up eventually because it's too hard, because there's no real grace for their learning process and just, just kind of that whole. I don't know. There's just this sense, this feeling behind it, and I know you have a lot to say about it and I have a lot to say about it. And so we really wanted to get on here and have a recorded conversation about this and hoping that it will help my listeners and people are here, listen for Brie to kind of get an idea of the, a way that we can get into training with positive reinforcement [00:04:00] without getting, you know, feeling that paralysis like that we can't do it all or nothing. And then just talking more about that process and how we help our students through it and clients and even honestly the horses too. But yeah, so that's kind of where we got started. And So we wanted to talk more about that today and really dive into it. So Brie, is that kind of your interpretation too, of how we got started with that conversation
Brie: Yeah. Yeah. I would say that's kind of just been a topic of conversation to me for the last few months actually. I've run into a few clients who have had that R positive paralysis and, and have had kind of feeling of inadequacy to move forward, which I think is a big thing for a lot of us, especially those of us who have come from another form of training. So I do have fortunate to have clients that are straight R positive from the start. Like they have not had any natural horsemanship background or traditional horsemanship background. But [00:05:00] most of the time that's not the case.
Adele: Yeah, same for me as well. I mean, for myself, I come from a traditional background for way longer than I've been doing what I'm doing now, and most of my clientele and my students also are coming from that background. So they have an extensive learning history with how to apply what is essentially negative reinforcement, but sometimes also positive punishment in their training of their horses. And so they're, it's like this autopilot. It's this thing that they know, it's become like a subconscious, like this is just what we do. So it's easy for them and makes sense. They can create training plans with that in mind, and it's their go-to, and then now they're trying to learn something new and all of a sudden it's just feels so overwhelming and even bordering on impossible with a lot of roadblocks and ups and downs and all of that because they're having to really start, I mean, Learning something new requires them to kind of start back and think things through fresh in a fresh sense and [00:06:00] relearn in a couple things. I mean, they're still maintaining all of their old learning history. They don't, that doesn't go away. But it's like, okay, we're gonna look at this same situation with the same horse, and how would we do it? Now with positive reinforcement versus negative reinforcement, and it can just seems like such a daunting thing. And I can definitely see, and I know for myself this has happened too, where it's just like this, it feels like a wall that you're trying to climb and you don't know how to get up over and you don't have the skills to get up over it. And then so you're, it's very possible that you could give up at that point or just kind of claim that it doesn't, you, you know, some people say then it doesn't work or just kind. You know, like it just feels like this such a daunting thing. And, and so I have been exploring this, this area I should say like this. I don't really wanna call it a problem or anything cuz it's just kind of what it is. And it's just a new opportunity to learn from myself as an instructor and as a coach, how to help people work around this or [00:07:00] through it. I've been exploring it for a while now because I see it over and over again where people are so passionate and they so much wanna know how to train with positive reinforcement. They see it, they understand the science, you know, all of that. But like how do we get out there and actually do it? And then how do we take into consideration like all of our past training and also what we still need to be able to do with our horses. We still need to be able to take care of them. We still need to be able to get them exercise, like all this stuff and just help them through that in a little bit less painful way, and make it fun and positive for everybody and it sounds like you're in a similar boat with your clients and helping them through that and just hearing feedback from them too.
Brie: Yeah, absolutely. It's it's something that I also went through too a lot of traditional horse training. So I can empathize with that and I understand the, that process, like I was very lucky and I kind of dipped my toe in and my transition was very gradual. So as I was learning, I was kind of moving that direction. A lot of people kind of [00:08:00] just get all that information and they just need to change everything at once. And they go from having a complete training history with their horse and a complete like experience for them and all these habits and behaviors. And then they essentially learn all this information and it's, it's so overwhelming. It is very overwhelming. .
Adele: I mean, that's what the similar path to what I took too, is I dipped a toe in and kept building and building from there. Initially what I was doing, I looked back and I was very much still what I would kind of call like negative reinforcement with the cherry on top, like I was just, or cookie on top, like I was doing everything I was doing before, but just with the food. Yeah. Yeah. Just clicking and adding a little food, which got me into everything and it is great. It was a great start, but there was definitely some fall out and I, I talk about that in other podcast episodes, but it can be hard. I see a lot of people cold turkey kind of go into this because they see [00:09:00] the benefits of it, they see it, they want it, they understand the science. And now I can, I really see, understand why they do that, but it can be so it's a lot of practical skills. , yes, it's a lot and. And we have to think about with our horses. You know, they have this learning history too, right? Of, you know, this years and years of negative reinforcement, trained and maintained behaviors and cues and all of that. And now all of a sudden we're like, okay, we're gonna do a positive reinforcement and we're not gonna apply pressure anymore, and we're not gonna, you know, aversive pressure and we're not going to force you to do anything. It's all consent. You know, all of that stuff. And the horse is like, okay, well this is different. And now our cues are different and the reinforcement that's maintaining the behavior is different, and so everything kind of falls apart and then all of a sudden it feels like you just ruined everything. You ruined your horse. You can't do anything anymore. What am I gonna do? I don't have the skillset now to be able to get to where I want to go and take care of my [00:10:00] horse, and my horse doesn't know what we're doing and it's just this. It can become quite stressful.
Brie: Yes. That pretty much just sums up that . Yeah, that's exactly, it is. It's you're, you have this, it's almost like you have this knowledge, but your body doesn't know how to do it yet. Yeah. And your horses just completely unsure because their, their whole history is pressure, and then all of a sudden we decide one day, Hey, we're not doing pressure anymore. And, and they don't really get that memo for a bit. It takes a while for them to kind of, get on board with it and understand it too. And then it's kind of just an experience for both the person and the horse to figure out how they're supposed to work together now.
Adele: Yeah, 100%. And this is really, you know, we started off with that conversation and this is really what started leading us into discussing more of like, Well, setting our, our learners, our human learners, up for success with the horses, but also talking about applying the concept of Lima, so least [00:11:00] intrusive, minimally aversive approach to training with horses, but also playing, applying this to humans, our human learners. And I'm curious to hear more about what you think about that and how you would go about applying that with your human learners to help them. To help them make this transition in a minimally aversive way. Right? Or they're not hitting that roadblock and feeling overwhelmed and yeah. So,
Brie: On concept with Lima, I kind of always start with environment. So even when I'm doing behavior modification or I'm training, I'm kind of looking at environment to start first anyway. And I always think that, A good place to start with the humans and the horses is making small environmental changes that aren't super overwhelming for the human or the horse, but enough that you can start seeing already positive changes. And this is kind of why I like enrichment, because enrichment can kind of be that building block and that first step of the antecedent arrangement is building up a species appropriate lifestyle and letting the human be more involved [00:12:00] in setting up the horse's environment. And yeah, and just kind of from there, we, the biggest thing is I think building up lesson plans and breaking things down. Starting with a goal, like let's say your goal is to ride with positive reinforcement, there are a lot of steps involved in that. Yes. And so you kind of gotta break everything down by approximations, just like, With training, but in this sense, you kind of need to look at what skillsets you have because as of right now at the start, if we're assuming someone's coming from a natural or traditional horsemanship background, their skillset is not quite there enough to say, I can start riding my horse with our positive. So it's about kind of starting with a lot. Baby steps, but also making sure that you essentially, with positive reinforcement, reinforce yourself for all the small steps. All those small steps are, are so important and you need [00:13:00] to take a moment to kind of reward yourself with them instead of looking at that big possible picture of, I wanna ride this way. Maybe I'm going to look at this small picture of my horse touching a target and, and feel good about that.
Adele: Applying a positive reinforcement to ourselves. We tend to be very hard on ourselves and apply a lot of negative reinforcement to ourselves, or even punishment towards ourselves. You know, we didn't do that right? We didn't do this right, and oh, it doesn't look like this, you know, social media influencer that I saw, or it doesn't look like that horse and all that, and we punish ourselves for.
Brie: It's very easy to compare yourself to a very short, 10 minute clip on Instagram .
Adele: Yes. And also to their what's potentially their finished product or getting closer to there, or somebody who's been doing this for a whole lot longer. And so it'd be unrealistic to expect yourself a, you know, potentially a beginner in doing this to. You know, achieve those same goals in the that same timeframe or for it to look the same or whatever. Cuz I guarantee you, all of the professionals, all of [00:14:00] the, you know, influencers that you're looking up to that have been doing this for a while, they did not start off looking that way. Like it didn't look that way when they first started. It was messy. It had all kinds of, you know, stuff in there that wasn't supposed to be there. They had stressed horses, whatever. You know what I mean? And, and we tend to look at the finished product and being like, well, shoot, I didn't look like that today, so therefore I am, am a junk trainer.
Brie: Yeah. And, and it's so easy to beat yourself up to, like, you're gonna look at someone else and their quick minute video and their years of professionalism in this sector, and then you're like, okay, well my behavior doesn't look like that. Maybe there's latency, maybe there's a little bit of frustration. And instead of taking the moment to be like, yeah, I, I got this started, we're looking at that finished behavior and going, why doesn't mine look like that?
Adele: Yeah, well, I mean even, okay, so I'll put myself in the, you know, cuz I put myself out on social media and I share clips of training and stuff, and so I can put myself in the professional category or the social media influencer category, [00:15:00] whatever. And I have short little clips of finished products and, and I try and show like the ongoing progress stuff too, but just due to time limits and the fact that I can't explain everything in a short caption, it's, I'm limited. . And also I share a lot of content in, you know, like my academy and for my students and stuff. But even like some of the stuff that you know, that process going up to those finished clips, like the before and after, or. Even within the same training session or even those exact training sessions, I will take them and then put them up for my students and I will talk about the we have a thing that we do where we talk about the one thing that we like that we did, and the one thing, I mean the human trainer and the one thing we liked that the the horse did and then the one thing we want to try next time. And so that keeps us trying, you know, focusing on the positives with a productive, you know, simple and, and non overwhelming task to work on the next time. And obviously I can analyze the [00:16:00] training session way more than that. I watched most of, like, some of my training sessions, like 12 times in a row. . Yeah. And, and I'm piecing them apart and I'm like, oh shoot, I didn't watch for that start button quite as well as I wanted to that time or whatever. But anyway, I take even what looks like finished products and analyze them and work on it. And I see lots of gaps and lots of holes and errors and all of that. So, yes. You guys, you know, anybody's watching my stuff can be like, oh, I wanna, you know, do that. It was so perfect, whatever. But even for myself, from my own perspective, I'm like, Ugh, that's just not there. So I think we're, we're all, no matter where we are and our stage in our learning stage with a trainer and all that, we're tend to do that. We tend to be negative have a negativity bias and just really pull ourselves apart and look at all the negative stuff and forget to look at the stuff that we did well, and the fact that we even. Started trying something new. I mean, that is such a huge leap forward that takes, you [00:17:00] know, so much. Just takes a lot of courage to do and I think we forget to reinforce ourselves for that and be just be like, girl, you're doing this , you're amazing. Like, yes, it wasn't perfect today, but we are a step closer like we are getting there.
Brie: Exactly. Yeah. It's, it's having that kind of, those, those small steps that you're proud of to get to that end goal and it's, they're so important to recognize and should not beat yourself over things and kind of make sure that you're, you're being positive cuz it's easy to be positive. I'm talking to clients, but then, and they send me videos and I'm like, ah, yeah, that's awesome. That's great. And then sometimes I get to my stuff and I'm like, okay, well this, this, and this. And, and it's so important that we, we don't do that to ourselves, especially while we're learning cuz it can just kind of paralyze you. Right. It just, it's so paralyzing to look at a behavior and see all the things wrong with it and not seeing where it's going and not seeing. Any good things and then you kind of just shut down essentially. [00:18:00]
Adele: You know, I found for myself, and I see this in my students too, the more negative they are towards their own progress and what they're doing or not even, they don't even, may not even be. Like, they could be talking in a really positive tone or whatever, but they're just like, yeah, I need, I, you know, I didn't do this here. Or look at that, you know, that part of the video there, and they just have this long, long list of all the things they didn't do right. Right. And things they wanna change for next time. It can feel overwhelming then to go into your next training session with that list. Of all the things you need to do better, and then you add more the next time and then it just keeps rolling. Right? It piles up. Yes. And then guess what? You're gonna start finding yourself doing, not going out to train because you can't do it right. You have made it impossible for yourself to access reinforcement and you are just like, this is not fun anymore. It's not reinforcing for me anymore. I can't do Right.
Brie: And yeah, it becomes stressful. It becomes a, an aversive experience for us.
Adele: Yes. And that's, we don't want it to be that way for. For ourselves, you and I, and [00:19:00] also for our students. And, and you know, it doesn't seem. Like it's a mutually beneficial situation if the horse is getting all the positive reinforcement and we're not giving ourselves any either. So we have to be careful doing that.
Brie: Yeah, and, and we have to be careful cuz when we're, even if we're trying to be super positive with our horses and we're coming into a training session with negative feelings towards ourselves. It does show up in our training. It shows up in all of our work. Those kind of emotions. They, they do play a part in training too. So if you're going into your training session and you're thinking about all the negatives, your horse is gonna kind of feel that it's, it's a different I guess it's a different atmosphere when you're coming into it and you're being positive and you're excited versus going into it with the stressed out, I need to get this behavior perfect.
Adele: Yeah. And you know, one thing I find people doing when myself included , I'm really bad about this. When they've got that long list and they're feeling a little bit stressed about, you know, getting it right or whatever, they tend to hold the [00:20:00] breath, which then affects the nervous, affects the nervous system. And then the horses feel that, and, you know, their nervous system responds to that. And it's just like everything starts spiraling outta control. And then we wonder why our sessions are going so poorly. Yeah. , but I love this because. This applies to Lima because when I think of, you know, setting up the environment for success and, and also setting up the environment for, you know, our or well Lima for horses, yes, but also Lima for people. I look at the environment aspect of it. It kind of doves heels off of what you were saying, which is trying to set the person, the human up for success through an environmental arrangement. If I walk into a training session with somebody and it's, maybe it's my first consult or whatever, and we talk for a long time, and then I slap them with this huge list of all the things they need to change and give them all these, you know, behaviors to do [00:21:00] that they have no idea how to do. You know, like all these things. And then also I say, okay, now walk out into the field and do this with your horse. Like, I'm just not setting, well, I'm not setting anybody up for success, particularly the human . So I like to, well, so this rolls over into like creating a training plan and a shaping plan for the humans. And we can do this for ourselves. I do this for myself, I do it for my students. I encourage people to do this, which is to create approximations for yourself. So, Try not to go in. Like we're going to do positive reinforcement now, and now I'm gonna ride at Liberty with tackless and lead my horse completely at Liberty, and we're gonna do everything cooperative care, like we're going all in tomorrow. Right. And I've never done this before, . I wouldn't expect a horse to do that, and I'm certainly not gonna, you know, that also translates to the people too. Like I can't expect myself or anybody to do that. So instead, I like to say, okay, let's just pick one thing. Let's pick one thing and let's set the horse up for success to get it quickly. Let's set you up for success to get it quickly and let's get a win for both of you guys really quickly and [00:22:00] then we can build from there. Yeah. And that gives you the instant positive reinforcement the human, and gives the horse a positive reinforcement and sets everybody up for success. And really just start sets the stage, sets the antecedents.
Brie: Exactly. And, and you get that. Behavior momentum rolling too, right? Like yes, that that constant, that win and the win after win, even though they're small wins, they kind of build this big snowball of like this nice picture when you kind of build it up that way.
Adele: And it becomes addicting. To be honest, I can't tell you I can't tell you how many people I come into like working with me or, or anybody, and I hear them like even on some just comments I get on social stuff. They're like, yeah, I was just gonna like teach my horse to self halter or pick up its feet or just something, right? It was real small. They just wanted to do one thing. It was a problem behavior that they were having and they just wanted to fix that one. And within a couple of months to a year, they're like all in. They're like, I can't stop. This is amazing. And it's so much fun.
Brie: It's [00:23:00] addicting. But going back to the approximations, it's about those, those small approximation and those small slivers. So even in our training, if we start with something that's really, really small with the intention in our training plan, that we can have all these tiny steps afterwards and then reward yourself for all those tiny steps, and then you'll find in your training sessions that you end up. Six or seven wins and there's no disappointment that way. If you're, if you're making the small kind of steps to roll into the bigger picture, you kind of set yourself up for not failing in that way.
Adele: Yeah, 100%. Which then very much leads us into another topic we wanted to cover, which was, you know, because of this process that I tend to encourage, and it sounds like you do too, where we're like, we're gonna start off somewhere where we can all be successful and then keep building. This means, in a lot of cases, especially horses that [00:24:00] are at boarding facilities or handled by other people, or have to still be, you know, have their feet trimmed or anything else. Right. Just they still have these other behaviors that need to be performed, but they are now happening with positive reinforcement, we have to then make this decision. Do we maintain them with negative reinforcement? Is that okay? Like, and a lot of people get into a moral kind of, they just feel some people get conflicted about that, right? Just maintaining and continuing to use negative reinforcement over here, while on the other side they're like, okay, with this stuff we're gonna use positive reinforcement. What are your thoughts on that?
Brie: So I think the big thing at the start is I tell people to keep them separate. So, it kind of makes things easier when you separate your sessions with positive reinforcement for a certain session, negative reinforcement for session, but also for behaviors. I think that [00:25:00] you kind of wanna pick and start choosing behaviors that you wanna train with positive reinforcement and then build from there. So you like making this whole big picture. All of it has to be positive reinforcement. You can kind of go, okay, like I wanna build into X, Y, and Z being done with positive reinforcement, but right now I'm gonna focus on X, isolate that work on it, and then go from there.
Adele: Yeah. And that's, that's basically the same advice I give especially as of more recently, meaning the last year or two because I started noticing the temptation, and I understand it, to go just all in all at once, but not having that established skillset like we've talked about, and. Then running into problems like, okay, now my horse is gaining weight. Really fastly cuz we're no longer riding, exercising movement. Because what happens is, and I see this happens over and over again, the horse goes, oh, I have a choice. I don't have to do these things. [00:26:00] And also I have no known learning history of how to respond to like, Following the target at a trot over jumps and all that. Like they just don't know how to do that yet. Right? And get that exercise that way. And so now we start seeing some potential If we're looking at the horse's overall wellbeing, this could be cons, a considerable problem. Especially if you've got like a metabolic horse, or let's say all of a sudden they don't wanna have their feet trimmed anymore. And you just like all these things and they need to have their feet trimmed, you know, within a certain amount of time. Or it's just consider considered an issue . So it to me and the advice that I give to people, unless you're dealing with a severe trauma case or like a truly feral horse or a horse that really doesn't have that long learning history anyways it is beneficial, like you said, to start off with isolating things and, okay, so like you can keep riding doing your lessons or leading your horse to and from the barn, or maintaining a lunging or round penning behavior over here. [00:27:00] But then we have set times where we put on our treat pouch, we go to the pasture and we work on training free- shaping the backup or putting on the halter or picking, you know, or I don't know, something else like following the target, something that is unique, something they've really not done before. So there's no real history there and has a unique context. So the cues, everything is different. So the, the setup is different. What you're, what you're doing is different. There's no real tack on or equipment. We're just kind of setting a fresh stage, and it's just a different stage than anything else they've ever done. And that can be so beneficial. And then as you develop your skillset, You start to expand your, you know, what might happen is, okay, so hey, I've got my horse doing, you know what? I might consider the foundation behavior. So it's like five different behaviors and great. They're doing fine there. But now I'm noticing that I would really like to retrain my horses taking oral medication. He's just not great about taking his dewormer. Okay, fine. Let's, let's [00:28:00] take that one on. Let's add that behavior to our list that we're training with positive reinforcement. Let's get that going. Let's get that reinforcement history, all of that for everybody. And then when that's feeling really good, let's add another one in. And before you know it, you can replace all of your previous training if you want. You don't have to, but if you want, with your new skillset and your horse's new skillset, but. You need building blocks first.
Brie: Yes, for sure. Yeah. And, and I think going back to environment what I kind of recommend is, as you said in the field, so sometimes what I'll do is if clients have like two arenas or an arena and a round pen I'll recommend kind of keeping one of those to be for our positive training cuz sometimes people can't train in their fields, so I kind of try to say this is your, our positive environment. The treat pouch is present. I personally use a neck rope for my horses so they know when it's time to receive food so that they understand that while they're wearing this neck rope, we're working on our positive behaviors and you can receive food and we can work on consent with [00:29:00] this and, and you have the ability to say no in this sense. When they're not wearing that neck rope or they're not in that environment, some things still need to stand like, like medical treatment. So my horses all work in the neck rope most of the time now. But when the farrier's there, sometimes the neck rope's not present because I'm not giving them the chance to say no if it's an absolutely needed kind of behavior, right? I have a, a rescue who we're working mostly on consent, and he is saying yes, and we're doing his feet and he's doing great. But with the farrier, he says, no . And so we try to do our best to respect his no's but there's a point where sometimes we have to remove the consent and say, this needs to happen for your own health and your own benefit, but we'll go back to the consent and build on it.
Adele: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And for me, I think I don't like 99.99% of the time I'm operating [00:30:00] on with consent and all that, even during farrier work with my personal horses, I should say. The only time there has been a few times where like if we're. Like we travel to a vet clinic or something's going on or whatever. It's usually when the, when the lead rope's on, they have a limited amount of space that they can move away from me. And they have, I established all the lead rope cues with positive reinforcement. We did all that, but there is still this A end of the lead rope, there's like an end of the line. Right. They can't, yeah. Completely .
Brie: Yeah. And it's, it's, it's unfortunate when you have to take away consent, and I'm with you, most of my stuff is on consent, 99%. But there's sometimes where these moments where you're, you have to take it away and it's kind of like we've built up these behaviors and we've gotten them used to leading and being handled with our positive cues with the halter. But it goes back. The fact that there are some moments where. , it's important that, not that they don't have a voice, it's just important, important that we might know what's better for them [00:31:00] in that situation, if that makes sense.
Adele: No, for sure. And what I like to tell people is, so even in those situations, like let's say my horse is getting a blood draw or something like that, like they really can't walk away, it's a, it's kind of important that they stay in the location. Or even their farrier or whatever, let's say they have their lead rope on. There is an end of the line. They can't go. They can't like leave or if I'm traveling to a vet clinic, right? My horse can't be at liberty at a vet clinic. I just, this is not safe. So we do as best as we can, right? We just maximize their positive experiences. We establish the cues. We work on it. We work on it. We work on it. But you know, Unfortunate if, you know, thing happens and they're not really wanting to be there, whatever. I just do the best I can to help them stick through the situation and, and make it as positive as possible. We might be what, what I call open bar feeding. I was just about to say.
Brie: Yeah. It's in those situations. I'm like, you can have all the food in pouch. Like, I'm so sorry I'm taking this away from you. Yeah. You're so good. Here's [00:32:00] food and you try to be, make it as good as you can, and it's, they're very, very, like 1% of the time it happens. But I think that if we take that thought and that idea to us building up and learning, it's kind of the same thing.
Adele: Yeah. And, and we build up that positive, you know, piggy bank, like a piggy bank of positive experiences. And our horses are so willing to, at that point be like, okay, I trust you human. I will deal with this crap.
Brie: That's exactly it. Yeah. With the, with the farrier for the one guy, he he was done they would actually sedate him and. Put him down to do his feet. Oh my gosh. Yeah, he came from a really, really rough background, so, geez. He's, he's very, very sensitive about his feet. So with the farrier while she's there, he's doing targeting, so he's keeping his mind busy while he's getting his feet done. So I'm not really. Making it a aversive experience. And I'm not really like, it's not a really bad experience, it's just like you need to stay within these boundaries here, but you get to do your favorite behavior, which for him is targeting. That's like the best thing in the world for him. . [00:33:00] So for him it's like, yeah, we're, we're making this, this small section. You gotta stay here and this lady's gonna be handling your feet very gently. And we're going very slow. And she's there for like an hour and a half. She's amazing. But you're gonna touch the target here, but I can't have you leave this. .
Adele: Yeah, and, and those are situations that come up. And I think through just the, the nature of what social media is and even books or videos or even online courses, it's a limited amount of information, even if it's a very thorough, you know, whatever post or course or whatever. And it's also a limited view into every interaction with horses that are trained this way or people that are training this way. And so I think the, there's this false perception of a false perception of, like, that we're, we're really going into this like pure R plus and like if our [00:34:00] horse says no, you know, even when it's a, you know, whatever, a serious situation comes up and we will be unwilling to say like, okay, horse, you gotta stay here, or whatever.
Brie: I don't know if I behind being entirely and positive, right? It's, yes. It's, it's this kind of perfect picture that we get into that we're like, everything needs to be our positive, which is a good. goal. Yeah. But it's not the be all to end all. It is, it's a goal. And you should strive towards being non intimidation. No fear, no, no force. And that's kind of your, your goal, but it can't bog down everything else. Yeah.
Adele: And it can't, this goal that you're working towards, this ideal, this image, whatever. it can't be such a impossible, or it, I should say it this way, it can appear so impossible, especially if you're all the way at the beginning stages. You're just like, how would I ever get to that point? Right. With positive reinforcement, when the horse, right now that I'm working [00:35:00] with like, You know, I, this happens sometimes where a horse that does have, you know, negative associations or with people or training or whatever, they realize they can say no. And it's just like, oh, I'm just gonna say no a hundred percent of the time. Yeah. And that when, when you're starting off there, it can become so overwhelming and impossible seeming to get to this goal so that we never even, you know, we give up or we try for a little while and it's just like, this is not working.
Brie: Or It's, it's an impossible goal at the start, right? With, with your, you gotta think of what, what your current skillsets are. Yeah. And at the start, your, your current skillset is not, That pure positive. Right. And I think that even many of the professionals with their abundance of skill sets, there's still moments where it's not always entirely possible.
Adele: Yeah, absolutely. And I will tell you, you know, from. Sitting in conferences and courses and lectures and all of that with the top of the, you know, kind of food chain [00:36:00] of the more force free, positive reinforcement, all of that, the behaviorists at the top, they will tell you, and I find this is definitely a mark of somebody who's been around for a while, that the idea of pure positive and it being a hundred percent positive reinforcement of the time is impossible. Like it's just not gonna. The goal is to work towards it and to help and, and really ultimately, we're just trying to get, and now this is more of an emotional positive versus a behavioral technical positive, but like a positive relationship with our horses, where they want to engage with us, where they want to do the things we're asking them to do. And they have, they're, they are able to choose to cooperate, and they're able to make decisions and have choice and control in the learning environment. But that doesn't mean that they never experienced negative reinforcement or positive punishment or negative punishment. It just, We are building our skillset as trainers to actively work towards this goal that we have, but we're not beating ourselves up or, [00:37:00] or I should say, we're trying not to, we're working towards that, not beating ourselves up or holding ourselves to such this like impossible standard. Become such an aversive experience. Kind of tying back to where we were talking about in the beginning where we just don't even enjoy horse training anymore because it's, we have this idea in our head that we're just not able to meet because we're human and we don't live in a vacuum and we can't train in a vacuum, and our horses are different beings every day. They have. You know, there's a 24 hour day, and we're with them for maybe one or two hours of those days if we're lucky. And they have a whole rest of their life that they're experiencing. And so we get a new horse every day with different experiences, and then they have a long learning history that they're bringing to the table. And so do we. And for the same thing on the flip side, our horses are getting us after 23 hours of a different day without them. You know what I mean? And so, It fluctuates and it comes and goes, and we have to think about just working forwards, but [00:38:00] not like getting ourselves stuck on this ideal that is impossible to meet.
Brie: Yeah. It's, it's, it's just that standard that's, it's so hard to get to. And I mean, I, at the start was like that. I said, well, I don't want to ever take away my horse's consent, but at the end of the day, there are moments where it, it does have to happen. And, and I tell my clients that, that we are striving towards getting as many behaviors as we can on consent. I'm not riding without consent because that's not necessary. Riding and under saddle stuff, some of that stuff isn't mandatory, so it's not like I need to rush into doing that and take away consent for that, that activity, because it's not a rush to get into that, if that makes sense. It's not directly impacting their welfare.
Adele: Yes, and it is not something that is an emergency, like it doesn't directly impact our welfare either. So yes, like. Unless you're [00:39:00] living in an area where your family's like food or living or whatever, or your horses even, their ability to live and survive is based off of their, their working right this second and doing it and all that it. It is mostly recreational activity. .
Brie: Yes, that's exactly it is, is it's not to force it for recreational, but there are moments where well, welfare's at stake even. Yes. Our welfare's at stake. Right. If a horse is running in the field and it's not your horse at you and it's coming at you, you're, you're gonna wave your hands up. Right. . Yeah. It's, it's, it's, it's, and don't beat yourself up for that. Like I, I had a client who was upset because a horse that wasn't hers in the field kind of chased after the horse she was with, and it moved into her space and she kind of just, Made a bit of noise and waved her hands up to remind the horse that it was there, and she said, I feel so guilty about it. And it's, but her welfare was at stake right at that moment. Her, her safety was at stake. She's not choosing to be aversive [00:40:00] and choosing to do something negative or punishment based to the horse. It's just that's what you have to do in that situation.
Adele: Yeah. I call this damage control , so, So for, actually I had a situation just a couple weeks ago where I mistakenly, it was a really bad decision on my part, but I put myself between well there was a horse in the middle, a fence on her right side, and I was on her left side and she had a known tendency to, when she got worried to lash out. So she gets like a fear, aggression kind of situation. And I was actually trying to end the session. Finish up and like put food into her bucket and leave. But just the way it was all set up, it was just not ideal . So it wasn't a good setup. And I put myself in that situation. Dogs came running up behind her, startled her, and she turned and lashed out at me. Well, I had nothing between her and I, and she's a thousand pounds. And so I defended mys. I mean, like, I'm here, like you can't come into me. And I raised up my hands and I said, [00:41:00] get away from me. I paid for it a little bit later, meaning she was a little bit worried about me after that. We quickly recovered, like I worked on creating positive associations again or whatever. That was not an ideal situation, but it happened.
Brie: It was, and it, it doesn't, you could try to set up the environment the best you can, but there, there are air room for mistakes, especially when you're learning.
Adele: Yes, absolutely. And you know, 2, 3, 4 years ago, whatever. I would, I make the, made those mistakes a whole lot more than I do now. Like I was actually really surprised at myself that that happened. But hey, it happened and I, I forgive myself. I moved on. It just is what it is. I was a learning opportunity for me and thankfully I'm safe. The horse is safe. We've recovered, we're good. But it's, that was not, I guess what I try and tell people is, , there is a difference between an intentional training process and a training. Yes. Shaping plan and all that. And damage control.
Brie: Yes, that's exactly it. Is that you want your intentional training to be like [00:42:00] following the Lima principles and being positive before anything, but there are moments where you can't .
Adele: Yes. And. So what do you tell your clients? So let's go back to like our beginning days and you know, the people, you know, when we work with people that are in their beginning days and learning and super excited, but like ourselves have this long history of negative reinforcement training.
And so they have this plan. To go into the training session using a Lima approach. So we're gonna use positive reinforcement. We got our shaping plan, our training plan, and we, let's say we're doing something like teaching the horse to back up or I don't know, something that is commonly used with traditional training and the horse is kind of sluggish about going back or just whatever, and we get a little frustrated.
And we apply some pressure. We're like, just back up, please. Oh my gosh. Let's do it. . What do you usually tell your clients about how to help themselves through that process and just setting themselves up for success and using Lima basically to look at the situation and shut up. [00:43:00] Set up the shut up , set up the future training plan for both of.
Brie: Yeah. And that's, that's actually a really big one, and it's kind of a common thing. And so what I like to tell people is anytime you go past positive reinforcement, look back and kind of figure out why. Because there's always kind of, if you're going in and you're, you're aiming to do positive reinforcement, and then there's a point where you've had to go past it. There's normally more to it, and that means that maybe you didn't break things down enough or, or maybe you just were building up on frustrations and, and not kind of, Reading the horse's body language, I guess. And that happens, we have like for me, 14 years of traditional experience essentially, and working with horses with pressure and release, and we gotta kind of forgive ourselves. But also take it as information. This is information I had to go class. Positive [00:44:00] reinforcement. Maybe I'm gonna give my horse a break. Give them something enriching to do, and think about why we had to move in pressure and how we could avoid doing it in that way.
Adele: And I would say in that situation, it wasn't so much I had to, but we just chose to, or we just, even if we didn't intentionally choose to, we just kind of, it's a, it's a reaction almost. Yes. It's, we're moving into reaction zone versus like a, an intentional Conscious processing, right? So we had like an intentional plan going in and then emotions started to build up probably, or we got distracted or something, or we lost track of our plan, or we hit the end of the extent of our training plan and we didn't know what else to do. And so we went into more of a reactive mode. And that's when we tend to autopilot what we're doing. So we kind of pull back into our history and say, let's do that . Not even intentionally. We just do it. Yeah.
Brie: And it's, it's, it's unnecessary. Like it's a, what's the word? It's involuntary. It's kind of, you're, you're not thinking about it and it's involuntary and then you kind of were like, oh, no, what I do that.
Adele: [00:45:00] And I, I I like to. Like you said, say, okay, that was information. So what happened That took us there? What did the horse do? What did we do? And sometimes what took us there happened or started happening long before we ever got our horses out. So you had a bad day, you're stressed, you're frustrated. Maybe you have barn people. Kind of judging you off in the distance, whatever, and your horse isn't doing the thing that you wanted them to do to kind of show you them, Hey, this is working . This actually happened to me the other day where I had a client say, oh, this person's coming up, show off a little bit. And I was like, and immediately my brain went, I am not doing that. Because as soon as I start to do stuff like that, Everything falls apart and
Brie: it turns, everything goes out the window, your training plane is gone, and then you're horse and you are just like, what do we do, ?
Adele: So I literally stopped everything and ended the session right then. Cause I was like, Nope. As soon as I get into that zone, we're in a dangerous place.
Brie: Like, and, and you get in that [00:46:00] head space right away. Right. It's like a complete, like, you're just brain switches over and you're like, okay, this is not a good place for me to be training from. Yeah. So I need to end here.
Adele: Yeah. And. , especially when you're doing something new. And this is what's so important to remember. A lot of what we do from past learning history with traditional training, negative reinforcement training is, so, is it such a like, I don't know if subconscious is the right word, but it's such a lower processing as far as we just do it right. We just do it on autopilot. Kind of like I mentioned, when I wanted to wear the backup, I just backed 'em up when I wanted them to go for it. I just put my leg on, like it was just autopilot. And then you are learning something new and it's so much in the forefront of your brain and you're, it's really taking up a lot of, processing, a lot of active thinking and participation and there's really no room to do anything else, right? So you gotta pay attention to your horse, especially if you're also at the same time learning about like stress, you know, behavior stuff from the horses and learning their body language in a new [00:47:00] way. Which a lot of my students, when they first start with me are, you know, they didn't, you know, realize that a horse shaking their head or turning their head away could be a sign that they're getting overwhelmed or whatever it's a lot. It's a lot. It's a lot. . You take that and you take the new thing that you're doing that you've never done before, and then it's just right in the front of your brain and it's taking so much thought process and then just one little other thing enters that would've been a no big of a deal before, is now a huge deal because you don't have enough, you know, thinking power to be able to process all of that at the same time and still do it, you know the way you want to. Yes. So I think that keeping that in mind can really give us a lot of grace for ourselves and also help us set ourselves up for success. I mean, try not to. Go do, you know, train a new behavior for yourself and for your horse in the busiest time of the day after you've had a stressful day at work. And it's about to thunder outside, like it's just not the right time.
Brie: Yeah, and that's, that's about environmental arrangement, right? Antecedent arrangement. [00:48:00] That's our, that's our first step, is making sure that we're going into a training environment that's setting everyone up for success.
I feel like we're. Like keep going back to the very top of the Lima , the Limas back to the environment . We're just gonna stick up here. Isn't that the thing with all like positive reinforcement training though? I feel like I tell people this all the time, like most of what I do and I do consul consultations and stuff. Yeah, it's just environment arrangement. Un it's unbelievable how little training I do in these situations. Like I go and they're like, oh, this is the behavior that needs to be worked on. And then it's like two pages of environmental changes, and no training involved. Right? Yeah. And it's, it's funny, I always make the joke and I said that like, I don't get to train as much as I'd like to because I spend so much time working with the antecedent and the environmental arrangements. Right?
Adele: Yes. 100000000%. That is exactly how I feel too. Some of it is, you know, when we talk about environmental arrangements, [00:49:00] so for those of you that aren't familiar with Lima, which first of all I recommend you go look it up. Especially on IAABC's website, they have a great explanation of it all and with little infographics and stuff, but And, oh, sorry. The humane hierarchy is really, we're talking mostly, it's like a combination. When I refer to Lima, I'm also referring to like the humane hierarchy, so I apply it all at the same time. Yeah, yeah, exactly the same. . We should have said that in the beginning, but we didn't. That's okay. Yeah. So we're looking at. When we're talking about environmental arrangement, this could be everything from like the horse's diet to whether they have companions or not, whether the barn is stressful. You know how you are showing up so you're part of the environment. So if you show up stressed and angry, that's part of the environment for your horse. And We can also be talking about like literally like where is a fence post, you know, or a fence line. I use fence lines during certain parts of my training, set up a certain way to train certain behaviors. So that could be part of the antecedence, the setup. You know, whether your horse is getting enough turnout, just like all of this stuff [00:50:00] that this just lays the foundation. For, for everything. is the answer to life's problems. Environment, this environment is so true. And then how we respond to that environment is essentially the training part. That's where the training comes in, is teaching people to respond to the environment a certain way or the horses. And, but so much can be repaired through just modifying the environment. And you know, the other thing I tell people, , if I just come in here and start teaching you how to teach, following the target or backing up or how to ride your horse or whatever, and I. Skip over the whole foundation part. We're just building it on sand. Right? We're building your house on sand. Yeah.
Brie: Yeah. You're, you're, I like using it as you're, you're teaching someone the recipe without the ingredients . Yes. And then when they go to cook it again, they're like, oh, I don't know how to cook this .
Adele: Well, and yeah. And so, you know, cuz there's only so much training can do if you have a horse that is. Miserably in [00:51:00] pain. Right. ? Like I Oh, absolutely.
Brie: Like you, you don't wanna build, I, one rule is you don't wanna train off of pain. Like Yeah. Any behavior modification, any kind of training. The first question is have your, has your horse seen a vet for this problem? Yeah. Right. That's, that's, I'm not a vet, but that's the first step, right? Is, is to make sure that the horse. Is welfare is in order before we even begin to start training. And it's the same with humans. We need to make sure there are welfares in order before we look towards training an animal.
Adele: Yes. And going into the human side of things. I mean, are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? I'm so terrible at this by the way. Like I'm just putting us out there. This is me being transparent. Half the days I don't eat enough or the other half the day. The other days I'm just eating everything in sight and like, I definitely don't get enough sleep and I'm always stressed.
Brie: There's no routine. We, we want routine in our horses, and then us as humans don't have a routine. And we're like, why is things aren't going well?
Adele: We are so good at taking care of our horses. And then when it comes to us, we're like, eh. [00:52:00] Whatever, so we'll just take care of it, which is something as I'm getting wise and old in my years I am getting a lot better at and realizing that to be an effective trainer and to be an effective horsemanship coach and all of that, I really do need to take care of myself.
And I especially my mare, my young mare river, she encourages me very strongly to bring my best self to the training
Brie: yeah. And it's the same with my one rescue. It's like if I am even remotely negative, he's like looking at me with wide eyes. Oh. Like I go to get him from the field and he's like I'm not sure today. And I've, I've never really used. Pressure with him. So it's funny because I'll, I'll go and work with some other horses and kind of get back to him when I'm more in the zone, right? And some horses are so transparent with that stuff and they're like, okay, no, something's up. And you can see it in them. Yes. Reflecting yourself.
Adele: That's how Tiger, my late mare used to be more of like she could, if I was at all stressed or had an [00:53:00] agenda of any kind, she would just like look at me and I was like, okay, I got it.
Brie: Yep. . Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly it. Whereas where I find that pale face, the one main horse I work with, he's a little more lenient and we're kind of able to like. Be a little more fluid, I guess. Mm-hmm. . But with Asher it's like, I gotta go and I had to have like a, a very clear training plan. And we need to, we need to have a really solid outline. Yes. And I need to be in the perfect mood in order for us to execute all this stuff.
Adele: Yes. And that's quite a few of my horses are more go with the flow. We'll say, yeah. River on the other hand is more like she doesn't. Nervous or wide-eyed or anything. But she definitely, she, if I come in with any kind of agenda or I wanna show off something to somebody, or my training plan isn't in place or whatever, she definitely points that out to me. She's like, excuse me, , this is not, [00:54:00] and she does that by she'll give me these looks she'll kind of, that's, that's the wide eye look I'm talking about. It's not really like fear. It's more like looking at me like you're not quite what you're normally like, why don't you go back to that normal, please. She gives me this squinty eye look and she's just like, excuse me, and then she'll usually walk off. See, she is a fully autonomous horse as far as like, she's like, I'm not dealing with you today. Goodbye.
Brie: Yeah, and it's, that's the same with Asher see his full consent and he like, I won't even put his halter on without his consent. We do all that and so sometimes he'll be like, something's not quite right here. And I'm like, oh man, that's me. .
Adele: Well, for everybody listening that's not wondering whether or not this is a good way to train horses, It is most of the time it's not like that. Like I usually am really good about coming into the training session with a plan and, and a plan is different than an agenda. Agenda is like, okay, I'm gonna show, you know, do this. Like I have a goal that I must reach versus a training plan is like, we're just gonna keep moving forward and we've got an [00:55:00] idea of that process going forward and I've broken down the approximations and I meet her where she's out that day. So when I go in like that and I am intentional with my actions and how my energy for that day and all of that, then it is just, The most fluid, gorgeous.
Brie: Like it's magical. It's, it's seriously magical. It's, it's when it's all right and it has that perfect picture, it's like it's win after win and you're connected and you're communicating, and you're having this whole conversation with your horse, and that's worth it to me.
Adele: Thanks so much for listening. If you'd like to find out more, head to my website, the willing equine.com. I'm also on a lot of different social media platforms, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. So check those out and I'd love to hear from you, so don't hesitate to email or send me a message.[00:56:00]