Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Taranaki New Zealand.
You have some really great points there Loosie. However my concern is this part:
And when need be, make it difficult/uncomfortable for him to do the wrong thing, with *instant* punishment - make sure it doesn't work for him to do it. It could be an arm wave or elbow jab if he gets too close(you're not hitting out at him, he just got *himself* in the way), could be a jerk on the bit, or a smack to the rump to get him moving forward, when he starts to put his head down. If your timing is good, the punishment quits & the horse is reinforced the instant he stops whatever, and you're consistent with your rules, you're as gentle as possible BUT as firm as necessary to be effective, then the horse will learn and I believe it's fair punishment.
I understand exactly what you mean and so will many who read it. BUT I have learnt over time that it has never been about punishing the horse so much as getting my own timing right and recognizing the instant the horse capitulates and reacting accordingly. What we are talking about here is teaching the horse through FEEL which only comes through time or to speed up the process, through watching someone with great feel explaining the signs that they are seeing and interpreting the horses body language i.e. a good trainer/mentor. For a complete novice to try to do what you suggest could possibly be a recipe for disaster.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.D Adams