Dialogue with Dante: Wow is Right!

Barb and Dante are seriously dialoguing! Here’s her latest email.

Tonight Dante put both feet on the tire – 3 times.  He also stood on both sides of the stepping stone and also stood while I walked down his side.  And he came back to me in the pasture when the other horses went into the barn.  Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Barb

This thrills me. The last time I was there I introduced Dante to the notion of stepping up on the tire pedestal, but I felt he wasn’t ready. I saw that he got a little confused as he preferred to walk around the tire instead of stepping on it. I felt that he needed just a little more experience with targeting his feet to an object.

We worked reinforcing the verbal cue of ‘step up’ and the physical cue of tapping my foot on the object. But I opted to leave stepping on the tire for another lesson.

How exciting that Barb and Dante picked up where I left off. The fact that Dante repeatedly stepped on the tire shows me that they are creating new behaviors together. This I believe is the foundation for every interaction with a horse, which is the ability to request a behavior and get that behavior in a manner that leaves both parties smiling.

I’ve heard many professional horse trainers lament that although they can get the horse they’re training to perform XYZ, the owners can’t. In this case Barb was able to ask Dante to perform a behavior when I could not in the previous lesson.

I have a growing theory that once a horse and human are on the same page and speaking the same language, the term ‘Horse Trainer’ may become obsolete.

I love this. This means that I’m reaching one of my goals, which is to help Barb and Dante find a means to clearly communicate with each other in a way that feels good to both of them.

Obviously Dante is feeling so good about Barb that he stepped up onto foreign object that previously caused him suspicion. He also is performing this task at liberty. No pulling or tugging to get his feet on the tire. It’s an invitation-only type training. Barb invites by pointing with the target stick or demonstrating with her feet where she wants him to place his feet. It reminds me of the ease of using a point and shoot camera.

I think Barb is doing an amazing job. The great part however, is that she doesn’t need me to tell her this. All she has to do is watch Dante decide to be with her instead of his buddies.

All I can say to that is, wow.

-cw

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