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Teaching your horse lateral work in-hand. Resets - what are these and how do they help your learner?

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

Horse learning lateral steps in-hand
Josie in-hand

Resets are a helpful way to keep your learner on the path to errorless learning. This keeps them in the training game by working in small increments so that each step is the best it can be before you go any further. This is also fundamental when following Alexandra Kurland's Looping Training method. Moving forward while training a behavior that is not the best it could be only creates more work for all in the long run.

To further illustrate this I will share my work with Josie today to get back to this training philosophy. An example of a reset from today's session: I make contact with the lead and slide up it towards the snap, if Josie starts to walk off I would slide up further and ricochet her energy and cue her to back up a step to "reset" her to the original position and then I mark and reinforce this.

Resets are marked and reinforced at a very high level of +R when used if she offered something less than desired (what I was looking for). This is a way to explain that what she offered was not what I was looking for (hence the reset cue) but that we are just starting over with a new request. We have to remember that our learners are interested in offering seeking behaviors and have no idea that one behavior is any better than another unless we mark and reinforce it. This is the science. This is a fact and very easily realized by us if we understand the science and do our own research. I am very happy to assist people in learning more about how to do this. Please visit my Clinics and Learning Center Page for more info!

Today we worked for about 10 minutes in a halter and lead so I could practice the important components for using a reset. If you watched yesterday's YouTube video you know that I am working today, to make a change in my body, in my requests, to shape a turn that is balanced, Yesterday shows non-examples of a balanced turn. I needed to work on myself without frustrating my horse. Not easy at all since she thinks that I want her to duck, curl and fall onto her inside shoulder and now I will be asking for a reset for those behaviors instead of reinforcing what I have been for the last 2 and 1/2 years.

We made some progress which was great! I did not do the best job of sticking to my philosophy of getting 1 good step at a time. This was partly due to me falling into the contact trap per Alex and also on Josie as far as she is quick to perform behaviors that she finds worthwhile based on reinforcement history. I was happy Josie remained with me even when I reset her and she didn't feel the need to communicate any frustration. Also, when I was leaving she kept looking my way and came to the gate to watch me as I pulled away. #arenasweet

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