DVD Lesson 9: Overcoming Fear And The Power Of Cues by Alexandra Kurland

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This DVD shows how to overcome fear issues with head lowering; highlights the importance of mechanical skills; building duration into head lowering behavior; to combine advance and retreat techniques with the clicker; to read your horse's body language; and to recognize/use cues that evolve during the shaping process.

Approx 2 hours.

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This DVD shows a real gem of a session. It features Muska, a seven year old Icelandic mare I met in the summer of 2007.

Muska is owned by Nick and Cherrie Foot. Muska's previous owners had started her under saddle. When she had about a month’s worth of rides behind her, they put their granddaughter up on her. That would have been fine, except nobody remembered to check the girth. You know the rest of the story. The saddle slid under Muska's belly. The granddaughter fell off. And Muska was in a panic. And the end result was Moska became terrified of saddles.

Nick bought her knowing she had this problem because, as you’ll see on the DVD, she’s a very sweet horse and it seemed a shame that something like this would be the undoing of what was otherwise a very lovely mare.

Nick and his wife had begun exploring clicker training. They’d made progress. Muska had learned to target the saddle, but she was still profoundly wary of it and it could take as much as forty minutes or more of patient work to get the saddle on her.

This is such a common situation people find themselves in with their horses. Some unfortunate series of events has left the horse with an overwhelming fear. In Muska's case, she was afraid of saddles, but it could just as easily have been clippers, or shots, or plastic tarps, etc. . You fill in the blank. You have a horse that is afraid of __________. What do you do? That's the question this DVD explores. But it is so much more than a simple lesson in desensitization. What this DVD really looks at is the power of cues: how they evolve and how we can use them to change our horse's response to the things that frighten them.

Every now and then you get a perfect gem of a session, one that clarifies a concept, or illustrates a particular lesson. And that’s what happened with Muska's lesson. And for a change, when we got the camera out, everything worked, we had enough tape, the battery didn’t run out mid-way through the session, the threatening rain clouds held off until we were finished, and best of all the horse cooperated by giving us a great session.

So what are you going to see on this DVD?

You’re going to see the foundation lessons used to solve a major fear issue. If you’re fairly new to clicker training, you may have gone through the first few lessons thinking - so what? How do I use these things that I’ve taught my horse. In this lesson, you’ll see the foundation lessons come alive. You’ll see how useful they are in resolving fear and space issues.

But more than that this is a lesson in timing, the importance of mechanical skills, chunking lessons down into small steps and reading your horse. I think you’re going to learn a lot from it.

In the first part of the DVD I’m working with Muska. In the second half, I turn her over to Nick. I do so appreciate all the people who participate in these DVDs. They help so many others succeed with clicker training by sharing their own learning curve.

Sometimes when you watch a session, it can look easy. Getting the timing right, all of that looks so smooth on the tape. How hard can it be? Nick shows you that getting all the details right is anything but easy. It’s so useful to watch somebody else sorting through the process to help you remember all the details that need to be kept track of. So Nick - thank you for sharing.

If you are at the stage where you and your horse are struggling to connect, watching this part of the DVD may help you spot some of those little details that are frustrating or confusing your horse and making it difficult for him to do what you want.

So again, I really thank Nick for being willing to have the camera running while he was at the stage where the lesson feels anything but smooth and easy.

That’s part of what is on this DVD. Something else that’s important is the reading of body language. I think Muska is very expressive. We'll be looking together at all the places where she is asking questions, where we need to notice her concern, her worry. I'll show you how you can manage your mechanical skills to provide answers to your horses small questions so they don't build up into big worries. You'll be learning how to listen to and be responsive to your horse's emotional needs.

And finally the real gem that came out of this session is the power of cues. You’re going to see how quickly an action evolves into a cue, how important it is to recognize and use this process. You’re going to see how you can put cues to work for you.

At the beginning of the tape the saddle is most definitely a cue to leave - by the end of the lesson it has evolved into something very different. Cues and the process that evolves them, and their use with fear issues is one of the major lessons of this DVD.

So overcoming a fear issue, head lowering, timing, mechanical skills, building duration, advance and retreat, reading body language, and the power of cues - it’s all in there! Enjoy!

Approx 2 hours.


Click Here to read what Alexandra Kurland says about her series of clicker training books and DVDs, and how to get the best from the lesson sequence.

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