Monday, February 23, 2015

Allow for Mental Processing

Mental Processing


 At each level of the education, the horse reacts first protecting familiar locomotor patterns or muscle imbalance. If properly guided by the rider, the horse brain explores a new reflex combination. It is scary first from the horse point of view but also intriguing as the reflex combination renders the move or the gait, less uncomfortable or even easier.

The brain is simultaneously scared and interested. The brain is interested because of the physical comfort that the reflex combination provides. Basal nuclei, olivary nuclei, cerebellum, which are components of the brain monitoring the body situation, have registered the physical comfort associated with the move. The brain is simultaneously scared because the sensation is not familiar. At this point, the rider easily encourages or destroys the horse mental involvement. If the rider thinks in terms of submission, leadership, obedience to the aids, the rider annihilates the horse mental development. At the contrary, if the rider respects the horse’s mental processing and gives to the horse some processing time, let the horse explore errors and use the horse’s errors to reformulate the question, the rider develops the horse’s intelligence.

by Jean Luc Cornille

This is reflected in the way I teach:

  • Make it easy for the horse to guess the right answer.
  • Guide him to a way of accomplishing what is asked of him that makes his work easier.
  • Allow him to explore what works best. Do not force him. He will come to you.
  • Give him enough repetition and enough processing time for him to recognize there is an easier way.
  • Capitalize on the equine's evolutionary instinct to make the best use of the calories available. Horses want to be efficient.
  • Our training job is made easier because the evolutionary appreciation for greater efficiency ultimately has meaning to a horse.
Related thought:

"When a motion is repeated slowly and accurately it becomes thoroughly ingrained in the muscle memory of the practitioner. The motion then becomes automatic, and conscious thought is no longer needed to perform it. This kind of programming cannot be obtained by fumbling through a technique. Rather, it must be repeated often and without mistakes. At first, this can only be done at slow tempos."
(Philip Sudo & Tobias Hurwitz, 2007)