Thin Slicing Our Training

“The more steps you can put between you and your end goal the better the end result will be”.

Are you a splitter or a lumper ?  Do you thin slice the behaviour you are teaching in to really small steps?

Good trainers look at behaviours in a particular way.  They tend to break them down in to component parts, break those component parts down in to smaller pieces.  And within those smaller pieces there may even be smaller steps you can teach.  The more you can break the behaviour down to teach it the easier it will be for you to teach it, and for your horse to understand what you want.

If you are training with positive reinforcement then the more steps you can break the training down in to the more of a reinforcement history you build up in a short period of time, and therefore the more your horse will want to come back for more.

Strong reinforcement histories are so valuable in building relationships.  If you have built up a strong relationship then when it comes to asking your horse to do something for safety reasons, or for something they don’t like (but it needs to be done, e.g. vet procedures) then they are more likely to trust you.

Thin slicing the behaviours also means your horse gets lots of repetitions of setting up in the behaviour.  You are not repeating the same thing over and over again, you are shaping the behaviour in to the end goal, but you are taking the time to explore each step along the way and explore your horses understanding of each step.

Thin slicing can take you on some interesting and unexpected routes, each one valuable and each one helping to build the relationship with your horse.  The end result is a behaviour that is solid.

A huge advantage to think slicing behaviours is that, if one day something goes wrong with the behaviour, you have a step by step plan for how to work out where it went wrong.  If you taught the behaviour in one big lump then you can’t work out what part of the behaviour the horse is not understanding.

Amanda
http://www.smaarthorses.co.uk

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