Training Aids: Bzzzzzz!

When I look down at a horse …


… my mind is elsewhere. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. So, I designed an exercise. I downloaded a buzzer app


… and gave the phone to my instructor. She tasked with buzzing each time I looked down. We both expected a lot of buzz.

Not so. Two reasons:

1) I was on Bingo. I chose a horse who would not go ballistic at constant weird sounds. Bingo is also the sort of horse who doesn’t get my knickers on a twist [Clinic Report: Day Two]. No twisted knickers meant no default riding mode meant no staring down at my horse while I tried to sort out a problem. If I could ride the other ASBs with the confidence I have on the Bingos and the Georges [Sidesaddle] of this world, I’d probably stop coming in last. But I digress.


2) I knew the buzzer was there. That was enough to keep my head up.
Gratuitous Stepping Stone Farm cats

Photo by  Courtney Huguley
Photo by
Courtney Huguley

4 thoughts on “Training Aids: Bzzzzzz!

  1. One thing I’ve done is use a code word – a friend and I use, “Smiley Face!!!” and we would sort of say it singing-ly… while training, while at a show… and then you don’t have to worry about the horse freaking from the sudden noise – that code word actually meant three things – BREATH, SMILE and LOOK UP. It worked really well and was funny because of how we said it to each other.

  2. I like the first comment. Years ago a paramedic partner of mine and I used the code DScubed for ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ (and it’s all small stuff). Now… just like the above comment, it sounds silly but it’s amazing how well it works just to have a quick back and forth reminder. It really helped us both.

    And Katherine, I would suggest using something along the lines or a clicker or a sound less startling to a horse and have your instructor click for head *up* vs the buzzing for down. IOW use positive reinforcement rather than positive punishment. A good read on this is Karen Pryor’s Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals. There’s a fascinating section at the end that talks about how some people have used this technique in gymnastics and golf – using the marker in and of itself as the reinforcer and not just the marker. Just a thought from the (dog) trainer side of me (that also has learned a lot about people through that)

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