Ginny's Blog - May 2, 2015
It’s a Wrap
After two years of studying heart rate and emotionality in horses, Tim and I shot the final footage for our video series “Heart Beats and Emotionality”. Our friend and client Elaine Klugman is the executive director and producer of our video and her horse Senor is the star of the show! Actually Senor and Tim are co-stars. Senor’s a star because of his story and Tim’s a star too because he used thoughtful ways to help Senor. Tim had the awareness and wisdom to understand the depth of Senor’s troubles and the experience to bring Senor back from his fear. So they both get to share the marquee.
Two years ago we asked Elaine if we could work with Senor using the Heart Rate monitor and try some different training methods to help him. Senor turned out to be the perfect horse to work with. He was environmentally bomb proof but deeply troubled while being ridden. Somewhere along the way Senor was traumatized by some pretty rough training. At one time he was quite the show horse in the Peruvian world but he eventually became unmanageable while being mounted and ridden. He would bolt when his stress became intolerable. Although he is small he’s tough and wiry. When he morphed into his flight instinct, no bit despite the severity would slow him down. When we first met Senor is mouth had lingering sores from his previous training. It appeared that some of his previous trainers had tried to control him with severe bits and heavy handed treatment to get him to toe the line. Senor would shut down and the pattern of being ridden while uncontrollable was repeated over and over.
Tim knew that the old ways had to go away and new patterns of training and schooling would be necessary to help Senor regain trust in humans. We began slowly with Senor. We used the heart rate monitor on Senor to get a glimpse into his emotional state. We used it as a training tool to slow down our training with Senor or proceed forward. We did a lot of filming of this every step of the way and gathered and recorded the data for every training session.
Tim used a combination of positive reinforcement and some traditional negative reinforcement. He taught Senor what the click meant, then the rules of food and then targeting. Senor turned out to be a little equine Einstein and soon had it figured out. Within two sessions he was eagerly looking for Tim when he heard our truck pull in the driveway. By carefully layering new experiences for him in a systematic way Senor “learned how to learn”. He became quite engaged in the process of problem solving or in other words looking for the solution to a request from Tim. He became a discerning connoisseur of delectable goodies with clear preferences of selection. As Senor and Tim worked day after day he began to look bright eyed and his heart rate reflected the trust that was beginning to build between them. Senor began to understand he had choices and began to think his way through his training with Tim. It was heartwarming and made everything worthwhile to see the worry leave his body and replaced by curiosity. A bright look came into his eyes. Tim became his friend he’d been looking for. Senor was able to trust in a human again. But what about Tim ? Well I do believe he made a friend for life in Senor.
The video “Heartbeats and Emotionality” has 5 shorts clips that follow Tim and Senor training with the heart rate monitor, different training methods and ideas. There is a surprise reunion of Tim and Senor at the end of clip 5. They had not seen each other in well over a year and what happens will warm your heart and make you believe in hope.