Tuesday, 22 December 2009

What's the point?

This is the opening salvo in what will become "Open Horse", a variation on the computer concept of "Open Source". Open Source software is free to use and free to modify as the writers make the source code available, hence the name "Open Source". So anyone can improve any "Open Source" software but with one proviso, that they acknowledge the original source and make their modifications "Open Source" as well.
So everyone can keep improving the product without anyone getting a stranglehold. Open Horse is copying this idea, and fully acknowledging the debt, and the idea is that anyone can use the ideas I am suggesting, as long as they acknowledge where they came from, and allow anyone else to use them and hopefully improve on them.
The beneficiaries will be the ponies and horses and those who work with them.

Working this last year with Obama, who I got in early January 2009 has taught me so much about ponies and horses. I started with a concept that came from my blog "All I want for Christmas is a whip" and grew into a training philosophy. It's pretty simple really. Don't hit the pony.

But while it may sound simple to those who don't know ponies, to anyone brought up in the "British Equestrian Establishment" it is damn near impossible. You have to have a whip. You can't do a BHS exam without one in your hand. You can't even think of driving a horse without one, and the Pony Club test ten year olds to check they are comfortable holding a whip in either hand.

Somewhere I have still got the first whip I was given. A knobbly bamboo with a ring every inch and a slight curve at the end you hold. I hardly ever used as I was terrified that the pony would extract vengeance if I did use it, and as a product of the very finest English education, I did actually know what a bamboo feels like when it hits you.

So there I am with a rescue pony, and a decision that I won't hit it, which isn't much to work on. And to be honest  I haven't added much to the system. Except carrots. I was coming into Cheltenham, knackered, and so was Obama. We had been on the road for nearly 12 hours, and although we had only done 25 miles that included the centre of Gloucester and we badly needed to get to a safe haven.

Obama was being really irritating, stopping every few strides, and I was leading from his right since I wanted to protect him from Cheltenham traffic. The trouble was this stuffed my left shoulder which really wasn't liking life. We only had another mile to go to safe haven but the light was going, the traffic wasn't giving an inch and I was rapidly losing the plot. If I had had a stick ready, I would have laid into Obama to get a bit of sense into the little creep, but I didn't

Then I remembered a bag of carrots I had ready for our arrival. Why not feed them now as a bribe? It worked. Since then I have steadily upped the bribery levels to my present "Carrot Carrot system."

Basically if they do what you want you give them a carrot, and if they don't you give them a carrot. It started as a bad joke, my way of taking the mick from a clicker enthusiast. Basically I came up with the concept of reverse clicker training. I give Obama a carrot when I am in a good mood. He then spends the rest of his life trying to work out what keeps me in a good mood so I keep feeding carrots. This means that I don't have to fuss with all that timing and suchlike, I shift all that to Obama and let him do the worrying.

The dumb things is that it works. If you don't beleive me, see if there is anything I won't do with Obama. OK nothing that will hurt him, and he seems to object to loud music at Disco's. I thought it was the strobe lights, but I am pretty sure he doesn't like loud music.

I will update the photos over the next few days, and Obama is driving wheelchair users through city cnetres and across marshes, meeting 8 foot anacondas while delivering books, logging, hoeing, crossing canal aqueducts and endlessly chjarming people.

And I never used a whip, Obama never wore a bit, and I never regretted either fact.
So thats the traingsystem in a nutshell. Try being nice. Next I discuss leadership, and that is even easier.
Simon

1 comment:

Killi said...

I was given a whip ~ it has only ever been used against murderous cows by my father trying to sort out my wellspring & holding tank. I threaten various people with it, but my horses? Never.

If the bitless people ever get back to me, I'll order a driving bridle & reins from them at the end of next week (I need them to talk to me so I know how much they want paying to Ireland & I can sort out the sterling for them).