21 Jul 2022

The JenkuMethod: Reward Nothing

Imagine doing a job where you are allowed to stand still or sit still and do nothing and you still get paid!  Imagine a traffic cop doing a spot reward rather than a spot fine when they see you wearing a seat belt.  Imagine them rewarding you for doing the right thing, rather than punishing you for doing the wrong thing.

In the same way you want to incentivise the horse for standing still, not moving his feet around, relaxing, licking and chewing, dropping his head, relaxing his back, and then you can actually pay him for doing just that. He will literally get paid for doing nothing.

Once the horse is in this calm, relaxed state and neutral feet and a neutral mind, that’s where the actual optimum learning state is achieved, and from this place you start building the Six Connections. Here you training them what to do with their feet, what to do with their pelvis, what to do with their shoulders. If you do not have a horse that is in a neutral state of mind, same as with humans, they cannot be in a resourceful state.

Adrenalin in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but when their stress-hormones increase because of anticipated anxiety, they are no longer in that optimum learning state of mind. They go to a place where their brain cannot physically make new connections because it’s focused on survival, it is no longer focused on learning.

So, what we want to do is

  • make the horse conscious of the undesired response,
  • make the human conscious of this undesired response, and
  • give direct and accurate feedback.

Training Your Horse to Do Nothing

In rewarding horses for doing nothing, it’s important to do it every day, to reward the horses every day for doing nothing. Spend at least three to five minutes every day and just be conscious of rewarding your horse for standing around and doing nothing. 

To make the barging go away, it’s a good idea to start this over the stable door, you don’t go into the stable, so that if the horse does get pushy, you can just step away from the door and wait for them to calm down.  

The horse’s behaviour may get worse before it gets better, and they may go into an extinction burst while their intensity escalates.  They want their food and they’re trying to figure out what they can do to get to the reward from you.  Obviously, they can’t be violent, they can’t get physical with the human, because the horse is behind the stable doors. 

The only other option is to bang the door and even then, the idea is not to give the horse any feedback. Just stand and stare at them and wait for them in a calm way and wait.

Sooner or later, they will realise: “OK, I’ve exhausted all my multiple-choice answers, I’m now running out of ideas. I’m will now just calm down and stay quiet.”  And that’s what you want!

Whatever you focus on, you multiply.

The more you reward horses for doing nothing, the more they will want to do nothing and more importantly: they will learn to relax.

Follow this link to last week’s post on The Value of Relaxation before Collection

Next week in The JenkuMethod: The Invisible Box

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