"...we also need to consider what the histories of the horses and ponies are. If these saintly individuals have only known a more traditional approach, you will have a very different experience than if you are starting an equine in a program with positive reinforcement from the get-go. Again, I have done both. I currently have four lesson individuals. Two were purchased at an older age and had histories with traditional training. The other two are homebreds who were started with R+ as babies. They are very different to teach on." From the Introduction posted on 6/13/19
My other two lesson ponies came to me when they were about twelve to fifteen years old. They did not come at the same time but the teeth on each indicated that to be their approximate ages when I bought them.
can use that or remove them. Additionally, those are behaviors which stop movement. So they are
While this has been a scattering of anecdotes about my own ponies, the theme I have found is that individuals started with positive reinforcement are creative and enthusiastic, responding to very light aids. Beginner riders instead need reliable, calm mounts who can ignore all the crossed wires that a novice gives with seat, hand and legs.
Horses who have been initially taught with traditional methods have very often shut down their reactions to things in the environment. You can see it in their flat expressions. This does make for a safer ride. When transitioning this type of horse to positive reinforcement, I have found that even when they "wake up" to offering behaviors and more enthusiastic responses, they maintain their ability to accept aversive experiences, such as an unbalanced rider. On the other hand, if a lot of pressure was used to build or maintain their behavior, and that is no longer used, they may decide they'd rather not participate at all. Then you have to decide if you are going to maintain them with the negative reinforcement with which they are familiar, or take the time to retrain everything with positive reinforcement. This is made more complicated when working with students who may not have the observational and timing skills necessary to train, rather than just being able to focus on their own skills.
Next up: the goals of the lesson program and the students