I’ve always been the enthusiastic type, which is probably why I was always good in sales. Get me going on something and, man, I could get everyone excited about it. People who knew me used to say I could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. It was the truth, too. Over the years I ran several small businesses; a singing telegram company where I dressed up like a cowgirl clown, and personal cheffing and catering out of my condo kitchen to name two. I made enough money off of each to not have to have a real job.
I’ve also helped other people out when my enthusiasm for what they did, their product or service, caught my fancy. It has been fun to see other people become more successful because of my help.
In the last few years I used clicker training to positively reinforce my mare’s behavior. Clicker training was originally used to shape the behavior of dolphins in captivity at places like SeaWorld. Later someone figured out it would work with dogs and clicker training became more well known. In recent years, horses have been trained using the same methods very successfully. The gist of clicker training, be it for dolphins or dogs or horses, is that you look for what you want and then using a marker sound, in this case a click, to indicate the animal did the right thing. Then you reward with a treat. Of course, you first have to initiate the conversation with the animal by teaching it that the click means a treat it coming. That is accomplished by teaching targeting.
Targeting, being the first step to clicker training, is simply holding your fist or something else like a frisbee, as an example, in front of the horse’s nose. When the horse touches the target, you click and treat (c/t). A few repetitions of that and the horse begins to see that touching the target means it will get a treat, and the conversation is started. Next in the behavior shaping is to make sure the horse understands, so you move your fist or target away from the horse’s nose, a foot or so, and ask (which I do verbally because I like to use words to shape my mare’s behavior) the horse to touch it. If the horse understands, it will.
At this point some trainers will put the target on the end of a long stick and moving it around to various locations, ask the horse to touch it. There is a click and a treat at the end of every touch. Now the horse really understands the concept, and this is where the fun begins.
You might ken that I am enthusiastic about clicker training. It has totally changed the depth and scope of my relationship with my mare. I’ve taught her some really silly things like Smile, Tail up (which comes in so handy for applying fly spray to the underside of it), kick (a squeeky football), and useful things like Move over, Stand there (for ground tying). I’ve taught her to dance with me, to back up when I just put a slight amount of pressure on a few strands of her tail. I might have the only horse in the world who feels it is her job to hand me her food bowl morning and evening. She laughs the whole time she is doing it. And now, she is micro-shaping herself. If she drops the bowl, she’ll kick at it until it flips over. If the bowl is too far away from me at the fence she has figured out that as she picks it up, she can turn her head towards me to hand it to me. I wish you could see it. (note to self, video this for Youtube).
So, being excited about the results I’ve gotten from clicker training, I naturally want to show other people about it. I was at a county field days last month to go see what gymkhana is all about. And I wanted to see where my riding level is by comparison. Ok, I can ride that well. Gymkhana looks fun too, though I’ll have to work on racing my mare through barrels and making a quick turn to go back, called an Australian Keyhole. What shocked me were the number of horses who wore really severe bits and had their chins ratcheted down to their chests with a strap. I asked what that was about and was told it keeps the horse from flipping it’s head around. “Shoots,” I thought, “why not just train your horse to not do that.”
An idea was born! Have clicker training clinic.
As it turns out, it seems that people with horses are content to use the Parelli method, or the Clinton Anderson method, or the “beat them until they are numb as clubs” method, or the ‘put a harsher bit in their mouth” method of horse training. I’ve been trying like a fool to get the spark going at two stables and with horse owning people I know and nothing is resonating.
And that brings me to Yahshua, also known as Yehoshua, but who you might have heard called Jesus. This is another hard sell, believe me. I am more enthusiastic about Him than I am about anything else in my life.
I belong to Him. Being in right relationship with Him, and the Lord God, has made my life so very different. If you don’t know Him, you won’t understand what I mean. I want you to know Him though so that your life will be different, too. What I really want is to keep you, dear reader, from being separated from Him for eternity.
I bought a tee shirt that says “Army of God” on the front. You might imagine the squinty looks I get if someone happens to be aware enough of their surrounds to read it. Most aren’t. One guy, whose name is Immanuel of all things (means God with us), snickered at my tee shirt.
I am enthusiastic about Jesus because I have come to understand that the Bible is right. God created us to be His children. That is what He wants. And look at the world we live in…everything in the world stands opposite to what is right and truth. People are walking around dead in spirit, needy as can be, emotionally crushed, broken toys. The Bible says, and that is God’s word, He does not lie, if people are not in right relationship with Him via Yahshua, who literally was beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross bearing all the sins of the world, yours and mine, they are going to be separated from God for all eternity.
I ask you this…what will you do when you are standing naked before God and He asks you to give an accounting of yourself. You will have no excuses, your poor-little-me stories won’t work there beause He already knows. All of it! If your name is not in the Book of Life you will be cast out for all of eternity.
Look around you folks. How fast are things sliding down hill in the world? How rampant is evil? How many right things have been turned into wrong things and wrong things turned into ‘right things’?
Get right with God before it is too late. One minute after you die you will know that you knew, but by then, it will be too late.
If you spend just 5 minutes pondering what you ‘feel’ about Jesus has nothing to do with the reality of who He is and what He did for YOU, click and treat yourself. Then ask Him to show you the way.