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What are the three Ps?

From: Dan

Dear Jessica, I attended a colt-starting clinic of yours last fall, and have been trying to use all of the information to help me with my ten-month-old QH colt. He's doing very well by the way. I was looking through my notes that I wrote right after your clinic, and found that there was something about "three Ps". I'm drawing a blank here, probably because I got too interested and stopped writing. I'm one of those people who can't watch and write at the same time, so my notes on your clinic are pretty sketchy because I didn't want to miss anything, so I wrote my notes after the clinic instead of during it. Would you mind refreshing my memory about the "Three Ps" idea or formula, and how it works?

Thanks a bunch!

Dan


Hi Dan! The three Ps are Patience, Persistence, and Praise. I just put them together and called them the "Three Ps" because I thought it would be an easy way for people to remember the concepts. (Well, perhaps it wasn't so easy after all.)

It's just a quick way to remember that these three things should always be part of your riding and training.

Patience: You have to give your horse time to understand what you want from him, time to learn how to do it, and time to do enough repetitions that the action becomes easy and then habitual. You also have to be able to break down each new skill into tiny, easily-learned pieces, and you then need to teach those pieces one at a time.

Persistence: Although you only ask for small things, small movements, small responses, you need to ask for them quite often -- this helps your horse understand, confirms your communication with the horse, and begins to develop the habits that you want.

Praise: Whenever you ask for anything, no matter how tiny and seemingly trivial, you must praise the horse -- there has to be a reward for every effort. Praise is a good reward for a horse: a kind word, a pat on the neck or a scratch on the withers, and a moment of stillness make a better reward than a sugar lump. ;-)

It's not a new concept -- it's very, very old. "Ask little, ask often, reward generously" is an old dictum of classical dressage. "Reward the try" is something you'll hear at any good NH clinic. It all comes down to making the training experience -- which is, when you think about it, ALL of your contact with your horse -- a pleasurable one.

So, as usual, good training is a matter of paying attention and having (as well as teaching) good manners -- and, as usual, "there is nothing new under the sun." ;-)

Jessica

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