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#6: The Importance of "Play" in Your Training

Teaching our horses to enjoy playing the game of training, includes teaching them to be relaxed, confident, problem solvers. It turns learning into a fun and engaging endeavor that they look forward to. It is engaging their natural play drive. It may take some time, patience and awareness to develop a horse who feels safe enough to express their ideas and try new things, without getting anxious, frustrated, worried or overaroused. However, it is well worth the effort. Not only does the learning become more joyful and cognizant, it goes faster and actually strengthens your relationship in the process. Everyone wins! 

Our golden rule when working with our horses: Training should be fun for you and your horse. This means we can get serious things accomplished and reach high criteria, while still feeling the joy of a child. 

This meme was based on a quote from Dr. Karyn Purvis, Institute of Child Development. However, the original source is not known. In addition, it looks like her original quote was one I like even better since we focus on joyful play. In any case, we can see the power of play. Our horses have a natural, hard wired play drive to facilitate learning skills that will help as they grow into adults. Engaging in play is an important element of creating emotional balance. When we can play together in a thoughtful, fun (and safe) way, it can help us to develop a more dynamic relationship with our horses. With the marine mammals we strive for a balance between training, play, relationship, quiet and social time. It is not any different for the horses. 

Original quote from Dr. Purvis: 

“Now what we know from research is that it takes 400 repetitions of an act or a learning skill, 400 times, to get one new synapse. Or -would you like to know an option - there's an option.  OR, 12 repetitions with joy and laughter and you get a synapse because there's a release of a chemical dopamine."

Check out this article if you'd like to learn more: "The Importance of Play".

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