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#8: How to be the Lone R+ Crusader in Your Barn 

Hello, Jessie here. My dad used to tell me, "you catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar". He owned a few businesses and I watched him live this out daily. I would hear him talk to clients on the phone and he always seemed to be able to soothe even the most irritable of people.

As a trainer in a large hunter/jumper show barn, I have seen it all. With more than 80 horses and 120 people to manage, I watched as clients struggled to speak their concerns to other trainers. I saw horses doing their jobs like little soldiers, and the trainers thought they were happy. I watched them push through work when they were obviously sore. Don't get me wrong, there were good parts to it too. I loved the community there. For the most part, most everyone was really nice and cheered each other on. 

Back then, I used to think the horses liked what they did and in fact, I do think those horses were treated really well. Still, they were expected to do a job, no matter what they thought. No one there used positive reinforcement and I know for a fact that if someone had wanted to use it, the head trainer would have shot them down big time.

I think now... "what would I have done if I was doing positive reinforcement back then?" I was a different person then. I had a job to do and I know I would have rolled with what everyone else was doing. Today, I know this would not be the case. I'd have done something about getting others on board carefully and thoughtfully. 

Shawna has taught me how to deal diplomatically with others when they don't quite agree with what we do. We both feel that we have to be really careful about addressing others who are on the fence because we do not want to risk pushing them off the wrong side. They should not be chided for what they haven't learned yet since we were ALL once in that very same spot!

So how do you handle being that sole person in your barn... or maybe your community, group, or club who wants to do this bizarro R+ thing? One way is to ask your trainer to consider being a part of the training. Asking them to be the one who clicks because you feel they will have really good timing can be a tactic that can work. You can assure them that if they hate it, you won't ask them again, but would they try it this once? It can be a good ice breaker. They are your trainer for a reason. You've chosen them, so if you have to do a bit of a dance at first to get them thinking outside the box, it can definitely be worth it. 

When it comes to other naysayers in the barn, be nice! Invite them to play along or offer to try teaching their horse to turn their head away (teach a bridge signal). Showing them might work a lot better than trying to explain at first. What is one really cool thing your horse can do that might pique their interest? Once they have decided this isn't all bad, it opens the door to speak some more of the science. You can always direct them to the first few episodes of Equine Clicker 101. That podcast has won the hearts of many. 

The main take-away here is slow and steady wins the race. Just keep practicing with your own horse and show them what a game changer it has been for you. Learn the science and theory the best you can so that when they approach you, you can explain what you've been learning. With any luck, they will not soon be able to resist you and your charming R+ ways. 

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