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In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Quote Mark

Albert Einstein


The Fouth of the four Ps


The persistence element of the 4 "P's" is crucially important to make the other three work. Persistence is vital to the success of solving problems and seeking solutions to training difficulties.


If individual methods are not succeeding in solving equine problems then through the use of persistence combined with imagination we can find a way to create the change we desire by using new, imaginative solutions to our problem. But we have to be prepared to persist until we find the answer the animal is looking for.


We often expect behaviour to change rapidly, forgetting that it takes we humans a great deal of time to change our habits and behaviours, as anybody who has tried to give up smoking or eating too much or start exercising will bear testament to.  When we attempt to modify the behaviour of an equine we under-estimate how long it may take and when it begins to take longer than we expected, often our persistence wanes and the behaviour increases or becomes more established because we released the pressure or leave the animal in peace at just the wrong moment.


Persistence should not develop into stubbornness as stubbornness is unproductive. Persistence is not a matter of winning or losing but purely of learning.  If one develops the attitude of "You must…" or "You will…" we have stepped across the line from persistence to one of stubbornness, domination and control, none of which are helpful to the training of the equine.


Accepting that sometimes our methods of training may need to change because they are not working for the individual involved, allows humility and through the use of persistence we ensure the success of the animal. When persistence is used calmly and quietly it develops maximum effectiveness.    How do we develop persistence?  By understanding the processes that are involved, ensuring that we have created our training plan; that we understand and use patience and that we have practised our learning so that we are most accurate in our communication and the skills we use to train equines.  Using the first 3 Ps allows us to develop our persistence correctly.  Some people are naturally persistent and when faced with a challenge or something difficult, will spend time trying to solve the problem they stick at it until they succeed.  Others give up the moment a problem or difficulty arises.  The key to success with using persistence is to develop an attitude that there is always a way.  Sometimes, it just takes some finding.  Quietly working through a problem will reap massive benefits to the trainer and the equine involved.  Part of this process is ensuring that you are correctly prepared and an awareness of how long the behaviour may well take to modify.  Consider if you are standing in a queue of 20 people with a sign saying "The expected waiting time is 10 minutes".  You accept and acknowledge that you are going to give up 10 minutes of your time to waiting in a line before you receive the service that you require.  If you have not been served after 15 minutes you become a little impatient and after 20 minutes become frustrated and may even consider leaving the queue if it is not moving or your service is not imminent.  However, if you were in a queue and the sign said: "Waiting time approximately 30 minutes" and you chose, because of the importance of the service that you required, to wait in line, after 15 minutes you would not be showing many signs of frustration or impatience and if you receive your service after 25 minutes you would consider yourself fortunate.  So, by developing the correct attitude towards time and an understanding of the time involved in changing behaviour, one can easily develop persistence which leads to the success of the equine.


Preparation, planning, patience and persistence are just words until they are given life by the determined equine owner or trainer. If we use these four action words we can transform our success with our equines and we can let them learn no matter what the circumstances or environment. Develop these four practical skills and you will reach a relationship with your equine you never thought possible.


© Ben Hart

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