Proof and Consolidating a Behaviour
When the horse is getting really good at responding to a particular cue we can then deepen the horse’s understanding of this cue
by doing lots of repetitions of this behaviour being performed perfectly. We should try to get 5-7 repetitions of the behaviour at its best and then have a rest or change of subject.
Remember that when the horse learns a behaviour it is learning the behaviour in the context of the environment it is in at the time of learning. So the horse learns to perform a behaviour in the context of that environment. For example if we teach the horse a response such as stepping backwards, we will need to then teach the horse to step backwards in other parts of the arena and in other enrivoments outside the arena, in the stable, at the wash bay, in the float, etc. Each time you take the horse to a new environment you will need to train the behaviour as if the horse has never done the behaviour before. Take the time and patience to teach the horse to do the behaviour in each new location. Expect that the horse may not perform the behaviour in the new location, use the same steps to get the horse offering the behaviour as you did when you initially taught the behaviour at home. Understanding that horses learn thing in a very context specific way allows you to understand why it is important to train any new behaviour in at least 10 different locations and with increasing distractions. This then teaches the horse to respond in any virtually any situation.
Proof is when we can ask/cue the horse for a behaviour and it responds by performing the correct corresponding behaviour every time. If the horse gets confused and sometimes offers the wrong behaviour or sometimes does nothing then the behaviour needs more training to get to the proof stage.