About Sandra Poppema, B.Sc. Animal Management
Skype: PoppemaS (hippoLogic)
Social Media: HippoLogic
|“I always wanted to train horses in a non-violent way. I used reward-based training for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t always effective. Why?
No one ever told me about using a bridge signal, one of the most powerful tools in animal communication and training. I also didn’t know how to achieve my goals without (accumulating) pressure and release. I sometimes even used punishment out of frustration; it was not satisfying at all. I felt a lot of guilt and shame training and riding my horse.
In 1999, during my final year studying Animal Management, I heard of equine clicker training for the first time. I learned the science behind positive reinforcement training and how to apply it correctly when training to builds trust, confidence and respect between horse and rider. This is what I had in mind when I was a little girl!
In 2007, I became a certified “Basic Instructor Dressage & Jumping” at the Royal Dutch Horse Sports Federation. In 2011 I became a Level 1 Certified Centered Riding instructor, because I needed to learn more about the rider’s seat and how it influences the horse’s movement.
A lot of horses of my clients had minor behavioural issues. They were hard to catch in the field, difficult to halter, bridle, saddle, deworm or trailer load. Sometimes their horses showed undesired behaviours during handling, like biting or walking away while being mounted.
This is how I started helping riders train their own horses. I see much more value in coaching a horse owner how to train their horse, than me training their horse. If I do the work, the horse will listen to me, but I am not the person working with the horse on a daily basis. What horse owners really need is that their horse behaves safe around them and respond to their cues.
Kyra, my success story: From Feral to Fantastic
My current horse Kyra was born in 2008 in a nature reserve; she was 11 months old when I got her. She didn’t accept any human contact in the beginning. I had no idea if I could tame her at all, she was extremely nervous and anxious.
I tamed and trained her myself using positve reinforcement. I made a plan of approach and just started clicker training Kyra. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or if I was doing everything in the right order. I wish someone had a ‘clicker training guide’ for me which would tell me how to tame a horse.
Because that wasn’t available I decided to write down all my experiences and that is how I started my blog: as an online training journal. This is how I know it only took me a couple of weeks to tame her.
In just three weeks, I could halter her, touch her all over, lift her feet and lead her around the premises. After just a few months of training Kyra now seeks out human contact.
I used positive reinforcement to start her under saddle and she is doing great. This convinced me that it is possible to train a horse with positive reinforcement horse training. I laid my hands on everything I could find regarding positive reinforcement training; from scientific studies to dog training books. I kept track of my training methods and developed my own way of teaching people to use clicker training for their horse. I called it the ‘Key Lessons’, those are all the fundamentals (the keys) that leads you to success in clicker training your horse.
My relationship with my horse Kyra is very special. She greets me with a soft nicker and always comes to the gate as soon as she sees me or hears my car. Not only that, but she also seeks out all human contact. She doesn’t know any better than people bring her lots of good things: fun experiences and training challenges. Yes, and of course positive reinforcers like scratches and food.
Skype: PoppemaS (hippoLogic)