Jane talks a lot about high quality questions. To understand what that means, you have to be able to know the difference between a low quality question and a high quality question.
A low quality question can only give you a low quality answer and tends to create more of what you DON’T want. A low quality question usually starts with “Why?” or “How come?”
Such as, if you say “Why did I pull on the left rein in that transition…” your mind will search for an answer and probably tell you “…because you’re uncoordinated and not a very good rider.”
So, instead of saying, “Why did I forget the ten meter circle at E?” you could say, “What’s the best way for me to remember to do a ten meter circle at E?” Another example might be “How come my horse is so resistant to stretching into the bit?” rephrased into “What’s the best way for me to learn how to teach my horse to stretch into the contact?”
One way looks for problems, which programs you for more problems and destroys your self-confidence. The other way looks for solutions, which programs your mind for solutions. It may seem like a small difference, but it really isn’t small at all. It’s HUGE!
Your horse is very excited to know you’re going to be at the barn soon!
Rhett and I have a lot of fun playing together. He’s very good at throwing the ball. He can throw FAR! Sometimes I bring the ball back, and sometimes I like to keep it. Rhett doesn’t like it when I won’t return the ball. He chases me and makes loud noises. It is great fun!
Jane asked Rhett one day why I don’t always bring back the ball. Rhett said he didn’t know, but decided to watch what happens if he doesn’t make a big fuss over me not retrieving the ball.
The next time we played I decided I’d keep the ball for myself. Rhett didn’t get mad. He just turned away and went to do something else. He left me with nothing to do! That was no fun at all. It was much more fun when he chased me and tried to get me to give it back.
So, I took the ball to him, dropped it at his feet, and asked him to throw it for me. He did!
I caught it and considered keeping it. But I realized that I wouldn’t get any attention if I didn’t take the ball right back to him. When I did, Rhett praised me and gave me a good pat. Then he threw the ball again. That was wonderful! I decided that I like attention I get doing the right thing more than I like keeping the ball and being ignored. I decided that from now on I’m going to take the ball right back to him.
Many training issues are like that. If you don’t give them attention or energy, they dissipate. If you give them lots of attention, they fester and grow.
Positive reinforcement for doing the right thing is much better than a correction for doing the wrong thing.
Let’s go play ball! I promise I’ll bring it back.