I wish I could remember where and when, but sometime in the last week I read a quote that really struck a chord with me, its since been in the back of my mind with everything I do with the horses.
The quote went something like this:
It isn’t the student’s responsibility to understand the question given, it is the teacher’s responsibility to find a way to ask the question in which the student can find the answer.
How incredibly applicable to horses! Its no secret that communication is a giant fault in a human to horse relationships. It isn’t up to the horse to get the right answer when you ask a question in a foreign language. If someone asked you a question in Japanese, would you understand? I think you can take 2 approaches to attain success in training communication.
1) Keep asking the question and allow the horse to get it wrong X number of times without punishment. Appreciate that he is trying to answer your question, not trying to misbehave by doing the wrong thing. Reward when he gets it right.
And if he still isn’t getting it:
2) Rephrase the question. Take a step back in your training, use other aids, tools and responses in addition to the question you are asking him and guide him through what he already knows.