What is Thin-Slicing?
When we want to teach our horse something, the first thing we need is a PLAN. A plan written down has the advantage that we can look back on it. As we get feedback from the horse and our own actions, we can go back and tweak our original plan. Or we can throw it out and start again :-).
One way to create a plan is to:
- Visualize the finished task.
- Brainstorm all the individual specific actions the horse needs to be able to do to complete the whole task.
- Put the actions from 2. above into an order that seems logical. Each specific action will have one or more ‘click points’ where we click&treat. This allows the horse to pro-actively seek the hot ‘click point’ of the moment and makes training fun for everyone involved. This is the thin-slicing part.
- Decide how we might teach each specific action (by free-shaping, pressure & release, using a nose or foot target, or even modeling for the horse what we would like him to do). This part of the plan includes thinking about what sort of environmental props would make each part of the task easier for the horse to learn (e.g., rails, markers, barriers, lane-ways, corners).
- Experiment with the horse and gain feedback to see what is working and what needs rethinking and tweaking [or starting over with a new idea 🙂 ].
- Gradually chain the specific actions together until the horse knows the pattern and willingly carries out the whole task with one ‘click point’ at the end.
The video clip link below is a bit long (9 min) but it demonstrates all the parts of a PLAN and it uses various teaching methods to get to the final successful outcome.