When I thought about the topic of trust, the person I most wanted to talk with was horse trainer Alexandra Kurland. It seemed to me that establishing trust would be a primary goal for any trainer working with an animal that outweighs you by a thousand pounds or so.
Right at the start of the conversation, Alexandra challenged the idea of trust as an inherently good thing. Trust can simply mean that something can be relied upon, which could mean reliably good or reliably bad.
So true. That was just the start of our meandering conversation through the world of trust, poisoned cues, mixed consequences, and shifting emotional responses.
In the end, it came down to "trust the process" of effective training. Know that by using positive reinforcement, you are increasing certainty, predictability, control, and stability--all of which will help you change your responses.
Alexandra is known for her ground-breaking work with clicker training horses. She' s a a member of the faculty of ClickerExpo, and you can learn more about her work--and her courses, books, and DVDs--on her website.
If you found this episode engaging, you'll love this episode on second chances with Kim Imel!