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Episode 275: Svenja Sawinski Teaching Relaxation Pt 4: Superstar Stillness

This is Part 4 of a 4 part conversation with Svenja Sawinski. Svenja has a horse who has been giving her a master class in teaching stillness and relaxation.

In Part 1, Svenja introduced us to Daryan her Arab barb cross. When Svenja began with a very young Daryan, she was still using traditional, pressure-based training methods. That worked fine with her older horse because he would always back down from escalating pressure. But not Daryan. In Part 1 Svenja described her discovery that you could teach a horse to stand still using clicker training. For both Daryan and Svenja that was a transforming experience.

In Part 2 Svenja shared how she taught Daryan not just to stand still, but to settle into relaxation. We ended with stillness becoming a default behavior.

In part 3 Svenja expanded on the usefulness of default behaviors. She described how she used Daryan’s standing in stillness to clarify cues for him. Instead of guessing what she wanted or trying to throw behaviors at her in the hope that something would work, the default of stillness gave him the clarity he needed to avoid frustration. I’m sure Svenja’s description of the process made many of you sit up and take notice. It is a very useful strategy. You were probably hitting the replay button so you could listen again to her description.

Part 4 is packed with moments like that where you will want to hit the replay button to listen again. We’ll be covering a lot of ground - who knew that there was so much to be said about standing still!

So enjoy!


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