Virtual Horse Training

IMG_1449I had the pleasure recently of working  with an amazing horse trainer, Barb Apple. Check out her web site: Barb came to me with a unique challenge.  With over 20 years as a horse trainer, the thought of delivering workshops for ONE more winter in the Pacific NorthWest had lost it’s appeal.  Even for you readers that aren’t horse fanatics, it’s not tough to imagine:  standing all day in damp wet footing,  in cold damp barns – taking a lunch break long enough to warm up and then head back out into the cold.  “Could there be a way that I could  train this winter using the virtual platform?” Barb inquired.

We began to explore some of the topics that would be conducive to live online training and ended up with quite a laundry list of potential topics.  With Barb’s vast knowledge and my approach to Knowledge Design, we developed a 3 week session called Creating a Safe Space.  This workshop taught Barb’s unique approach to working safely with your horse: a crucial and fundamental skill for all horse owners.

The design of the course was for each skill,  students observed video footage of Barb working with a well trained horse (we called it a ‘finished horse’).  But we all know from  any kind of DVD training that seeing a expert do something is very different from when you go to apply the skills yourself. So the next footage showed Barb working with an ‘unfinished horse.’  This gave participants the chance to see what happens when things don’t go as planned.  Barb narrated the voice over to explain how she was making adjustments on the unfinished horse.  In the final week, each student video taped themselves applying the skills and had an opportunity for 1:1 coaching from Barb.

We had 10 participants – one student  was 11 years old and other participants of all age and experience levels were involved.  THE PARTICIPANTS LOVED THIS WORKSHOP. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and students are asking when the next workshop will be.

Why did it work so well?  Most often in horse clinics (or any training), we are saturated with information in a 8 hour training day.  Virtual training allows for ‘spaced learning.’  Our participants learned only a few key skills each week.  Participants had the chance to practice and apply the skills and get Barb’s advice along the way.  Additionally, as we designed the course, we knew that demonstrating the skills with only a finished horse was not enough.  People needed to see what would happen if their horse didn’t do what was expected.  Finally, participants LOVED learning the concepts in the comfort of their homes and then applying the skills as their schedule allowed.

Look for our case study, coming soon on how Barb Apple is taking her knowledge to the world!  And let this be a reminder that the virtual platform CAN be used for a more broad array of training topics than you may be thinking.

If you’ve got a topic that you’re wondering about, sign up for a free consult and let’s see what we can come up with!


Tell me what you think . Post your comments below.

  1. Ellen

    After some 30 years in the field of training, I was very skeptical regarding elearning. So much was out there that was not designed with any learning outcomes or any regard to learner engagement. It has been so much fun to learn, design and deliver synchronous training for the Adobe Connect platform over the last 4 years. When designed and facilitated well the virtual platform really can offer many advantages that surpass a traditional classroom environment! And without the cost of T&E. Unfortunately, when not done well, it too is seen as a failed experiment. Just proves once again…quality instructional design and delivery are critical for any training- no matter the vehicle!

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  3. Sonja Henson

    I am interested in showing cowboy dressage, I have 2 horses, I would like to compete for fun. I am wondering if there are any adult trail groups, drill team, on horseback, or any open shows that are women Anne men just wanting to have fun with their horses, and giving my horses a purpose or goal. I do a lot of trail riding.

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