Little Bit – Working with Horses

I have started volunteering at the 2nd largest horse therapy organization in the USA. The majority of the riders have Autism.  What an incredibly rewarding experience. There are volunteers who walk in front of the horse and two that walk on each side, depending on the rider. In the case of the more challenged riders, there is a Physical or Behavioral therapist walking along and working with the rider.  I didn’t know it would be so special. It is beyond words to express the joy on the little girl’s face when she tries to smile and puts her head on the horse.  She has no words, but her face says it all. A moment of incredible happiness!

Positive or Negative Reinforcement

How do they train elephants?
When an elephant is young they tie a very large chain to its leg(s) and when it pulls at it, it can’t get away. As it gets older it continues to pull on the chain unable to pull away. Once it is full grown it no longer tries to pull at the chain. The elephant is prodded with a stick with a sharp point that hurts the elephant – pain and restrained and no reward. Psychologically it “thinks” it can’t get loose so it stops trying. In mind and body it feels it is in a prison and trapped.
Negative Reinforcement
How to train a fish to stay on one side of the tank
Did you know if you have a fish tank full of fish and you put a piece of glass in part of it so the fish can’t get to others side of the tank – when you remove the glass the fish won’t cross over to the other part of the tank. They mentally think there is still a barrier. Think about the impact of putting virtual walls around your team members and how unwilling they will become to take risks in the work environment.
How do they train an Orca?
They put a rope on the bottom of the pool and every time the Orca swims over the rope to the other side of the pole, it is rewarded with a fish. As it continues to swim over the rope and get rewards, the rope is gradually raised in the pool. If the Orca does not swim over the rope it simply does not get any fish but it is never punished. Eventually, the rope is raised out of the water and the Orca jumps over the rope to get its food reward of fish.
Positive Reinforcement
What reinforcement is used in your workplace? What is the most common complaint when you hear an employee is no longer engaged at work? They will tell often you that they get in trouble for doing things wrong and don’t get rewarded or acknowledged enough for the things they do right. I don’t know about you but I have had managers like this.
I prefer to be trained like an orca and get positive reinforcement. There is a time and place for everything but rewards and positive reinforcements work the best. No matter the size or position of the follower, kindness prevails. When something is not done correctly – train them and reward them when they do it correctly. The reward can be a simple as sharing a smile and saying thank you. Everyone wants to be appreciated. They will work harder for you when you appreciate them. They will be jumping high over the rope exceeding your expectations.
Make it a positive rewarding day for someone!