By Jane Jackson, Level 3 TAGteacher
I was at a clinic with Alexandra Kurland (I had been clicker training horses for many years) when she mentioned that since I taught kids as well as adults, I should try TAGteach. When I asked what that was, she used the following example, “you ask them to keep their position around a 20 meter circle and if they do, then click them and they can go jump the cross rail”. I think my jaw dropped. What a brilliant idea. I remember saying that I could have left the clinic right then and there and I would have gotten my money’s worth (but I’m glad I didn’t because there was more great stuff to come). My mind went wild with the possibilities. I couldn’t wait to get home and try it. Kids love to jump – they don’t like to work on position so much. There was a perfect way to work them together.
Back at the farm, I put it to work. My first efforts have thankfully blurred in my memory but at the time, I thought I was doing great and the kids were happy. Being an education junkie (I love to learn), I found a TAGteach seminar “only” 6 hours away and signed up. Both Theresa and Joan were there and expanded my enthusiasm further. As a riding instructor, I felt that if I wasn’t talking constantly, I wasn’t earning my money. In that first seminar, I had the HARDEST time trying to shut up and let the learners learn. During one of the exercises, I repeatedly talked too much rather than letting the clicker work its magic. When I rolled my eyes in disgust at myself, Theresa said, “tag point is, lips sealed.” Bingo. That was all it took- the power of a tag point right there for me. I could give my instructions and my tag point and then focus on “lips sealed”. And I did it!
At that time, I had a challenging student (competitive adult) who criticized herself constantly. The TAGteach seminar group took on my challenge and helped me brainstorm ways to help this individual. I remember going to her next lesson and pulling a piece of surveyor’s tape off a nearby post to tie in her horse’s mane where I wanted her to place her hands over a jump. Tag point is: hands to tape. She continued being hard on herself, but I was able to ignore it and focus on that tag point. This helped her be successful so that I could walk away from that lesson and know that rather than just soothing her, I had made a concrete improvement in the way she was riding which would have lasting effects.
Yesterday I asked a current student what TAGteach meant to her. I have tagged her for management skills, handling skills and riding skills. Her response:
Knowing I can break any problem into “tag” moments gives me hope that I can actually fix anything, or learn anything, that I need to.
TAGteach in Action
Here is a snippet from a webinar with Jane that shows an example of how to use the TAGteach approach to teach a specific skill to a novice rider.
Jane is a Level 3 TAGteacher with many years of experience training horses and teaching riders both children and adults. Jane offers positive reinforcement-based training for both horses and riders. She offers instruction for children and adults. We are grateful to Jane for doing a terrific job of moderating the TAGteach member discussion forum and for finding and sharing new and inventive ways of teaching.
Please visit the Bookends Farm website to find out more about Jane.