A passion for chicken training

Chicken training is an excellent prerequisite for communication with positive reinforcement. It does not matter whether you want to make a single pony happy or a whole zoo.
We offer combination packages so that you can profit optimally from the new seminar formats Steigerwald.T seesaw trainers and medical trainers:
Chicken module 1 + seesaw trainer for 999,-€ instead of 1089,-€ and
Chicken module 1 + Medical Trainer 1st practice weekend for 999,-€ instead of 1089,-€

For many people it is still not so obvious why we like training with chickens so much. The rewiev written by Judith from Münster is very helpful in explaining this:

“Train chickens”?! Well, you were always a bit different!”
Admittedly, for most people it sounds strange at first. Many of those whom I have told that I “train chickens” or “click chickens” reacted with a perplexed “Aha…”
Let me put it this way:
Why do soccer players train? To get better, to optimize their physical fitness. The player who can run the fastest is the first one on the ball. And to improve reaction time and the technique to play the ball as far and as targeted as possible. The player who can do it best has the most success. When practicing a musical instrument, e.g. piano, it is pretty much the same: a pianist is not successful and outstanding on “his” instrument because he is very talented: he has always practiced extraordinarily much and surely he still practices many hours every day!
Besides, soccer players and pianists have good coaches or teachers who improve the skills of their students with exercises!
That’s why I train chickens: To become a better coach!
Observation and timing are important, as well as speed. And chickens are fast, believe me! Training with horses or dogs afterwards is like training in slow motion!
It is not about bringing a “chicken training” to performance maturity. For the chicken life outside of training it is not important to distinguish a circle from a triangle.
But training with the chicken “distinguishing shapes” is an important exercise for me and my qualities as a trainer and improves my trainer skills! There are many other reasons why especially chickens are excellent training partners. Curious? You can find out!
The pianist practices and practices in order to play flawlessly in the concert hall in front of an audience. Only then “listening pleasure” is guaranteed for the audience and the applause for the pianist.
I train chickens in order not to cause any training mistakes in the decisive, important training, e.g. recall training with the dog or courtesy training with the horse. The fewer mistakes, the better and faster dog and horse learn!
There are 5 chicken modules, each lasting 5 days. This may give you an idea of how varied and complex training is. And how many skills can be trained on the trainer side.
A really very, very good trainer said: “I don’t train brilliantly, I just make fewer mistakes than the others.”
Training is not magic, it is craft! And this craft is to be learned and optimized with the great Nina Steigerwald! In her seminars, great importance is attached to the well-being of people and animals. And in such a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere as Nina is able to create, personal development and progress are guaranteed! I will continue to practice, practice, practice at Hof Steigerwald!
Short beginner’s seminars are offered for “getting a taste”. I am already one step further and will register for Chicken Module 1! Maybe we will meet! See you soon at Hof Steigerwald!!

Steigerwald.T New Year’s Eve Challenge

The Steigerwald.T New Year’s Eve Challenge
For almost four weeks now, people have been making funny, strange and creepy noises in the presence of their horses. They often attract incredulous shaking of the head or even criticism. I would like to explain once again what this challenge is all about.
In learning theory, the phenomenon of generalization is described by the fact that conditional reflexes and behavior arise not only from the original stimulus that triggers the reaction, but also from triggers that are similar to it. The Pavlovian dog, for example, also begins to salivate when the tone of the bell has a different frequency range.
In order to prepare our animals for New Year’s Eve, we can work with various noises, smells and visual stimuli so that they remain more relaxed during the fireworks on the critical evening – in some areas days before. When horses have stress, when there is a fireball and we don’t want to ignite rockets for training purposes, generalization helps us and them to cope with this task.
Cow bells, dog barking, tools of all kinds (hairdryer, cordless screwdriver, welding machine, compressor, circular saw, jigsaw, mixer, blender, drill hammer, etc.), engine noises (car, tractor, wheel loader, Bobcat, yard loader, moped, motorcycle, harvesting vehicles), the human voice or musical instruments are possible acoustic stimuli that we can use in training.
Optical stimuli have a stronger effect on flight animals in the dark than in the light and the factor smell/smoke is also an element that we can approach step by step during training.

Applied practically, it can look like this: “Behavior is driven by its consequences”. If my animal behaves calmly during the presentation of the corresponding stimulus, the consequence of this behavior is something pleasant. Stimulus – stop – Click+Feed. Thus it combines the actually aversive stimulus with a tasty affair. But how do we get there that this stimulus is answered by standing still? By getting closer and closer from a feel-good distance. A squeaky balloon right next to the horses ears often put them on the run. A distance of five metres, may be good to endure. Squeak-stop-click-feed-one step closer- squeak-stop-click-feed-one step closer- squeak-stop-click-feed-one step closer- etc. At some point there comes the point where my horse raises his head strongly, widens his eyes very much or snorts. At this position I repeat the stimulus until my horse can show a calm behaviour again. In the ideal case it starts to grumble when perceiving the sound and tells us that the stimulus is so positively connected that it triggers joyful expectation.
Distance, stimulus intensity, direction and predictability are the keys with which we gain access to the horse and pick it up where it can still be quite relaxed. This is important because it is the only way to strengthen the calm that we ultimately need on New Year’s Eve. So find the right stimulus to pick up your horse and amplify any desired response to noise, flutter or glow.
It is not for nothing that behavioural therapy is a popular and frequently used tool in psychotherapy to treat phobias. Some horses may not have a “real” phobia, but I see it as my task to give even those candidates who “only” walk around with their eyes open and don’t dare to touch their hay a more relaxed turn of the year.
In our Facebook group “Horse-Agility and Clickertraining” you will find many creative examples of the Challenge participants. Of course I’m also there with Wolfgang, who is much more relaxed now.
On Tuesday, December 17, at 7 p.m. you will get a free webinar with a detailed overview of the training methods and special features. The link to the webinar will be added here on Monday.

Customer Feedback of Rocking Trainer Workshop 2019

Horse-rockers make you happy, and your horse, too.

I have often had the opportunity to look Nina Steigerwald, a pioneer of horse agility and gymnastics with horses, over the shoulder. So, I was all the more pleased that she devoted a whole weekend to a special workshop for holistic gymnastic training and therapy for horses with her special horse rockers.

The participants could familiarize themselves with the topic in advance, learning from two highly informative, free-of-charge webinars about whole-body and two-legged horse rockers and the necessary background knowledge.

Ernst Ferstl puts it in a nutshell when he states that

“The difference between theory and practice is in practice is much higher than in theory.”

That’s why most of the course took place on the well-equipped Steigerwald.T-Agility-Parcours with its numerable possibilities to train horses according to their current performance level. Five guest horses with none to medium rocker experience, from a 3-year-old mini Shetty to a 26-year-old Icelandic horse benefitted from two instructive and animal-friendly training days.

Rocking Trainer 2019

Ready, steady, go – rock! Of course, it was not quite that easy. For safety and physiological reasons, you first need to lay a solid foundation and develop movement and balance competence in the horse. Courteous waiting, safely mounting a limited space (mat) with all 4 (or 2) hooves on signal, correct axle alignment, shifting the center of gravity with firm hoof-ground contact, and again, safely dismounting from the mat are minimum requirements. We used several different types of gymnastic mats. As soon as a horse has mastered these basics it is ready to take on a rocker.

Starting with a fully stabilized rocker, the tilt angle was gradually increased. Even through the thick winter pelts of the Nordic races, it was easy to see how much the muscles and balance of the horses were challenged even by the slightest increase in instability.

Nina’s novel workshop concept of “speed dating training” was well received: all participants, regardless of their prior experience, became an active part of every training step. In each training session each of the participants trained for 5 minutes under the expert guidance of Nina. During this time, the bystanders were able to observe and receive valuable information on how individual coaching decisions directly affected the target behavior and, in addition, they assisted the coach by concentrating on the entire horse and help with valuable observations. Between change of coaches, the status quo was analyzed and the next training steps were planned to promote each horse individually, without overtaxing the animal.

Rocking Trainer 2019

One of the central elements in training health-promoting horse rocking is the so-called feeding point, which encourages the horse to make appropriate movements without physical or psychological pressure. This also requires some physical fitness of the trainers to be able to lure the horse into appropriately helpful positions. At the same time, a high level of alertness and lightning-fast decisions are crucial. The motto is “Click the horse and not the rocker”. The goal is either a dynamic rocking motion with a slight forward-downward stretch or initiating the rocking movement by a flexing of the haunches with plenty of abdominal muscle activity and appropriate top-line in order for a physiologically helpful joint, muscles and the nervous system stimulation.
Nina demonstrated with her own horses how these movements should look in perfection.

Particularly impressive was the development of Shetland Pony Wolfgang. I had been able to observe the very beginnings of his rocking career in the summer of 2018. Now the little guy proved a professional rocking specialist. He proudly presented a nearly perfect school halt to the amazed spectators, perfect with arched back, clearly set haunches and good load bearing. It was fantastic to see such a high performance level without the use of pressure or auxiliary reins, and have fun instead of stress.

One of the many highlights of this weekend was the opportunity to get on a rocker with a professionally trained horse and feel the rocking movements first-hand.
And even without horses, the numerous gymnastic equipment repeatedly invited people to climb onto them and find out how much balance, coordination and muscle activity is required on such a device, and how the joints are gently mobilized at the same time. There’s no experience like first-hand experience, is there?

This instructive and very motivating workshop was rounded off by wonderfully sunny spring weather and culinary delights from the farm’s kitchen. Of course, the traditional pancakes and the liqueur made from eggs from the farm’s own clicker-trained chickens were part of the show as well.

Steigerwald.T at the EQUITANA 2019

We are on tour for you, because …

…the Equitana – one of the most important global horse fairs – will open its doors in Essen for 9 days! We are very happy to help enrich the Equitana with animal-friendly Steigerwald.Training, our equine gymnastics equipment and horse rockers.

In Hall 6 at Equimondi at booth No K29, you are welcome to hammer us with questions, try out our various horse rockers, have a chat about animal-friendly training and any other horse-related topic might be on your mind!

You can watch our live performances at the Cavallo Ring and Hall 6. You will see True Horse Agility and Medical Training with positive reinforcement. Come and see my two own horses, Frieda and Amadeus, showing that they not only have fun at work on their home turf, but also in the unfamiliar surroundings of a show ring. We will also demonstrate that positive reinforcement is an animal-friendly and effective way of training, that can be implemented with any horse – you only have to know how. You can watch us train horses of other trade fair participants that we have never met before – that will be a particularly exciting part, even for me! Thanks again to all the Facebook friends who helped find volunteers for this challenge.

In addition, I really look forward to stimulating round table discussions about dominance with regard to horses. And there will be even more. In the Horse Health Forum you can watch me talk and demonstrate the importance of the cooperation signal.

For times and places please refer to the timetable below or on the Equitana home page.

meet us at the equitana

Upcoming events are online

calendar 2019, part 1

What lasts a long time – taking 80th birthdays, important events and everything else into account – is finally going to be good, isn’t it? We proudly present the Steigerwald.Training event calendar 2019! Compact horse clicker clinic, True Horse Agility day, horse seesaw trainer workshop, Medical Training, one-day entry-level chicken camp, the five original Chicken Camps, Open House on the first weekend of September including a True Horse Agility Tournament, the ongoing modules of Training Specialist Horse with a restart at the end of March, featuring the new seminar format “Training Professional Horse”… There are many inspiring events for you to choose from to enhance your training for the benefit of the animals. We look forward to seeing you!
Go to Steigerwald.Events 2019 or browse our web shop at the Steigerwald shop.

Horserocker webinar for free

horserocker webinar

The wide range of training options for horses seesaws inspire more and more horse lovers. Discover in this webinar, how your four-legged training partner can safely learn to master instable surfaces, the benefits to reap. Learn how physiologically correct seesawing looks like. We will put a focus on to achieve the specifics movements that generate the most benefit from the gymnastics equipment.  We look forward to meet many seesawing enthusiasts on all levels, newcomers or professionals.

With an Edudip account, you can participate in this webinar free of charge.