Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,

I hope this finds you well. This week’s topic is: Horse Play

Some stuff to start…

  • I hope you can gleam from my writing, the enjoyment I get from pulling these CARVER Insights together. This week’s Insight is one I have particularly enjoyed crafting. Yes, it is tongue in cheek, but I think you can learn from it, and I certainly hope you enjoy it 😀😀.

Horse Play- A CARVER Insight

My friend is a Qware Hawk (a term of affection used in the west of Ireland for someone who is unique). In fact, he is such a Qware Hawk, that his nickname is, ‘The Qware Hawk’…or ‘The Hawk’ for short.

Some years back, in an audacious bid to gain entry into a famous Dublin nightclub, he fell and hurt his back while climbing (“scaling”) a wall. We called the whole episode, “Qware Hawk Down”. He truly is a character!

‘The Hawk’ has “no interest” in sport and even less interest in coaching. He “doesn’t believe” in podcasts, blogs or newsletters. He is a great guy, and one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Last week he asked me to give him a hand with a couple of horses he has. I love helping with physical tasks. There is great sense of freedom in it for me.

As myself and ‘The Hawk’ went out to his yard, I noticed his horsebox was backed into the entrance to his stables. Either side of the horsebox, he had placed a free-standing gate to close off the gap. As you can see below, it was a rough enough set up!

The Rough Enough Set Up

Anyway, both the back ramp and side door of the horse box were left open. As a result of this elaborate set-up, the horses had to walk up one ramp, and down another one if they wished to go out to the field from the stable, or indeed vice versa. This was a journey they would make at least twice a day.

Yes, ‘The Hawk’ was training the horses to load into the horse box and unknown to himself he was utilising the Constraints Led Approach. As I commended him on the sophistication of his pedagogical approach, he proceded to impress me further with the rationale behind his technique.

In non-academic language he explained very clearly how he was constraining to afford. He wasn’t telling or forcing, rather making the desired behaviours more obvious, or attractive to the horses. He had created an environment that challenged the horses to figure things out on their own. He had promoted exploration and self-organistion. Specific skills or behaviors were developing naturally. His role in it was simply to engineer an environment that would facilitate learning through exploration, adaptation, and self-organisation, ultimately leading to more skilled and adaptable horses. Unconsciously, he clearly understood learning to be an emergent behaviour. Genius stuff from ‘The Hawk’ indeed… and boy was he proud of himself!

Highly Recommended Viewing:

If you click on the video link below you will see a video of the whole procedure, shot by the man himself!

I won’t go any further  into the Constraints Led Approach to coaching, but what I will do though is to challenge you to think like ‘The Hawk’.

Ask yourself… how can I engineer or manipulate the environment in order to make the desired behaviours more attractive to my players?

If ‘The Hawk’ can do it, then you can too,


P.S. ‘The Hawk’ is open to doing a mini-series of coaching videos if the demand is there for it?!

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