The hardest thing I do as an animal trainer is to make myself keep written records of training sessions. I just hate having to stop between animals, leave the training area, and pick up my record book. I’ve tried having my record book in the training area, but it is too valuable to leave where wind, rain, or goats could possibly damage it. I’ve tried having cards in my pocket to write notes on, but carrying a pencil, even a tiny one, seems to be a challenge. I’ve tried recording notes on a mini-cassette recorder (years ago) and on my smartphone, but either way, listening to myself is off-putting. You see, I can always find a reason to hate recording data, no matter how I do it. I end up giving myself pep-talks about being professional. It keeps me going… well, that and the cup of tea I have in the process. The session gets documented!!!
It would have helped me a great deal if someone had told me how to record data and modeled the behavior. I would have had confidence in the process from the beginning and not had to learn the hard way. So, with that in mind, my students see me record data and are required to collect information about each session. It puts their work into the context of our whole equine training program. They can judge their own effectiveness and they can see their animals making progress. For some, who will become great trainers, it becomes habitual and their training journals follow them into their lives.