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"Mannering" Question
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Jamsession
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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2012 01:47 am
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Way back in mid-winter Dr. Deb told me to go see Harry or Tom or Josh. I ended up spending 4 days out in Arizona with Harry and several other participants earlier this spring. Long story and a few months later, I've learned some things about myself and finally feel like I'm in a place to "step up to the plate" and work with my mare again, committing to doing things fully and thoroughly.

One of the biggest things I took away from Harry was a discussion we had one late afternoon about human energy. There was another lady who was having issues very similarly to myself with her horse. After listening to her plight, Harry took a moment and asked her "how often do you check in with your horse?" The woman said she was noticing things all the time, and was paying very close attention to ear movement, her horse's eyes, breathing, tonus, etc. Then Harry asked, "OK, how often do you check in with yourself?" The woman had no answer. Turns out she rarely did, if ever. This led to a lengthy discussion about the importance of being able to regulate our energy levels when working with horses: not just monitoring emotions, but understanding what it REALLY means to "get big" and "get small", and how the horse reflects that. It hit me because it occurred to me that my problem was exactly that: I had no idea what I was feeling and how strongly I was feeling it at any point when I was working with my mare, and she felt it and mirrored it.

I have only just started to work with her again, and I feel like I'm in a much better place to do so now. My question has to do with "mannering": I searched the forum for the long thread in which you, Dr. Deb, give the first few lessons of mannering your horse. I started with #1: teaching the horse to focus on me and only me for 8 seconds.

I've been at this for a couple days. Here is where I'm getting stuck:

A) I lead my mare into the arena. When I step away from her initially she stands, but as the 5 minutes progresses she starts to inch closer. Short of putting her back where I want her every time, how do I go about showing her that she is to remain in one spot, since the "box" lesson comes later on?

B) I have gotten some really positive results in the couple sessions I've done so far: I can "see" my mare mulling over what's going on. Lots of chewing, sighing, etc. She seems content and fairly focused at the end of the 2nd session, but as soon as we get to the arena gait to leave she becomes hypervigilent and unfocused again. It's as if the lesson never happened. I'm trying to figure out if this is a rise in my energy, or if this is simply a matter of needing time to connect the dots and allow her to repeatedly feel that "OKness" until she understands that it can be that way all the time and in all places. Any thoughts?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2012 09:01 pm
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Not 8 MINUTES, Jam; 8 SECONDS. This should help you out quite a bit....

I am very happy you went to Harry -- you've been given some keys now that will allow you to progress. Not to the end; but to the next place.

And as to her losing her focus as you get near the arena gate: Jam, you have to be there for her ALL the time. That means your own Birdie must not have flown out the gate before the two of you get there. Keep your Birdie with her and you, and you are in control of this and no one and no thing else. If you expect your horse to pay attention to you, then you must pay attention to her, and not lose your own focus. Don't get ahead of where you are in space. -- Dr. Deb

Jamsession
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 Posted: Fri Jun 8th, 2012 02:24 am
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Where did I say 8 minutes? I cannot find it but if I did I definitely meant 8 seconds..

This is exactly what Harry was discussing with us that night, our energy being our birdie. If our energy rises when it needs to be at the level of the horse's, like when I go to the gait to walk back to the barn, it sends conflicting messages to the horse. I struggle with keeping my own birdie: besides breathing and, as best I can describe it, "going back to now,...to keep one's own birdie, what can one do? I know it probably seems like a circular question. Maybe I am being too literal?
,

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jun 8th, 2012 06:21 am
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Jam, you could try thinking about this: why do people run red lights?

Have you ever been in a traffic situation where you can see the light that's closest to you, the one you're to obey; but you can also see down the road a ways, where there are lights at the next several interssections too. What if those lights turn green before "your" light does, as you approach "your" light?

Another thing you can do is go use the Google advanced search function and find the old thread from Geoff Carter where he talks about going by the goats. This was one of Geoff's big moments of revelation and Judge Geoff does tell the story amusingly.

I just saw Geoff, by the way all, at the recent clinic in Oakdale....he continues to make progress, he continues to visit with Harry and Buck, and his current horse which he raised and trained himself shows the dedication as well as the grasp of some of the deeper things that Geoff has achieved. Bravo to him and to all students who do the same. It only leads to peace, joy, comfort, and fun -- my definition of "total success". -- Dr. Deb

Sharon Adley
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 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2012 09:49 pm
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Is it possible that the topic of Geoff and the goats is no longer on the Forum?   When I did a Google Advanced Search, I came up with an article from June 17, 2010 that also referred to Geoff and the goats but was from another thread.  The poster of that thread also tried the advanced search and got no hits.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2012 03:24 am
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Oh....sorry. Well, if it's no longer up, it's a classic story for sure, so I'll give you the gist of it.

Geoff's property backs up against a community-use right of way or trail that leads, after a mile or so, to the trailhead at a regional park. The park is a very desirable and fun place to ride and Geoff, who is a busy and hardworking traffic court judge, really looks forward to his day off when he can take his Arab gelding "Alpo" out for a trailride there.

Now you need to understand that "Alpo" got his name because like sooooo many Arabs, he needs confident and consistent guidance from his rider and handler. It is not, as our elderly teacher used to say, that the Arab is "spooky"; it is that he is not sure about the situation or sure that he can succeed and do the work that he sees or foresees will be required. He is not sure.

Now it is the rider's job to work all the time to make the horse sure. This is part of what Harry Whitney means when he talks about the deadly 'gray area' -- not to leave your horse there, but instead, make him sure; give him clarity. It is also part of what I mean when I say that this school of horsemanship is not about being nice to the horse; it is about being clear to the horse. It is, again, also part of what Ray Hunt meant when he said 'if it wasn't effective, it wasn't understood.' So it isn't about being mean; it's about being effective. ALL of it is about being a good teacher to your horse, and also taking up the role mentioned in the 8th Psalm, in recognizing that we are '....created to be a little lower than the angels', and 'You have put all the animals in our care and under our dominion.'

Now Geoff, having been a student of mine since the early 1990's and of Ray Hunt for most of that period also, and having been with Harry many times also, was quite familiar with all of this, but I think it had not really come home to him until this situation brought it into focus.

So Geoff would have his day off, and would go out back of his house to where his horse lives, and catch the horse and tack him up and would look forward with great pleasure to the trailride. BUT....to get to the park, he had to go along this right of way or access road that ran behind his property and some neighboring properties, and on one of these places the guy kept a herd of goats.

And every time Alpo would get near those goats, as he would approach the goats, he would either grind to a halt and freeze and stand there stiff-legged as a horse will, with its neck extended and nostrils flaring and eyes rolling and ears pricked vertical up, and maybe snort; or else he would allow himself to be 'aided' or 'legged' up somewhat closer, and then he would shy explosively.

And Geoff wrote to me somewhat complaining, saying, 'I've practiced all the homework you guys tell me to, but Alpo still shies at the goats and doesn't willingly go by the goats.' And it was true: Geoff is a good and conscientious student and he had indeed done his homework, as evidenced by the time he was on I-680 coming over the connector from Oakland to Livermore with Alpo and his Appy gelding in the trailer, and some jerk locked up the brakes right in front of him so Geoff had to slam on the brakes too, and the truck skidded sideways and the trailer turned over on its side. And Geoff was able to go open the back gate of the trailer and he and some other men pried the side up (it was a 'Bend-er-up' model so this wasn't too hard), and the top horse just stood up while the one on the bottom laid there, and then the bottom one got up, and Geoff led them off to the side of the highway and tied them to a guardrail, and they called a towtruck and a friend also came and brought another horse trailer, and the horses loaded right up again and went home. This is how well Geoff had done his homework -- the daily practice, in love with the plateau.

But the goats he could not figure, so as I say he wrote to me. And I said to him, 'Geoff, when you are approaching the goats, aren't you looking forward to your trailride in the park?' -- and Geoff said yes, he was very much so. And I said, 'so as you approach the goats, you are really not thinking about the goats but instead you are thinking about how great it will be when you get to the park, or else you are thinking how frustrating it is that your horse is stuck on the goats and you're not getting to the park, which is where you want to be.' And he said, 'yes'.

So I said: 'Geoff, you need to get a lot more interested in those goats. You need to ride Alpo up to the place -- wherever that is, 500 feet back or 200 feet back or wherever -- when he shows you the VERY FIRST SIGN that the goats are bugging him. And this is what your mind needs to be on, and forget the park. The park is still going to be there, but you need to think about what ALPO is thinking about.'

And as by a thunderclap, Geoff wrote back to say that this made him realize what he had been missing on, and as soon as he did as suggested, the problem  cleared up. And the problem was, in a nutshell, that Geoff was letting Geoff's birdie get out ahead of them, and this is a violation of what Ray always said: 'you need to go some places TOGETHER.' And our elderly teacher said, 'you don't leave before your horse, and your horse doesn't leave before you do.'

So, again -- I've asked this in another thread recently -- the 'backing Bonnie' thread I think it was, and yet nobody has answered correctly, so I'll ask again. What is the VERY FIRST SIGN that Alpo gave that he was aware of the goats, that the goats were worrying him, and that he was losing his inner OK-ness and getting a 'buildup' as our elderly teacher used to call it, which is like the 'buildup' before a sneeze, wherein the shy is in fact a type of sneeze, that is to say, the release of the buildup? What is that very first sign, Jam? Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Jamsession
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 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2012 06:40 pm
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The first sign, I believe, is a change in the horse's breathing.

I had also not been able to find the goats thread so thank you for posting it, Dr. Deb.

Last edited on Sun Jun 10th, 2012 06:42 pm by Jamsession

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Jun 11th, 2012 02:28 am
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Right! The very first sign that a horse is losing his inner equanimity -- that his Birdie is being drawn out from him by some external thing that is worrying to him -- is that the horse's breathing will become audible. When the horse is totally OK, his breathing is entirely silent. Anytime the breathing is not absolutely silent, the horse is 'bothered' to a greater or lesser extent.

As soon as the person can hear the horse breathe, the person needs to take steps to (a) detect and (b) move farther away from, the thing or situation that is bugging the horse.

By 'move farther away from', I do not necessarily mean 'retreat to the barn'. It is very rarely necessary to do that. What is usually required is, first, that the person stop PUSHING. And if that all by itself doesn't do all that you need to do, then you also double the horse back ten or twenty feet, then turn him about to face the booger again, and just stand there.

And you stand there long enough that the breathing becomes silent again. Do not permit the horse to look BACK toward the barn -- not even LOOK toward the barn -- you have him look toward the booger. Indeed you insist that he look toward the booger, but he does not get to whirl or run back. If three minutes in the place you have stopped does not clear it up, then you turn him on your own terms, and you go back another ten or twenty feet and turn again and have him look at the booger, until the breathing becomes silent again.

Then, you proceed on a line that will carry you not directly toward the booger, but at some angle to it. Preferably, depending upon the exact situation of course, you will be able to create this angled line as a part of a loop or circle which at first carries you somewhat closer to the booger, yet not going right at it, and then relieves the pressure on the horse as it circles around, carrying you somewhat farther from the booger. YOu then go round and round a few times, and it won't be long, probably before the third trip around, that you will feel the horse ASK you if he couldn't go a bit closer. So you cut a path then that's a bit closer, still angling.

Then, what I generally would do, is after that I go right away from the booger, again on my terms not the horse's. Go right away, but really it's just another circle only much bigger, which will carry you back to the point where the horse first began to give signs that he was bothered. Only this time, I'll warrant, he will not be bothered. You will probably be able then, to ride right on by it without any change or problem, because through doing what I've suggested you've not only given the horse time to consider what the thing is, but also you've deliberately let him experience increases in pressure which were to a level where he proved to himself and you that he could stand those, followed by intervals of relief, which function as rewards.

Too bad more people don't understand this; if they did, we would see far fewer "accidents" on horseback. -- Dr. Deb

 

Jamsession
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 Posted: Mon Jun 11th, 2012 04:08 am
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So if we are discussing this in terms of my horse, I am a little unsure. I do not always hear the change of breathing first: when my mare leaves the barn with me, I see a change in her eyes, which I assume means I miss the true first sign. They lose the softness. her whites show but it looks as though she is straining, that she is very concerned and very unsure of where we are going amd what we are doing. I also, but not as often now, see her lower lip get tight and twitch. She appears somewhat better after we reach the arena. I am venturing that it is because my birdie is already at the arena, and when we go to leave its already at the barn.

I understand the concepts, I guess it is the application and knowing what to do in the particular situation to give her the confidence she needs.

Last edited on Mon Jun 11th, 2012 04:09 am by Jamsession

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jun 12th, 2012 01:02 am
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Jam, the signs you have noticed are also early signs -- especially the tight lips. This will go along with tight or stiff nostrils, and that in turn usually with change in breathing.

Don't 'mentally construct' too much in terms of an explanation to yourself about what your mare is thinking or feeling. You don't need that part -- it will just get in your way. In other words, doing that is how the human projects their own thinking and their own fears ONTO the horse, rather than just sitting back and coolly observing -- observing without judgement -- what is actually going on with the animal. 'What is actually going on with the animal' is not what YOU THINK it is thinking, but what you can OBSERVE about her body-language.

Now, I expect all good students to be able to not only grasp the principle of how Birdie works -- as you have -- but also to be able to creatively and appropriately apply the principle in different types of situations. The example I gave you of Alpo and the goats is one where the problem was that the horse would not approach the goats, because the horse's Birdie had flown to the goats and was being absorbed by the goats, while Geoff's own Birdie had flown way ahead down the trail to the park. So Geoff was not 'with' his horse.

HOw about your situation? Could you write back and describe it please, in these terms:

(1) Where is the horse's Birdie; what is your horse's Birdie 'stuck' to

(2) Where has your Birdie been in the past, and now that you know better, where SHOULD it be in order to help your horse get her Birdie unstuck from what it shouldn't be stuck to, and back 'with' itself?

This will tell you 100% what you should 'do'. So once again -- as Ray asked us again and again -- THINK before you 'do'. -- Dr. Deb

Jamsession
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 Posted: Tue Jun 12th, 2012 03:27 pm
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I had to put quite a bit of thought into this...watering plants for hours provides excellent thinking time :)

1) I think my mare's birdie is stuck in her stall, specifically at her hay net. She spends a lot of time there, and that is usually what I take her from to go to the arena.

2) This is harder. I think my birdie could be a couple of different places: in the arena where I want to be with her, and there are times where my birdie may be at home eating dinner where I would like to be on occassion after particularly tiring days at work. However, my birdie, I believe, needs to be with me and more specifically where my horse's is.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jun 12th, 2012 07:31 pm
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Very good, Jam -- yes, I also do quite a bit of gardening -- a nice break from working at the computer. Which one engenders more actual thinking rather than 'doing doing doing'!

So now I need to ask you, have you listened to the 2-CD audio set entitled 'Mannering Your Horse'? Get this from our membership section at the main website.

I suggest that you listen to what that program says, and then begin applying it either right in the stall or, if that feels too crowded, then in a location not too far from the stall. I have said this to you before but you are still querying 'what to do', so that's why I'm asking whether you've heard the program, that gives specific directions. -- Dr. Deb

Jamsession
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 Posted: Wed Jun 13th, 2012 12:42 am
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No I have not. I had been following your outline given in another thread from a while ago; I think I found it when I did a search for "mannering" a couple months ago.

I will go ahead and order the mannering CDs this week and write back when I've had a chance to listen to them and begin . Her new stall is plenty big enough to do this in, and if not I have her walk-out paddock to work in too, so it shouldn't be difficult to find space.

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 Posted: Sun Jun 24th, 2012 07:51 pm
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DrDeb wrote:
Right! The very first sign that a horse is losing his inner equanimity -- . . . . As soon as the person can hear the horse breathe, the person needs to take steps to (a) detect and (b) move farther away from, the thing or situation that is bugging the horse.

Thank you Dr Deb. This tidbit has been very helpful. Between this and a couple of the other threads lately I feel like I am really gaining ground at helping my horses to be able to remain calm.


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