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Calling in my horse.
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sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 12:58 am
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I've been watching some old colt starting dvd's of Buck's.  There is a section where he is in the round pen and he "calls" the horse in.  Then switches eyes. Then sends it on it's way.

We don't have a round pen at our barn, but I am able to lunge my horse without any line, she stays in about a round pen size circle around me.  I am able to ask her to stop... I try to "call her to me" so that she's at least facing me... she will, and then I can with soft effort "change eye" and send her off (I am able to do this while she is in motion as well).  

My question is that I cannot seem to "call her in" to me completely.  Of course if I have a treat she will come in... If I turn and invite her to follow me she will... BUT I am having a little block as to getting her to want to come into me.  I know she isn't afraid of me, it's like she's just neutral about it... like she is confused or is really more "OK" staying there and waiting for the next instruction.  I am also assuming that there is obviously other places she'd rather be than with me but is being gracious about it.

Any thoughts?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 02:36 am
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Sarah, what is the key to having a horse turn -- under any circumstances, mounted or unmounted? This has been discussed here many times. Can you remember? Give me your best thought. -- Dr. Deb 

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 04:03 am
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 My first thoughts about the key to having him turn, would be in teaching him how to yield his hindquarters.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 04:17 am
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Yes. And what, exactly and specifically, does "yielding the hindquarters" mean?

Or let me phrase that a little differently: what exact, specific action does the horse have to take in order for us to say that he has "yielded" the hindquarters? -- Dr. Deb

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 04:29 am
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To pick up his inner hind leg and cross it (step) over the center of his body shadow. (mid line at ground level).


* * * * * * * *

Sarah, you mean "pick up his inner hind leg and cross it (step) UNDER the EDGE of the body-shadow". He does not have to step all the way to the midline, and he most certainly should not step ACROSS the midline, i.e. adduct the limb so much that the hoof lands under the opposite side of the body.

This is what I mean about you (and all students) needing to get ABSOLUTELY CLEAR about what you are doing and what you are asking the horse to do. Nonetheless, I'll take this as a "good enough" answer; see my reply below. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Sun Jan 13th, 2013 06:25 am by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 06:22 am
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OK, good; you're clear on that.

What, then, happens when the inside hind leg steps under the body-shadow -- other than that we can say he "yields" the hindquarter?

In other words, does the untracking action produce (or induce) any other nameable effects on the horse's body? -- Dr. Deb

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 06:59 am
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I am trying to visualize it and not quite sure how to explain my answer.  The back would soften (ideally).  The inner hind would yield causing the horses body to swing (?don't know if that's the best word) out and it's front end to come in (depending on the depth of yielding and how much yielding is asked for).  In a roundpen or small circle, it would cause the horse to slow or stop and face you (again depending on how much yielding is being asked for). 


DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 08:33 am
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Sarah, please quit guessing and THINK.

I'm looking for you to tell me not the overall effect; we already know what that is, that if the horse untracks this has something to do with him coming in toward you. That was your question in the first place.

What you are blanking on are the exact, particular effects of untracking.

What does untracking cause the horse's body to do?

-- What does it cause the horse's pelvis to do?

-- What does it cause the horse's mid-body (loins + ribcage) to do?

-- What does it cause the horse's neck to do?

Have a go at thinking of it this way and see what you come up with. Also, BTW, do you not have the articles that discuss this in specific terms that were printed in "The Eclectic Horseman" ? I did also post the "refrigerator picture" in this Forum in another thread somewhere; why don't you go look that up off the Google advanced search function and then study that image? -- Dr. Deb

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2013 07:48 pm
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Yes, I do have the Inner Horseman "how the horse works" series... I re read it again.


-- What does it cause the horse's pelvis to do?  the pelvis rolls, and starts the chain reaction taking the lumbar and thoracic vert. with it.

-- What does it cause the horse's mid-body (loins + ribcage) to do?
the inside ribs compress and roll down.  the outside ribs stretch and rise up.  Like an accordion.

-- What does it cause the horse's neck to do?
the neck will bend just slightly as to keep the spine straight through the bend that the inside hind created.  The poll will soften and "twirl". 

Untracking causes the horse to learn to bend from the rear and not lean on the fore.  It also is the foundation for teaching a horse to carry himself correctly (supple/straight/balanced). 

In being able to untrack the horse, you are calling it's birdie or it's attention.  You now have a, for lack of better words, open channel of communication between horse/handler.  A straight/soft/balanced horse will feel good (inner OKness) about himself and the person who is communicating with him.  Therefore his desire will grow to be with the person, to "come in".

OH, I also tried to google adv. search the "refrigerator Picture"...   only an article came up that mentioned it... not the actual picture... where can I find the actual picture? 






DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2013 04:47 am
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Sarah, the "refrigerator picture" is in the Eclectic Horseman article that deals with untracking.

So -- now that you have been able to be explicit about the effects that the act of untracking has upon the horse's physical body, you are in a position to tell me what SETS A HORSE UP PHYSICALLY to turn in to face you in the roundpen. This is the PHYSICAL KEY to roundpenning.

What action is it that sets him up physically? This will not involve any mention of the Birdie.

State what sets him up physically first. Then, tell me which of his bodyparts you must apply pressure to when he stops and "sort of" faces in toward you in the roundpen, but does not come fully to you.

-- What bodypart do you point to (or if necessary actually physically touch)?

-- As soon as this bodypart begins to move, your action or your response should be to do what? -- Dr. Deb

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2013 03:33 pm
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As I'm lunging I also walk in a small circle.  My inside shoulder slightly in with my outside shoulder and chest "driving" her inside hind quarters.  (I don't HAVE to do this to keep her on a circle but it does keep her untracking more and softens/relaxes her).

I am aiming (or trying to aim) my energy at her ribcage area.  The area right behind the girth that I would use my leg to untrack her while riding.  But at the same time am aware at all times where her inner hind leg is rising/landing.  If I were to reach out and touch her I'd lightly tap that spot behind the girth area as her inner hind is coming up to take a new step.

I try to back off (or release), when she does what I'm aiming for so that she doesn't feel I'm nagging her.  As I release I sort of soften and back up a step to invite her in, at that moment she'll be facing me completely and will wait. I think to either change directions or for me to turn and walk away (which she will follow) or to come get her.  Sometimes she'll get verbal or physical praise, depending on what we are doing.  

While lunging, she can slow down or bring her closer or increase her energy with these same techniques.  She can change eye's or directions fluidly 100% of the time if I turn her shoulders away (change direction away from me) and about 60% of the time if I use untracking to change direction towards me.  BUT... she doesn't offer to "come in" on her own. 

I feel I'm missing something DEEPER within her... more than the physical untracking.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2013 07:12 pm
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OK, Sarah, so you do realize -- as I see from our interview here -- that there is a balance that must be struck between driving the hindquarter (= causing the horse to step under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg), and calling the forequarter (induced by de-pressuring the front end of the horse). I had to know this before we could proceed further.

Now that I have encouraged you to recognize this balance that must be struck, it should be explicitly clear in your mind that the physical key to roundpenning is your ability to cause the horse to curve its body, which curve is induced by its stepping under the body-shadow. This is the PHYSICAL key. The DEEP key is your ability to get the horse to throw you its Birdie, to give its Birdie to you, so that when you de-pressurize the front end (which occurs as you step back and give him more room in front), the animal looks at you, thinks about you, and at least turns to face you.

By your report, your horse does this much but then he seems to die out -- he does not come all the way to you.

Same problem people have in teaching their dogs to fetch -- the animal goes and gets the ball or the stick and brings it partway back but then sits down -- often while watching the stick-thrower all the time -- and chews on the stick but doesn't bring it in. The last thing you should do then is walk forward and take the stick away from the dog, but that's what people do. The dog LOVES chasing the stick, so what he learns from this is that he has no necessary part to play, he just in other words gets the cake and the icing too.

Now, Sarah, what do you think could be the cause for your horse 'dying out'? I'll give you some suggestions to pick from, and then you can say which one it seems to be in your case:

-- You are backing away too fast or too abruptly, so that you are breaking the thread that connects the horse's Birdie back to its body. In that case the horse has no further reason to come on any farther, because in essence the Birdie has snapped back to him.

-- You haven't noticed close enough what the horse is actually paying attention to, in other words do you really have his Birdie? Is he getting distracted by anything outside the pen, does he care about anything other than you? If his attention so much as flickers elsewhere, this should cause you to instantly drive him away -- you add a little more work to his life. You will then find that he pays attention better!

-- This is related to the above: you might not be motivating him enough by creating enough of a gradient between work and rest. Try sending the horse away with more vigor in the first place, and do not take his first "offer" to come in. Rather, teach him that he has to stay out there at a trot or a canter until you say he can come in. Then pick a moment when he is NOT looking at you, NOT asking to come in, to tell him to come in. This forces him to pay better attention all the time, since he cannot tell when you may ask for a change.

Other comments:

-- Don't bother turning him outward at any time. This builds nothing that you need. Tell him that if he turns outward, you'll be taking that as a sign that he'd like to work some more. Only call him in off an inward turn. You can change eyes and change the horse's body-flexion very well by alternating from one inside turn to the other inside turn.

-- If you try one of the first two of these and it "partially" works so that the horse comes in a step or two but still not all the way, softly turn your back on the horse, walk all the way across the pen, rest your elbows on the rail looking outward, and just stand there and wait. If he comes to you then, let him put his nose over your shoulder. Finally turn to face him and then pet him for a long time --as long in minutes as he actually worked during the last bout. Reward any positive effort in this area of not coming all the way to you by walking COMPLETELY away.

If he does not come, just wait until he's forgotten all about it and is walking around grazing, and then just start over as if you had just first walked into the pen. Let me know how this works out for you. -- Dr. Deb

sarahmorloff
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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2013 07:45 pm
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I think it's a combination of the three.
1) I could be backing away too fast in effort to "release" (I know I have had a problem with slow release and have tried to speed it up to be more fair to the horse, but it could be a problem in this case)

2) I am starting to be able to realize when I for sure do not have her birdie or when I def do, but there are times when I'm not sure (maybe if I'm not sure then I don't?)... I never thought to drive her away if her attention flickers, I will try that.

3) AHA... she will at times on when lunging come in very close (about 5 ft around me), completely bent around me and while trotting turn her head and look at me with both eyes.  This is usually her first offer to come in (thought of it more like she was asking to stop, not come in)... I normally just smile and ignore it and keep going... I will try having more of a purpose the next time she offers this and wait until she is not asking.  I really do try to make work and rest totally separate, BUT could be mixing her up with my timing of it.  


I WILL try the walking away and waiting.  We've come a long way but I muck it up often enough to have to start over quite a bit.  Sometimes she will follow me around for a full 20 min while I set up poles and cones etc, sometimes she'll go over and point to them as I'm cleaning them up... then sometimes she's totally stand-offish.  So I was thinking that "I" am not able to call her in or to me as much as sometimes her choosing to give me her attention - don't know if that makes sense.   Thank you very much for these suggestions, I will try them and see how they work =D 

*and thank you for the Dog/Fetch analogy... that is very insightful for me =D

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Tue Jan 15th, 2013 04:47 am
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Hi Sarah, Dr Deb, et al.
I was not specifically asked to answer you question, and Dr Deb has given you much to think about, maybe too much in one dose.
In horse training there are many methods that work and many half steps that get you where you want to go. The hard part is sometimes figuring out what method will work for you and what half steps to take.

In your original message the very first sentence of the second paragraph you state:
"We don't have a round pen at our barn".

This absolutely jumps off the page!
I have to question,"Why not?"

If you can afford to feed a horse then surely you can go to the local Home Depot and buy about 100 ft of cheap brightly colored rope. Then get your handyman to go to the nearest stand of trees and cut about 15 four ft long stakes. Drive the stakes in the ground and string the rope up to create a small round pen. DUH !

You already stated that your horse is trained and tame enough that she will hang in there with you so it should be obvious that you do not need a high-walled steel enclosure.

Something easy and simple will do to remind your horse that quitting and wandering off in the middle of a lesson is not an option.

OK that settled.

Next paragraph you say: "I know she isn't afraid of me, it's like she's just neutral about it".

So why don't you give her a neutral place to come to instead of expecting her to come with you, when you (most likely) are not neutral.. i.e. expectations, previous non compliance from the horse, your body posturing, movement, nuance gestures, extraneous vocalizations that mean nothing etc. etc. etc.

You state that she will come if you offer a treat..
OK then work with that.

Teach her to come and stand on a rubber mat, or better yet a low platform. The rubber mat or platform are absolutely unchanging. There will be no inconsistancies for your horse to decipher each time.
It is quite simple.
Next time you are close to your horse, Have a treat in an empty Altoids Breath Mint tin box. Rattle the box and then give your horse a treat. repeat .. repeat.. repeat

Hint: Most Horses LOVE Altoid Mints but any treat will do.

OK now you horse knows that when you rattle the box there is something in it for her. The box will never lie or be inconsistent. (as long as you play by the rules)

Adding the rubber mat or low platform is the half step you might find useful in convincing your horse that there is a reason to go to a "place".

Turn your horse loose in your new round pen. Stand next to the rubber mat, rattle the tin box and give your horse a treat when she places both front feet on the mat..
Praise and stroke her neck and walk away. Encourage your horse to follow.
Repeat this lesson in ways that teach your horse that there is something in it for her to follow your suggestions.

Basically:

"If it eats, it can be trained"

Do this lesson first thing in the morning and you may be absolutely surprised how quickly your hporse comes around.

Once you have made this connection then the steps that Dr. Deb explained may fall into line.

I am attaching a photo taken two days ago showing a seven month old colt (recently weaned) linked to a two year old gelding. The gelding knows the drill, they have become a sympathetic pair since the mare was removed. I can call the gelding in and he will follow me closely, but for now "we" are teaching the weanling there is a half step. That the rubber mat is his piece of real estate.

What do I mean by "real estate"?

Horses are a 'flight species'. They move away or avoid pressure (this is why you horse will not follow you). You may not even realize that you are putting pressure on your horse with your expectation that she follow. If however you teach a horse that she has a 'place' to go.. a special place where everything is good, where there is no pressure, she will gravitate towards that neutral ground. This is something as a trainer you can use to your advantage. It becomes your silent assistant.
In the case shown in the photo attached I have two assistants, the mat and the older horse that leads the weanling to the 'place' .. I can be very, very 'light' in my request to the weanling and yet the older horse will know exactly what is expected and lead the young colt to the mat. (The young colt does not even know that he is in school, that I expect anything or that he is having a request made by me, he is just following along).

In a couple of weeks the colt will comply because of simple habituation.

You do not have to have an assistant horse .. I just use this strategy because I am set up to train young horses from the get go and have a constant turnover.

Everything Dr Deb says is fine, I just happened to think there was perhaps another very simple half-step you might find useful.

Good luck,

Allen Pogue
Dripping Springs, Texas

Attachment: On his 'Place'.jpg (Downloaded 189 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jan 15th, 2013 05:36 am
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Allen, everything that you say here is OK too, except for one consideration:

We are not at all interested in the final result. What we are interested in with students is their perceptions, their timing, and their feel.

If what we were most concerned with were the final result or performance, i.e. that the horse come to the handler "no matter what", then we could certainly take your approach.

Giving the horse a "target" is a good idea -- IF the problem turns out to be that the animal did not realize that to the target was where he was supposed to go. Is this what we perceive?

Giving the horse food treats can also be a good idea -- IF the problem turns out to be that the gradient between reward and pressure isn't steep enough to motivate the horse. Is this the problem?

What if the problem is -- as I actually suspect and as confirmed by Sarah's last reply -- more around her timing, and also her anxiety to have the horse come to her? I would like it if Sarah could lose ALL anxiety that the horse ever come to her. Only when she no longer cares at all (in the sense that having the horse come makes her ego feel good, or makes her look good in the eyes of whatever onlookers) will Sarah begin to have the kind of maturity that has to be there before the eyes of deeper perceptivity will open.

So, Allen, of course I am sometimes interested in achieving a result with an animal -- i.e. a result that an audience would be moved to applaud. But I am always much more interested in getting to the real root of the STUDENT'S problems. When those are cleared up, the student will no longer be a student and can then do as she pleases with any horse, just as you do, and it won't wind up wounding the horse. -- Dr. Deb


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