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Worried of rubber mats
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christie
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 Posted: Thu Mar 6th, 2008 03:47 am
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It doesn't seem too terribly busy around here and I am new so I am thinking up things that perhaps I can get a new 'angle' on from Dr. Deb. 

Where my horse is tied  for saddling at my boarding barn, it is mats inlaid into cement. My horse does an ok job at standing still but usually swings her butt to one side and 'looks' back as if to say "I want to go over THERE"..off of these things. Or she will stand straight but stick her nose out and stand as far back as she can. She is not a puller backer but I just feel lucky to this point that she has never gotten worried enough to do that.

I've been boarding here for a year and nothing about her worry of the mats has changed. She always wants to sniff them and check them out, if I left her loose she would walk off to the dirt to get off them.

I would like her to become comfortable standing here, I just don't have any ideas how to make it better.

Christie 

renoo
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 Posted: Thu Mar 6th, 2008 07:23 am
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If that's a place where a lot of horses are tied to, and change - I would say she needs to sniff it, because of the smells left by other horses...

fancy
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 Posted: Thu Mar 6th, 2008 10:13 am
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Horses can't see their feet, as I'm sure you know, so they are VERY particular about where they put them down and how the footing feels.  I have read several similar posts on other lists.  I think it's just because the feeling underfoot is so different.  I have no clue how you would get her to be more comfortable with the mats, other than to walk her off and on them.  Clicker training might help, if you do that sort of thing.

christie
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 Posted: Thu Mar 6th, 2008 02:59 pm
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Both good points. It has occurred to me before that something we might take for granted, walking over mats, might have a more unusual feel to a horse. Some days she is perfectly fine with them, I'd say maybe 20 percent of the time.

Fancy, Dr. Deb has some not good things to say about clicker training(past post)

:-)

 

fancy
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 Posted: Thu Mar 6th, 2008 03:47 pm
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"Fancy, Dr. Deb has some not good things to say about clicker training(past post)

:-)"

And so do I.  It's not a substitute for discipline, timing, thought or good horsemanship.  But, used correctly, it CAN be very effective with some horses in some cases.   If you use clicker training, it might be helpful to help desensitize your horse to the mats.

Sam
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2008 06:00 am
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HI Christie,

My two pence worth is, maybe its not the mats but what you are doing with your horse on the mats?  Can you turn the mats into a really fun place for your horse to be? 

Cheers Sam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2008 06:29 am
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Christie -- In the first place, if things are quiet in this Forum, it might not be necessary for you or anyone else to liven them up. Did you hear me ask for more stuff to do?

Now I want you to pay attention to what Sam has suggested, and I am about to give YOU more to do. You write back now -- if you are really that interested, that is -- and you tell me how many ways you can think of to make the rubber mat area a pleasure for your horse to be standing on.

Also, you can include in your list all the things you can think of that you have previously been doing that made the rubber mat area a pain for your horse to be around, by which I mean 'anxiety provoking'.

Third, since it seems that it is really you and not me or any of the rest of our regular correspondents who need more to do -- you could turn to the pages of the Birdie Book to find out more concerning both of these areas. Because, Christie, it isn't the rubber mats: it's you, and the Birdie Book will help you to see the truth of this. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

christie
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2008 03:06 pm
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Sam, I saddle her there. I am going to try a test and tie her to the other side of the barn where there are no mats but only dirt, to make sure it is just the mats that bother her. I used to saddle her back there though and she did just fine, this was before a change was made at the barn to a different tack room.

I do give her treats there as I usually have some in my pocket, I will admit to not having done much more than that to make them more pleasant. My true reasoning is in my belief that if she's bothered by something under her feet that she always will be regardless of things I try and do to make it more pleasant. Truth, even if that makes me sound like an idiot :-)

Deb, about the Birdie book. I have never downloaded such a thing so am not sure how to work it. I did click on the 'buy' button just to see what the next step was which is paypal.  I don't even know what CD Rom means.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2008 03:57 pm
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Yeah, you do, Christie. CD-rom are those disks that everything comes on these days, including music. The Birdie Book is not a download. When you buy it via PayPal, PayPal is just a bank that brokers the credit card transaction. So you are buying a book that is on a disk. When you get the disk, you load it up in your computer, you boot your Adobe Acrobat Reader, and then use Reader to read the book. Very simple, and thousands of people have so far done it.

Treats are not the answer. Giving the horse treats for standing on the mats is not the answer. Neither is this the only area in which you and your horse have trouble. So again, here is your assignment:

Make a list of all the things you have so far done (besides treats) to help the horse find out that standing on the mats is a great deal, and

Make another list of all the things you have so far done that makes it a pain in the butt for him to stand there.

This will mean that you have to get into your horse's head instead of just living out of your own head.

When we see your lists, Christie, we will be able to go to the next step. -- Dr. Deb

christie
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 Posted: Sat Mar 8th, 2008 03:59 am
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It's going to be a very short list.

Ok, I understand how the cd works, simple. I thought I was going to be downloading it right to my computer.

Lists.

What I've done so far to help my horse find out that standing on the mats is a great deal:

2. Scratched her favorite scratchy place(butt)

(I deleted #1 after mentioning treats again and then rereading where you said these were to be besides that!)

What I've done to make it a pain in the butt to stand there.

1. Saddle her there.

2. Tie her for a prolonged period(never more than half hour so far) 

 

 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 8th, 2008 07:07 am
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OK, Christie, very good. Now I need you to tell me what you SPECIFICALLY did or have ever done to teach your horse to stand tied quietly. This means not necessarily at the place where the mats are, but at the ordinary tie-rack or in other places that she might be tied. -- Dr. Deb

christie
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 Posted: Sat Mar 8th, 2008 03:35 pm
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I have never done anything specific.

I got her as a very green horse many years ago and she tied already. She is the type who won't pull back. Or at least hasn't. I have seen her get excited while being tied(if things start getting exciting around her) in the past and she'll either fling her head around, or dance around, but never pull. 

I am big on learning and study a lot of materials. I have to say that I never seem to find much along the lines of the subject of tying a horse.  

In the spirit of full disclosure I want you to know what I'm thinking. I'm wondering what tying has to do with her not liking the mats under her feet.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 8th, 2008 04:06 pm
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Because, Christie, it isn't the mats, as I've told you previously. It's you. So what I'm telling you here is that if you haven't got an understanding of how to train a horse to stand tied quietly, you will misinterpret their actions when they are tied.

But -- you are an honest person and so your answers to my queries have given me the ability and the chance to help you on all levels, including the level you actually asked about. For all the levels of problems or responses in horses are tied together.

So as you have never done anything specific to help this horse to stand tied quietly, we will begin by asking you to up your skill level as well as your ability to observe accurately and understand what is going on in your horse's inner thoughts and emotions, which are what are manifested by her physical actions.

I want you to take the horse to the arena or other safe working area. Have her in a halter. Very quietly I want you to stand at her left shoulder and then pet your way back into her hinduarter area, so that she enjoys the whole process of having you go from standing at her shoulder to standing rather close to her left hipbone.

When you arrive there, I want you to use the tail of the leadrope, if it is long enough, or else another short piece of thick, soft rope, and I want you to swing the rope so it just bonks her on the side of the left hock lightly. I want you to swing just enough so you know she feels it, and keep bonking her until she offers to step obliquely forward-and-across so that the left hind hoof lands up under her navel or approximately there. There should be absolutely NO hurry in this -- all very calm and relaxed.

Now as you work with the hindquarters, your left hand is holding the lead rope, and out of the corner of your eye you are monitoring where her head is. Do not let the head get straight or over to the right; give her wee bumps on the nose to keep the head to the left of the midline all the time. Have the leadrope slack, however, all you can; so in other words, you don't mess with her head unless she actually starts moving it toward the midline or towards the right.

It is very important that when the horse takes the desired step with the left hind leg, that you PERMIT the animal to step FORWARD almost more than it steps across. It is important that you allow and encourage the animal to step forward. The whole body should move forward. I am much less interested in the fact that the hindquarters are also going to go "around".

It is also important that you do not actually turn the horse around, and you have no intention of turning it around. What IS important is that you ask for ONE STEP AT A TIME. So you ask for one step, and when the animal understands what you want, she might try to take three or five steps. Don't tell her "no" but also don't encourage so many by your own actions. Repeat, lowering your actions, until the horse understands that only one step is all y ou want.

You will practice this several times on the left, and then you will switch and go over to the right side, so that you are having the head turn to the right and the right hind leg is the one that will be stepping under-and-across.

Each time after she succeeds in taking one or just a few steps, quietly, under-and-across, then you lead her forward quite a ways before you repeat and do it again.

Do not allow this practice to go on for longer than a total of 15 minutes. If possible practice twice a day; but if that's not possible, then once per day is fine and then go about your normal activities.

As you do this, you can be developing a new set of questions if some occur to you, and then write back here a few days from now and let us know how it is going. When I hear that it is going right and I think you are doing it right, then we'll have another little lesson.

And if you do not see how this relates to her standing quietly on the mat, well, Christie, that is because you have never trained a horse to stand quietly to tie. You are now about to begin learning that, and in that process, you will come to understand what the connection exactly is. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

christie
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 Posted: Sun Mar 9th, 2008 04:22 pm
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I have printed out your instructions and will do it this coming week.

I went back to reread what I wrote in my original post.

I want to make sure what the meaning of stand tied quietly means exactly. I see in my original post that I said she does not pull and stays in place, but will just show some signs of displeasure because of what is under her feet. 

Yesterday we had a group of horse friends get together and I tied my horse to someone's trailer. She did not show any of the signs she does when standing tied on the mats. She did not try and sniff the ground and check that out, nor did she turn herself to the side and look 'backward', nor did she stand back with her nose stuck out forward. 

I fear I am being redundant here so there is no need to reply to this post most likely and I will post next when I report back after the exercise :-) 

christie
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 Posted: Tue Mar 11th, 2008 02:23 am
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I wish I could report in a few days but I'm afraid I might need further instruction.

My horse is a very smart, sensitive Arabian. I 'think' that I need to do even LESS than what I was doing. I was tapping her oh so gently with the tassle at the end of my 12ft rope.

The first try she stepped forward. Subsequent tries had her walking backwards or just doing hindquarter disengagements(very calmly and slowly). Several times when I just tried to go back and start over she would start moving away or backwards before I could even touch her with my fluttering tassle.

My friend arrived while I was in the act and suggested I put her beside the fence to stop the HQ diseng. I did that, she stepped forward and then turned all the way around until she was facing me!

So, she seems to think I mean twirl around and do a disengagement. There is not much 'forward' movement.

How should I proceed?

I will be ordering your Birdie book tonight :-)

---------------------------------------------------

This is an entry from the day after I made the entry above, I am editing this to this post from yesterday so that I don't keep making new posts!

My horse pulled back hard today(never happens)...this is because she was tied on the other set of mats that she's not normally on and they worry her and she wants to get off. Ok, don't flame me for saying that is why, I know..it's not that and it's me. It's just that she does not ever pull back when her feet are on regular footing(dirt and not some foreign object like rubber) I know, it's me. I just need more convincing. I am excited to see where all this leads.

 

Last edited on Wed Mar 12th, 2008 04:58 am by christie


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