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Hock Wobble & Hind Foot Rotation - Related?
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Bryy
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 Posted: Thu Apr 7th, 2016 04:42 am
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Hi Dr. Deb et al.

I've just powered through Conformation Analysis I-III and find myself smarter in the kind of way where you realize just how much more you have to learn.  And looking at all the horses I see on a daily basis and sorting out their bone angles.

One thing that I maybe found an answer to but am not sure with the spiral hind leg.  Now the question:

Why do some horses strike the ground on, for example, the outside of their hind hoof and rotate inward before pushing off?  Often more on one leg than the other  Is this related to hock-wobble (or stifle-hock misalignment) which I may not have the eyes to see yet?  What search terms can I use to dig more info out of these forums? 

Happy spring! (it snowed yesterday)

Adrienne
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 Posted: Thu Apr 7th, 2016 06:42 pm
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Hello Bryy,

This topic has been discussed in length more than once on the forum, I would try the term "hock wring'". Several relevant threads came up in the search when I used that term.

Hope that helps!
Oh and happy spring to you! It also has been snowing here still!
Adrienne

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Apr 8th, 2016 12:35 am
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Or "wringing hock". Yes, I think your question is exactly about this. If you read the materials suggested (use the directions in a top thread on this Forum as to how to use the Google Advanced Search function/limit search to this Forum) -- if you search the suggested terms in this way and still don't feel like you've been answered, then please write back. -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
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 Posted: Wed May 18th, 2016 05:48 am
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Hock wringing leads to stretches and releases leads to mannering leads to...

Search terms for a horse than runs away from the halter (and me) in the paddock? 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed May 18th, 2016 10:21 am
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Sorry, BRYY, I can't resist this one. The "search" you really need to make primarily needs to be internal, I think you will find.

Here's a little story (true story) to get you started.

Back when Tom Dorrance was still with us, he did a clinic out in Idaho one time. The arena was arranged so that the teacher's platform (back of an old pickup truck) was pulled up against the long side, in other words, the long axis of the rectangular arena extended to left and right of where Tom was sitting, supervising. There was a gate in the center of the long side of the arena.

Now as at every clinic that Tom taught, people were invited to bring whatever troubles they were having with their horses to him and ask him about it, and then Tom wuld set up something to do which would not only help to solve the problem permanently, but also illuminate in the mind of the owner/handler and cause them to realize what the true source of the problem was.

So, at this clinic a woman had approached Tom saying that she couldn't catch her horse. The horse in question was a cute little Paso stallion, with the usual Paso temperament -- i.e. sweet, willing, docile, responsive, easy to teach. And yet she couldn't catch him out of her pasture.

So Tom set it up this way -- as at most clinics, he had a couple of helpers, younger men who acted as his arms and legs. They were going to address this lady's problem right after lunch, so they set it up this way: first they turned the stallion into the pen by himself. Then in went Tink Elordi, who is about 250 lbs. and mounted on a quite fearsomely brave and aggressive cutting-bred mare. Tink, with his big flag in hand, took his position at the right-hand end of the pen. At the other hand was Don Douglas, tall and skinny and black-hatted, equally "armed" with a big flag, and equally mounted on a determined and aggressive and well-schooled cutting-bred gelding. And he came in and took his position at the left-hand end of the pen.

Of course when these cowboys entered the pen, the little stallion ran around a bit -- all he's looking for is how he can fix it to get himself into the least trouble! And it was amusing that, after a couple of minutes, the stallion chose to position himself at exactly the midpoint between the two cowboys.

When the stallion had positioned himself, Tom said to the lady who owned him, 'OK, now go pick up your halter and go into the pen.' And the lady did as she was bidden to do. But the instant she came through that gate, her stallion took one look at her and FLED TO TINK.

Everybody (and there were at least 250 people around that pen watching) opened their mouth to laugh, but Tom raised a finger as if to say, 'Don't laugh -- it isn't kind to laugh at what is pitiful.' Which stifled the laughter completely.

Now, BRYY, I want you to read this story and think about it, and then I want you to reply in this thread by telling me why you think the lady's stallion reacted that way.

Remember, Tom said again and again: 'You want to get your horse to want to be with you more than he wants to be anywhere else.' This was one of Tom's top priorities, if indeed not THE top priority. How do you think this saying or this goal relates to what the lady had previously been doing with her horse? -- Dr. Deb

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed May 18th, 2016 11:12 pm
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BRYY -- I did not ask you to muse to yourself. Rather, I asked you to answer the question which I set up for you.

Please do that -- your previous 'self musings' have been deleted.

The question you were asked to answer was: Why do you think the lady's Paso stallion reacted the way he did?

If you want my help, you will have to cooperate and do exactly as I ask; otherwise, there are a million other places on the Internet that you can go. -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
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 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2016 04:21 am
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The lady was not a fun person to be with, she did not represent a great place to be for her horse. The key, as I read the story, is this line: "...all he's looking for is how he can fix it to get himself into the least trouble"  which was next to one of the cutting horses and as far from his owner as possible.

Either she treated him roughly or he didn't enjoy the work?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2016 11:13 am
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BRYY -- We suppose it was both, actually; though really they are the same thing, don't you think? Because what she represented to the horse was enough of a deterrent that the animal preferred Tink and his big flag to being anywhere near her.

So, from this, you may deduce that "what the lady represented" WAS work; work, that is, with no positives in it for the horse.

This is what many people think they have a right to -- after all, they bought and paid for the animal, they're certainly expensive to feed and maintain, so doesn't the animal "owe" them at least a few nice rides?

But EVERY ride is work to the horse. And where the lady needed to self-inspect and realize, was that "work" in whatever form was all she ever offered to the animal.

Now what this means in practical terms is: that every time she went out to the pasture to catch her horse, if he let her catch him, the next thing that happened to him was he got brought in, saddled, and ridden. It never occurred to this lady to sometimes just go out to the pasture and catch the horse and then stand there petting him, grooming him, scratching his favorite spots, and then -- unhalter him and leave!

Neither did this lady know the first thing about how to do ground-work, which would naturally lead to work either on the longe-line or at liberty -- or else what people call "trick" work -- all of which, with a little thoughtfulness, can become the most enjoyable and playful time for both the person and the horse.

And finally, if the person had learned something about liberty and trick "work", some of that would inevitably bleed over into the riding. But she had no inkling and unfortunately I think, no inclination. She just thought the little stallion "owed" her, and that her input or effort needed to involve no more expectation of herself than if she'd gone out to the garage to get in her car.

The successful horseman makes it a priority to build in rewards to everything. "Always reward the smallest change and the slightest try," Ray Hunt is famous for saying. I imagine that if you work outside the home at some job, that you expect a paycheck. And I don't imagine you'd work very long at the place if no paycheck were ever forthcoming.

The "paycheck" does not have to be, and probably for most people initially should not be, in the form of food treats -- because until the person has a little more skill, these can easily become bribes. And the paycheck does not have to be so big or so palpable. This leads me to tell you another story:

I was in the outdoor arena one day riding my Oliver gelding when another boarder at the place, a lady I knew by name of Nancy, showed up. She led her gelding into the pen and shut the gate. She walked in about fifty feet and then went to mount him.

But every time she lifted up her left foot and bent her left knee in order to put her foot into the stirrup, her gelding would shift his rear end one or two steps, which forced her to pull her foot out or else go hopping along with him. What a smart old fellow that gelding was, and how gentle with her he was being! That's what I saw.

So I said to Nancy, "lead him over to the mounting block."

She acted like she didn't hear me. That's what a lot of people do when they think they don't agree with what I just told them to do (their thoughts are essentially worthless, but they don't know that).

So I said again, in a louder voice, "Nancy go lead your horse over to the mounting block."

She looked back at me kind of exasperated and said, "I can't do that."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because then he'll WIN," she said.

"Since when is this a contest?" I rejoined.

And being basically a nice gal, and with no lack of intelligence, she silently agreed that the only one making it a contest was herself.

But then she said, "OK, but I still can't go to the mounting block."

"Why not?" I asked again.

"Because if I do that -- or get started doing that -- then if I'm out on a trailride and have to get off, then I won't be able to get back on."

"You must have not been on too many trailrides," I replied. "I don't think I've ever been on any trailride anywhere that there wasn't a ditch, or a log, or a tree stump, or a handy rock. I wouldn't be too worried about that if I were you."

She shook her head. "OKay, OKay," she said in a resigned tone of voice, and finally did what I asked, and led her horse over to the mounting block.

When she arrived at the mounting block, she took no time at all to set her horse up near it, or make sure his feet were arranged in such a manner that it would be easy for him to take her weight, but instead sort of just sketchily led him up to it and immediately mounted the steps.

"Whoa, whoa," I said. "I never told you to climb up onto the mounting block. I merely said, 'lead your horse over to the mounting block.' You are not to even try to get on."

Now really confused, she looked back at me and slowly climed off the steps. "So what now?" she said.

"Stand there and pet him," I said.

So she went to petting him -- that very minimal and sketchy kind of petting you generally see. "No, no -- give him a real good rub, slowly, up and down the neck, just below where the mane falls over. Yeah, that's it -- like his mother when he was born, she took her tongue and licked him."

And again, happily, she was able to obey this. And I left her to do that for perhaps another minute.

"OK, Nancy, now you can lead him off. Lead him off about fifteen feet away from the block."

And she did this, and the gelding stood still as a rock becaise she had produced an internal change in him which I could see. So I said, "OK, now he's saying you can get on."

Now, BRYY, I want you to re-read this story and think how to apply the same principle to the horse you say you've been having trouble catching, and report your thoughts on that back to me when you reply to this. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
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 Posted: Thu May 19th, 2016 09:04 pm
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Hello Dr. Deb!

In the story you told about Nancy, is it relevant that she lead her horse to the mounting block or did it just need to be somewhere else in the ring? One train of thought says it does matter because it is where the horse would associate being mounted from and thus, being pet there would make it neutral and Okay. The other train of thought is that where she had tried before was now negative and he only had to be moved from there, made comfortable and okay, and she could have mounted. The fact that you told her to mount from the ground, away from the block, is what catches me.

The key to this story is that once the woman didn’t force herself on the horse, instead made herself a pleasure, he signaled calm happiness.

For Zeke I can make the time after he’s allowed himself to be caught a joy – pets, scratches and playing with him on the ground. I have noticed that his (very practiced) worried expression is often put on once I start grooming him but I always attributed it to him knowing he wasn’t supposed to move and another (pushy) horse hovering nearby. In the future I will bring him into the riding area and groom him there so that there aren’t any external pressures and we can share the private time that grooming is supposed to be. If he says we’re okay, then we can move on. If he’s not happy then do not move to the next phase. In the back of my mind I know that if he’s not okay I can’t leave him that way; while I may not move onto further work I should at least be able to scratch, brush his face, graze etc until soft eyes occur, then turn him back out.

We always start with ground work, lunging and work in hand, now to think of how I can invite him to play with me rather than having it be straight work. I’ve managed to make warming up fun with a mare that I also ride (you would appreciate her, a 25 year old, tough as nails Morgan) so I should be able to figure this out. I don’t know if he thrives on routine or if he gets bored by it, however, so I may make mistakes along this path. The principle is the same as grooming, it must be enjoyable in some way; making much of him, scratches for rewards and thanks for example.

The same will apply to riding, if/when we get there. I’ve always ended our sessions on a positive note but that’s not enough. Meet him where he is, expect a lot, accept a little and reward often. I have messed this up with both him and myself, not all the time but enough it seems! He has only avoided me once in the paddock, hopefully we’re not too far down the mistrust/unhappiness path.

Thank you for taking the time to share your stories and get me thinking,
Bryy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun May 22nd, 2016 12:43 am
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OK, BRYY, you're coming right along and pretty much getting the points made. However, there's still more to consider.

First, let's think about "what kind of an animal a horse is." Where I'm going with this is to help you clear up your thinking concerning your horse's "very practiced pained expression" and that while you're grooming him, he "isn't supposed to move." I think you're missing on why the pained expression is there -- it isn't ONLY that you might have made grooming more of a pleasure to the horse.

So, let's have another story. This one's a "thought problem" which I regularly pose to students.

Imagine we have a herd of feral horses out on range somewhere. It is an "ideal" range of limitless extent and has no gopher holes, no cross-fencing, no hidden rolls of bob wire, no steep ditches or streams to cross -- just limitless flat prairie.

Imagine that you've managed to sneak up on this herd of horses quietly grazing there, and that you've got your .44 magnum gun, and all of a sudden you jump up out of the grass and fire the gun BLAMMO!!!!! What do the horses do?

Well, of course they gasp, raise their heads, roll their eyes, wheel, and run in the opposite direction.

Question One: How far do you imagine they'll run before they stop? Remember there's no physical obstacle to stop them.

Question Two: When they do eventually stop, what do they do immediately after that?

Question Three: What does the answer to questions one and two tell you about the nature, or you might say the "physical and psychological definition" of a horse? What does it tell you about "what kind of an animal a horse is"?

Have a think about this, and then let's hear your response. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
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 Posted: Fri Jun 10th, 2016 06:42 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb- I've been thinking about this for a while now and I hesitate to answer because I think there's something missing in my response.

The horses will run away for 2 minutes or so, then turn and look back the way they came.

"Question Three: What does the answer to questions one and two tell you about the nature, or you might say the "physical and psychological definition" of a horse? What does it tell you about "what kind of an animal a horse is"?"

A horse is a prey animal physically evolved to run away fast in a straight line. Asking a horse to stand still is asking them to be vulnerable.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 11th, 2016 02:51 pm
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Yes, Bryy, very well answered. They will run for two minutes or so, or approximately three to four miles; that's all their lungs and heart are built for (which, by the way, is about four times as long as the lung and heart design of their natural predators). They will then stop, turn about, stare in the direction of the thing that went 'boom', and usually, snort-whistle at it as if to say, "Wow! Gee whiz! What the heck was THAT!"

This little bit of natural history, or you could say a fact about the way horses are physically, emotionally, and mentally constituted, when observed carefully, can then be put to use by the dedicated student. The story reveals not only something that most people hadn't thought about regarding their physical makeup and athletic limits, but most importantly also something about their psychological-emotional makeup. It is as if every horse has two "thermometers" in him: one labeled "FEAR" and the other one labeled "CURIOSITY". And those two thermometers work exactly opposite each other: as the level of FEAR goes up, the level of CURIOSITY is suppressed, and vice-versa.

Now, what drives the FEAR thermometer is proximity to the scary object; the level of fear will be in exact proportion to the distance from the feared object. In other words, the closer to it the horse is, the more fear he feels, and the less curiosity. You can also think of curiosity as "the ability to think straight" or "the ability NOT to act merely according to instinct." In short, when a horse is afraid, he's liable to forget any training he may have had.

So, the first very useful conclusion we may draw is that there is in fact some sort of "fall line" for the horse's ability to think straight; in other words, some particular distance where he'll stand still of his own volition, on a loose rein, without being tied to something or compelled by leg, seat, and rein -- but totally loose -- and at that distance he will look at the object of concern, he may even snort at it, but he will not feel a need to move his feet in order to further increase his distance from the scary object. Every rider, on every horse, every time something scary comes up, needs to figure out what this distance is, and go stand there; because if you force him to stand any closer, he will not be able to learn anything from the experience (anything, anyway, that you would like him to take home).

The second useful conclusion amounts to a "law" of the horse's nature. In "The Birdie Book" I label this as "the psychological 'definition' of a horse":

A HORSE IS THE KIND OF ANIMAL THAT SURVIVES BY MAKING ADJUSTMENTS.

....and the sort of 'adjustment' that he needs to make is very simple; it is the number of inches, feet, meters, or yards he needs to put between himself and the scary object in order to feel reasonably OK, i.e. not have to move his feet. This is the "fall line", the point where the FEAR thermometer and the CURIOSITY thermometer exactly balance each other. Two feet farther away, and curiosity will predominate, and you will, when in that position, be able to teach the horse that the scary object is not going to hurt him after all. There is, note, no other place where this lesson can be taught -- too close and he can't think, too far and he will not be sufficiently engaged in the need to solve the problem.

Now, I like very much your way of putting the next part, that is, that if you tie a horse up and thus deprive him of the ability to adjust, you are asking him to tolerate or accept being vulnerable. Yes. I would also say that you're telling him (whether you knew that this was what you were saying or not is irrelevant -- it's what the horse HEARS you saying) -- and what he hears you saying when you restrict his ability to adjust is, that you'd like him to die or that you're trying to kill him. In other words, you directly interfere with his ability to survive. This forces him to have to take whatever measures he/his instincts deem necessary in order to survive, including rearing, bucking, whirling, bolting, running backwards -- the whole unpleasant gamut -- they are all merely attempts to ADJUST HIS DISTANCE despite whatever restriction he may be trapped in.

Therefore, and you may use the Google advanced search function to go pull up these threads, I have previously described at length how to groom a horse at liberty. Of course one does not begin fully at liberty; one begins where it is safe with whatever you and the horse had previously been used to. Generally it is good to start with the horse haltered and the halter-rope held over the crook of your left arm, grooming the horse on its left side with the brush primarily held in the right hand. You thus retain good control and yet, if the horse needs to walk in order to adjust -- note that this will be "adjusting from the GROOMING" or "adjusting from YOU" as much as it might be "adjusting from a pesky fly" -- then you can let him and just walk along with him until he stops of his own volition and invites you to continue.

You will find that taking up this habit has deep and long-lasting effects that go far beyond merely having a horse that will whicker at you and trot up to you in a huge field, leaving all other companions behind, because he'd rather be with you than anywhere else. I learned it from my elderly teacher and there is great wisdom in it, which you will not discover until you make it your usual habit. I hear people in other horsemanship schools blabber about "getting the horse to trust you" or "earning the horse's trust," and I think from what I see them actually doing that they know zero about it. THIS is how you teach the horse to trust you; and it's also how you learn from the horse what is of concern to him, so that you get into the habit of operating from HIS perceptions of the world instead of your own. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

Bryy
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 Posted: Mon Jun 13th, 2016 02:30 am
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Profound thanks for the lengthy lesson.  Off to do more research!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jun 14th, 2016 01:35 am
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OK, Bryy -- you go give all this a good think, and more than that, I hope you begin DOING or LIVING with your horse as suggested. And then when you have another question, or perhaps hit a snag of some sort, please write back. Because we are not finished with this -- not at all.

And any of you others who read here, who have thought about this and taken it to heart, do please also feel free to comment or ask questions on this subject here, because it often takes more than one questioner to get all the questions "out". Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Val
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 Posted: Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 06:00 pm
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DrDeb wrote:


...This is the "fall line", the point where the FEAR thermometer and the CURIOSITY thermometer exactly balance each other. Two feet farther away, and curiosity will predominate, and you will, when in that position, be able to teach the horse that the scary object is not going to hurt him after all. There is, note, no other place where this lesson can be taught -- too close and he can't think, too far and he will not be sufficiently engaged in the need to solve the problem.


I think I can offer an example of this from my last trail ride on Dreamer. Someone had put up along the road a series of those cheap plastic signs on a lightweight metal H-frame that you push into the ground. Dreamer was afraid of them. I got him close to the signs, following the curiousity/fear fall line, and allowing him to stop and look as he needed to. Using this approach, he felt to me like the sign was drawing him towards it. When we got close enough, he stretched his neck and nose way out towards it, and just touched the sign. Of course the sign did what you expect – it swayed and wagged back and forth from his touch. You'd think he'd be startled. No, he thought it was the best thing ever! He watched it, pushed it again and watched it move. Then he tried a couple of other touches – pulled it from the far side with his chin, mooshed his upper lip along the top, each time stopping to watch what the sign would do. When he started to work his mouth onto it we back off, as I did not want him to pull it out of the ground and have metal legs flailing around our heads.
My riding partner and I laughed and laughed, and I think Dreamer was grinning too. I think this is also an example of the horse finding something enjoyable and meaningful to him while doing his job.


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