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Working with the spooky nappy horse
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Sep 17th, 2017 03:10 am
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Devvie -- I'm pleased you're carrying on with this, but beware of making your sessions so short that you wind up teaching your horse not to care, or even to 'cheat'.

You MUST accomplish something with each session; meaning, hang in there and repeat until the horse gives a full, complete, and heartfelt sincere 'try'. This does not necessarily mean that you have to accomplish something more than you did in whatever emerged in your last session. It does mean:

(1) The horse must give evidence that he is fully engaged in whatever project or new thing that you're trying to teach him. He must focus on it, and you must see that he actually LOOKS at the object upon which you are intending to have him place his feet. He must 'acknowledge' the object.

(2) You hang in there until he investigates it with nose and eyes and tongue, bangs it good, stomps on it, scrapes it with his feet, etc. Then he should place his toe firmly on it, or finally turns his foot down so that he rests the whole sole upon it with the whole weight of his body.

If you quit after only a 'lick and a promise', that teaches the horse either that you weren't serious about it, or perhaps that he had the wrong idea and was focusing on something he needn't have paid any attention to.

As a rule of thumb, anytime you're teaching a horse anything, you persist in asking at least two heartbeats longer than when you are sure he has complied. Two heartbeats, that is, not fifty; but certainly two. In other words, be a little slow to reward; don't be so eager to praise him that you wind up cutting him off.

As a further suggestion to what you received above, I also wanted to say, it's always a great idea after your session, so long as nobody else is using the arena, to simply turn the horse loose in the same enclosure as the equipment. You sit there quietly for a little while and see what he does. If you find him "investigating" the board, platform, barrel, ball, fetch object, teeterboard, or whatever else you have been working with during the session -- especially if he seems to investigate it more thoroughly when loose than he did when you had him on the lead line -- you may conclude that you didn't give him enough time to investigate it when he was with you. You don't feel bad about this, but take note, and next time, be in less of a hurry and be more quiet, saying less and petting less; just let him kind of alone -- sometimes they just need a little more 'space' to think and get their feelings about it worked out. -- Dr. Deb

devvie
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Joined: Mon Oct 31st, 2016
Location: Guelph, Ontario Canada
Posts: 12
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 Posted: Fri Oct 20th, 2017 04:16 pm
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"Devvie -- I'm pleased you're carrying on with this, but beware of making your sessions so short that you wind up teaching your horse not to care, or even to 'cheat'.

You MUST accomplish something with each session; meaning, hang in there and repeat until the horse gives a full, complete, and heartfelt sincere 'try'. This does not necessarily mean that you have to accomplish something more than you did in whatever emerged in your last session. It does mean:

(1) The horse must give evidence that he is fully engaged in whatever project or new thing that you're trying to teach him. He must focus on it, and you must see that he actually LOOKS at the object upon which you are intending to have him place his feet. He must 'acknowledge' the object.

(2) You hang in there until he investigates it with nose and eyes and tongue, bangs it good, stomps on it, scrapes it with his feet, etc. Then he should place his toe firmly on it, or finally turns his foot down so that he rests the whole sole upon it with the whole weight of his body.

If you quit after only a 'lick and a promise', that teaches the horse either that you weren't serious about it, or perhaps that he had the wrong idea and was focusing on something he needn't have paid any attention to.

As a rule of thumb, anytime you're teaching a horse anything, you persist in asking at least two heartbeats longer than when you are sure he has complied. Two heartbeats, that is, not fifty; but certainly two. In other words, be a little slow to reward; don't be so eager to praise him that you wind up cutting him off.

As a further suggestion to what you received above, I also wanted to say, it's always a great idea after your session, so long as nobody else is using the arena, to simply turn the horse loose in the same enclosure as the equipment. You sit there quietly for a little while and see what he does. If you find him "investigating" the board, platform, barrel, ball, fetch object, teeterboard, or whatever else you have been working with during the session -- especially if he seems to investigate it more thoroughly when loose than he did when you had him on the lead line -- you may conclude that you didn't give him enough time to investigate it when he was with you. You don't feel bad about this, but take note, and next time, be in less of a hurry and be more quiet, saying less and petting less; just let him kind of alone -- sometimes they just need a little more 'space' to think and get their feelings about it worked out. -- Dr. Deb

___

Hello Dr. Deb and all the forum readers,

Thank you for the above guidance. I have followed through with some longer sessions (and the flies are gone now thank goodness, which helps) with more repetitions, keeping in mind what you wrote to me and making an effort to put it into practice.

In the first session after you wrote, he did indeed investigate the plank, although very briefly, when I turned him loose after our session.

He has been stepping up on the plank with both feet and standing solidly, though not on every attempt, which brings me to a few things I'm seeking clarification about:

1) When he steps over the plank with his front feet instead of on, as he sometimes does, am I to walk him forward, and circle back to the plank? In other words, having him step back onto the plank is not desirable or acceptable? Is the goal a 100% success rate for each session? (I suspect that's not the overall goal here).

2) Now that we're quite adept at taking just one step at a time when we approach the plank (I really really enjoy working on improving my timing when doing this), how close am I to lead him to it before we begin moving step by step? I'm unsure of what's the best approach, literally.


A few other observations:

- when I put him in his room, I'm getting a lick and chew within the first 30 seconds, which I'm tickled about. Likewise when he stands on the plank.

-he almost always steps onto the plank right foot first, then left.

-he clearly knows now what I am asking, but I notice what one would commonly call a bit of a stubborn look in his eye at start of each session, which seems to disappear as we repeat.

-He always, fairly early in the session, does that nose-on-my-arm behaviour to try to get my attention. I'm responding by asking that we continue on with the work, but I'm unsure whether to him I'm properly acknowledging his request for my attention or just ignoring it.

-last session he didn't investigate the plank at all when I turned him loose: he nudged me (wanted to nip at my coat truthfully, invitation to play?) as I sat on the mounting block, and when I got up and walked around the arena he came with me.

-Last session, after the groundwork, I grazed him for 15 minutes and then took him back into the arena to mount him for a bareback ride in the rope halter and lead rope: as he sometimes does, he balked when I asked him to walk to the mounting block. When I went to mount, he, again as he sometimes does (more so indoors than outdoors) backed up so that I could not get on him from where I stood on the mounting block. So I gave him a wee light smack on the butt and sent him forward, loose, away from me. He trotted away but soon stopped and turned back and didn't repeat that behavior the second time I led him to the mounting block.

Again, thank you so much.

devvie
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Joined: Mon Oct 31st, 2016
Location: Guelph, Ontario Canada
Posts: 12
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 Posted: Fri Nov 17th, 2017 03:45 pm
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Hello everyone,

Well, no responses to my questions above -- in the meantime we'll keep doing what we're doing and I'll write an update some time soon.

all the best.


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