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Where is his birdie and how do I fix it?
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Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 04:39 pm
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I have a question about my coming 5yo, Hugo. He is the one that I asked about tongue lolling and now it seems I have another question!

First, a little background-I have known Hugo since he was 3 mos old and owned him since 5 months old. He was described as a very dominant and confident foal. He had his mouth on EVERYTHING. He was very brave and bold...he often played far away from his mother. This seems opposite of what one would think with a horse that tongue lolls?

Since living with me not much has changed! If it is near his mouth, it must go in his mouth. He still grazes on his own and is very curious and brave.

When he is around the other horses he can be quite a pest...constantly mouthing and nipping and just pestering!

Now, for my question....when I do anything with him that involves 'focus'-anything besides fussing around or playing with him-he pins his ears.

If I do groundwork with him, ears are pinned. If I ask him to move along a little faster-yup, ears pinned. If I am riding him and ask him to stop, turn, back, move along, you name it....pins those darn ears! He looks to have a pretty grumpy expression.

BUT He DOES these things 'well'...if that makes sense. He shows no signs of physical discomfort, in other words...he is very athletic and supple.

He just seems like he is not very interested in my ideas!

So my question is...is he this way because he needs stronger leadership? Or is his birdie inside him (which does not sound like a good thing at all!)...

In other words am I being TOO demanding or not clear enough...or something else?

As you can see I am a bit confused on this one.

I am re-reading the Birdie Book (just now on Chapter 4) and am certain the answer is in there...but I thought this may need attention before I could find the answer!

Thank you,as always.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 06:26 pm
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Leah, you have to make yourself more important to your horse than anything else. You have to rate higher than a pile of manure.

Think about what you could do to effect this change. I have been waiting to say this to you on the basis of some of your other posts, too, because yes, you are confused.

Are you willing to go to the mat to produce a horse that knows what the rules are? -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 06:34 pm
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How do I make myself important while not disrupting his inner ok-ness?

I am certainly willing to do what it takes, go the mat...what do you suggest?

I see the pendulum swinging back and forth between making myself important and losing the confidence of my horse or preserving his confidence and losing my importance.

It seems I keep passing through correct from one end to the other and not seeing it?


EDITED: Actually, Dr Deb, give me a little more time on this one. I am in the middle of chapter 4 and believe I am finding the answers along the way.

The ideas I am gathering have to do with getting his attention and engaging him to learn...through the use of thoughtful 'tricks' as opposed to movements without meaning. Not only will this develop his learning ability but will make me interesting and gain his attention.

I am just now reading about the flag and am certain more of my question will be answered in the pages that follow.

Getting closer?

Last edited on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 07:22 pm by Leah

Blue Flame
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 07:48 pm
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Interesting question Leah - what does go to the mat mean? I'm not familiar with the expression.

Edited for redundancy.

Last edited on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 07:50 pm by Blue Flame

Apples
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 09:06 pm
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Blue Flame wrote: Interesting question Leah - what does go to the mat mean? I'm not familiar with the expression.

Edited for redundancy.

Literally, "to go to the mat" is to dispute until one side or the other is victorious

hurleycane
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 09:16 pm
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"Go to the mat" (US) (intransitive) To continue to struggle or fight until either victorious or defeated.   As in wrestling or the martial arts, "to throw down" or force an opponent to the ground or floor.  To give your all and "push the limit" the force of which may be internal or external.

miriam
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 09:44 pm
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Likely meaning, in this context, doing all that it might take.

About the flag, Harry says that the horse can get dull to it. My mare was seemingly dull to me in the roundpen and it was suggested that I use the flag (not by Harry). Harry said that I should be able to get this done with what I was using (rope). When I think about it, it is me who isn't noticing the small stuff soon enough and then drawing on that. Better to be as light as possible I suppose, but some horses do need an 'exploding box' at first, especially if they're far away.

I find it pretty hard to be an exploding box. Any tips on that?

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 10:17 pm
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I wanted to add something that I may have left unclear in my original post.

Hugo DOES what I ask. He doesn't 'fight' me one bit. The issue I am struggling with is his willingness. He is actually very 'light' and responds to very little pressure.

He does what he is asked to do-but with pinned ears. He does not fight me at all-other than his faces.

(well other than the pesty mouthiness...and that actually comes and goes...now I suppose I should think about when and why)

I will continue through chapter 4 and report back with my ideas if I think the answer is in that chapter.

I have a feeling it is my attitude or I am drilling him or becoming a task master....not educating him.

This is my initial thought from reading Birdie.

Last edited on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 10:18 pm by Leah

Apples
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 11:13 pm
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For what it's worth, the following line in your first post struck a chord with me:

"He just seems like he is not very interested in my ideas!"

Couple of thoughts: What if he were to think that the idea was in fact, his, not yours? and, What if you were less predictable?

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 11:21 pm
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From the Birdie Book, page 25:

"So what, then, IS the main object in starting a young horse? It is to work with the
animal in such a way that, on the day he is first saddled, and on every subsequent
day for the rest of his life, he learns that being around humans makes him feel
good. He learns that he can trust the human to "be there" to support him
physically and emotionally and mentally, should he get into a quandary or a
situation that disturbs him; and that he can, and should, refer his troubles totally
to the person handling him. This is what all the horsemen whom I recommend
teach, and that is the primary reason they can be recommended.

When horses are started with this objective, rather than with the objective of
obtaining the performance of wearing the saddle and other tack and permitting
themselves to be ridden, they will, as a side effect, fully and deeply accept the
saddle and other tack and the process of being ridden, and they will also accept
with calmness and even eagerness all the work they will ever on any day thereafter
be asked by a human being to do."

I am seeing some of the answers in this section. I still believe when I am with my horses I have an agenda that still sometimes supercedes their ok-ness.

I am not saying it is a 'bad' agenda in my eyes....for example...

Hugo put on a little weight with the fall grass...in my mind he needed to get the weight off so his health was not at risk. My agenda is for him to burn some calories.

On the surface this is not a bad agenda...BUT HE doesn't understand this agenda for anything. So, when I am asking him for movement for calorie burning, it becomes pointless and our relationship suffers.

Maybe this is a poor example, but it came to mind.

I think an additional problem is I am in the process of changing and improving-so on some days I DO respect the ok-ness and am very aware and my attention is where it should be.

Because habits are hard to break, schedules get invaded, life gets in the way, I am certain other days I am not so good at being the 'new Leah.' The old Leah shows up.

So I *think* I am making matters even worse because I have now become even MORE unpredictable! I give them a taste of life with new Leah then old Leah creeps back in!

If you recall from posts way back on saddling issues with Julian (once again pinning his ears)....I am certain the two are related.

I may be going in a totally different direction than you were, Dr Deb...but I am searching very hard. I feel like I am on the edge of an enormous a-ha here but am not quite over the crest.

I also believe I am holding on to some old ways that are what you call 'surface working'-I am certain this is all connected...

OK...I am now rambling while I am searching.

I will take a nudge in a different direction if I am heading the wrong way.

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 11:23 pm
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Apples wrote:
For what it's worth, the following line in your first post struck a chord with me:

"He just seems like he is not very interested in my ideas!"

Couple of thoughts: What if he were to think that the idea was in fact, his, not yours? and, What if you were less predictable?


Apples you are on to something here. My nature is very 'organized.' I like repetition in my days and in exercises. I think this is also something that is contributing to the issue.

I don't think he sees the point in what we are doing...so it is annoying him.

Tutora
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 11:42 pm
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Leah, thank you for asking many of my questions for me and others here! I just had an issue on getting "big" without a trace of anger today- I thought I left the anger behind years ago; today I saw it's still there at times. Dr. Deb talked about carrying yourself like a bullfighter on several threads, and I've been thinking about that. I've heard a Lusitano trainer say " own the ground you walk on " with horses. That helped me. There's another saying,"Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it" that helped me with horses, too. ( With people, I imagine laying my thoughts out on a table for the person to see--no force, no drama, no anger, but the stuff on the table isn't negotiable, either.) Anyway, I know this sounds weird, but last night a noise woke me from sleep and I must have been dreaming about a incident with a stallion I had in January 2007. A neighbor unwisely bought a ten year old unbroken Haflinger stud at auction. He came here, and perhaps like your Hugo, he was the most congenial of horses --until I gave him a direct command. Seeing the shoulder of a tank-like, ear-pinning, teeth gnashing horse coming at me to squash me was a new experience! I felt a flicker of baffled fear, to put it mildly. Then I thought, " Buddy, I'm going to die somehow anyway, so you don't scare me." We got it worked out with some creativity on my part combined with his inherently generous temperament. But I think he really did sense that I was willing to bullfight him for his own sake-- that I'd "go to the mat" to "come all the way through" for him. I woke with that memory on my mind last night and remembered I'd tried to carry myself like a bullfighter with this stallion- but I'd also been willing to creatively, cleverly, wrestle him to the death.   So today, working with my Lusitano who I've raised from a 6 month old filly, I saw some places where I've been too indulgent with her (though she's basically very obedient).  I had been learning that I've been guilty of disregarding her genuine fear and demanding obedience from her at times. Today I saw that I've also managed to spoil her at the same time. (If Tutora were a person, today, when she was disregarding my feelings, she'd have been saying, "Payback's a bitch, isn't it, Elynne?") I did manage to turn myself into a fairly note-worthy exploding box, but I initially was tempted  to use anger as fuel. So I learned some things today, but I still need help.  --Elynne  

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 11:55 pm
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My pleasure Tutora-one thing lawschool taught me is to ask questions and not be fearful of asking or looking small. It has served me well.

Getting big without getting angry IS a challenge and one I still work on daily! I guess it comes from being a deeply bred taskmaster!

You do bring up another point I want to make sure is clear...Hugo is NOT coming AT me with ears pinned...not even close (well except when his birdie flies to my jacket or the lead rope...another topic)...

When we are doing groundwork, etc it is NOT an 'aggressive' ear pinning. It is a sullen grumpy earpinning.

It is a I don't care to be with you earpinning. This is why it is frustrating me.

Rude, come at me I can manage. Sullen, you are not my trusted friend is not fun to sort out.

Tutora
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 12:02 am
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Leah, I don't know if this helps, but with the stud I was talking about, I gave him a job--going for a walk with me to herd Canadian geese, for example, was a big treat for him. At first, I had to slip my rules in sideways, so to speak, while we were doing something else.  --Elynne  

Apples
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 12:38 am
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Tutora - what a great way to put it! Learning should be packaged as fun. I really believe that's what keeps the anger out of the equation.

Leah - I have a mare who has similar tendancies - very opinionated and it seems that her first opinion is usually negative. She can be 'unhappily cooperative'. I still struggle to remember that I need to get her postitive attention, rather than her negative attention. Sometimes I am in too much of a hurry to get other things done around the barn. But it needs to be a lifestyle change for me. She too, is very curious, and yet she bores easily. My continuing challenge is to keep things interesting and be interesting. I'm really just getting started...


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