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Where is his birdie and how do I fix it?
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Leah
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 12:55 am
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Tutora-thank you for sharing your suggestion.

Apples-you have described a piece of the issue again.

Hugo is very clever and does get bored easily. I get pressed and lose interesting ideas so tend to do drills and create habits.

I guess it is a lifetime of feeling confident and making progress only to see something through new Leah eyes and realize how far we still have to go.

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 03:14 am
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Hi Everyone,

I just received a back issue of the 2007 Inner Horseman.  In it, Dr. Deb put a study guide to True Unity (Tom Dorrance), 1st chapter.

If you have it, read the interpretation.  I think is will give some great insight here.  It is on pages 36 to 40. 

It is just too large to post here.

Tammy

 
Oops, sorry it was the 2004 issue.
 

 

Last edited on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 03:16 am by Tammy 2

Leah
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 11:24 am
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Tammy, luckily I have that DVD...

Some quotes from that study and True Unity that stood out to me:

True Unity, page 6, paragraph 11, as pointed out by Dr Deb:

"And by studying their actions and reactions I have been helped to understand how to present myself in such a way that the horses will respond to what I may ask of them. This I believe is true nature."

Dr Deb then asks:

"How effective are the rider's efforts to educate or train the horse when the rider presents himself to the horse in a way that only the rider can understand?"

And most powerful from Paragraph 12 page 6:

"The True Unity and Willing Communication between the horse and me is not something that can be handed to someone-it has to be learned. It has to come from the inside of a person and the inside of a horse."

Finally Dr Deb's very powerful and encouraging words on page 40 of the DVD:

"A very important question, for you therefore, is to go within yourself and ask whether you really believe that you "have the ability." Do you believe that you already have ll that it is going to take to adequately communicate with and train your own horse? I can tell you without a question that Tom believes that you do."

~~~~~

Thank you Tammy for directing me to this. I have a good bit to consider today.

I am looking forward to this next level of understanding and the positive changes that will be resulting.

Mac
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 11:48 am
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Hello everyone - first time posting! fairly new to the forum but have been devouring it eagerly - brilliant stuff.

Could someone explain to me the "exploding box"?

This topic is very appropriate to me - Leah, I hear what you say when you stated that your horse doesn't understand that he is "burning calories". My mare's body recently told me "enough is enough! learn to RIDE me PROPERLY!" and went down with "slight soreness" which turned into a whole kettle of worms.

Her rehabilitation (and trust me, I've been all over this forum, gotten hold of Dr Deb's conformation books, trying to do this properly) currently involves lots of lunging. Over hills, over poles, everyday (she is currently being held off of my property temporarily, and is in a smaller paddock then her own) she is being worked, walked, or encouraged to move.

I know we will hit a point where her attitude, still currently going "oh, well, this is kind of interesting", will change - I mean, to her, lunging is unimportant. Its boring, and she doesn't really "get the point". Even hand walking for miles, up and down hills, doing pedestal stands on drainage bridges - working on the plie bow - is getting boring, and she is less enthusiastic about it now!

So, I'm following this thread with great interest. I am actually a member of the forum, just on a temporary computer so using a guest account. I will, however, endevour to introduce myself and my horse, with MANY questions regarding bringing her back under saddle in the best possible way - later.

Cheers, Mac.

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 02:15 pm
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I believe the "exploding box" explanation is in an article on Harry Whiteny's website.

Very worth while reading and understanding this.

Here is some of it below but, there is more, don't want to post too large here:

Directing The Dance
The Whole Horse Journal, January/February 1997


How do you know a horse is confused?
A confused, resentful, or anxious horse may pin his ears, brace his neck, tense his back and his topline, and swish his tail. Those emotions may also manifest themselves in something as subtle as a peaked eyebrow, distorted nostril, or a flattened chin.
A horse who is feeling those emotions will also show mental symptoms. He'll take his thoughts elsewhere so he doesn't have to deal with the question that he has not been able to answer right no matter what response he gave. Some horses will escape their lack of understanding by pretending that the question was never asked; they do nothing. Other horses make extremely large escapes. They run off, or buck, do whatever it takes to get the person asking the questions to shut up!

So Harry, how do we put these ideas into practice successfully?
There are two effective ways to use pressure to get the horse focused on you and working with you. One way is to ask for his undivided attention; the other is to direct his feet. I like to ask for his attention first.
Most horses have been taught to ignore human actions. So whatever you choose to do to get his attention, it has to present a bigger motivation than the rest of the world. You accomplish this by doing something to get his attention. I tell my students an analogy about an exploding box to illustrate how this works.
If you put a box into the arena with your horse, chances are he will go sniff it. Now, let's pretend there is a little bomb in that box, one you can set off by remote control. The second the horse takes his eyes off that box - moving his attention to something else - you explode the box.
Now, that exploding box presents the horse with a tremendous amount of pressure and he's going to move his feet in a pretty rapid way to get away. But since he is in an enclosed area, he will undoubtedly turn around and stare at the disintegrated box. That got his attention! Then you set out a second box. The horse watches it for a while, wondering what is going to happen. He finally gets distracted and takes his attention off the box to look at something else. Again, the instant he looks away, the instant he mentally "leaves" the box, you set off the bomb. The horse runs off again, and this time when he turns around he is really going to stare at that box for a while.
If your timing is right, and I repeat, if your timing is right, by the time you have exploded four or so boxes, the horse will have realized that taking his eyes off the box causes it to explode. He'll come to feel that his actions created the explosion, the pressure.
When he looks at the box, however, everything is quiet, there is no pressure, no explosion. He finds out that staying mentally focused on the cardboard box gives him security. He will stand there mentally focused on that box, confident and secure because he knows what caused the pressure and what brought him safety. There is no gray area.
You've constructed this situation so that the horse thinks he creates pressure when he acts in a specific way. Once you have his attention in a big way like this, you don't have to use as much pressure. If the horse starts to drift a bit and take his eyes off the box, you could just wiggle the box a bit and the horse would come right back to focus.
Now imagine we set a box in the pen, but we exploded it at random times, not just when the horse looked away, but at any indiscriminate moment. It wouldn't take long to turn this horse into a mental wreck - he would live in fear, trying to figure out when the box might explode. With no way to determine what action of his causes the explosion, his anxiety will rise. He would probably think "I don't know why the box is exploding, or when it is going to happen again, but I have to get out of here." He would look to flee.

 

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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 02:46 pm
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Can anyone explain why positive reinforcement couldn't have a place in such a situation? For example when the horse offers attention or acts correctly to a cue, why not reward him with a carrot or withers scratch? Perhaps this might engage an animal that has little interest without the human first "exploding" and causing a fear reaction?
Then you are more likely to get willingness than submission. This has been working for zoo trainers and dog trainers for years.

Carey
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 02:56 pm
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Yesterday I decided that I was going to take my 2 year old for a walk- that fall grass again-  I'm not riding her she is too young, but I have wanted to get her used to leaving the rest of the horses and going out and about.  Anyhow she very often plants her feet and doesn't want to come with me when we are just starting to go off somewhere-  and for good reason- she sees not reason to leave her friends- and go on some silly walk with me- 
So anyhow yesterday I realized that if I focus really strongly on where we are going she will come along easily with slack in the rope no problems- but if I doubt what we are doing or my mind drifts to something else she doesn't want to come along.  SO I have been thinking how sensitive they must be to our intensions-  and how the lead horse must have a pretty clear idea where he/she is going when they all go off somewhere-  Like to the water or something. 
But it seems once she gets hooked on to my ideas she starts wondering what my other idea is and it becomes less of a struggle.  It turned out that yesterday once we go to the bridge there was a whole herd of cows to look at so her own curiosity set in.

Apples
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 03:04 pm
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Hmm... here's my take on it. I believe there is positive reinforcement in the exploding box scenario. It is not external however. The horse is positively reinforced by continuing to pay attention to the box. He is positively reinforcing himself, it is coming from within. He WANTS to pay attention because he believes to do otherwise would result in something unsafe. Being safe is his number one concern IMO, eating is secondary to that and getting a wither scratch is somewhere farther down the line. So on the scale of 'clarity' the exploding box story is maximum value for effort.

I think there is a place for positive reinforcement in the form of food or kind attention. But in a case where there is a horse that is already tuned out to some degree to the human, I'm not sure that focussing the horses attention on the food the human has, as opposed to the human will truly progress the relationship the way we need it to go. When I've used food reward for very specific things I'm teaching my horses, I do find that they are eager to learn what "button" they have to push to get the treat. But they are focussed on the button and the treat, not me.

This is only my opinion, I'm interested to hear other's take on this. It's a very valuable topic.

 

Apples
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 03:20 pm
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Carey - I so totally agree - My horses have free access to their stalls 24x7. At night I close the corral gates to keep them up in the stable area. In the morning the ritual is (supposed to be) the same. I enter the corral, all three horses go to their appointed stalls and wait patiently. I bring out grain buckets and always feed them in the same order. While they eat, I put out the hay. As each one finishes they come out to their own same hay pile. I open the corral gate to the pasture and leave.

90% of the time, that is the pattern. Typically by the time I arrive at the gate, I am focused on them, I watch them as I walk up and get a handle on their current moods, how they are interacting, where they are standing, what they are focussed on etc. My mind is on the job at hand and there is nothing else in my head. I have a narrow purpose.

Depending on my frame of mind when I arrive, the pattern can go differently. What I've found that if I'm in a big hurry, because I'm late for something, it takes 3 times as long. They go into different stalls, two will go into one stall, they will argue over which hay pile is theirs. If I am not pressed for time, but am otherwise distracted or preoccupied, they will also be distracted and take longer to get to get to their stalls, or get there and show impatience by banging the walls or pawing. It's unusual for me to be in a different frame of mind, so it doesn't happen often, and as I become more aware of how my mental state impacts them, I work to control that in me.

I believe they are reading me as I am reading them as I approach. Just knowing "I'm under the microscope" and that my mental activity has an effect, helps me behave differently, I guess.

thegirlwholoveshorses
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 03:24 pm
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I see it more like Apples; and remember-- the "exploding box" is not a literal item, of course.  It is just enough pressure that it takes, timed precisely.  Release of pressure is a positive reinforcement.

Mac
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 07:52 pm
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thegirlwholoveshorses wrote: Release of pressure is a positive reinforcement.

Actually, release of pressure is negative reinforcement - taking away some thing negative (pressure).

Positive reinforcement is ADDING something good, like a reward.

Negative and positive in terms of operant conditioning do not mean "good" or "bad", but refer to the addition or subtraction (taking away) of stimulus. In a reinforcement condition, this addition/subtraction results in a GOOD/IMPROVED way for the organism - animal gains comfort or food. In a punishment condition, the addition/subtraction of stimulus (hitting, taking away comfort) results in a UNPLEASANT/NEUTRAL way for the organism.

Generally, reinforcement results in strengthening behaviour, whilst punishment conditions weaken the likelihood of an animal demonstration a behaviour.

Just the Psych degree coming out here. Mac.

thegirlwholoveshorses
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 08:08 pm
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I see your point, Mac, in the "psych" definition, but I still maintain that what Harry does works.   You cannot catch a horse's birdie and maintain it with a treat (you'd need a constant stream of treats and their focus would be on the treat, not really on you).  You have to draw their internal being to you.  Eating is part of their external world; fear and safety are part of their internal/mental world.  In "The Faraway Horses," Buck Brannaman talks about laying a horse down that is deeply troubled.  It isn't about dominating the horse into submission, it is about showing it that, in its most vulnerable position possible, the human is kind and the horse is safe.  If he had approached the horse to give it a treat every time it came to him, the horse would see that he is someone that gives him a treat when it comes, but mentally, the horse would still not have come to internally trust that the human would not take away its life.

I am reminded of "Kinship With All Life" in reading Apple & Carey's other posts. 

Leah
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 08:26 pm
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I would have NEVER thought that pesky ear pinning Hugo would have brought about such an interesting conversation.

Maybe I should ask about Julian and Milo! LOLOLOL

thegirlwholoveshorses
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 09:06 pm
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LOL, Leah!  But, it is SO important because it helps all of us to hash through what we have learned and are still learning and continue to assimilate it into our horsemanship.  I have been reading here for six months or so, have the Birdie Book, read many of the recommended reads, devour the threads here... and still, so, so much to learn! 

In reading Mr. Brannaman's book, which was truly amazing-- made me sob, laugh, and think, it reaffirmed that this really is a lifetime of learning.  Few fully  master it, and even those we consider masters still consider themselves students of the horse.   So, these questions that people ask are really important to all of us.

Tutora
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 Posted: Tue Nov 4th, 2008 10:02 pm
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Hi Sunnyriot-  I started doing clicker training about 7 years ago, however, I very, very rarely use it now. Done well and very thoughtfully, with alot of self control on the part of the person, I think it's relatively useful. BUT it's not nearly as considerate to the horse as the ideas of Dr. Deb, Harry Whitney, and the like, in my opinion. I'm speaking as someone who's done things both ways. I agree with what other people have said here, with a difference being that I did explore positive reinforcement training pretty in depth. I had no problems with horses getting rude, and if you're thoughtful enough it's possible to avoid anticipation problems. The BIG problem with it, though, in my observation, is that it's too powerful-- just like a person doing a job he truly hates because it pays well, a horse will take the treat as "hush money". He may not tell you he's not truly 100% OK with something because he'll let his desire for the reward over-ride his REAL feelings. Does that make sense to you? If you'd like stories from me as examples of what I mean, ask again or PM me.  Take care---Elynne 


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