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Roundpen vs. squarepen
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Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2009 10:08 pm
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 Hi Dr Deb,

 Here is another picture that perhaps shows more clearly some of the elements you spoke about.

 Thank you for the kind comments, more often than not I just throw these thoughts out there hoping that some of it might make sense to someone willing to get out there and try something new with their horse.

 I got the idea of schooling around a single pillar from Pluvenile's book, Le Menage Royal ( written in 1633, so it sure ain't anything new).. but what really got me thinking was making the acquaintaince of a old high school trainer in California whose arms had become so arthritic that she could no longer raise them above her shoulders.  I am quite sure that over the years having horses jerk her around didn't help.

 Now what I do in the beginning is to run an extra-long lead rope ( about 25 ft) thru a brass ring that is clipped onto the swivel. The rope is clipped to the horse's halter and come to my hand via the ring. In this way should the horse have a lapse of reason and pull back I can give him enough room or slack that he does not get into a panic . Then over time they all learn to accept the situation as completely normal.

Another variation of this is to not use a halter at all. I use an extra-long lead rope and make a figure-of-eight around the horse's barrel and neck. Then clip the pillar lead to the neck section. This completely frees up the head and neck and the horse tends to move in a more upright manner.

Allen

Attachment: 03-13-06 Dos.JPG (Downloaded 612 times)

Blaze
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 Posted: Thu Oct 1st, 2009 01:49 am
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This is all fascinating. Thanks Allen for always being so generous in sharing your pictures and thoughts.

I really liked what you said about your farm colors. What a nice thought. I agree that you can have things set up functional and safe - yet look nice too and that is also important.

I really like your bay colt that is standing in the background.

That is my dream cross of horse. I have always had Arabians and over the last few years have taken an interest in the Iberian horses.

I've checked Dr. Deb's book, Conqueror's out from the library and drooled over the pictures. I'll admit to being confused over which breeds are what - what is baroque, what is Iberian. I was too busy admiring the pictures to study much.....

Someday when myself and my pocketbook are ready to move onto a new horse that is the direction I want to look.

Erin

 

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sat Oct 3rd, 2009 04:38 am
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Yes, thank you, Allen, for the wonderful photos and insights into liberty training.Of course, now I would like a pillar. I have been using the tall construction cones to create gates to go through on either side of a circle or single cones to serpentine through in a line. I also use a neck rope,and find that if I concentrate on untracking his inside hind, while pulling on his eye with the Thread, as Dr Deb calls it, I find he pulls himself together much better than I could using a halter.
    I have found that teaching him cues at liberty has resulted in much more communication between us than any type of equipment could provide. In my avatar photo, he was participating in a friend's photo shoot. I was out of the frame cuing him to stay in his room, as Dr Deb would say,  on 40 acres without grazing or moving for at least 45 minutes, as these shoots tend to go on awhile, with many people hovering around and holding up reflective screens. In this photo I am asking him to arch his neck up, as it makes for a pretty picture.
             Jeannie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Oct 3rd, 2009 08:38 am
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As indeed it does, Jeannie. I'd be willing to bet that if, at the end of the shoot, the whole crew kind of faded away but left their photo "umbrellas" in the same pasture with the horse, he would not have fled the scene. Rather, I would bet he would have quietly gone over and nosed each one and flipped them over and maybe stomped on them, until he was sure he knew all about them. The open look of curiosity on the horse's face is a valuable lesson to all who read here....he's really interested in what's going on, without one bit of fear. It's a good picture of a horse that's "not in trouble." Cheers -- Dr. Deb

P.S. Very glad to see from your post that you understand what the Thread is. And yes: liberty work is far more powerful than work in tack, although it doesn't replace work in tack, and (especially) riding without tack is not to be made into a goal. What is so valuable about it is that, with the right kind of practice, the person comes to feel their inner life and energy, and comes to know that they can project it and direct it; so that when they then take up the reins, it is not anymore "just reins", but hollow reins filled with "feel" or "the life" inside of them, and the person knows that this is the Thread, which is stronger than any leather strap, and stronger than any chain.

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sun Oct 4th, 2009 04:05 am
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Dr Deb , Yes, I have found that the more you work with the Thread, the stronger it gets; so that you can dismount, leave your horse and disappear down a gully to move a cow out, and the horse understands that you are still there ,even though he can't see you. You are in his mind so strongly, that he waits patiently for you to return. He is not worried, but maybe watching the area where he last saw you with interest.
        The liberty work has taught me that whatever I may have at one point perceived as resistance, has turned out to be me being unable to explain something in a way he could understand. Once he understands what I'm asking, he is happy to cooperate, and so I get frustrated with myself occasionally, as I try to figure out how to present things so he sees what is in my mind. I have also learned to leave things for a bit, and that door will open on it's own later.
        The ground work always seems to flow over to the riding, I think for them, there is little difference.
                                   Jeannie

Apples
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 Posted: Sun Oct 4th, 2009 03:08 pm
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I have been experimenting recently with the thread and seeing what I could do to make it stronger. One of the interesting things I found, was when my focus is on a specific purpose, the horse becomes curious and wants to become my partner in my purpose. So an example from the other day: outdoor areas were really soupy after a rain, so I went into the indoor. My mare hasn’t had a lot of exposure in there and she was quite preoccupied with all the sounds happening out of sight.

 

I busied myself with walking around setting up cones, moving them, sorting them, etc. Mindless really, but I operated with a plan all the same. Cones up in a certain configuration, then layed on their side, then moved to another part of the arena. Periodically I would pause, to work out the next part of my plan. My mare was on a lead and accompanied me in my task. Her “job” was to touch her nose to each cone as I placed them, then we’d purposely head for the next one. After several minutes she was right there with me. She didn’t get the “point” of the game, but it was interesting to her all the same. The activities outside the arena were of no interest anymore.

 

Previously, if I had focussed on her, and tried to take her attention away from the outside more directly, it was difficult if not impossible to break the thread between her and what was going on outside. But then I realized, I didn’t need to break THAT thread, I needed to build a new one.

 

Sometimes I think that with cow work, the rider is so purposeful in their activity that they create that same kind of situation.

Blaze
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 Posted: Sun Oct 4th, 2009 04:08 pm
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Dr. Deb,

I can't remember if it was in a thread, or in one of the Inner Horseman - it seems like you related a story where you were out on a ride on Painty? And you placed an imaginary cow in front of him for both of you to concentrate on. If I remember correctly you had turned for home and his birdie wanted to head for home straightaway.

I used to exercise endurance horses for extra money when I was in college. This particular gelding I rode a lot would get out in the open and really, really want to go. Someone suggested I imagine I was riding upstream through a chest high stream and that we really had to slow down and push through it.

Whatever it was - and I'm sure it was 99% giving me something to focus on - worked. That horse really became my partner - or vice versa. I was really sad when they sold that horse and being a recent graduate couldn't afford to bring him home with me.

Erin

Patricia Barlow Irick
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 Posted: Wed Oct 7th, 2009 04:46 am
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This has been an interesting discussion and I was very interested to read it now that I am catching up on things. We had good luck finding adopters for most of the horses. Only five left out of the 45 we started with and now we are just waiting for the next batch to be captured and delivered to the corral.

Allen, you inspired me to look at the old manuscripts on pillar training a few years back and these photos are wonderful. Pillars are so paradoxical to me.... a very solid fixture to achieve total lightness. I know horses can learn from observation, but I think they have to learn to learn from observation. Talk to us more about your experience with this.

In regards to the 12x12 pens... For most training it would be too small, but I am doing "clicker" training through the fence panels and am not inside with the animals. They spend 3-4 days in this part of the process. I just stay in the alley between the rows of pens and dispense hay. It is a pretty effective way to give them the idea that humans serve a purpose and expect some kind of performance. Some of them just immediately become like old gentle ranch horses. They graduate from the small pens when I can pet them. The requirements for this gentling contract is that they be approachable and leadable.  The problem with group pens is that the behavior of the group sinks to the fear level of the wildest horse and they all learn to run away.

Round pens are very good if your mustang hides in corners as a way to avoid you. Square pens teach the animal to turn corners and bend more. We found that our 10x100ft alley is a good place to work on leading once the horses don't mind you being next to them.  It's nice having a variety of pen shapes to work in.

If you are interested in the process we use, we documented it in this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX80GcAEATE

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Oct 8th, 2009 07:34 am
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Patricia, I want to pick up on the part in your post about using a clicker and take this opportunity to clarify, because I have in other places called clickers "a gimmick". Let me use a story to get my point across.

One of my acquaintances in the horse industry is an older gentleman by name of Jorge DeMoya, who grew up in Cuba before Castro came into power. Jorge was taught by his grandfather how to breed and train the Cuban Paso horses, and by the time I met him he had become a master of the craft.

Now as a native Spanish speaker and an educated man, Jorge had read Juan Segundo's treatise on bitting, which was written in 1801 when Segundo was appointed bit-master to the King of England. Segundo set forth in his treatise a blueprint for a tongue-loop bit that would have a mouthpiece that would swivel forward or back totally independently of any action made with the shanks.

In tack shops today, you can buy a bit that is called a 'Segundo' bit. Externally, it looks like Segundo's drawings, but the mouthpiece is in fact fixed with respect to the shanks, as it would be in a Spade or a Texas grazing curb or a Weymouth. The reason for this is that although Segundo's idea was brilliant, a method by which the bit he actually specified could be built did not, at the time, exist. And I also think that many manufacturers of what are called 'Segundo' bits never actually looked at Segundo's original writings, and they just built their bit in imitation of bits called by that name that they had seen somebody else build.

But by the 1980's, when Jorge was thinking about this, the technology to build the specified freely swivelling mouthpiece/port did exist, and Jorge HAD read the original and understood it fully. And he also had the means to start-up a company. So he began to manufacture a bit that he called the 'Maestro', and because we were friends he gave me one so that I could try it out with Painty Horse. Jorge also gave one to Harry Whitney.

Well, Harry and I both tried the Maestro on our horses and it worked absolutely great. We also both -- very judiciously and cautiously -- would occasionally offer a student attending a clinic a ride in it, because this bit can materially free up a horse who has been having trouble raising the base of his neck. Both Harry and I can cause most horses to raise the base of their neck whether the animal is tacked up in a sidepull or a snaffle -- but that does not mean that the student can. So when appropriate we would sometimes make use of the Maestro, for short periods, with selected students on particular horses, as a learning aid.

Now, there came an occasion at about this time when I attended a clinic taught by our elderly teacher. And I brought the Maestro along to show him. He took one look at it and said, 'gimmick'.

I did not consider it wise to dismiss my teacher's ideas, no matter if they conflicted with my own experience. I mean, when you have the greatest horseman in the world willing to advise you, it's good to listen to him and take what he says seriously. So instead of being offended, or contravening anything he had to say, I instead asked myself: 'so why does he call this a gimmick when he knows very well I've been getting good results with it.'

And the answer to that turned out to be -- as he confirmed to me later -- 'Debbie, I wanted you to learn this yourself, so well that it went right down into your guts.'

So what is the definition of a 'gimmick'? A gimmick is a crutch that you continue to use when you no longer need a crutch; or when you shouldn't be using a crutch at all, rather should be doing it straight out of your own juices without any mechanical device.

There is no other way to find out how powerful your own juices are, or what you might be able to do when there is no one else and nothing else to help you. This is the only way I know of in any other walk of life too, to achieve mastery. And my teacher knew that mastery was my only real interest (I think he'd heard me say how BORED I am when I hear people say they got a '62' on their dressage test, for example. He would nod his head rather solemnly and say, 'yes, many people are willing to settle for very little.')

So now you will understand why I call clickers 'gimmicks'. It is not a proscription. You are using the clicker in a context where it is really needed and a really good idea. Nobody would want the mustangs you work with to have to exist in a state of fear or confusion one moment longer than absolutely necessary. You can't touch them and you have a lot of them that have to be processed -- and their lives depend upon this, because if they don't get 'broke' they probably won't get adopted.

You are, in fact, using the clicker in almost its original context -- clicker training was invented by people who work at the 'Sea World' type of shows, where they cannot make their voices clearly distinguishable to the Orcas and the dolphins in the noisy environment of the enclosed pool. And nor either can the trainer be next to, or keep up with, the animals; so there has to be a way to communicate with them over a distance of space.

So there is nothing wrong with what you are doing. But it also isn't the way I would choose to TEACH the usual type of student, who has a horse that it's more or less no trouble to be around. The preferred long-distance mode of communication is not the clicker, but the voice.

I cannot tell you how many gazillion times I've had students tell me, 'well my horse responds to voice commands', when the animal clearly does no such thing, and in fact evinces not even basic manners or respect for the owner/handler. With this student, the very first thing I'm going to do then is tell her that she must not speak to her horse at all: because before the voice can have the slightest meaning, or any precision in its meaning, the person is going to have to be made as aware of every nuance of her voice and of her choice of words to speak to the horse, as she will FIRST have to be made of her body-position. When she can handle the horse well by body-position and the projection of energy alone, and has been broken of the habit of continually chattering to the animal -- meaningless noise and waste of energy -- then we can think about actually teaching the horse to respond promptly, thoroughly, accurately, and every single time to commands given by the voice.

And the same goes for whips, guiders, sticks, flags -- my teacher used to say 'yes, those kinds of things just seem to stick in the person's hand,' meaning, once you give most people a whip they are inclined to go ahead and use it. Unwisely, of course, and to the destruction of both the training process and their relationship with the horse. But, as I said previously to Allan, once the person knows himself well enough, then he can take up various types of tools and the effect will be good.

My teacher never proscribed the Maestro, or flags, or whips, or clickers; but he often said -- and not only to me -- 'most people probably don't need them.' -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

Patricia Barlow Irick
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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2009 02:46 am
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Thank you Dr. Deb for giving this a lot of thought. I am very aware of your stand on clicker training and voice cues..... actually I really do think about it some times and ponder now what would happen if I didn't talk to this horse or I tried to do things differently. I think its actually good for mustangs to get used to the noises of the chatty primates that bring them food. Their adoptive owners are almost sure to chat at them anyway. It does not speed the process to gentle mustangs in silence at any rate, though at a higher level of training it might certainly be distracting.

Knowledgeable people, such as yourself, give those of us in the trenches hypotheses to test. The whole birdie thing is a case in point. Sometimes a mustang will just latch on to your mind and do just what you thought it should do with hardly a tish of training. It's suddenly floating along beside you like a Kentucky Derby winner. The horse is just doing and going from your mind energy alone. I am quite sure that this is where you talk about sending the birdie. Its magic and it happens with untamed horses sometimes. But I wouldn't have recognized it if I hadn't had the concept of the birdie planted in there by reading your writings. That is a really heady and addictive state of being in partnership, and its beauty makes you crave to find it again.

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2009 04:31 pm
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Hello Patricia,

    A few years ago I watched a program on PBS about capturing and taming wild elephants in Southern India.  The wild herds were invading villages that due to increased population had encroached on the elephants traditional grazing land.

 The mahouts (elephant trainer/drivers) were imported from Northern India where they had been plying this craft for a thousand years or more.

 The wild elephants were actually lassoed and tethered between two very large trained elephants, then they were force marched into a small palisade enclosure made of trees the size of telephone poles.

Once inside this tall enclosure there was barely room for the elephants to turn around. The mahouts then used long light poles to prod and nudge the elephants into compliance. The first thing they taught the elephants was to kneel down then to raise and retract their trunk to receive a large ball of rice passed directly from the mahout's hand to the elephants mouth.  The narrator explained that this was how the 'connection' was established.  (sound familiar?)

Regarding encouraging allelomimetic in horses I am sure there is a domesticated intelligence component at work, that is, an inborn desire to interact with humans. I believe by providing an enriched environment from the beginning any normally curious horse will reach out to experience the input that is available.

   Likewise most likely the horse has "to learn how to learn", this is best accomplished by keeping the horse's feet still so his mind can be active. I will attach a picture of how we have our big round pen set up with cross ties just outside the perimeter.  I got this idea from watching Sacha Houcke jr. go through a green saddle breaking session with a troupe of Freisians at the circus. With a team of assistants he went down the line saddling one horse after another and very briefly leading it around the circus ring while all the other horses were held side-by-side just outside the ring curb, all facing inward where they could observe the lesson.

 When possible I use a young assistant horse to help train foals in a 15'x30' schooling stall. Having a horse that is as close to the age of the untrained foal as possible seems to give the best results.  What I am talking about here, is asking the foal to stand his/her ground on a pedestal (or sit on a bean bag) while the other horse is asked to march around. Also other behaviors like standing side-by-side (on a pedestal) and saluting or smiling or picking up objects are easier to teach if the age difference is small, (probably because) there is less of an intimidation factor. The idea here is to teach the young horse to act either independantly or as part of a team depending on the lesson. These early lessons work wonders in developing the horse's total confidence and thus reliability.

However when it comes to precise Liberty schooling in a larger pen then a older, ring-wise (unrelated) mare gives the best results, they are tolerant up to a point and yet decisive when repremanding a foal that is not going along with the program.

 It is the use of two-whips that afford the handler an enhanced ability to sort out individual horses or call forth specific behaviors at a distance. The visual cues from the whips are easily understood by the individual who you are cueing and disregarded by the other horses. This is especially true if you call a horse by his name to single him out. Now I also use the cue "Everybody!"  when I want attention from the troupe.

Here is a link to a video archived on GOOGLE that may show some of what I am talking about.

 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4524077804788350324&ei=w1bPSvqRAojMqgKw-oWvBA&q=allen+pogue+equine+expo+of+texas&hl=en#

 Erin, You asked what is Baroque and what is Iberian?

 Dr. D can correct me if this is wrong, but a simple answer would be that Andalusians, Lusitanos and Sorraia are Iberian, add these breeds to Lippizan & Freisian and you have the Baroque types.

Allen

Attachment: Hasana at Liberty.JPG (Downloaded 371 times)

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sat Oct 10th, 2009 09:12 pm
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Allen, thank you for sharing the informative video. Even if people don't plan on doing circus type work with their horse(s), there is much to be learned by watching your training methods. You have taught your horses that certain words have meaning, to which they need to respond, especially that their name requires their attention on you,in preparation for a command. I have noticed that most people talk too much to their horse in an attempt to get them to do something, or quit doing something, without having taught them that a word has any meaning. This seems unfair to the horse, who is usually nervous anyway, or they would be doing/ quitting whatever it is you want them to be doing/quitting. 
    I've had my horse for a number of years now, but  before I owned him he had learned to release himself from any sort of pressure put on him (just leading him was a challenge) by getting bigger and stronger than the person handling him and getting away. This resulted in stronger equipment being used until he put his owner in the hospital and out of commission for quite a while. 
          When I first started to work with him, I wasn't sure how to proceed, but I got a rope halter and after a ride I would spend some time trying to show him he could do certain things a little at a time. I think we both enjoyed these sessions, and I had been trying to tie the word " wait" and the concept of waiting to him not pulling back on his lead rope if some pressure was put on it. We had gotten to the point where he could step on his rope, I would say" wait", and he would wait for me to release him. One day he was tacked up and I ran into the barn to get my gloves and when I came out he had wandered off and was grazing when his reins slipped over his head and formed a figure 8, which he stepped into. When he started to lift his head, he proceeded to start jumping around and rearing up because something had caught him. My first instinct was to run and close the gate so he couldn't get out on the road, but half way there I stopped, turned towards him and yelled his name. He stopped moving and looked right at me. I said "WAIT" with my hands out in the cue I had been teaching him. He sighed, started grazing again and stepped out of the rein loop. I was a bit stunned by what had just happened, but I knew it was important, and it was how I was going to be able to work with this horse. After reading Dr Deb's writings, I realized that he had thrown me his Birdie, and together we had gotten him out of trouble.
   Jeannie

Jeannie
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 Posted: Mon Oct 19th, 2009 11:27 pm
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I thought it would be interesting to take some photos where you are working  with the Thread on a particular movement with tack, with a neck strap and with nothing but your hands, to compare how the horse looks in each photo. I'll try to do that; in the meantime, here is one where the neck strap is being used as if you were riding from the ground.
           Jeannie

Attachment: IMG_2959.JPG (Downloaded 254 times)

Jeannie
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 Posted: Tue Nov 10th, 2009 06:53 pm
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Using Dr Deb's criteria that the horse must be calm and correctly bent on the circle while reaching under the body with the inside hind, rather than fleeing while being counter bent, my friend took a few photos of working on a circle using the cones as gates. In the first photo he is looking at my friend, but I think it shows that he is calmly participating in the exercise.
               

Attachment: PB050008.JPG (Downloaded 194 times)

Jeannie
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 Posted: Tue Nov 10th, 2009 06:56 pm
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In the second photo he has pulled himself together a bit more.

Attachment: PB050011.JPG (Downloaded 195 times)


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