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Roundpen vs. squarepen
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Jeannie
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 Posted: Tue Nov 10th, 2009 07:07 pm
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When I don't use anything but my hands, he tends to get creative, offering to do movements and then looking at me to see how that went over. Allen is correct in saying " make the horse's idea your idea" because some of it is pretty good. It started to rain after this, so we didn't get to do the riding photos. If anyone else is interested in posting photos of working with your horse in this way, I would love to see them.
            Jeannie

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 02:56 am
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Here you go, Jeannie. You can also see live motion of me working with Oliver on the drum incorporated into the "Conformation Biomechanics" DVD program. It is a short clip, functioning as part of helping people understand what crookedness or side preference is; but I am also showing, and commenting, about how you use the thread to pull the feet up.

And as long as we're here, I want to add a story -- Allen P. is going to love this, but so will anyone else who would like their horse to learn how to use the teeterboard. The teeterboard or see-saw can be scary for the horse, even after a lot of preparation where you set it up so that it doesn't teeter or only teeters a little with a rubber tire stuck under the high end. But the day must come eventually, of course, when you take the tire out, and that first time where it tips down all the way can be something the horse has to deal with for a while until he's OK with it. So anything that one can do, I think, to cushion this would be great.

And of course -- as Allen often notices -- some of the best improvements come up entirely by chance. Now we all know that the horse gets to liking stepping up on his platform -- so that in a fairly short time, the platform or circus drum can get to be a comfort zone for the horse so that he prefers being up there to almost anything else. Well, that's great too as far as what he's telling you about how confident he feels; he feels very confident when he's on his drum.

So, about two weeks ago the guy who takes care of our arena went to groom it with the little tractor and the chain harrow, and to do that he first has to pile all the ground poles up and he usually also tips my circus drum up on edge. I have to add that this guy is not overly fond of me, and I think he kind of resents having to tilt the drum up....mine is rather heavy, being made all of wood, and instead of having legs it has a flat base made out of a half-sheet of 1/2-inch plywood.

So he finished his work in the arena and then he just sort of threw my drum back down, and it landed somehow on a biggish rock, which I did not notice. Then when I went out that evening and played with Ollie and he went to step up on the drum, well of course it tilted all over the place like crazy. Like one of those "tiltboards" they give football players to improve their balance -- a circular board with a hard hemisphere attached to the bottom -- just like that.

Well, old Ollie got up there and this did not faze him a bit. He sort of looked down and said, 'oh, that's sort of wierd', but he just adjusted his hind feet and did not act spooked and did not try to step off. So, I thought 'far out, let's see if we can build on this,' and walked over there and asked him to lean one way and then lean the other way, which of course tilted the thing to the max and he still did not mind at all. Then I asked him to actually pick up one foot like you see in this photo, and then the other, and he was still cool. This is what we normally do and I think what Ollie does there is he just figures it will be OK if it tips because it was always OK when it did not tip.

This goes along with another story too -- how when I was working with Painty on the teeterboard I took what I thought was plenty of care to give him lots of time and no hurry or pushing to get him to teeter it....so we worked with the tire under it a long time, and worked going across rather than along it to give him a lot of confidence. Then one day when I figured we'd had a pretty good ride, I got off of him and let him loose in the same pen where the teeterboard was. And he immediately went over to it and gave it the most thorough inspection by smell and by licking and by pawing. It was very clear to me that though I thought I had given him lots of time, I had not given him all the time he needed to be really sure that the thing was not going to hurt him or get him into some kind of difficulty that he could not get out of. This is what they worry about.

So Ray Hunt's aphorism 'make your idea his idea' is a great phrase to know; it has a lot of meaning that goes quite deep.

It is a lot of FUN to work with horses this way, though, isn't it?! Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 08:23 am
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O what fun. Here is one of mine on the pedestal. It was her first time and she had lived with me for only one week! I do this a lot with my horses and really enjoy how they learn and how much fun it all is. I admit I am an Allen Pogue devotee!

 

Jacquie

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Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 08:26 am
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Here is another. This pony loves the pedestal very much. He is not OK at shows, but at every other situation he is totally OK. He loves being big on the pedestal as he is a small pony but he is very clever and has learned a great many tricks now.

 

Jacquie

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Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 12:53 pm
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This is Fox on the pedestal. He loves it on there!

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Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 12:57 pm
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Now Storm. He is a Lipizzaner and his retraining is still ongoing. The pedestal has helped him understand how to relax when being asked to 'do' something. Previously he panicked when asked to 'do' anything. He is an over acheiver. Fox is an over acheiver too, but has not been frightened by being over presssured.

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Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 03:17 pm
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Hi Folks,

   I am attaching a picture taken last week of a two-year old Arabian practicing the "end of the trail".

 Now when I can get him to pose "with his nose as low as his toes" then it will be a finished trick. I can lure his head into position up close, so now I need to put it on cue and for him to hold it .

Allen

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 08:00 pm
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Great pictures, folks....but remember, the POINT that Jeannie was after was to see if you could post photos that show the "thread" -- that show the (otherwise! or normally!) invisible tie between handler and horse, by which the handler can pull, or push, on the horse's bodyparts, in order to tell him or help him to move in certain ways. Show us photos that show us the supposedly unshowable -- that which is visible only to those who can see what the horse sees! 

Because the POINT was NEVER to "get the horse to do things", including to get him to stand on a platform or drum. That was not the point and that is not what is to be praised! Even though we enjoy it and the horse enjoys it -- the mere getting up onto the drum is not what is feeding or empowering that joy!

The drum is one situation where the tie between rider and horse or handler and horse becomes so necessary, so crucial, as to become visible even to the crude eye of the camera. The POINT is that having perceived that, then we are to take the concept and the process that we have learned around the drum and expand that until it covers every single aspect of our interaction with the horse, whether on the ground or in the saddle. -- Dr. Deb

Jeannie
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 09:52 pm
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You have explained that very well, Dr Deb. I think this is a very hard concept for people to understand, as we tend to be goal oriented, and working with the Thread is a process which can't be rushed. If Ollie hadn't been completely comfortable getting up on his drum, suddenly having it move around would have startled him. I have noticed that it takes quite awhile for horses to really get comfortable with, and understand the point of new lessons.
        I have had people say," oh, I want my horse to do that", but you can't jump in there with that one thing, the horse and you have to build this communication up over a period of time.
 Caption for the photos: all the calm pretty horses!

Brenton Ross Matthews
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 Posted: Wed Nov 11th, 2009 11:16 pm
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Hello everyone,

  Recently I did a display with my horses at the Annual Minlaton Ag Show.

This photo is of my gelding Lucre standing on top of a steel stand and on a tyre rim with a wood and rubber top.

  All the best ,

  Brenton

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Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2009 02:03 pm
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Hi Folks,

Hey Brendan good job with the end of the trail pose. You have it just right!

 So Dr. Deb wanted to show the thread, perhaps this picture will suffice. It shows three horses performing three different pedestal tricks simultaneously.

 The bay on the left is walking his hindend around while his front feet are on a pedestal with a revolving top.

The chestnut on the far side of the ring is doing a slow spin while remaining on the pedestal.

 The near chestnut is walking his front end around while his hind feet remain on top of the pedestal.

 What I have been able to do is to use the same vocal command of "Around" to teach each different trick. The horses know exactly which trick to do on each pedestal (or with each different pose).

So that it is possible to cue three horses  simultaneously with one vocal. If I need to add a little "ummph" to persuade the  horse to keep in sync with the others then I merely flick the 18ft long lunge in their general direction while calling the horse by name.

Allen

  

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2009 05:51 pm
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Yes Brenton! That's a perfect 'end of the trail' and Lucre's TAIL is so cute, balancing his head there! LOL

And Allen, yes of course your work is spectacular. And I agree, your photo does show the thread at work, for the thread is the tie that exists and remains between the handler and the horse or horses. Brenton's photo shows it too.

However....neither of these pictures is still what Jeannie's photos show, nor what the one of me and Ollie shows. I think it is not necessarily the easiest photo to take, nor would most people take the photo that shows what I want exactly on purpose. Because what I am hoping to have posted here is the odd little photo that just happens to catch the moment when the horse is looking to the human for direction: the expression of their eye and their body that goes with that. Or how a person might move their body or their arms, or the guider or a flag, and the photo happens to catch how the horse focuses on that and follows along, as if pulled by an invisible thread, when the flag is moving back. Or if you're up on your horse schooling Spanish Walk, how the lifting of your hand can visibly be seen to help the horse lift his feet, as if the hand were pulling the feet up by an invisible thread. This is what the photo of Ollie and me shows.

The idea is NOT to show us the perfect finished product -- we all know that there are several people in this thread who are professionals, whose horses are no embarassment to be shown to the viewing public. What we see in a circus exhibition is FINISHED PRODUCT, and it is even part of the expected standard that the audience shall not be able to see how it is done; they just see the horses go from one trick or one maneuver to the next, and the focus is on the tricks or the maneuvers.

What I am hoping to solicit here, however, is PROCESS -- the stage, Allen, before your horses understand you as well as they now do, so that they can work from voice alone, with no body gesture on your part. Because one of the ideas here in this Forum, and one of the reasons I'm always so happy to get posts from you and Brenton and Pauline and some of the others who are pretty far along, is that we might help the people who are LESS far along to see how you get it to the finished stage.

I admit it's difficult to find photos that "show the unshowable", which is the thread; and yet, the thread can be visible at times, and potentially in ways that would help students quite a lot.

So here's another one of a young friend of mine playing with old Painty -- Jonathan wasn't too tall, so he figured if Painty was going to stand up on a drum, it might work if HE climbed up on a drum, too! Little Jonathan and Painty just totally enjoyed each other, and you can, I think, really see the thread between them in this photo. -- Dr. Deb

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Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Fri Nov 13th, 2009 04:54 pm
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Hi Folks,

 In lieu of the picture "showing the unshowable"  I am attaching a picture of the actual 'thread' I use to communicate with horses in the training process.

 In a previous post I mentioned that when I need to add an extra level of attention getting action I flick the end of an 18ft long lunge in the direction of the horse as I call him/her by name. The picture is of the snap that tips the end of the lunge.

 If you look closely at the picture you can see that the 'business end' frays predictably into a feather-like structure.

It is colored green for extra visibility and it is woven extra-thick and soft, so that on the occasions when I touch the horse it absolutely cannot sting, therefore the horse can learn to trust and not fear it. In time and with practice a horse can learn to read our intention and  respond (up to a point) to the power of thought, which is the only thing I know of that is faster than the speed of light.

 When I say "up to a point", this is will depend on the distance you are away from the horse, the level of animation and  precision you are able to achieve.

 I just wanted to further this discussion by showing a picture of the physical 'thread' I use to 'send' my thoughts (directives) into close proximity of the horse when I am either too distant to have effective influence or the horse is choosing to ignore them.

Later on today I will look through  archived pics and try to find one that shows the 'moment' that Dr. D is looking for.

Allen

 

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Jeannie
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 Posted: Fri Nov 13th, 2009 06:46 pm
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I love all the photos of the horses, it really is amazing what these animals will do for us.
 Allen, you make a good point about having to use something like the green rope to be extensions of our bodies/energy at times, because we are not horses. If you watch horses interact, they can have a large influence on each other without any physical contact. In order to become significant to them, we have to be able to have that same influence. When horses take over, they are telling us we are not significant to them, so we have to recognize that and respond, or there can be no working with the thread.
 In a little twist, I thought I would note that horses use the thread to get us to do things for them. When I went out to bring my boy in from the pasture this morning, before we started in, he reached back and scratched a spot in front of his hind leg, then stood there. This is his signal that he has a tick in that spot, so I got busy looking for it and took it off. If I can't find it the first time, he will repeat the gesture, and if I keep looking I will find it. Hah, I thought, he just got me to do something for him by directing my Birdie!
      
      Jeannie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Nov 13th, 2009 07:37 pm
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Yes, Jeannie. This is exactly how it works, about him getting you to look for the tick. Painty used to tell me in a similar way when he needed his sheath cleaned, and then when I got his message correctly, he would stand there with a big smile on his face, holding one hind leg up the whole time I was working with the bucket of warm water and the sponge, to make it still easier and more obvious for me.

Similarly, there is Baucher's saying, "the rider's primary job when on horseback is to make what he wishes the horse to do as easy and as obvious as possible for the horse." The unfortunate fact is that -- unless we are able to learn better -- we humans tend to be so focused on our goals or our own agenda that we forget to create setups that make our desires obvious and physically easy for the horse to do. For us to do this requires that we become able to see through the horse's eyes -- how else would we be able to perceive how to make things obvious and easy for him?

And yes, Allen -- I've responded to you before by saying that the guider, the whip, ropes, or other inanimate objects, can be used to focus or direct the inner energy which is what actually empowers the thread -- the energy that gives the thread its existence. But I am never as interested in this physical stuff as I am when it is done with nothing but the "life" that can be made to flow out of the palms of the person's hands, out of their heart area, out of their hara, or out of their whole body as a diffuse "glow" or "bubble". Since you are well read, you probably know that this is the value system among circus professionals, too: the man who can do the liberty act without harness, without whip, and without guider, is esteemed more highly than the one who uses this equipment, even though there is nothing wrong or unprofessional about using it. Vis. Bartabas and Zingaro, for example; such work is hugely compelling. The horse, you see, does not himself carry any guider, and yet he manages (sometimes, anyway, with some people who are tuned properly) to get our attention and direct us -- and also other horses, as Jeannie points out.

When I teach, I encourage students to play with getting their horses to move or respond with just bodies alone, reserving sticks of all types as a second line of communication, especially where the sticks are to be used for "pushing" or "enlivening" functions. Jeannie makes a valid point in noticing that the physical equipment can, for some people or at some times, be needed to make ourselves 'big' enough or meaningful enough to the horse, so that he gets with it and responds with respect.

BUT -- I want students to fully know who they are. Some people are not going to have as much "life" and some have more, but everybody has got to know who they are when they get around horses. I want students to learn to feel their own inner energy and to develop their ability to focus and project it, and the best way to explore this area is to take away all mechanical aids. Many people do not "believe" that there even is such a thing as this focusable energy -- their unbelief does not bother me at all, so long as they are willing to do what I tell them when they're in class, and go along with it even if they think it is bullshit. When it starts working for them, which it always will if they will just hang in there good-naturedly, then they start believing. So I don't care what they tell me they believe, because in the beginning they do not know what all the possibilities are.

The one place where I regularly use a stick is to fix up a flag to use as a drag or "Birdie catcher", and this I might use fairly soon on a horse that tends to get distracted pretty easily or who has a wandery kind of mind or an "I-don't-care" sort of attitude. I also use birdie-catchers to demonstrate to "unbelievers" that, whether THEY think there is inner energy or such a thing as a thread, THEIR HORSE BELIEVES.

I'll tell one story here about the inner energy or "life in the body" as Ray and our elderly teacher named it, and how it goes into daily life outside the stable. When I go over to England I sometimes ride in a car with a certain friend of mine who is "technically" a good driver, i.e. few accidents or tickets. Some of the roads up there are narrow, high-crowned, graded the wrong way on curves, and the cars go very fast. Even so, I am OK about driving with most of my friends on those roads, but this person not only has a lead foot but would also absolutely, categorically deny that there is a God or that there could be such a thing as the energy of which we are here speaking.

Now, when I go out to get in my own car, the first thing I do is send my "feel" out so that it penetrates all parts of the car, right down to the tires. Unless I do this I cannot tell well enough to suit me where the wheels are; without it, you might say, I don't have a good enough feel of my car against the road. Well, my friend in England has NO feel of the car and let me tell you, riding with that person is TOTALLY SCARY. My friend puts the whole burden on the car, as if it were the car that could do anything! And I'm not the only one who has noticed how scary riding with this person is! It is not just that my friend goes fast; other drivers go fast too and I'm OK riding with them. So what I do is try to compensate somewhat whenever I get in my friend's car, by sending out my own "feel" and hoping that my friend will then feel that energy through the car -- coming back through the steering wheel and the pedals! Surely this is what the poor horses have to do a lot of the time too!

Ahh, yes. Well, we all may be screwballs here but I think really not. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

 

 


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