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Horse confidence issue.. or??
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Tasha
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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 11:44 am
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Today I finally had the daylight and time to try the first exercise with two of my small ponies. The first was Rata, a ~7yr old gelding. Even though he has been here since March I think this is the first time that I've really asked anything of him. At the end of the exercise we managed to get eight seconds of focused time and I mean we. I was finding that as soon as I had his attention I was struggling to keep giving him mine. Talking is going to be a habit that will take more than one session for me to break.

The second pony Blizzard was quite different. He is not a pony that likes being in close human company. He arrived in the same week as Rata and the information I was given is that he was left pretty much to himself for about 10 years or so. I thought I would have a harder job of getting his attention but it was quite the opposite. I had his attention almost as soon as I had asked for it. What I had trouble with was giving him the break. As soon he had given me his attention for the eight seconds, I took him him to one side of the paddock to handgraze. He wouldn't relax enough to graze until I stopped petting him and had moved away to give him space. The second break I kept petting him for a minute or so then gave up and gave him his space since the break is supposed to be a reward but the petting wasn't a reward to him.

renoo
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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 03:43 pm
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Tried the excerciese again, yesterday, and today...

Day 1: we went to the little arena we have right next to the barn. he wouldn't stand still, and would focus on everything except me... lead him around there, making circles and turns. then we had a bit of "fight" about something green and edible on the ground. his focus was on that green thing, obviously. I wouldn;t allow him to grab it - first by snapping lead rope, next by swishing the other end of the rope under his nose, just as he was lowering his head towards that green thing. thrice, and he focused on me. then there were horses going by, horses in the far-away paddock, etc. tried my best at getting his focus towards me. at least he was standing there, and I got his undisturbed focus for 3 seconds, then it was gone, and didn't come back. went grazing. came back, and again couldn't make him stand. he would stand still with me next to him, I move away, and when I ask focus - he either walks towards me, or sometimes just starts to circle. did some leading again and went home... Also - a question - if the horse needs to scratch [a mosquito alike had bitten him in his private parts] - should I allow him to scratch, or should I still ask for focus?

Day 2: started with going to the little arena again. he wouldn't stand still again. he tried grabbing some food [its not grass, but as that arena is too small to be used for riding often, there are some things scarcely growing] more rarely than usual... I tried keeping him focused while leading. and then I got confused a bit. his eyes are not on me, nor are his ears, but he can be lead with a loose rope - in circles, he can nearly pivot on space without stretching the lead rope, he turns to the right without me bumping in him [i'm on th left]... well, we went to the "upper" field - it has no fence around, but all the horses are invisible from there. we had never been there, so I lead him around - so that he could take a look. we found a sandy spot there, and after some circling he stood still. Much less productive then day 1 - he would focus on me for a moment [like half a sec] then turned somewhere else, and so on.. grazed. went back to the little arena. again he didn't stand still, started pawing, and after a little focus I got, we stopped...

Conclusion: this is soo hard... I really don't understand how I can lead him with a hanging rope [except when he turns to see something behind him] if he's not focusing on me?? does he just accept me as a leading nuisance, that he just obeys? currently - I'm really confused, and cannot find out what am I doing wrong... Also, I wonder, I have noticed that people get more focus from horses that are not worked with than from horses that they work daily?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 04:09 pm
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Renoo -- the answer to the question you ask at the bottom of your post (why do people so often get better focus from horses they don't work with that often) is -- that people are either unable or unwilling to come all the way through for their horse. Because the handler does not come all the way through, they wind up making their horses DULL. Or worse, dangerous.

You need to come all the way through with your stud-colt, Renoo. This is the primary way that we know whether someone is qualified to be around an entire male -- that they have the ability and the willingness to come all the way through.

The horse is not supposed to "give" you his attention; you must demand his attention. What is this going to take, Renoo, from you?

The primary error made by all beginners is that:

(a) they don't do enough when enough needs doing, and

(b) when they have done enough and the horse has given, then they don't quit in good time.

Renoo -- this is ten hundred times MORE important in the case of a stallion. If you don't get this, then I would advise you indeed to just lay off until six months after he is gelded. Because you are demonstrating here that you don't have the firmness that it is going to take. You are telling me that it is "too hard" for you to do for your stud-colt what your horse needs you to do.

If a person does not have, or is not willing to use, the amount of firmness that it takes to get, and keep, the horse's attention and focus, then do you know what happens, Renoo? If you do all the time "just less" than what it would really take, then you teach your horse that you are nothing more than a big irritation. You teach him to ignore you. And you also will, eventually, by irritating or nagging him enough, teach him to start pushing on you or running right over you because you are just an obstacle that stands in the way between where he is and where he wants to go or what he wants. By doing "just less" than it would really take -- just less than what would produce full acceptance, complete closure -- you teach him that what he has to do to get rid of the irritation is to up the ante.

This is where women handlers either learn some backbone -- or not. Renoo, you need to understand that VERY FEW PEOPLE (men or women) who own stallions have the slightest qualification to be around those horses. They are a danger to themselves, to the horse, and to everybody else. So you can stay in that category, or you can change. I'm not judging or blaming you either way -- but we must have this clear -- there are no other choices. You either get qualified, or get yourself a gelding.

It may take some internal introspection and work for you to find the place within yourself where you can be sufficiently firm. When you tell a horse something -- stallion, mare, or gelding -- you must mean it, and you must come all the way through on it. Otherwise, you are lying to him (and to yourself).

Let us hear what you decide. -- Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Marion
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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 08:05 pm
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I'm finding that I must be right on in my timing - I need to be more focussed than my horse - I need to be on to him and catch him before he looks away.  Just like the story you related in the Cribbing thread, Dr. Deb, about Tom Dorrance pinging the horse with the pebble, catching the horse between the thought and the action.

Once he knows that I really mean it, he will pay attention.  Until the next time. Then I have to be on top of that, too.  Every second

renoo
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 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 09:46 pm
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I'll work with him. I know I am not that good a rider to handle a stallion, but I know I can work with him on the ground.

OK, I clearly understand that stallion is not a beginner horse. I wouldn't take out that 4 year old "crazy" stud stallion we have at the stable for a walk, because as from what I've seen, he's trying to smash to the wall everybody leading him - I don't know his past, though, but - anyway - I would not dare taking upon myself a misbehaved grown up stallion...

Since I know my boy from day one, and we have worked together through problems of not-leading and not-giving-legs to a much more successful cooperation, so I believe that I can solve this problem. I will not leave it just because he's a stallion. If I will feel he's going out of control, I will drop it.

P.S. I'm not saying its too hard, I just say its "so hard". Would you agree that I have to get to a point where I know WHAT it takes? I see - this doesn't work pretty well, so I need to find a way how to make it work...

I just need to find that determination, I guess... And it IS there - he's my horse!

Pam
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 12:49 am
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Maybe Sam I Ain't  (on another thread) meant to say that one must "demand" the horses attention or regard, when he was speaking of horses nipping at their person.  The way you put it here Dr. Deb rings of truth to me.   Every time I have demanded my horses attention he has come through for me, was very happy to to so,  and I have made a mental note of that.   It''s not so natural for some of us to be so demanding but it is a skill that can be acquired and is a must with horses.  I see so much of myself in you, Renoo.  If I can do it .... you can as well!

Good Luck,

Pam

Philine
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 05:13 am
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This is a wonderful thread and it speaks to many of the things I have been working on with my horse.  I have an advantage over many of you because I've been able to work with Josh Nichol and people associated with him.  So I know about focus and I know about space and softness and my horse has been exposed to those things by people whose timing and awareness are very good.  And my horse has responded really well and become softer and calmer.

The problem in this equation is me and what I have to learn.  When I tried the first focus exercise, my horse and I were able to focus on each other for up to 13 seconds but my horse wasn't able to stay still for more than 3 minutes.  I think that's OK for now.

The not talking part is really hard for me but I did find that when I shut up, the 'atmosphere' was much more alive between us (perhaps because I wasn't creating white noise to dull it).

I can relate to the leadership issues.  My understanding of leadership is that it needs to be earned.  My horse needs to believe that I can take care of her and that I am always present and aware of issues that are a concern to her.  That's a huge task because I can't tell her in words.  I have to show it to her continually and consistently in my actions, in a language I'm just learning.

I've had the same difficulty as you, Renoo, in convincing my horse that I really mean it.  Part of it was in the timing of my release, which was too soon and before she had done what I asked, and part of it was in not believing that I could have her do it.  It was hard to get as big as I needed, to convince her and convince me.  What I did find, with Josh's help, was that getting big enough at the right time meant that I usually needed much less the next time.  So I'm working a lot on my timing, awareness and presentation there.

It's kind of like a mother who asks her kids to do something several times without raising a fuss until the fifth time she asks.  Those kids know that they don't have to listen to the first 4 requests because nothing will happen.  So they tune the mother out until the fifth request because only then do they believe she really means it. 

Thanks for the exercises. Dr Deb.  They're a way to continue working towards communication and leadership.  I'm looking forward to trying the backing up exercise and seeing how much I can improve the timing of my release for that.

PS  How do you get Oliver to put his head in the halter?  I hold it up in front of Ruby Tuesday and she just looks at me like 'what the heck are you doing?' 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 06:49 am
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Well, I was going to reply to Pam's post -- saw it an hour ago while I was working on something else -- and by the time I got back, Philine, you've answered most of it for me. I am delighted to hear all of what you are saying about the realizations you have been having through working with Josh. I just heard from Yvonne Miller, too, because she had him down to do a clinic at her Dad's place, and Yvonne is also telling me just excellent reports.

I'm only going to add one thing here -- and this is a woman's perspective because I do think that some of this is (in our culture anyway) a woman's problem. This was one thing I think Sam's husband was sort of fumbling with trying to say, getting it all mixed up with men being "hard" (I do not think that most men are hard, nor that most women are too soft, as I told him in the other thread. I don't think we should speak in quite those terms, but there IS a problem though and so if you will read on, Sam I Am and Sam I Ain't, and Joe and Pauline and the others who have been contributing on that thread, this is really part of that same discussion too):

I think the problem is not that women are "too soft" or "too caring" -- how in the world could anyone be "too" caring? There's not enough care in this old world, and that's never something we should complain of. And surely we cannot speak of men being "not caring" and women being "caring" -- that's a ridiculous dichotomy, totally untrue. So again here we are barking up the wrong spectrum.

What the problem is, though, is that in our "developed" culture women easily are made to feel GUILTY. They feel guilty and embarrassed when they go to assert themselves. They are made to feel this way, taught to feel this way, from babyhood on. Women get disapproval for so much as saying "this is what I observe. I observe this, this is my own observation." What they get approval for saying is, instead, "is this what I observe? Do you approve of what I said I observed? Is it OK with you if I observe this and then talk about it?" In other words, what many parents, and the school systems, teach little girls is that they have to check-reference everything they do, say, or experience. They're not supposed to be "wild Indians"!

Little boys, on the other hand, are reinforced for making independent observations, for putting two and two together, and for asserting themselves. It comes naturally to boys to say, "this is what I saw, this is what I did, this is how I did it." Boys are not taught to doubt the validity of their independent "take" on the world.

The problem with conveying this to Sam's husband is that he does not realize that some of these very fundamental factors as to how his wife was brought up from girlhood are different from how he himself grew up. It's a different world, a different way of looking at the world. Girls are supposed to always check for approval; boys get punished or disapproved for not just going ahead on their own "like a little man".

Now there are some females, and I am one of them, who somehow managed to escape at least part of this. I am therefore conscious of the difference. I know when I am making an observation, and I believe in my own ability to make independent observations and decisions. I know, however, from my experience in teaching horsemanship -- thirty years of it now -- that this is an area that almost all women riders/handlers need help with.

Specifically, what is making Philine and Renoo GUILTY is that whole idea of catching the horse "between the idea and the act". Because if the horse hasn't actually DONE anything yet, how can you be justified in handing him a negative (slap him on the nose, shake the halter rope, demand his attention, pop him with the end of the lead-rope, up the pressure, or whatever the 'negative' may amount to) --? This is what's going on in the back of their heads, and so long as this GUILT and self-doubt is there, then their timing will continue to be "off".

Somebody in one of the replies higher up in this thread -- Renoo, I think it was -- said "I know I have to demand that the horse come through." No, that isn't it. Philine has it more correctly: it's about the PERSON coming all the way through. ALL THE WAY THROUGH. When the person comes all the way through, then there's no question about the horse making an appropriate response and learning all the right things, too.

What does "coming all the way through" mean? It means that the person:

(1) Clobbers him at the right TIME (between the idea and the act, which means BEFORE the horse actually carries out the thought you see him have).

(2) Clobbers him in the right WAY (you do not come AT the horse; you fix it so the horse crashes some bodypart into your fixed hand, or you fix it so that the end of the rope just "happens" to slap his butt when his butt needed slapping).

(3) Clobbers him in the right DEGREE (not any more firmly than necessary, but also not one iota LESS firmly than will drive the point totally home).

(4) The person acts WITHOUT GUILT

(5) The person acts WITHOUT DOUBT OR APOLOGY

(6) The person acts WITHOUT HESITATION.

These things will only be possible when the person completely believes in her own ability to read that horse's intentions; believes in the rightness of this philosophy; believes and accepts that the responsibility for educating the horse and creating correct responses from him is hers and hers alone; and knows that if she makes a mistake, the horse will not stop loving her.

This is the other thing that women worry about -- that Muffy won't love them anymore if they slap him on the nose in a way that tells him she means it -- in a matter-of-fact and unapologetic way. What they do not realize is that, one, Muffy does not define "love" the same way they do, and that, two, when they give Muffy what Muffy really needs, in the amount and at the time he really needs it, Muffy's attachment to them will multiply one hundredfold. This is hard to believe until it is experienced.

Remember that it is girls raised in the ghetto -- little girls starved for parental attention and love -- who at the first possible moment get themselves pregnant so as to have a baby that (they think) will love them. What perpetuates this cycle is that, shortly after the baby is born, they find out that babies have very little love to give of the kind that these girls need. Babies do not adore their mothers in the way the girl has been imagining (and one of the points I am hinting at here is that horses do not love people in the way that women owners often imagine, either. They "project" their own needs and fantasies onto the horses, and thereby never actually meet the horse). Instead, babies are just about 100% needy. So, then the girl who is starved for love abandons the baby because it does not give her what she needs, and we have another baby that grows up starved for love. See how this works? Wise old George MacDonald observed this in Scotland in 1840, and he said, when mothers fail to pay appropriate attention to their children, and are therefore "soft"on them, it is not because they love them too much; it is because they love them too little.

Now I am going to tell you a true story that happened this week. My friend Wendy, who is a minister's wife, goes every Tuesday to a local coffee-shop where she meets with some other women for Bible study. I don't normally attend these meetings but this past Tuesday was Wendy's birthday, and since I knew I could find her at this meeting I dropped by to give her a card and a bowl of goodies. All the women then invited me to stay for the rest of their class, so I did.

At the end of the class, they have prayer time and one of the women said, "please pray for my son." This request obviously related to some long previous bunch of discussions that these ladies had been having about this woman's "problem son". I didn't know the story so I asked her, "why do you want us to pray for your son?"

She replied, "Because I am afraid of him."

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Why are you afraid of him?"

"Because he's threatened to hurt me or kill me."

"What!" I exclaimed. "How old is this kid?"

"Twenty-four," she replied.

"How in beejeezus is he going to hurt you?" I cried. "Where does he live?"

"He lives in my house," the woman answered.

"Holy crimony," I said, shaking my head. "Well, I'll tell you what...."

"What?" she said.

"Well, I won't pray for your son," I said. "But I WILL pray for you -- you're the one who needs the help."

"What!" she exclaimed in her turn.

"Well, obviously," I said. "You've raised him to believe that all he needs to do is keep upping the ante, and you will always yield. Isn't that correct?"

"Um, well, yeah, I guess."

"Dr. Phil! Dr. Phil!" said one of the other ladies, laughing. "She's not Dr. Deb, she's Dr. Phil!!"

"Yeah," I replied, "I've been told that."

Wendy chimed in: "Yeah, and all that's missing at this point is where she says 'and so how is that working for you' " (or why do I like Wendy).

Get it, my friends? This lady has done the same thing with a human being that you will be doing with your horses unless you figure out how to believe in yourself. This lady, as a parent -- you can imagine her and the kid when the kid was two -- or maybe even earlier. If you want your son to be the totally self-invested animal that this lady has raised, ALL you have to do is do what Philine describes in her last post: don't "mean it" the first three or four times. This has the effect of 'toughening up the hearing' in the children/horses. It teaches them that all they have to do is push a little harder than Mom is willing to -- up the ante high enough -- and they'll always ultimately have their way.

Of course, a horse IS an animal, so it will always do from day one what it took fifteen years or so for this woman's boy to do, which is, become larger and stronger than she can possibly be. No wonder she's afraid of him. I'd be afraid of him, too.

As Renoo said previously, I AM ABSOLUTELY SURE that you can all find what it is going to take to give your horse what he needs, in the amount he needs it, at the time he needs it. This goes as much for rewards and releases as it does for 'negatives'; as you all already know, the rewards and releases are more important than the negatives, so it isn't about punishment or being "hard"-- this is another area where Sam's husband is confused. Instead, it's about commitment and believing in yourself. You see what the consequences are going to be if you don't!

Food for thought -- Dr. Deb  PS: I get Ollie to put his head in the halter by putting the halter where his head is going to be, before it gets there. After a while, then when they see the halter they put their head in it. Cheers -- DB

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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 07:30 am
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Hi Dr Deb,

Phew this is a biggie, the lack of self belief and guilt is a huge one for me, it seems it has been there forever and it does tend to invade all parts of a womans life, not just the horses.  Becoming aware of this is the biggest step.  I have been mulling over your previous post for the last few days about the human having to come all the way through...just didn't get it till I had time away from home today shooing sheep up a race, a great job to do whilst thinking 'horses'.  I have seldom 'come all the way through' for my ponies, after reading your latest post, there is almost always an apology afterwards and always guilt at hurting the horse (!!!) somehow and he won't love me anymore......now wonder my four legged mirrors reflect such disturbing images back at me!!!!! 

I have been working on the exercises you have suggested, my boys are been very clever.  I did just have one question regarding them in their rooms, I take it is alright for them to snooze in their room, as long as I gain their attention before I ask anything of them...they don't just have to pay attention to me all the time they are in their room...only when I ask or have I misinterperted something?

Gotta go to my room and have a cuppa, lots to mull over in that last post Dr Deb.  Thank you.

Best Wishes

Sam I am

 

Julie
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 10:18 am
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Hi Dr Deb and all, this thread has such a lot of helpfull info in it. Have read some of Josh Nichol's papers (great help). Yes I too wonder if when horse is in their room just how relaxed can they be. I see the attentive expression of Harry Whitneys horse and then I see my horse just chilled out looks quite different.  Have been trying back up from end of rope and that is not full of enthusiasm its quite slow (imagine it needs to be snappy) its light though.

Enjoying this mannering Cathie Julie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 07:37 pm
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Julie and Sam: The horse should be totally OK within his room. His room is the safest and most wonderful place on earth to be. So all you ask of a horse when it is in its room is that it stay there. You do not nag the horse with MORE tasks once it has done the ONE task you asked it to do. Does this relate to getting the husband or son or daughter to take out the garbage?

So if you send your kid to his room, let's say when Mom and Dad have someone over that they want to talk business with. You're sending your kid to his room not to punish him but because that's where you want him to be and that's where, in your adult judgement, he needs to be for a temporary period. And so he complies and he goes to his room. You don't care too much what he does when he's in there, so long as it's quiet and not the product of resentment or building any resentment.

So if the horse wants to snooze, and/or those ears go out in a "V" shape, that's great. He's mellow. That's what you want. You teach him that when he goes to his room, when he does what you ask, then he can be mellow.

We have not had the next lesson yet. That's where we go pay a visit to the horse's room. Just as with the kid's room, after they are about five years old, then when we go to their room before we go in we knock. We let them know we are coming; we come with respect, because we're also teaching them all the time to respect us. But you are not going to go knocking on the kid's door, in all probability, two seconds after you just sent him in there.

So go ahead and work with just getting the horse into his room, developing attention sufficient for this one job, getting over the habit of pushing on the horse's body with your fingertips, getting over jabbering to him all the time. Put him in his room and let him mellow out. Give him two or three minutes in there. Then walk him forward and go do something else for a little while before you ask this of him again.

Philine, by the way, one point here also: you will NEVER have a horse paying continuous attention to you for three minutes. This is not possible either for the horse or for most people not highly trained in meditation techniques. What in reality happens is you extend the attention span to eight seconds, and then on the sixth or seventh second, you re-boot. This is what Josh is doing. After working with a horse for a time, the expert handler and the horse get so that the "re-boot" is very subtle -- all that's needed is a little shift in Josh's position, a tilt of his head, moving one hand up or across a few inches. You need to notice this part. Again, as I said above, we are not trying to produce hypervigilance; this is what we are trying to help the horse get over.

So you just do your eight seconds, and then you shift off to one side or walk forward a little, and do another eight seconds. No more than three repeats. Then do something else. Very quickly it gets so you have that excellent soft attentiveness, the horse being very content and willing. This is the overall goal.

Notice that we have not heard back, after the first lesson, from our initial questioner on this thread. But you (Pam, Sam, Renoo, Philine, Julie, and probably others who are lurking) are all succeeding. You have to practice to succeed and I applaud you for getting out there and actually creating the experiences for yourselves.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 07:54 pm
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Dr. Deb,

You have hit the nail on the head here.  What you have so eloquently stated about how most of us women have been raised in our culture is so 100% true and I what  I really needed to hear!  I have been raised and conditioned NOT to believe in myself.  Might be what my attraction to horses is all about. 

These exercises in focus that you have provided hear have helped me more than words can express.  It seems I have made a huge leap forward in my way to being a good leader for my horse.  I absolutely get how I need to demand more from myself and him.  I have basically had to get out of my own way or beyond myself so to speak.

Just last night after completing the exercises I was able to get my horse into our scary, enclosed, horse shower stall.  I have avoided trying because I just didn't know how and he had decided he was not going in there.  I used a combination of backing him up slowly and applying pressure on the halter until he gave and walked forward.  I had to use everything I had in applying pressure because he was not going to budge.  But I hung in there and in less than a one minute he walked very happily into the shower stall.  I praised the heck out of him and brought him back to his stall and put him to bed for the evening.  I was so keenly aware of how much I was missing out on with my horse by accomplishing this one seemingly simple maneuver.  But it meant the world to me and I'm sure my horse is a little more well adjusted from it.  I have gotten a glimpse into a world that is so foreign to me but oh so exciting.  I came home last night from the barn just beaming with joy.   I told my husband all about it and I'm sure he thought  I was nuts.

Anyway, don't know quite how to thank you.

Pam  

Sam
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 Posted: Wed Aug 1st, 2007 07:44 am
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Hi Folks,

This thread is turning into a real eye opener for us girls.  I spent another morning shooing sheep and thinking, horses, and I can't resist sharing this 'light bulb' moment I had today.  Early last year we were very lucky to have Buck Brannaman come to NZ and I attended one of his three day clinics as an auditor.  What a nice man was one of the impressions I came away with but I watched him work with a mare and couldn't figure out how such a nice man could be soooo mean to a horse.......looking at it from a woolly woofter point of view.  The mare had been calling to her friend, dragging her owner around all over the place and the owner and the mare were not having much fun.  Buck offered to spend a bit of time with the mare, she went like a piece of wood and went to tank off out of there, expecting Buck to come along too, buy golly she was wrong...his timing was amazing, that mare ran into the halter and was helped to face him with no effort from the man, it was as if he caught her with no hoof on the ground.....It probably took him about 30 secs if that to have that mare standing looking at him with such relief, no calling out, no tension.  She didn't have to worry anymore.  Buck wasn't being mean he had come all the way through for that mare, she was relieved, she had someone looking out for her, what bliss for that mare.  Pretty much as soon as she returned to her owner the mare had to 'take over'.  The image of that mare standing calmly looking at Buck is etched in my mind.  Lucky mare, she had the opportunity to find peace with a human, I want that now for my ponies, and will put it into practice, practice, practice!!

Thanks for clearing up the horse in the room picture, Dr Deb.

Best Wishes

Sam I am

Tasha
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Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Posts: 53
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 Posted: Wed Aug 1st, 2007 09:29 pm
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That reminds me of when Dr Deb did something very similar at her Christchurch seminar last year. There was a horse there whose mind was anywhere else but there with his handler. Dr Deb put the horse into his room and as soon as that was done, that horse looked relieved because he now knew where he was supposed to stand. I don't know if Dr Deb saw it but when she turned around to walk away, the horse started following. It was easy to see from the horse's expression that he didn't want to be anywhere else but with Dr Deb.

Pauline Moore
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
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 Posted: Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 11:37 am
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Hello Dr Deb and everyone - This issue of women not knowing or using their own power is relevant through most aspects of our lives, and none more so than when confronted by 500kg of muscle and bone with a grapefruit-sized brain that is interested in anything but us.

A friend of mine has recently started running courses, using horses as a therapy, for women who have low self-esteem, see themselves as victims, and have no expectations of being able to change anything.  She has a motley assortment of horses, ranging from a couple of tiny ponies for those who are intimidated by the sheer size of a mature horse, some mellow geldings who are determined not to be distracted from the important things in life such as the grass at their feet, and for advanced students, a couple of feisty mares who do impressive fire & brimstone routines.  Previous horse experience is not essential as all work is done from the ground, new students are taught firstly how to focus their own minds, then to raise their own energy level to call for and retain the attention of whatever level of horse they are working with.  The idea is that once these women have found their own strength of mind with the horses, then they will be able to apply that new experience to other areas of their life.

Taking professional horse trainers out of the picture for the moment, I frequently come across two types of horse owner.  One is the type you have described above, Dr Deb, timid and a little afraid of their horse, and therefore ineffective.  The other type is more likely to be the amateur competitor, mostly women but some men also, who for some reason is not happy with the life they have and use the horse as a compensation or an outlet for the anger and frustrations that have built up  elsewhere. These handlers are also ineffective as they are inclined to bully their horses which is just as confusing as insufficient firmness.  As I see it, these two handler types are opposite swings of the same pendulum, neither being able to provide the clear leadership every horse needs.  This subject will be a great addition to the Knowledge Base, I'll look forward to having copies I can hand out to people.

Whilst we're on the subject, there is one thing I'd like to ask.  I can see how everything would work that you have described in the first couple of steps towards 'mannering' a horse, and I also know that you are much more adept than I at driving a horse in a roundpen in order to gain focus and soft attention, so I'm wondering why you would choose to use the method you speak of here in preference to roundpen work that even a novice like me can use to ask for and keep a horse's attention for as long as necessary.  Do you find this is a better way?  Or do you use different approaches for different horses, or in different situations?

Best wishes - Pauline


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