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Horse confidence issue.. or??
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Val
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 Posted: Mon Aug 20th, 2007 03:02 pm
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I am glad to hear others are having success with the mannering and focus. My second session did not go well at all.  Nobody got hurt, and I was able to use it as a learning opportunity for myself, so it wasn’t a complete loss.  Not sure it did anything for the horses, though.

 

I started with my horse, Bye.  Long lead line, tied to the halter.  I took him into an empty turn-out that has no grass.  My mistake was, I should have let him snoop and sniff around all he wanted at first, and THEN started the focus exercise.  He was too interested in smelling the other horse’s leavings for me to get his attention as easily as I had before.  He’d put his head down to sniff, I’d yank it up and he’d step toward me.  The energy was moving backwards, not forwards.  Thinking about it now, next time I will concentrate on moving the energy towards him, and him away from me.  As it was, I let him move me instead of the other around.  He wasn’t chasing me or being aggressive, just moving towards me as I pulled the lead rope to get his head off the ground.  Second mistake: the paddock I chose for the exercise was too small!  I thought it would make it easier to have a smaller space, but I didn’t have enough room.  If I’d had more room (and if I’d thought about it at the time) I could have backed him with the lead rope til I had his attention.  Chalk that up to experience.  I felt bad and useless at the time, but I have a plan for next time.  

 

Second exercise with Miss Kitty.  Long lead rope, tied to the halter. Her I took out to the parking apron in front of the barn, there’s no horse poop there for her to smell.  From my experience with her last time, I was concerned about overwhelming her, however this time she tuned me out completely.  She reacted to the swinging lead rope by stepping towards me, but since I wasn’t struggling to keep her head off the ground, I was able to figure out how to move the lead rope in a way that sent energy towards her.  She flung her head up and started backwards; I can see how a horse could faint over backwards, as you said, Dr. Deb.  Kitty didn’t faint or go over backwards, thank goodness.  Between trying to catch her birdie early, and trying to get the right amount of pressure, I lost track of the 5 minute time period, so I quit as soon as I got several seconds of her attention.  Let her graze 10 minutes in peace, then put her away.

 

I just hope I’m not doing them a disservice with my ineptitude.  

Tasha
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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 05:53 am
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Val don't beat yourself up. Dr Deb has given us guidelines and it is up to us to experiment with the implementation. It is the nature of experiments for some to work as planned, and for others to go awry.

In general I've found that it is the experiments that don't go to plan which provide the greatest learning experiences, because I learn what not to do and then how to fix it.

Val
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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 01:56 pm
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Thanks for the support and words of wisdom, Tasha.  You're right, of course.  Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.  I just can't wat to move further along that line than where I am now! 

Thanks again. I will definitely keep playing with this.  I've been lurking and reading this forum for maybe a year or more now, and read the Birdie Book and other materials.  Every time I read about something I want to try, I would say to myself that there was still something more basic than that, something missing between my horse and myself, that needed to be put in place first. 

This is it, the first essential piece. I'm psyched!

val

Sam
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 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 07:07 am
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Hi Val,

Tasha is spot on, be kind to yourself. We are all learning and I was just having this discussion with a friend yesterday, about how its a bit of bummer how we have to learn by our mistakes why can't we just 'know' these things! :-)  I have wasted huge amounts of time and energy beating myself up over previous mistakes with horses, some of them are whoppers but I have learnt so much from them and I still am learning.  But the biggest message my ponies teach me is 'forgiveness' and 'no judgement' and these messages from them are some of the most important things we must offer ourselves.  So treat yourself kindly, its all a part of learning.

Kind Regards

Sam I am

Val
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 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 01:53 pm
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Sam I am, thanks for your kind words. You all are a very encouraging and supportive group of people.  You are really helping me to put and keep it in perspective.

I will go to the barn with a better plan and a more positive attitude next time, with the first two experiences under my belt.  

Thanks, guys.

val

Val
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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 04:22 pm
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Hi all, my next experiment took place not at the barn under carefully planned conditions, but at the grassy area next to the trailer after a quiet trail ride.  That's science for ya.

Bye tried to get too near another group's truck, and I decided to put him in his room.  I didn't have much working space in front of him, but that turned out ok.  I started flipping the lead rope at him, gently at first, then harder.  He picked up his head but didn't move. I increased the pressure, flipping the line harder and harder and harder. His head got higher and higher, and i got a good view of his Adam's apple <g> but his feet were frozen to the ground.  This was nervewracking and I got ready to quit, thinking that it wasn't working and I should try something else.  I didn't see how I could flip that rope any more energetically than I was doing and not put his eye out.

My second thought was if I quit now, I'd wouldn't be teaching him anything good, just that I was an annoying and randomly violent person.  So I flipped that rope so good and hard the bullsnap smacked him a good couple ones under his jaw, and he leaned backward and took a half step back.  I stopped, let him stand there quietly several seconds, and then went and scratched his shoulder.  He chewed several times, standing quiet.  I walked back to my original spot, started flipping the rope, and this time it went much better. I still had to flip pretty hard, but he didn't throw his head right up to the stars, and leaned back and took a good big step much sooner.  I let him stand a couple seconds, walked gently up and scratched him again, and led him away from the other guy's truck. 

Thoughts: it really bothered me that I had to go so far with him to get such a little reaction.  Thinking it through afterwards, I realized that it bothered me because of the other people watching.  What did they see? Me beating my horse around the head for no reason, getting more and more vilent and getting no reaction, and then stopping and petting him.  That's not what happened, of course, not really.  The mannering session went well, actually.  Bye did not get fearful or crazy; rather the opposite.

Secondly, it made me much more aware and careful about how I enter into doing a task with him. Using the rope and my body pressure to get his attention first before leading him anywhere, asking him to load on the trailer, etc.  Neither of us is used to me doing that.  In a way it felt like we were meeting each other for the first time. 

Val

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 04:52 pm
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Val, what you have described here is precisely the reaction we are trying, at almost all costs, to avoid. The head in the sky, feet frozen to the ground thing happens because the horse still does not know how to free up his hind feet when pressure comes on the front, and thus to successfully take a step back. Please go back and review Lesson One, where you are to have taught the horse to step back, one step at a time, with your hand on the halter.

There is a plus side to your experience, however, and that is, that you learned what it is going to mean (and this will ALWAYS be the case) to "do all that it takes". You have to do all that it takes, every time -- because, as you realized yourself, doing less than that just teaches the horse that you are an annoyance. If that happens, the horse will quickly decide that the best way to get rid of the annoyance is either to come forward forcefully and run you over flat, or else whip around and give you a double-barrel in the chest. So you do all that it takes, but no more than it takes; in other words, you follow through without meanness. -- Dr. Deb

Val
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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 05:34 pm
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Hi DrDeb, thanks for the response.  You said: "the horse still does not know how to free up his hind feet when pressure comes on the front, and thus to successfully take a step back. Please go back and review Lesson One, where you are to have taught the horse to step back, one step at a time, with your hand on the halter."

I'm pretty sure he knows how to back up. He backs smoothly from pressure on the halter , from the saddle, off the trailer with no problems in easy diagonal steps, and he backs up freely on his own.  He used to invade the duck pen, clean out the grain, and back carefully around the corner and out the door again. 

But that may not be what you're talking about, as he did have that reaction that you describe as the one to be avoided.  Could it be then that he doesn't know how to back up from the lead rope while i'm in front of him? That he didn't make that connection between the flipped lead rope and the desired response to back up? 

I honestly thought he was just trying to tune me out.  But I am here to learn, and I will go back and work on that one piece, "one step at a time." That portion I know is a weak link.  I will read your post carefully and follow it as best I can, and let you know what I find out.

thanks again!!

Val
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 Posted: Mon Aug 27th, 2007 07:39 pm
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OK, I went back and re-read your lesson on teaching the horse to back, to make sure there wasn't something I missed about backing up (aside from aiming for one step at a time). Then I re-read your descriptions of the various reactions horses can have to the "back up into your room" lesson, and tried to remember what I saw Bye do.

When I flipped the rope at Kitty, in my second report, she yanked her head back towards her tail with her nose pointed at me. Her head and neck were in the shape of a 7.  Her went neck back, her front feet got light, she looked like she might rear. 

Bye, to me, did not look like he was going to rear.  It looked more like he was trying to get his nose out of reach of me and the rope without wasting too much energy; his head and neck looked like a straight column, his front feet firmly on the ground.  That's why I thought at the time that he was probably just trying to outlast me. 

Again, not trying to contradict the teacher, Dr. Deb, nor to defend myself.  I have jumped ahead every time and taken the lessons out of order, I know that.  I admitted early on that I've got a lot of holes in my education to fill.  I am learning so much from the discussion, the process, and the thinking it all over.  I really do thank you for your patience.

Humbly,

val

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 28th, 2007 01:51 am
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OK, Val, I'm not in any doubt about how hard you're working at this and how much thought you have devoted to it. I like the fact that you notice clearly how different your two horses are.

And I believe you when you describe the horses' skills at backing up with the hand on the halter. I believe they are OK at doing that and that their coordination is fine. But, I had to check this first as the obvious possibility for where things went wrong.

This having now been done, what remains is then to remind Val not only to "do all that it takes", but also to do no more than it is going to take. I hate to hear that you had to bang the horse under the chin with the bullsnap....this is why, in my initial set of directions, I mentioned that it is better if the lead rope is secured to the halter with merely a lanyard knot rather than with any type of metal buckle -- because sometimes, with a more phlegmatic horse who is "trying to tune you out", you do have to move that rope rather forcefully, and I'd rather it be just the rope that's slapping him on the jaw or the jowl rather than the heavy bullsnap.

If it would be possible for you to reverse the rope, so that you are holding the bullsnap and the other end is firmly knotted to the halter, that would be one thing to alter initially.

That having been done, you may consider yourself enfranchised to use the rope with as much force as is going to be required, always remembering however, that the goal is to FIND OUT how little it MIGHT take. In other words, even a horse that is trying to tune you out will finally find that you can't be tuned out. At that point, most horses who take that approach, you will find are actually rather sensitive. This is where insight and skill on your part are going to come into play -- there will be a moment in there when he would love to yield, when he would love to get his feet freed up there and step back loosely. The challenge for you will be to perceive exactly when this happens, or is about to happen. Sometimes the moment comes right in the middle of when you're really going at it, swinging or flipping the line with vigor, and you have to put the brakes on your arm and change, in an instant, from big, forceful swings to little tiny swings or vibrations that still convey the message.

Sometimes nobody could possibly perceive when this moment is -- the horse himself in that case is of two minds, it seems. Then, what you have to do is do it BIG enough to where you start to get a rise out of him, and keep on driving until he JUST LEANS BACK -- hasn't even actually necessarily taken a step -- and the moment you see him lean back, then you diminish almost to zero, or even actually to zero, and see if the horse will not complete the step on his own.

As a matter of fact, you never want to keep pushing past where the horse raises his head -- if you see the head go up and the feet freeze into the ground, that's as far as you can go and you MUST stop at that time, even if no steps have been taken. If you keep the pressure coming when the horse does this, older horses in particular may faint right over backwards. They will then lie flat-out on the ground, semiconscious or unconscious, and you will think that you have killed him. After a minute or so the horse will wake up, and then stand up. But you do not ever really want to have this happen, and if it does happen, it will be entirely my fault for not having warned you sufficiently.

So you put enough pressure that the horse knows he must respond -- he must make SOME kind of change. When he so much as LEANS back, you pause at least for a few heartbeats. During this pause, there should be total "peace" on the line -- no demand or pressure at all. Then after the pause, you start up slow, trying to see if he got the idea from the time before. If he ignores you or tunes you out, up the pressure rather sharply. If he is just clumsy, but clearly trying to respond and trying to get his feet untangled, hold the pressure low and increase it only slowly if at all.

When it gets past this initial stage, and the horse no longer raises his head very much or at all, then you can keep the pressure up until there is a definite step, and from there on out, it's pressure-one step-pause; pressure-one step-pause, and so on. After several rearwards steps, lead the horse forward and stop and pet.

Some of this repeats what I've said earlier but perhaps clarifies a few things, and also, again, I repeat, don't keep pressuring if the head goes up and the feet stretch down. Our ultimate goal is to have the horse take a step back when you tap the line with two fingers to make a tiny vibration; to go back with softness throughout his whole body; to go back with a lowered and arched neck; and to enjoy the whole process.

Keep us posted -- Dr. Deb

 

Val
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 Posted: Tue Aug 28th, 2007 02:07 pm
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Wow, you've literally unfolded and spread out so many things here.  Now I can make sense of things I had read that seemed contradictory: to do as much as it takes, but to wait and see if he'll do it on his own. I didn't understand how both intentions could simultaneously co-exist.  It's all beginning to gel and cohere in my mind.

Who'd have thought there was so much existing in one simple step backwards. It's like stopping time, or slowing it down for a moment.

Can't wait to get back there and try again.  I will try again knotting the rope on the halter; the last time I tried that it kept slipping off, so I went back to the bullsnap. Anybody have any ideas for good knots? I'll check the web. Seems to me I remember a thread in this or the previous forum who posted a link to a knot they preferred.

Thank you again, Dr. Deb. You are a very giving person, to be spending so much time and effort on us here. 

Where'd everybody else go??

val

Carole
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 Posted: Tue Aug 28th, 2007 03:58 pm
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Val, I'm stuck right where you are. Luvbug plants his feet and tunes me out. I was going to write in with a question about whether it was alright to maybe tap his chest with a crop at the same time as swinging the rope to make my intention more clear to him. I had upped the swinging pretty high I thought but am getting no reaction. Bug backs quietly and smoothly when I face him using the halter. He focuses on me when I stand in front of him.  I am reading Dr. Deb's reply to you very carefully, I'll go out today to practice really doing what it takes and no more.       Carole

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Aug 28th, 2007 07:02 pm
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Val-

If you are using a rope halter you can knot the rope on the same as you knot the halter-  push the end of the lead through the loop, then go around the back of the loop and stick the end under the lead, just like on the halter. 

Things with the horses are going well for me, though I was away and haven't had much time to post.  I do always read though

-Callie

 

 

Val
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 Posted: Wed Aug 29th, 2007 03:03 pm
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Hi Callie, I was using a flat nylon halter but I do have a rope halter I can switch to. I will give you suggestion a try.  Thanks!

And thanks Carole, for posting. I was starting to feel a bit conspicuous.

val

Julie
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 Posted: Fri Aug 31st, 2007 03:24 am
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Dr Deb the mannering part 3 is something that I and I know some others are keen to hear about.  Ofcourse your very busy and maybe in the mean time you could point me in the direction of matter to read about mannering.

Many thanks Cathie Julie


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