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One-sided horse
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Ola
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Joined: Fri Mar 28th, 2008
Location: Poland
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 Posted: Fri Oct 8th, 2010 04:53 pm
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Hi DrDeb and all,
 
I’ve been working with 11yo Arabian stallion for some time now. The problem is that he is extremely one-sided. I mean, I can do a lot of things on his left side but he is not OK when I am on the right.
 
Sometimes when I want him to go on a circle on the lunge to the right, he raises his head, turns towards me and poses himself as to go to the left. Then I used to come up to him, hold his head with a little bend to the left and stick myself to his right side. However, he still tried to turn himself and actually we were fighting who would be faster: me backing up to his haunches or him, trying to face me with his mouth. In the end I usually won but I guess I shouldn’t have brought it into this kind of a contest…
The next step I took was to convince him to the right side slowly and step by step. When he stood, I walked to his right side and asked him to go one step. If he had done, I would have praised him with a scratch or a piece of carrot. We progressed a little bit but leading from the right is still very troubling to me.
 
He has also a hefty brace developed on his neck. I taught him to lower his head (the signal is my hand touching his poll). We do it in a standstill and in a walk, I am leading him on the circles. However, the right side is very difficult. I tried also to teach him untracking on the lunge but the brace is too big and if he steps under himself a little, this movement doesn’t come through the whole body. I hope that makes sense. We also practice turning his head to the left and to the right (not too much movement, I take care if he bends in a correct joint).
 
I have created some problems with my poor handling and now it’s my job to get it right again.. Any suggestions or links to useful threads would be very appreciated.
Warm regards,
Ola


PS: I work with a halter and only from the ground, I can't ride because of problems with my spine..

Last edited on Fri Oct 8th, 2010 05:23 pm by Ola

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Oct 9th, 2010 05:50 am
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Ola, once again I have to mention that the query you post is almost totally the result of your not having direct access to good teachers. It is entirely possible for anyone to try very hard to understand what we are saying here, by downloading the pdf's from "Knowledge Base" and studying them, or by reading posts in this Forum -- and yet, still not be able to put even the first thing correctly into practice. This is why I have said again and again: it is not possible to learn horsemanship from the Internet. You HAVE to GO and find the teacher.

And the one and only place you are really likely to be able to do this is to make a visit to the good ol' U.S. of A., and hook up with Buck Brannaman or Harry Whitney. Or if it's easier for you, then you travel to Canada and go ride with Josh Nichol.

Now, having said that -- which is the only answer that is really ever going to do you any good -- I will briefly comment on your actual question. The whole reason you are having "this, that, and the next little problem" is because your horse is out-positioning you. In other words, Ola, you don't know where to step and you're late all the time anyway.

The reason your horse is out-positioning you is that, when you are longeing him, you are backing up without realizing it.

When you are longeing upon the left hand, so that the horse is moving counter-clockwise, then you anchor your right foot and, pressing into the ground with that foot, you push off from that foot, stepping forward and to your left ONLY with your left foot. When going in this direction, you never take a step forward with your right foot.

When your horse is moving the other direction, your feet operate the opposite way, so that you anchor with your left foot and always step forward and to your right with your right foot. And, when going clockwise, you never take a forward step with your left foot. In other words, your left foot when going in this direction must always be behind your right foot.

If you will obey the suggestion I have given here several times before -- go get a brightly-colored piece of yarn or ribbon, about 30 cm long, and tie it to your longe line or longeing rope. You tie it at a point about eight feet back from the end that attaches to the horse. This makes it so that, when you are longeing the horse, the ribbon is tied around the longe line at a point about halfway between you and him.

Then the game is this: make it so that the ribbon always goes toward the horse. The ribbon is allowed to either stay in the same place, by which I mean it pivots over the same point on the ground; or else (preferably) you are PUSHING the ribbon toward the horse. You are to be pushing slack into the line at every moment. You are NEVER to do anything which would take the slack out of the line, including step back, lean back, or move the arm that holds the longe line back. The ribbon is there to make it obvious WHICH of these actions you are doing, so that, when you catch yourself pulling back/backing up, you will KNOW it and CHANGE to doing what you should be doing instead.

Now the next thing, when this starts working a little bit, that I expect to hear from you is: "well, now the horse seems like he's speeding up all the time, or even running off." Right. So you must balance the total energy package. I am telling you to STEP TOWARD THE HORSE. This pushes on the horse. You aim your "push" at the lower part of his neck, his shoulder, or his ribcage (never the hindquarters!). When you step toward the horse, he will want to both speed up and "fade" outwards to a larger diameter circle.

When he starts going too fast, you are going to want to pull back on his head to slow him down. You are allowed to BLOCK but not pull back. So you slow your steps down -- you can very well slow down without backing up. You slow yourself down, and if he is going too fast, now you will be going slower than he is and that will cause him to run into your BLOCKING hand. He will bump into it himself.

When he bumps into it, he will immediately want to turn his head inward to face you. So the other problem you are having is that you are slow -- you don't anticipate that this is always going to happen. But when you do learn to anticipate it, you will (if the horse is moving clockwise) have already stepped to your LEFT, put your RIGHT hand UP -- either palm-outwards toward him, or else pointing a laser-beam finger at his JOWL, and then push PARALLEL TO HIS NECK so that your energy impinges his JOWL.

This maneuver brings you fairly close to his hindquarters, so you also be sure he does not kick you (he probably won't, but you must always be on the alert). So you are now closer to him, the angle of the longe line is much closer to parallel to his body, you are PUSHING THE LINE FORWARD ALL THE TIME, but you are also, because you are nearly parallel to him, pushing almost straight forward. This will cause him to straighten out his neck and go forward on the circle rather than turning inward.

On the other hand, what you have been doing that got you into your problem, is pull on the head and step to your right instead of to your left, which widens rather than narrows the angle, and thus makes it easy for the horse to turn on the forehand, turn inward to face you, and then either charge at you, run backwards, or turn and pull away. Good luck with that! You must learn better.

But the best thing of all would be to give up trying to learn this by some verbal description, and GO FIND THE TEACHER. -- Dr. Deb

Ola
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Joined: Fri Mar 28th, 2008
Location: Poland
Posts: 20
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 Posted: Thu Nov 11th, 2010 07:40 pm
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Thank you for the reply – you’ve been very helpful, as always.
I am sorry you had to repeat yourself. I’ve read the thread in which you talk about correct lunging (never walking backwards, anchoring on your outside foot, pushing the longe line towards the horse etc.) several times and really taken it to my heart. I watched my movements during last sessions, but I neither step backwards nor take the slack out of the line. Anyway, you were quite right in your observations – I am far too slow! And I thought I had always been in a present moment with my horse! It becomes obvious when we work on lowering the head in the walk – I walk by his neck to give signals on the poll.
As to going faster and fading outwards in response to my energy and stepping – there are times he just raises his head and falls in, nearly touching my head. Quite surprising, especially that I still send the energy towards his belly. It seems he doesn’t respect my personal space. I will work on that.
 
I’d love to go for a clinic, but I can’t afford flying to US for now. If only you or one of your recommended teachers would hold clinics in Europe! By the way: are you going to visit Europe in 2011? I can’t find any schedules on the Internet, I suppose they haven’t been set yet.
Thanks again,
Cheers
Ola

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Nov 12th, 2010 04:23 am
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Ola, if you can't come to the US or Canada, then at very least get the subscription to the "Eclectic Horseman" magazine. You can subscribe to an on-line version. Have them start the subscription so far back that you can get the first installment of my current series in there, and then go on from there. Besides my own work, they run many, many other things that will be of help to you. Just study the pictures. In "Eclectic Horseman" you will see Buck Brannaman teaching very practical things, including the very thing you are having difficulty with here. He teaches it step by step and the photos are very clear.

But, at the same time, I'll still tell you to be saving up your pennies to come over and ride with either Josh Nichol or Harry Whitney. I suggest you go to one or the other of these because they will offer you the one-on-one instruction that you need. After that, by all means go ride with Buck or at least spectate.

Also, as an immediate practical hint, Ola it is OK to aim your energy at any place along the horse's body where it seems to be needed. If your animal keeps turning in to face you, then you aim your energy -- or the shaft of a short stick or whip -- or a stiff finger actually poking him -- at the jowl or even his muzzle. You need to work it out with him so that whatever body part you are pointing at will yield or fade away. -- Dr. Deb


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