ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Bucking Pony
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Mar 31st, 2007 11:40 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dr. Deb

Great new format for the forum. Much more user friendly!

 

Sunny boy has had some degree of improvement sice I lasat posted and since Florence and I started to apply the techniques that you suggested. I would say about 90% better.

I have looked at him more carefully recently and I feel that he is showing a degree of absenteeism in his eye expression and snapping back to reality and being explosive sometimes at this time. This is an area I am interested in working on now, together with coninuing to improve our ability to spot the signs quicker and relax him accordingly.

He probably will improve anyway now as he is always more tense in the winter - probably caused by the cold, wet and windy weather I think.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3232
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Apr 7th, 2007 07:01 am
 Quote  Reply 
Jacqui -- very sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, but I've been engaged upon some of the other letters, and also with making up this year's new batch of handouts to go onto the sheets I give away to people who attend my clinics and classes. My trip to New Zealand and Australia is coming up soon.

But....we do have a bit of time to talk beforehand, and of course you can always reach me here, although when I am overseas replies tend to be slower because I cannot access the Internet every day.

I am pleased that you want to know more about "absance", which is the technical term of "absenteeism in the eyes" or in the expression. Interestingly, this phenomenon occurs throughout many species of mammals, including humans, and the word "absance" comes from the human psychiatric vocabulary.

It will be helpful in understanding this business in horses if we first understand it within ourselves. I think all people do understand pretty much what it would mean to "go blank" -- it is as if the consciousness went to sleep while the eyes are open. But where do we go when we are asleep? Eckhart Tolle says we go to be with God, and this seems to be the report also of the people who have had out-of-body experiences or near-death experiences.

The most beautiful description of this that I have ever seen is in C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" series, in the book "The Magician's Nephew". There, Lewis describes the "Wood Between the Worlds" -- not exactly where God is in his conception, but nevertheless a place of great peace and quietude, a place where everything is just totally OK all the time. Although the word "time" is not actually applicable there, because it is a place of not-time or what is commonly called "eternity". So once you go there, you can stay for what seems to you to be an afternoon, but what would be forever and ever if viewed from the time-bound perspective of the world you got there from. Mind you, Lewis pictures getting there not only from Earth but from an infinite number of other worlds.

Now Jacqui, I want you to consider this picture in light of a comment I've heard Harry Whitney make: "if a horse can't flee physically, he will flee mentally."

Right. And this gets started because most riders have no real idea of how powerfully effective their equipment and their aids are. In other words -- your snaffle bit, mild though you think it is, is plenty strong enough to make that pony believe that he cannot effectively get away from whatever you are driving him up into; if you say "go that way" with your legs and seat, he believes that it is a losing proposition for him not to go.

This despite any reluctance you may feel coming from his body, or any motions or actions of protest he may make. In other words, yes, he may buck or whirl, but ultimately, you have "won" every one of these contests in the past, and the pony knows this. You thus not only have physical control over him, you also have psychological control in the sense that you have "groomed" his beliefs.

The counsel I have previously given you is, therefore, to stop making it in any sense a contest. It is never the horse that makes it a contest, but yourself. You are to obviate contest (or I could say "you are to stop pushing the pony right up into trouble") by perceiving WHAT the pony perceives, AS SOON AS he perceives it, and RESPECTING HIS FEELINGS ABOUT IT (however illogical they may seem to you) enough to turn aside until all the reasons that may be in the pony's mind not to do what you want, or not to go where you want, fade right out and he once again returns to his natural state, which is one of complete willingness, cheerfulness, and inner peace and comfort. Obviously, there is never going to be a contest at all if YOU SET IT UP to totally prevent any contest!

Now we are in a position to understand more clearly and more empathetically what it must mean when a horse "goes blank" or "leaves his body". What it means is that the person has so far pushed the horse up into trouble -- so far gone past the place where the pony COULD have felt OK -- and given the animal so few options for adjustment, retreat, or escape from the intolerable pressure that this represents, that he has fled mentally in lieu of fleeing physically.

Once a horse has gotten into a pattern or habit of doing this, it will tend to happen more and more often. In very many cases, the pattern begins the first day the horse is girthed. For some reason, girthing tends to provoke this response -- perhaps because typically, the handler will have the horse tied up for the first girthing, and also that most handlers, especially in Europe, know nothing about the importance of mobilizing the hind feet/untracking the hindquarters during that all-important first girthing.

I therefore would like to suggest to you at this point, because I do believe your report about the pony having a tendency to go blank, that we start this horse over again on girthing. You will be positively amazed at how much this apparently trivial little matter of how he feels about being girthed is going to impact the way he rides and handles.

To begin, you need to learn to groom the horse without the horse being tied to anything. You can have the halter on him, and you can have the lead rope draped over the crook of your arm. If you're on his left side, you'll have the brush in your right hand and the lead rope over the crook of your left arm. You don't coil the lead rope, of course; you just lay it over your arm, and the tail drags on the ground or hangs down loosely. When you change sides, you change to the opposite hands.

Groom the pony all over, gently, with no hurry, and with the object not being to get him clean or remove the winter hair, but to rub him with whatever strop or brush you have just hard enough so that he tells you it feels good. When this is your object, the pony will obviously get clean at some point, as a side effect. You should never groom a horse in order to get him clean; as I am indicating, grooming has far higher purposes than that.

Brush and rub up under the belly, and pay some attention to the places on his body where the girth will go. How does he feel about being groomed in those areas on the ribcage, behind the elbows, under the chest? Does he tighten up when you get around there? Make his body stiff and hard? Hold his breath? If he does these things, just keep at it -- maybe using only your hand -- until he turns loose. If it seems to be getting worse rather than better, stop and change sides, or go to another body zone. Then come back to the "tight" or "guarded" areas later.

As you groom, if the pony wants to walk around a bit, show him that's just OK. If there is grass and he wants to graze, that's OK so long as he does not get so involved in the grass that he ignores you. It may be better if that's the tendency, to do this in the arena. If he wants to roll during your grooming time, you should especially encourage that. Let him roll all he wants; monitor the halter rope; don't let him kick you when he gets up; and after he shakes off, go pet him awhile and then let that morph back into grooming.

Now when you go to saddle him, you'll do it the same way. You'll have the saddle and saddle pad hung over the top rail of the fence. You'll lead the pony up to where the saddle is, and you'll put it on him without klonking him with the stirrups or flumping it down on his back. Then, without hesitation and smoothly, you'll reach down and get the girth and bring it up and put the first billet through the buckle and draw it up, all in one smooth movement, snug enough that if he were to bust in half right there he would not be able to get it under his belly.

When you have done one billet this snug, go for a little walk. Walk to the other side of the arena. Keep half an eye on him to make sure he doesn't accellerate and run up your back. Make a looping track, return to the center, and stop and pet him awhile. Now use your hand and the halter lead to untrack him. Have him make about a quarter-turn and then help him turn to face you, which will cause him to bring the inside hind leg under the belly when he turns (more or less) on the forehand.

When you've done this, do up the other billet to the same preliminary snugness, and untrack him again. What you are saying to him, by doing this, is two things:

a) Don't jump on me -- if you need to escape, go sideways or outward

b) I will always allow you to adjust your hind feet. You can always move your hind feet, and if you'd like to think of this as a form of escape, please go right ahead and do that. Girthing does not prevent you from moving your hind feet. If you feel that girthing freezes up your hind feet, I will help you remember that you can move them.

Now, Jacqui, you'll be combining the grooming and tacking up in this way, doing it in the arena, a pen, or a "round yard", that is, in an enclosed area that is nevertheless large enough for the horse to have plenty of room to move and adjust himself physically to whatever pressure he feels you and/or the saddle represent.

The horse flees mentally because he feels that he cannot adjust physically.

You are practicing him in a GOOD way to adjust physically.

The more you practice this, the less tendency there will be for him to flee mentally.

I want you to practice until you know for sure that you could go through at least the whole grooming sequence with no halter on the horse at all -- totally at liberty. Then we want to work along until we can also girth him totally at liberty. When you can do that, you can rightly say that the pony asked you to saddle him. At that point, he will not flee either mentally or physically any more.

Do write back and let us know how you progress. I'm real happy to hear that the pony seems to be feeling and doing better just from our dialogue up to this point.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

miriam
Member


Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: Minnesota USA
Posts: 90
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 9th, 2007 03:15 am
 Quote  Reply 
Should we tighten the girth with their exhalation?

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3232
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 9th, 2007 06:49 am
 Quote  Reply 
Miriam, when someone tightens the girth with the horse's exhalation, what do you think -- would they be

a) considering the girth, as I have previously suggested in the thread on "mounting",  as a frictional device rather than as a total-security device,

or

b) trying to get the girth on as tight as possible?

After you decide which one of these it probably is, then I'd also like you to tell me which one you would select as your way of doing with your own horse, and why.

Also -- can you tell me -- WHY did I tell Jacqui to do the initial or preliminary "snugging up" as quickly and smoothly as possible? Was it, do you think, so as to catch the pony off-guard?

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

RaBo
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Indiana USA
Posts: 20
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Apr 14th, 2007 04:48 pm
 Quote  Reply 
This topic of absence is very interesting. I have not witnessed it in my horse (3yr.old) but am glad to learn of it now & how to deal with it if I do. Hopefully, from what Dr.Deb wrote, I won't put my horse in a position or work him to the point where he needs to flee mentally. I've been thinking about absence since it was posted and initally, felt very overwhelmed by the thought that perhapse I was working with my horse to the eventual point of him wanting to flee mentally. I am concerned that perhapse in working with a young horse, trying to teach him to stand still during grooming, not to interact with people by being curious, mouthy, girthing/tacking up  & the number of other typical behaviors of a young horse , I was holding him to unrealistic expectaions. I am currently recognizing that my horse is more mouthy than I'd like for him to be. He isn't biting, but I know that biting is soon to come if I don't figure this out. It has as much to do with people behavior as it does him learning not to get into everyones space, but I'm not sure that I don't want him in my space. (I know that sounds terrible & like I'm allowing him to step all over me, but I'm not. At least he's not stepping all over me yet...and he's not biting- yet.) So my question is, how do I get him to respect my space (everyones space) and WANT to come to me without taking away his good, natural, qualities? I don't want to' train' good things out of my horse. I want to learn why and how to do things before I start them, I figure 'less is more' & since I'm in no hurry with him, I'd rather not teach something & have to spend twice as much time unteaching & risk loosing great parts of his true 'untainted' character.

Owning a horse is such a privilege, I'm feeling unworthy & far to uneducated for this privilege...Thank you for ESI & all the members!

miriam
Member


Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: Minnesota USA
Posts: 90
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 03:21 am
 Quote  Reply 
Well, hmmmm....I guess the idea behind tightening the thing on exhalation is probably based on getting it tighter (total security device).  I think it was Buck B's Ground Work book that suggested it, and it does sound like a nice thing to do (but he does say to not get it too tight).

Of course I'd like to say that I use the thing as a friction device with my horses, but I'm not so sure that I've thought of it that way.  I've heard Harry talk about tightening it slowly and evenly, not jerking it so that's what I do.  I put it on the same hole and the cincha is not tight when I dismount leaving me to believe that much of the riding is done through balance - and not using the thing like a seat belt.  I loved the thread about mounting and am practicing your advice there...I'll go over there to comment on that.

I would have to guess that your suggestion to do it quickly and smoothly would perhaps demonstrate some confidence to your horse??  I'm certain that we don't want to catch them off guard, I CAN'T imagine you EVER teaching us to do that would you??!  But I'd like to hear you talk more about it, and/or correct me too.  This is such good stuff going into another summer season here in the northern hemisphere.

Hi Rabo, I haven't ever seen a 'sulled up' horse, but think I'd recognize it now that I've had a few years of 'realgood' horsemanship classes under my belt.  It's good to look at thier faces and eyes.

 

Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Apr 20th, 2007 08:08 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dr. Deb

I have been away for a couple of weeks over easter, so am only just catching up with things. Thank you for the continued support to me, Sunny and Florence. I will keep you informed of our progress with great pleasure.  

I never tighten girths much initially and I often don't tighten them enough at all. Sunny definitely has sensitivity in the girth area, which I already had noticed. He has had it since I bought him. It is far better now than it used to be. He winces and tenses and sometimes straightens his near foreleg abruptly when I undo the girth. He is sensitive in the girth area while grooming, but not to the point of moving away or pulling any faces, just skin tightening or slight movement of the foreleg can be seen.

I do not always tie up my other horses properly, but I do tie Sunny (not really tightly though) because he would wander off to eat the grass on the lawn if I did not! I will loop his lead rein over an arm to see how that affects things.

I will keep you informed of how we get on and what we notice.

I have just been to Madagascar and they have almost no horses there. Only Zebu! No-one except the French, who are still living there after the colonial days, can afford a luxury like a horse. There is massive poverty. 

It is not my first time in a third world country, but seeing how it is in a country such as this first hand, makes you realise just how incredibly privileged we are in so many ways.


 Current time is 10:38 am




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez