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Working with a horse named Buck
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soda
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Joined: Tue Dec 29th, 2009
Location: Hammett, Idaho USA
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 Posted: Mon Mar 21st, 2011 07:01 pm
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Greetings,

I have a ten year old 1/4 horse gelding named Buck.  He is a very inquisitive horse and one of my bravest horses.  After checking/smelling things out he then plays with the foreign article.  When I remove him from the pasture to school him he is ok with that.  However, when I remove his pasture buddy to the round pen, leaving him behind, he is not ok with that and runs up and down the front fence.  His buddy is in clear view about 50-60' away.  He eventually quits his running and watches his buddy.  I wanted to work with the problem while in the saddle using two/three horses because of the connection between rider/horse. 

Some background:  Buck was two when he was seen at XXXX dental school before going to get started by a professional.  When the trainer brought Buck back home he rode him for me in a hackamore.  I asked him why he started Buck in a hackamore when he started his older brother (3 year old) in a snaffle?  They were started at the same time by the same person.  He said he did that due to his age.  When I started to work with Buck I bridled him with a snaffle as I didn't know a lot about using a hackamore.  When I bridled him he immediately began curling his lips back, as if saying yuck!  When riding Buck I made sure that the head stall wasn't too tight, where the bit curled his lips.  I placed it just below that point.  I always ride with a loose rein and he seemed to appreciate that.  The more we rode using legs the less he curled his lips.  When I needed to pick up the rein for added direction he would sometimes curl his lips, but not always.  The more I rode him the more relaxed he got and didn't curl his lips.  He is very responsive to body and legs, so I kept out of his mouth unless I needed to.  He has been back to the dental school a number of times. 

I have now noticed that he curls his lips back just before I enter his pasture to feed.  If he is near an empty water tank he will rub his lips on the edge of the tank as if he is rubbing saliva off.  I am thinking that what he is doing is a form of wind sucking, or self medication.   

I have rounded up two good riders to help me work on Buck's separation issue.  They understand and agree that this work will be mostly walking and zeroing in on how the horse feels during the process of meeting and leaving the other horse when circling the round pen.  They both agree that they like to work towards a specific goal, not just to ride.  They will stay with their assigned horse.   My plan is to begin working with Buck and another horse in our 45' round pen.  One on the inside and one on the outside.  How would you start.....what sort of drills?  What should the riders watch for in their horse while performing the drill, and how should the rider handle their horse after/or before noticing specific differences in their horse's demeanor in hopes to produce a good effect for all horses involved.   I also have a large outdoor arena, but I was thinking that I should start with a smaller controlled situation.  Please help with specific drills, what reactions in the horses to watch for before, during, and after separation and joining back up.  If another method is better, or if any specific ground work would also help, please let me know your thoughts.  Any direction will be appreciated.

Soda

 

 

 

Last edited on Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 03:24 am by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 03:39 am
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Soda, you need to obtain a copy of 'The Birdie Book' and study it. You would also benefit (especially if you prefer hearing an audio track to reading on-screen) from getting the 'Mannering Your Horse' and 'Birdie Basics' 2-CD sets.

In all three of these, I go into detail to help you visualize what is going on. In brief, Buck's Birdie is attached to the other horse. When the other horse leaves their pen, the other horse takes Buck's Birdie with him.

However, no horse can be at all OK inside of himself if his Birdie is not with him. If something takes his Birdie away, or if the horse's body is dragged away from where its Birdie is, then the animal experiences considerable very painful internal turmoil.

The Law of Okayness states as follows, and you need to come to where you understand this:

"To the extent that the body and the Birdie are separated, the horse will exhibit signs of distress and dangerous behaviors."

To the extent that!

So that when, after a while, and because all the while the other horse is in Buck's line of view, Buck calms down some, there can be only one cause for this, and that is that Buck himself has drawn his own Birdie back to himself.

His ability to do this, however, is fairly weak. The sign of this is that it takes quite a few minutes for him to get it done, and even then, he doesn't get really deeply all right.

What this should be telling you is that Buck needs your help. He needs you to picture how the Birdie gets stuck to the other horse, how it gets torn away from him the farther away you go with the other horse. You need to figure out how you can get Buck to hold on to his own Birdie even when the other horse leaves.

With human babies, this is called 'learning to suck their thumb.' Psychologists would say 'learning to self-comfort.' When this is accomplished, the young boy or girl stops being anxious and upset when their mother goes out of their line of sight.

If you have your own kids, or if you were ever a kid, you will remember this. How did your mother accomplish teaching you that separation would not hurt you, and that you could be just all right even if she was not there?

Did she leave to a great distance right at first?

Did she leave for a very long time right at first?

You'll be able to think this through. This is the 'exercise' or 'drill' that I would recommend. We normally do not 'drill' any horse, you see, so by using that word I am just pulling your leg. How could simple consideration and thoughtfulness ever be a drill!

It is not a physical action that gets the most important job done, you see. It's what's going on on the inside of the horse that you need to concern yourself with, not what's going on on the outside. When the horse gets all right on the inside, then he'll not be having any difficulties on the outside. But if he's in turmoil on the inside, uncomfortable, distressed, anxious, and unable to focus, I wish you luck getting anything whatsoever done in the way of 'drills' or 'exercises'.

So you go get the materials recommended, Soda, and for the moment I'd advise you to forget any fancy training plans. In other words, until you're qualified in these ways, by understanding the deep part of what makes a horse tick, then I wouldn't advise you to go to try training on the animal. The problem that the animal seems to you to have, is not really his problem; the problem he really has is YOU.

When your own understanding gets upgraded, why then, what we find is that anything you'd like to teach your horse becomes easy and very enjoyable, not only for you, but also for all of the horses involved. -- Dr. Deb

 

soda
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Joined: Tue Dec 29th, 2009
Location: Hammett, Idaho USA
Posts: 10
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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2011 08:27 pm
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Was there a problem with the forum sometime Saturday?  When I log in, the latest posts I receive are from Friday. 

The problem started sometime on Saturday.  Early afternoon on Saturday I sent a new post with questions to Dr. Deb, and shortly after I sent my post I received an e-mail telling me that Dr. Deb had answered me.  When I tried to call up Dr. Deb's answer, I got a message saying the wowbb network was undergoing changes????   Today, Monday, I still can't view any new posts from Saturday on.  Is this typical to everyone else? 

Soda

 

Buck's Mom
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 Posted: Tue Mar 29th, 2011 12:51 am
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Dr. Deb:

Thank you for your response to my request.  I have reviewed your Birdie DVD and enjoyed the chapter where you discuss the episode with Lonnie & Cricket. 

This is what I have been doing the last few days.  I took Buck and his pasture mate out of the pasture and put Buck in a 45' round pen and his mate in a 60' run in clear view of Buck around 50' apart.  Buck was fine with that.  Later that night I did some work with Buck in the pen, on halter.  We worked at retaining his attention.  His attention stayed with me for a number of seconds.  I took Buck out of the pen and  continued trying to keep his attention, but out in the new emerging green grasses.  Buck's attention went from me to the green grass after a few seconds.   I slapped the end of the lead rope on my boot, getting his attention back.  Pretty soon I could read his attentions, and could tell when he was thinking about eating grass.  At that moment I drew his attention back to me.  When I asked for his attention and he gave it to me for a few seconds I walked up to his forehead and stroked him and walked off to a new area and repeated this for a while.  After we came back to the round pen I took off his halter and asked him to walk around the inside perimeter, asking for insdie turns, back-and-forth.  I did this twice a day, just before feeding/cleaning.  One time when I asked Buck to turn to the inside in the round pen, I noticed that he lifted his head up and toward the outside of the circle.  It wasn't a big gesture, but none the less there.  I worked with turns until he did them softly with head level and ears forward.  I mulled over this that night and believe my body language was too strong and that may have been the reason why Buck flayed his head to the outside of the circle.  I am working to keep my body "quiet". 

I feed/clean twice a day so I have taken advantage of being out there and worked with Buck before feeding.  I decided to see what Buck would do if I moved his pasture mate a little further away.  The new pen is 60' long and the first 12' is under roof and has wood sides where the horses feed and water.  So when his pasture mate is eating, Buck would not be able to see him.  As I began to halter his mate to move him, Buck began to get anxious and by the time I had him haltered and walking out of the pen, Buck was moving briskly back-and-forth in the round pen.  I walked his mate over to the round pen (on the outside) and started to walk around the pen.  That quieted him down some, but not completely.  I took the end of the lead rope and slapped my boot.  Instantly, and I mean instantly, Buck changed his demeanor and was quiet and relaxed.   His mate and I continued to walk around the outside of the pen incorporating turns.  Whenever Buck's attention was not on me, I slapped the rope on my boot or said hey, hey, hey and his attention came back to me.  Then I led his mate away from the round pen toward his new run, I could hear Buck loosing it again.  When I walked into the area of his the new pen, I turned him in a circle and we walked back out towards Buck and walked around the pen using the lead rope on the boot when necessary and went back in to the pen.  We did this a few times.  I put his mate away in his pen and fed him.  Buck was anxious again because he couldn't see his mate, so I walked out to the outside of the pen and walked around it using the lead rope to regain Buck's attention when he left me.  When he calmed down I went inside the round pen and asked Buck to walk around the perimeter and asked for inside turns.  His mind was with me.  I finished by asking him into the center to eat his hay where I had dumped it.  He ate one mouthful, but then continued watching me as his food meant nothing to him.  Then I went out to feed my mares in clear view of Buck.  Buck watched me load the wheelbarrow with hay and when I started pushing it towards the mares, he came to the back side of the round pen to meet me.  I stopped and scrubbed his head.  It takes two barrows full so I had a second chance to work with Buck.  As I was pushing the second barrow full of hay one of the mares whinnied.  Buck immediately took his attention away, towards where he knew his mate was.  I didn't have my rope so I slapped my hand alongside my leg saying hey, hey, hey.  His attention came back to me.  He walked to meet me and I stoped to pet him and walked on to feed the mares.  He then went back to eating his hay and I went in for the night.  

Dr. Deb,  I would like your feedback on what went on with Buck during these last few days and could I have done things differently to help Buck feel better.  Thank you,

Soda 


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