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Horse confidence issue.. or??
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Philine
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 Posted: Fri Aug 31st, 2007 05:01 am
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Hi Val,

Am still here, just really busy for writing in.  I also read everything.  Love the email notice that gets me right to the last post.

I worked with Ruby today and backed her 5 or 6 times, one step at a time.  She's getting pretty good and needs much less lead rope twirling to respond.  The last time I worked with her I had to get really big and I think the better response this time is because I got big enough when I needed to.  That's been hard for me and sometimes frustrating, but the results are definitely worth the effort.

I was surprised by how difficult a couple of things in this exercise were for me.  It was hard to be quiet (well maybe that's not a surprise) and it was hard not to follow her as she backed up.  I drew a line in the sand or noted a mark on the ground and would not let myself step over it but initially I was leaning way forward with my upper body to follow her back.

Now I'm trying to find a way to convince Ruby to stay in her box and feel relaxed there.  She seems to need to come forward after a short time standing there.  I think this is related, go figure, to an issue we're working through in the round pen.  She has a hard time waiting on me and again feels the need to move or do something.  What's happening reminds me of an earlier comment you made, Dr Deb, about how a clinician like Josh Nichol is constantly, subtly, refocusing the horse.  I'm still learning that, and by the time I realize I need to refocus her, Ruby has already left and it takes more effort to bring her back.

And yet, my understanding of the box is that the horse feels totally relaxed there and doesn't need to be refocused.  Am I missing something here?

Philine   

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Aug 31st, 2007 06:21 am
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Philine, the box is "as" and "where" you find it....and so we begin Lesson Three.

The box that forms the horse's "room" is an imaginary rectangle that surrounds his body. The handler is the one who imagines it but the horse perceives it too, to the degree that the handler projects it. The horse will always see the image in your mind -- assuming you are Present enough to HAVE a clear image in your mind. For inspiring reading on this subject, see J. Allen Boone's "Kinship With All Life", where the handler's mental state is rather thoroughly discussed.

So you imagine the "room" and you project the "room." One of the rules which we live by, though, too, is that you should always set things up to be as easy and as obvious for the horse as possible. So you put the horse into his "room" but you tell him where the "room" is only after he has already arrived in it! In other words, you ask him to step back -- which you all have been working on quite a bit now -- and you send him back three or four steps, enough so that you almost don't have any rope left -- he'll be at least six feet away from you. And then you let him settle there, and lo and behold, that's where his "room" is from then on out.

Now once the horse is in his "room", there are three options for what the two of you can be doing:

(1) He can be asked simply to stay there. To keep a horse that wants to move in his room, as Philine notes, you have to see when he is about to leave, or when he is thinking of leaving, and interfere with the thought of leaving so that he never gets his body moved. Primarily, to detect this, you watch how the weight is flowing around from one front limb to the other. How is the horse leaning? Is he leaning enough to effect a step, can he get a leg free? Anterior to that, of course, you also watch his eyes and ears -- where is his brain/Birdie? If his Birdie leaves, the horse's room evaporates, it is no longer there or visible to either of you, and you have to start over. This is where it is SO important that the handler be Present.

(2) You can go visit him in his room. The attitude here is the same as any well-raised person's parents had when the child was younger than a teenager. The parent has a perfect right to enter the child's room at any time, so long as the parent enters the room with respect. In other words, the parent does NOT have to knock or ask permission to enter, and yet also, they don't barge in, they don't spy, they are quietly effective but not intrusive. For people who were not well raised, this distinction may be hard to grasp. For everybody else, it will be obvious.

Now I want all of the students who are learning on this thread to go ahead and make this option into an actual practice. Send the horse back into his room, let him settle there for a minute, wait 'til his neck lowers and his ears go into a "V". He's fully "with" you but you aren't making any demand of him (except that he stay in his room and not be trying to move his feet out of the bounds of the room). When he's quiet in there, then you walk up the rope until you're standing at his left side, and offer his muzzle the back of your hand. Then you work up to his jowl and then onto his neck, stroking fondly. Then on to the shoulder and breast, down the left front leg as if you were the cavalry officer responsible for inspecting a prospective new purchase to make sure he's sound. Have him pick up the foot, mess with it, and then place it down. Then work back to the withers, looking for that itchy spot, and if you find it on the withers, shoulders, or neck, then rub it pretty good until the horse gets a ponty lip.

Then work your way back over the top of the croup, down the rear side of the hamstrings, then go back forward again and rub and touch the stifle and then the flank area. If you find a "touchy" spot, don't stay there long. Go under the belly and scratch the horse on the belly. Cover the whole belly, from the narrow place where the girth goes back to where it widens out. Rub with your fingertips right in front of the sheath if it's a male horse. Work around the sides of the udder if it's a female. Reverse your hand and pet up and down on the inner surface of the flank, going as high up and as far back as the horse will safely permit you.

Then put your hands back on the croup area, and work your way down over the hock to the hind foot. Have the horse pick up a hind foot. The lead rope should be over his neck with the tail hanging down on the ground -- by this point he will not be thinking in any manner of leaving, because you are so Present that you would know way ahead of time if he's going to lose his cool. If this is the signal that your focused mind receives, then go back and take up the lead rope again, or the halter, and help him step back one more step. Then go right back to what you were doing.

Now it's time to work the tail. Pick up the tail by putting the palm of your hand underneath the tailbone. Gently but without any hesitation, lift it up. If the horse uses the muscles of his tail to press it down, just keep your hand there until he loosens up. You can rock the tail back and forth somewhat to help it loosen up. If it gets worse rather than better, go back to the halter again.

When the tail is loose, lift it right up so that his anus is looking out the back like a stoplight. The tail hairs will be hanging down, and you will be lifting the tail high enough that the tailbone is vertical or nearly so. When it is lifted, start moving it left and right like a windshield-wiper. Do this a number of times, but always quit BEFORE any tension might have arisen. Of course needless to say you're doing this while standing at the horse's left side, not directly behind him.

So you make like a windshield-wiper with the tail, and then gently allow it to come down again. Rub your thumb up and down in the crease between the tailbone and the flesh of the buttock. Geldings usually also like to have light thumb-pressure stroking up and down along the perineum, or to either side of the perineum. Of course if he's got a lot of crusty crud there, then you'll be using your hands and fingers to remove it by means of this rubbing (grooming of all types is best done with the bare hands, because this conveys the proper energy and "feel"; but if it's really gross, then you can take a break and go get a washcloth or a sponge and a soft brush).

When you're done with the rear end, then you go from back to front along the right side. I do this by crossing behind the horse, and the reason I do it that way is that there is no problem for me in doing it that way. If you're less sure of your horse, you can of course go around the front. If you go around the front, then work from front to back along the right side.

The most dangerous area of almost any horse to be around is the right rear quarter. Most horses aren't really broke in that body zone, and they are liable to get surprised by being touched there, and then they kick. So when you are working in this body area, you be extra sure to call the horse's eye and the horse's attention back there, so he is aware of you and "into" what you're doing.

The whole purpose of this visit to the horse's room is to get him 100% OK with being touched and handled on any part of his body. If you have a "known" problem area, such as the ears or the flanks, then you go into that area but leave it soon, and work more on adjoining areas. You will find that making brief "raids" into the forbidden territory finally has the effect of breaking them up, until at last they evaporate and there is no further problem with it -- the horse lost all concern about it. Remember, the only reason a horse ever kicks, strikes, or bites is that he WANTS to kick, bite, or strike; he feels like that. But by regarding his skin as a map, and asserting your right to touch all parts of that map (so long as it's done with respect), you give the horse the enormous gift of being able to live in his own skin when he's around you. In other words, by touching him you teach him not to be afraid of YOU (never mind him being afraid of his ears. He is not afraid of his ears; he's afraid of YOU).

You don't get everything done in one visit or one day, either. So you make the visit briefer than what you think he can stand, and it will be successful. You quit while you are still ahead. And then you have another go at it later.

As a result of this companionable work, you will never again need to cross-tie your horse (and you should never cross-tie him anyway--most dangerous piece of equipment found on any farm or ranch other than the lariat). You will also hardly need to tie him -- only for his own safety. And, you will find, when you DO need to tie him, he'll stand tied a lot better with much less chance of pulling back.

(3) Finally, we have the third option: the horse can come visit YOU in YOUR "room". Because again, as Philine is noticing, we ourselves, the handlers, also have a room. You were asked in the very first posting on this thread not to walk forward toward the horse as he backs up -- instead, you hold your ground like a bullfighter. The bullfighter "sends" the bull -- this is what the "mandar" part of the important triumvirate "mandar -- templar -- parar" is all about. You send energy radiating out of your chest (as well as physical or kinetic energy through wiggling or flipping the rope), and that is what causes the horse to know that he had better rearrange his body so as to take a step back.

So you have a room. To invite the horse to visit you in your room, again, it is exactly as in a civilized household. Most of you will remember Sunday mornings if your parents were not churchgoers. That was a time when their bedroom door was locked, or if it was not actually locked, then you had been told in no uncertain terms that YOU should go watch cartoons, and not bother Mommy and Daddy unless the house was burning down. In other words, there is an asymmetrical relationship here: the parents are allowed to go into the child's room at any time, so long as it is done with respect and courtesy. But the child is NOT allowed to go into the parents' room at any time. He can only go into the parents' room when specifically invited to do so.

The same applies to your horse, and when this lesson gets set in the horse's mind, you have a truly "mannered" horse who will not bump into you, not ever try to shove you out of the way, not nip or bite, not kick. Because what will be conveyed to the horse is that your "room" is wherever you are. Your "room" is your body-aura, or whatever you like to call it: a zone of about two ft. that surrounds all parts of your body, all the time. The horse is NEVER EVER to go into this space unless you specifically invite him to. If he tries to go in there without an invitation -- now listen up, because this rule is going to apply in all situations, at all times, for the rest of your life with your horse -- he gets a SHARP IMMEDIATE reprimand.

Now you are to remember again the constant rule that you're to set things up to be as easy and as obvious as possible for the horse. So if you slouch around looking like Wee Wimpy Willy, with your chest collapsed and your eyes down and your whole body language saying "why don't you run over me", well then I do not know why I should be surprised if the horse does, in fact, run over you. So you stand up there like a bullfighter, and you take command. Philine -- are you listening?? How important is this, do you figure? And why would it be important (apart from the obvious issue of your own safety). Does not standing up there like a bullfighter and taking command make life easier and safer for the horse also? So when you wimp out, veg out, phase out, or zone out, you are screwing the horse.

Details on your body language count. This is because horses are highly detail-oriented and also body-language is the very language they speak. So if you slouch, you slur. See to it that your feet are ALWAYS either standing their ground OR coming toward the horse. If you step toward the horse with your chest up, what you are really doing is pushing your body-aura closer to him or even pushing it right into him. He must yield to this. This is the main thing you are trying to convey.

Because you will not always be doing this in your respective "rooms". The rooms is merely a convenient place to teach the first lessons, to give the horse the first examples, and to allow you yourself to practice and get experience. It's a structured set-up. But once the lesson on visiting the rooms has begun, it needs to apply whether you are moving or standing still. As a result, the horse will learn to walk at your side, on a slack lead, with you at the level of his shoulder, and he will watch your feet and step exactly as you do, getting neither behind nor ahead, just like a dog that's been taught to "heel". This is another thing you definitely want, because, guess what, the horse wants it too; when the horse knows how to "heel", he knows just where to be, he is totally clear as to just what the rules are and what is expected of him. The margin or edge of your body aura gives him a steady point of reference.

OK, this is as well as I think I can explain this now, but as usual, I expect your questions and comments as you work with this to add depth and detail. Have fun as you work with this, and, I repeat, don't be at all reluctant to go back to earlier steps (i.e. backing from the halter) if things seem to fall apart. That's life -- they do that, and then they come together again, usually.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Julie
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 Posted: Fri Aug 31st, 2007 09:08 am
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Thank you Dr Deb you sure do put alot of effort into this forum for us all.

Thanks Cathie Julie

Philine
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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2007 12:10 am
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Yes.  Thank you so much for your suggestions Dr Deb.  I have done some of the horse body work before but this gives me more of a framework to be systematic.  Ruby used to be quite head shy and wouldn't let her ears be touched at all.  We're now at the point where I can rotate her ears at the base and work half way up before she tells me 'no more'.  She's also not head shy any longer.

As for staying in your room, why wouldn't you want to stay in your room if you're getting a body massage there?  I like this approach.

Also, thanks for the reminder about space at all times and anywhere.  I'm better with that but can still use improvement.  And the comment on body language will really help make me conscious of what I'm putting out there.

Philine

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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2007 04:42 am
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Thank you so much for lesson 3, Dr Deb, I am really, really enjoying reading this.

I have a quick question, though very hypothetical - approximately where should this mannering come in a young horse's education? Obviously they need to be halter trained trained... should this be 'the way' you teach them to accept your touch, or should that already be established? Should this be done as soon as they are weaned, or later, or earlier?

I am just curious as to how this interacts with the other aspects of training. Also, how would this work with a horse who is uncomfortable around humans? You mentioned before that some horses will not consider being scratched and rubbed a reward. How should this lesson be approached for these horses?

Like I said, these are all questions taken completely from the abstract, so if the answers are of the sort that become evident when you 'do it', please tell me.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2007 06:18 am
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No, these are good questions, Helen, and they deserve to be addressed. A lot of what you're asking, it seems to me, devolves down to just one thing really, which is how you get horses not only used to being around humans, but positively liking human touch.

I regard any horse that dislikes being touched as having a problem -- and not only that, a problem that needs and deserves immediate attention to help them get over it. Again, for example, they are not "afraid of their ears". They are afraid of people. What ABOUT people they are afraid of has best been described (long ago, in Abraham Lincoln's time) by John S. Rarey, who said,

"....and do not wave your arms about, because for all the horse knows, your arms might fly right off like wriggling snakes and come at him."

Rarey really perceived how horses perceive. The horse knows NOTHING about you -- you are totally alien to him. So all horsemen learn (or else they are not horsemen at all) to move about 1/2 as fast as normal anytime they're around a horse. This becomes an ingrained habit in the handler, so much so that you can almost tell a horseman in a restaurant before you hear his or her talk.

A horse "defends" a bodypart because, from the horse's point of view, there is something attacking it. You have to learn how to get your touch across to the horse in such a way that he does not perceive your reaching toward him as an attack. The "raid" concept and the "skin as a map" concept are very helpful in getting the picture across to human students. You find some bodyparts where the horse does enjoy -- or will at least tolerate -- being rubbed, and build from there.

As to what you're asking as to when these interactions begin, I want you to re-read the first 10 pages or so of Tom Dorrance's "True Unity", and find the story about how they were going out to feed the mamma and her colt, and how the colt got braver and braver until he could come up and touch them. Then I want you to think about what the point of this is. It seems "backwards" from the way you're phrasing your query, doesn't it? Why would that be? What good could there be in fixing it up so that the animal's natural curiosity becomes engaged?

Also, you might look in the Birdie Book and read the story in there about the Peruvian Paso stallion, and how I got this horse (who was very definitely afraid of people) to come over to the bars of the cage in which he lived, and lean on the cage, in other words, how to get him to beg to be scratched. What advantages did I have on my side in causing this to occur? What was the effect of stopping the scratching and rubbing each bout before the horse had had his fill? Look in the mid-year issue of "The Inner Horseman" that just came out, and you'll see a photograph of a Himalayan Tahr at the Adelaide Zoo that I interacted with in the same way. Or you can look in the 2006 issue and read the story about Grampa Roo at the Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. They're all really the same story.

One other thing I'd like to add here for you and all the others reading this thread -- this is in the way of a clarification to something I said in Lesson Three. I was talking about giving the horse a sharp reprimand if he bulls into your space, but I didn't specify what the reprimand was to consist of: you stop everything you're doing, immediately, turn and face the animal, and either ask him to step back by shaking the lead line or else with a hand on the halter. You don't ever push the horse back, but the action is quicker and a little more firm than you would if it were just a normal putting him in his room kind of thing. In other words, it's stronger than a request.

I also want to add that there is one important exception to not letting the horse violate your space or "come into your room", and that is, when he softly touches your arm with the side of his nostril. It is totally OK for him to do this; it's his way of saying, "pardon me, but I need some attention from you right now", or "pardon me, but I have just noticed that huge clanking combine coming down the road toward us and I'm wondering whether it would be all right with you if we created a little more distance between us and it." The key here is that the horse is prefacing his query or statement with "pardon me." This is part of mannering, of course, and a highly desirable part.

Now, as to this, most people totally miss it when their horse does this. And because the person is not sufficiently Present to perceive this soft, polite inquiry from the horse, the horse will then feel that he has to get your attention by stronger means. So he will proceed from softly touching you with the side of his nostril to bumping you softly with the side of his muzzle, and from there to a firm bump, and then a shove. If your horse shoves you with his nose, you should not reprimand HIM but yourself.

Folks, I will now be gone for about three days before I can get on the Internet -- my flight for the U.K. (Vindolanda) leaves in just a few hours, and I will be in transit until September 2nd. I hope this leaves you with plenty to chew on.....I'll look for more of your responses and reports in a few days. Enjoy. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

CynthiaW
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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2007 05:12 pm
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Thank you Dr. Deb!
This is a great thread. Like others, I'm very appreciative.
By now you are well on your way to the north of England, and I hope having a most fine time.
For when you next check in -
I've been doing the lessons with Traveler, and afascinating thing happened right from the beginning, when we first did the focusing lesson.
(Focusing is our underlying challenge, so when I found this thread it was a great gift.)
Traveler would focus on me for more and more seconds - but then, something happened I dunno how to read.
Wish you could see it.
His eyes change markedly, from looking out at me in a calm friendly I'm=okay-you're-okay way, to a sort of inwardness. Like instead of being fully aware of me and of whatever is in his peripheral vision, he's not fully aware of anything outside himself at all. (But I know horses are all about awareness, it's survival isn't it? So this makes no sense.)
It's a look I've seen in him before, in the two years I've owned him, and I wish I had the experience to understand it. It's like withdrawing. Not, I think, what they call sulling up; but - I think - nothing good. He just goes inward, like, I'm not looking around, okay? But I'm not really present with you, either. For what it's worth, it feels like a half-giving half-holding-back thing. Of course I could be completely misunderstanding what I think I'm seeing.
If it's useful or appropriate to add history, his previous owner was afraid of him, and did less and less with him, riding in a small arena and eventually not at all. I promised him when I bought him that he wouldn't be bored, we'd do at least one new thing each day; so his life is better and we're good friends, but I've always felt the foundation is missing. I've done my best, following a take=you=by=the=hand program by a very commercial couple who are not my cup of tea - I didn't honestly know what else to do. It's not like Ray Hunt lives next door.)
I have to say you are the first person who's ever given practical help with this huge, basic question of focus - thank you.
If I'm making it at all clear about him "going inward," can you please tell me what it sounds like to you?
And if I'm responding at all correctly?
I've been releasing pressure, calling his name, asking him to move etc., whatever it takes to bring him back to the planet, and then starting again. My instinct is to then go to asking for fewer seconds of focus, before I release and pet him - feeling maybe he goes inward because I'm demanding too much too fast.
???
Or maybe it's just a look of concentration and I'm too ignorant and inexperienced to recognize it.
Though of course you can't see this for yourself, I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts you have.
Thanks,
Cynthia

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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2007 10:13 pm
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Forgot to tell you Dr.Deb, when my horse gets the far-away look, his ears are jammed out to the sides. Focusing on me, they're mainly focused on me.
So I do know the far-away thing can't be what we're looking for, but - what the heck is it?
Today was great, this simple exercise is incredibly profound. In the past two years obviously I've asked my horse to focus (I wish to live, not die) but I've never looked at it as something to release and reward for - just a preliminary. It's the five minutes of rest=and=pet that were such a profound change.
I can't believe I never thought of this.
Today when asked to focus, he focused and stayed focused, until I realized a lot more than eight seconds had gone by; so I approached and loved on him, and then went on with what I was about to do (trim his hind hooves). He's never stood so still and relaxed for me or any of the professional farriers I've seen work on his feet.
Thank you from me, thank you from my horse.
Cynthia

Sam
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 07:42 am
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Hi Dr Deb,

Hope your travels are smooth and fun.  Thanks for all your time and effort on this forum. This is so amazing, just when a question crops up with my horses, the answer appears on these 'pages'.  Many thanks from me and bigger heartfelt thanks from my equines.

Best Wishes

Sam I am

Carole
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 02:44 pm
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Val, How are you doing with backing?

I'm feeling ineffective. I stood 3 feet in front of Bug with a picture in my head of what I wanted, trying to  project my aura and began gently moving the lead. I had his focus and began increasing the movement. He stood legs planted, eyes on me, very calm, but I didn't feel he was trying to figure out what I was asking for (or couldn't), there was no attempt of any shifting or movement on his part. I continued increasing pressure, the lead was madly waving about.....nothing. Then his head came up, so I brought the movement down, increased it again...head up. This was my third attempt at backing him, so I starting thinking what can I change here? He backs very nicely with just the tiniest backward pull on the lead. I thought if I tried a backward pressure instead of side to side he might understand me. I changed the movement of the lead to wiggle more forward and backward by holding my arm out at a 45 degree angle. Began with small movement, increased until the lead was tapping him on the chest, then he moved back 1 step. We stopped to relax a while and when I tried again, he moved back as soon as the lead progressed to bumping his chest. I ended our session there.

Next, I started with Nugget, my son's 13 year old Quarterhorse. After upping the pressure pretty well swinging the lead side to side, he backed a step. We did it 4 more times, each time having to up the pressure to the same level.  He grazed for a while and I tried it again. He backed a step with a little less pressure this time.

Dr. Deb, Was changing the lead to  touch the horse not doing what it takes? Did I wimp out?

Have a wonderful, productive trip in Vindolanda.                                       Carole                                                                                   



DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 06:14 pm
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Here's the question for you, Carole, and also for the several other people who have given similar reports.

Why are we doing this thing with the lead rope at all?

I mean -- it can't be about teaching the horse "how to back", can it -- because as you say, your horse already backs great from just a light touch on the halter. And, the initial directions here specifically had you get this separated right from the start -- everyone was to be sure their horse understood how to back and was fairly coordinated at it BEFORE beginning with the lead rope approach.

So what, then, do you think the purpose of doing this on the lead rope could be?

Indeed I have several purposes in mind. What do you think they are supposed to teach the horse, and what do you think they are supposed to teach the handler?

I will say this much now: if you don't get this figured out, then you must stop altogether. I would rather have you have a clear understanding with your horse of just the initial thing (how to back from a touch upon the halter) than have him learn (due to your own uncertainty, due to your quitting before you should) to ignore you and begin to regard you as an inconvenience or irritant. Because if that is what you teach him, you will have a big problem -- you will have taught your horse to be tempted to come forward and run over you (at least tempted, if not actually in fact do it).

Don't forget about the bullfighter. I mean it about bullfighting: the world would be a much more dangerous and impoverished place without their example of how to live and get along. You need to be willing to do ALL THAT IT MIGHT TAKE (but live to see how little it might take -- just like in the bullfight). "All that it might take" might include flipping the rope up and down so it whacks him in the jowl or chin. It might mean yanking down hard enough to really bang his nose or the back of his head.

The bullfighter who cannot -- or will not go far enough -- to get a "rise" out of the bull is booed and jeered at, not only by the crowd, but by the bull. And "bulls of sentido" -- bulls who have beaten a bullfighter -- are not fought again, because they will kill the next man. Animals HAVE NO MORALS and they DO NOT love in the same way you would like to wish that they do.

There was a young cop being interviewed by a reporter from the Modesto Bee newspaper. The reporter was doing a series on how police recruits are trained. One of the questions the reporter asked the recruits was "how do you feel about the possibility that you will have to use your gun someday to kill somebody." And this one young recruit, a rather thoughtful fellow, said to the reporter, "I am not at all sure I could do that." The police commandant, when the reporter told him this, said, "well, then, I am pretty certain that that young fellow cannot be a police officer."

Absolutely correct, and I must say I'm relieved that we have that older gentleman as our local chief of police.

Let me know what you think after you have considered this. -- Dr. Deb

cdodgen
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 08:03 pm
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DrDeb wrote: Here's the question for you, Carole, and also for the several other people who have given similar reports.

Why are we doing this thing with the lead rope at all?

I mean -- it can't be about teaching the horse "how to back", can it -- because as you say, your horse already backs great from just a light touch on the halter. And, the initial directions here specifically had you get this separated right from the start -- everyone was to be sure their horse understood how to back and was fairly coordinated at it BEFORE beginning with the lead rope approach.

So what, then, do you think the purpose of doing this on the lead rope could be?

Indeed I have several purposes in mind. What do you think they are supposed to teach the horse, and what do you think they are supposed to teach the handler?

I

Although I have remained relatively quite on this thread, I have been working with myself and my horses to achieve the result that I "think" Dr. Deb is trying to teach.

To me the lead rope is a pathway of communication between myself and my horse.  It is a tangible object that directs our focus toward each other.  If I am understanding these lessons correctly, then our objective is Focus: to know where in space and attitude myself and my horses are at any given moment.  I kind of see this as circular; "Proper attitude leads to proper spacing; proper spacing maintains proper attitude". 

The lead rope has also shown me just how LOUD my communication with my horses have been.   Large movements equals screaming/shouting/cussing, small movements equals a whisper.  What I'm seeking is a whisper; a thought of direction of focus for myself and my horses where the tangible lead rope is replaced by the intangible thread that connects/unites us in a singular purpose.  Be that purpose, walking through a gate, crossing a bridge, or the innumerable activities that I wish to participate in with my horses.

Just a guess on my part; the fighter that allows the bull to learn that the walls of "proper space" are intangible , something no longer to be respected, allows the bull to now make the rules about just what is proper spacing between himself and the fighter.

Cheryl

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 10:44 pm
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Yes! Very well put! Especially the part about where you noticed how THUNDEROUSLY TOO BIG AND GROSS all of your handling was UNTIL you learned how to GET BIG when it was needed -- which is the very thing that allows anyone to learn how to get very small the rest of the time! It is the willingness to play all the keys on the piano that allows anyone to really learn to play the piano!

And your response, Cheryl, puts the old blunt thumb right square on where Carole's problem is. And it is certainly not just Carole's problem -- again and again, even in this thread, we have said it is typically a woman's problem: the reluctance to really GET BIG when that is necessary.

The willingness to GET BIG is also -- amazingly enough, as in the piano analogy -- the one and only pathway to the whisper, to the softness that is not only the ideal but the most crucial necessity. Without softness, no true communication is actually happening.

Anyone who wants to succeed, doing this exercise or set of lessons, or anything else whatsoever around a horse, must totally give up their fear that their horsie will not love them if they GET BIG when the horse just stands there like a bump on a log.

Let us now interject a Ray Hunt-ism that I frequently quote: "If it wasn't effective -- it wasn't understood."

The truth is, the horse, at best, barely even knows that the ineffective person is there. At worst, he thinks of the ineffective person as an inconvenience and an impediment standing between him and whatever his AMORAL desires are. The horse that belongs to an ineffective person regards that person as a kind of out-of-focus blur. That horse doesn't really care about the person; he can't, because the person isn't really in the horse's consciousness. So when the horse either ignores the ineffective person, or runs over them, it's all the same to him, really, because eating grass or maybe taking a dump would be way more important in the scale of values that the ineffective person has installed in that horse.

The person who cannot get a rise out of their horse is worth no more to that horse, or is no more important, than a pile of manure. And let's not get the idea that I, Dr. Deb, is saying this. The HORSE is saying this.

So the woman, and occasionally the man also, who tries to handle the horse but who is afraid to GET BIG ENOUGH is afraid because they are afraid that if they do that the horse won't love them anymore. They are also usually afraid that, if they got really big, that the horse's reaction might be something they couldn't handle.

Well -- will it be? Only the bullfighter herself can possibly know this.

And -- will the horse stop loving her if she does what is necessary? This I have already answered many other times: the answer is, the horse will not love her less, but MORE. But this is hard to believe until the woman actually experiences it.

And to actually experience it, she will have to find out how much reaction from a horse she can actually absorb, how much she can deal with. This gets right down to the core issue of how much she is, in fact, afraid of her horse. When we get to this spot, the person who is having trouble almost always denies being afraid, but this is merely because they have not really taken the question seriously: how much do you really want to succeed with your horse? And, more fundamentally perhaps, what are your real reasons for wanting to own a horse at all? What were you hoping for? I can tell you what is realistic to hope. But the question here is -- how close a match is there between what the person was hoping for, and the reality? It is the person's unacknowledged anger at the fact that the horse doesn't "just do it" that accounts for 90% of her FEAR. Right! Fear comes from not being willing to find out how much reaction she can take!

C.S. Lewis: "The person who has an idea that he's going to learn to skate but, at the same time, maintains a determination to take no falls, not only will take just as many falls as anyone else, but will never learn to skate."

Again: only the person herself can work through any of these things. I am certainly not asking anybody to try physical stuff that is over their head or truly beyond them. And also, only the person herself can know how big she's going to have to get with her own horse. How much is too much -- how much is too little -- ? How smart can she set it up so she gets the rise out of the horse, the "response with respect," and yet keeps herself (and her horse) out of as much danger as possible? Undeniably,  the one and only way to find out is by going out there and taking a swing at it.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Carole
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 Posted: Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 11:11 pm
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Dr. Deb,

Oh my, I am that person determined not to take falls while learning to skate. I feel pretty bad thinking about that. I do feel nervous with my horse at times, not because of anything that has ever happened but because of what I'm afraid could happen. And I have to say, my horses are not the only aspect of my life where that is true.

 Instead of using my lead as a tool of communication, I used it to push my horse's body back. I did not use mandar to send my horse, I did not do all that it took to get the response. My aura was not clear and demanding, I let the lead do what I could not.

I need to do some long hard thinking about this and go out there and take a swing at it.  I appreciate this very much Dr. Deb.                       Carole                                                                            

Helen
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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2007 02:32 am
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Dr Deb, when you speak about 'getting big enough' and 'doing all that it takes'... is the banging on the chest a valid option for getting bigger? Does it count as a way to make yourself bigger if you are otherwise unable? Or is it 'cheating' in some way, or defeating the point?


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