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Gem
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 Posted: Tue Jun 7th, 2011 03:10 pm
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This is a very interesting thread. I have experienced just the opposite as most of the posters here. I have found that my horses LIKE the rail and will drift towards it. I find it is interesting because I think we influence the horses the way WE feel about things. For instance, I watch my young horses and if they are out alone, they will lay down next to a stump, or fence or whatever other object might simulate the body of another horse or herd of horses. Who has not watched a foal sleeping in the shade of its mothers shadow? We all know that horses get comfort from a herd situation. When I begin leg yielding, I find the rail to act like a magnet and my horses naturally want to drift toward the rail. Of course, at first, I use this to my advantage and soften and allow that to happen. Horses learn from the release and this drifting towards the rail is what I release for, having observed what horses do when alone. BUT, that is MY perception and I run with it, and it helps me and my horses get together in learning the simple concept of leg yielding (on the circle and on the diagonal TO the wall.) 

Now, aside from the above, if there is something spooky, scarey on the other side of that fence that might take away my horses attention from me, then I have to convince my horse that it is alright and to stay with me and give my horses confidence but I have already built in some communication (through the release) before that situation ever arises.........in my groundwork, (stepping under and softening the ribcage encouraging the horse to "let go", in the ribcage and poll and thus it`s fears) before ever being mounted; this being the foundation to all mounted work.

But the point that I wanted to make is that.....the fence, the rail, the wall can be used as a tool, a good thing, it is all in how the PERSON thinks of it and he transfers that to their horse, using the horses natural inclination. 

Just an observation.

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 Posted: Tue Jun 7th, 2011 08:16 pm
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Gem,

Interesting indeed. So you are saying that your horse/s are moving into a release that they have learned comes when next to the rail?

I guess this might be like a horse being drawn to its pedestal, except that it comes while still moving. I've mentioned elsewhere on this forum about the small wooden bridge that I had to remove from the arena after rewarding my horse for standing on it . . . since he would draw towards the bridge quite strongly. It was a place of release for him.

An idea for an experiment came to mind after reading your post which I may try one day. I may set up some parallel ground poles and have the line of poles on one side shorter than the other. Then I'll take the horse between the poles and see what his tendency is once the poles on one side fall away.

Sandy

Gem
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 Posted: Tue Jun 7th, 2011 10:51 pm
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Actually even if one does not practice this type of horsemanship; where the horses learns to... because they are ALLOWED TO "search" for the release, leg yielding to the wall will still work where the wall becomes like a magnet, simply because while the horse learns that leg yielding is work, it finds its own release when it gets to the wall because it is allowed to go straight (forwards), which is easier than going sideways and forwards. Also, riders stop working on making the horse go sideways, relax their aids and just let the horse go when they get to the wall.  A lot of riders just don`t think it out in these terms but when a person practices this type of horsemanship, we tend to be more observant and ask ourselves "Now why did THAT happen?".

When working my young horse over cavaletti at liberty in the arena (60 x 130, just to let you know that I did not have him in a small space where I could have more easily tried to control him) I found that I could encourage my horse`s enthusiasm (joy) for jumping by releasing (rounding my shoulders, letting my air out, softening my eyes) to the cavaletti when he would focus on the line of small jumps (3)  I did an experiment and turned him out in the arena the next day and stood on the sideline without any direction from me. Funny thing, he headed straight for the cavaletti and jumped the whole line, as if "drawn by a magnet", as if he was just waiting for the moment when he would get the chance to jump them again.  And with lovely forward ears up focus and energy. A joy to behold for me but still, fun for him too.   He taught me a lot about what is possible that day through a simple release to something we want the horse to like.   To this day (2 years later) he still loves jumping only now the jumps are actually 3` with tarps draped over and water underneath etc. Amazing how we can mold their minds!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 8th, 2011 04:41 am
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Yes, Gem, a horse can learn anything, and they always learn best from freedom and release. This is a principle of this school of horsemanship.

Harry Whitney gets horses to come to him for mounting in much the same way you describe. He starts the horse in the middle of the arena, and, using a curved whipstock, or else a short whipstock with a short lash, reaches over their back and taps them on the opposite side, while at the same time providing space and release on the side where he is standing. Soon the horse will readily step toward him.

When this starts happening, he dispenses with actually tapping them on the opposite side, but merely reaches over "as if" he were going to tap them. The principle behind this is that no horse in the world has ever moved forward, or sideways, or any other direction IN RESPONSE TO pressure -- what they move from is not the pressure, but the anticipation of pressure. They would certainly prefer to move in whatever way they understand you want them to, if offered the opportunity to do that on no pressure! This is why our elderly teacher was called 'The Master of From Zero to One'.

This is how the aids may be reduced to such a minimum that they are not physical pressures at all any more, but merely ideas or 'shaped energy' that is shared between the horse and rider.

Finally, all Harry has to do is be anywhere in the arena, or seated up on the arena fence, and raise the stick in the air. He can be fifty feet from the horse and raise that stick, and the horse sees it and understands it and will come to him moving almost straight sideways, until the horse is standing next to the fence, from which Harry can mount him.

What I am saying here is that your responses cut deeper than the mere description of physical aids for expanding the circle/shoulder-in which I have given above. If the animal is reluctant to go to the rail -- for whatever reason in its personal history -- then of course we will help him round his body to the outside and step toward the rail. Every intelligent rider will also, of course, apply the principles you are describing and (1) endeavor to reduce the aid on the inside of the horse's bend to the minimum, while (2) ensuring that the outside leg or any other outside aid is neither blocking, nor pulling, the horse toward the rail. Thus the horse finds that the rail or track becomes the direction toward which he obtains release and the most ease. Your observation is also true that moving forward is easier for the horse than moving laterally, and this can certainly be used to help the horse enjoy being on the track, but should also be used at any other time or place for the same purpose, as a handy way to offer release/reward for curves or lateral work well done. -- Dr. Deb


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