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Too many excuses and not hard enough ?
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Joe
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 Posted: Sat Jul 14th, 2007 09:08 pm
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Right.  One of our Arabians, a gelding of about 14-3, +- 800 lbs, completely dominated a 16 -2 1200 lb Thoroughbred grandson of War Admiral. He(the Arab) was about 23 years old at the time.  Dancer just does no tolerate anyone else at the top of the order (humans excepted).  In fact, several years ago and before I had him he found himself in a pasture with two Suffolks, and actually picked a fight with both of them at the same time.  They beat him up very badly, but when next he saw them, he wanted at them again.

All that spirit makes Dancer a remarkably sensitive and high perfrmance animal, even as an old man.

Joe

Last edited on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 09:09 pm by Joe

scruffy
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 Posted: Sun Jul 15th, 2007 11:47 am
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This is an interesting topic
Made me think of this video clip, how the handler did too much too late

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWya5A--k6k

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Mon Jul 16th, 2007 11:34 am
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Hello Sam's Other (would be very nice if we could address you by name now that we're all getting so well acquainted?) -

In your first post and also your most recent, you have referred to a subordinate horse warning and then biting a senior ranking animal without the victim seeing the attack coming.  I'm wondering if you have actually witnessed this happening, as I can't remember ever seeing a scenario where any horse is so completely unaware of it's surroundings that it can be caught out like that.  A horse might well observe the warning and choose to ignore it, which is the equivalent of a challenge, but to us it could easily appear that a horse was attacked for no reason.  Equines have escaped predator attack for millenia by being alert to, and able to read, the tiniest subtleties of body language that all of us would miss totally.    Also, I've never seen a lower ranking horse attack a higher ranking animal in an established group, and it can take weeks or months in some cases to establish hierarchy, but if you have definitely seen that, then I'd be interested to hear about it. 

Most of us at some time or other, have probably resorted to force in an attempt to fix an immediate problem, only to find the 'fix' doesn't stick and then next time even more force is necessary, and then more again, until we end up in a contest with the horse we have no hope of winning - the horse gets labelled 'dangerous' and we get to claim on our medical insurance.  This is a lesson taught to me by young thoroughbreds in my early days as a therapist.  I'd be called to a racing stable to do some bodywork on a 2- or 3-yr old colt and find myself alone in a small stable (there's never anyone to hold a horse for you or even lead them out for assessment, just a notice on a board in the entry saying something like 'Pauline - third horse on the left', one of many reasons I gave up trying to help racehorses) with a young, very bored horse who saw me as the day's entertainment.   Inevitably these youngsters were very 'mouthey', wanting to nip or bite at every opportunity and my first reaction was to do as you did, a slap on the muzzle.   I very quickly understood that this was exactly what the youngsters wanted, the more I slapped, the more they tried to nip - to them it was a great game just like they would play with another horse over the stable door if they could, but of course I didn't know the rules of the 'game', could not hope to match their speed or resilience, and was putting myself in danger even though the youngsters were just playing.  With an older horse who is not playing, the dangers are that much greater.  That experience taught me that force is never effective as a permanent solution to anything, it is so much easier to work on the basis of having the horse not want to bite or kick us, and that doesn't mean avoiding the issue or the situation.

Best wishes - Pauline

Sam
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 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 09:29 pm
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Hi Pauline

Sam's worst again

I should point out that I'm not a tattooed muscle bound orangutan who thinks violence is the answer and woman are any less equal then I.


Your first point deals with subordinate horses biting etc higher placed horses. I accept that in almost all cases the other horse will see it coming and either move or stand up for himself. My point is if he did'nt see it coming do you really think he'd just walk away without relaliation, he's being attacked, his ranking is being challenged, I don't think so. No I hav'nt seen it happen because I guess it would be rare for it to occur. Its easy to witness a skirmish because the noise and dust draws you to it when it happens, but what precluded the event is often unknown unless you just happened to be looking

Your right, most of us will have used force to "fix an immediate problem". However, if in your words "the fix doesn't stick" I say its cause you hav'nt been firm enough. I can honestly say that I cannot remember a time when firmness did'nt fix simple things like a nip or a hard head rub or simple acts of stubbornness. etc. As for your problem with the nipping thoroughbreds, I 'd say your problem persisted because you did'nt slap them firm/hard enough.

The whole point of my starting this discussion asking "Are we becoming to soft" seeks to minimise the danger you elude to in your reference to an "older horse who is not playing". If you are not firm enough you are telling the horse either you're too weak and weaker then him, or that it OK to do whatever it is that he is doing. If you allow other people into close proximity to your horse you owe it to ensure that the horse is as safe as possible and has the manner to respect all humans and their space around them. If you let a small nip go as just playing, don't be suprised if you get a decent bite one day. Accept here that I'm talking about SIMPLE bad manners and SIMPLE stubborness like he does'nt want to go on the float. I know from experience, that being hard and firm works for simple issues and makes for a safer horse. All I'm asking is that the "softies" of you out there, get over the "I love my horse" wishy washy stuff, and realise that your horse is an animal not a cuddly toy !

Thank you for the opportunity to respond

Wendy
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 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 11:47 pm
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Hi Pauline,

Great post, again.  When I was training as an Equine Massage Therapist our group spent a lot of time in racing stables.  It potentially was quite a hazardous situation for the reasons that you mention.  Often the other members of the group weren't at all experienced with horses (being of the human bodywork variety).  I usually worked on the more 'difficult' ones.  You need to be 'on your toes' at all times.  You learn to read very subtle shifts of weight, often only through your fingertips as you cannot always be watching while you are working on a horse.  You learn to breathe with the horse and communicate with him through your touch on his muscles, asking him to let you help him.  You put your body into his space while you are doing this, all the while concentrating on not triggering a reflex that might cause him to strike out.  There are many nuances in sometimes making yourself bigger so that he can keep concentrating on what you are doing and not go off into a place away from pain, and sometimes making yourself, and your touch, so small - for the same reason.  To get good results it is not merely going through the motions of making 'moves' but being able to work closely with the horse, in a two way cycle.

And to Sams other Half,  maybe you could get into 'doing some stuff' with the ponies and play with reading some of their body language.  Sometimes I see horses nipping at their handler and it seems more like they didn't like being held tightly.  So if you smacked it after the fact and then went back to doing what you always did ......  Sometimes though, when I am working on a horse and I am around a muscle that is causing discomfort and I just touch a spot that is reactive the horse might sling his head in my direction as if to say "careful there".  This tells me to back off a bit and then work back in towards it and usually this will release the muscle off.  The horse will probably be quite happy to let you work it the second time.  So in a case like this, if you chastised him for 'going to bite you' he would probably tighten up, move away and you would have missed the opportunity.  Then you would also have to work much harder to get the relationship back again. 

I am not very good with words and probably a lot of us who are used to being around horses a lot aren't.  Most of our communication with our animals is non verbal and to a casual observer there may be nothing much happening.  But there is.  It isn't that we are 'crackpots' or going 'soft'.  It is more like we have evolved a higher means of communicating with our horses that cannot necessarily be picked up by other people. 

It is so good that you are questioning this though.  Are you thinking that there might be something in this that you aren't getting from your inanimate machines???  They are much more black and white aren't they?

Cheers,

Wendy

   

Pam
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 12:49 am
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I agree with Wendy about horses nipping because the handler gets too close when it is not wanted.  My horse nips at me occasionally and it is always because I am bothering him while he is eating or I am too close to his face while walking/standing.  I find that when he gives me a little nip he is warning me to back off and I do.  It is usually because I am not paying attention as well as I should not because I think he is a big soft cuddly toy.  If you give then a smack when they are asking you to back off aren't you then doing the opposite of what is required at the time and in escence not really listening.  I don't think horses like people around their faces too much and becasue they usually have such good looking faces I think we tend to gravitate there.  I know if I do something to warn say a friend to back off and they don't that it could escalate and that coudl be pretty bad for everybody.  However, I have been around those few individuals that think they can do or say anything they want to others and if youd dare stand up to them then you are the agressor. Well, I say they get what they deserve in that case, and it is darn near impossible to ever want to have a relationship with them.  Because  I do back off when I get a little nip from my horse I haven't ever gotten what I call a bite from him and I don't think I ever will.  How else can they tell us?  Do we have a right to impose our will on them at all times?
I want a relationship with my horse so naturally I want the two-way communication, and that doesn't mean he gets to act like a brat, or hurt me.... nor I him.

Pam I am


Joe
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 02:33 am
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Without really knowing how anybody here really relates to her or his horse, and keeping in mind the very real difficulties of subtle communication via the web, I am a little concerned here.  Dr. Deb once, in a long lost post on the old forum, reminded everyone that their animals were not babies, they were adult animals, and that they had to be controlled for the safety of themselves, their owners and other humans.

With the caution that I am not suggesting anything about anyone on this forum, and stipulating that I have no idea how anyone here relates to horses, I do occasionally get a feeling that perhaps the line between close and subtle (higher, if you will) communication and understanding, and babying, can sometimes get blurred.

One person's "relationship" animal, used to having its own "space" and communicating through nips and shoves, could easily be dangerous to someone else.  The animal must respect humans.  Disrespectful behavior will degenerate over time. 

The human must control the animal.  I am certainly not suggesting physical violence and brutality.  However, regardless of how it is done, the horse must know where the lines of acceptable behavior are.  Those lines must be bright and visable in its mind.

Joe

Sam
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 03:43 am
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Hi Wendy and Pam

Great this forum stuff is'nt it !

Now this is NOT a personal attack on either of you.

I have inserted your reply Pam into mine because yours is the first example that shows what I feel you should not do.

I agree with Wendy about horses nipping because the handler gets too close when it is not wanted. My horse nips at me occasionally and it is always because I am bothering him while he is eating or I am too close to his face while walking/standing. I find that when he gives me a little nip he is warning me to back off and I do.
WHAT WHAT WHAT are you teaching him to do here ? You clearly must see yourself at a lower status then your horse ! You have taught him how to move you away, that he does'nt have to do whats asked and that HE is the boss. You've taught him that its OK to nip/bite you and that this is an acceptable way for him to communicate with you.

I
t is usually because I am not paying attention as well as I should not because I think he is a big soft cuddly toy. Now hang on here, We've already basically agreed that a lower status horse seldom is firm with an Alpha horse, I'm not suggesting you should'nt pay attention, but if you are established as the Alpha yourself, the likelyhood of you being bullied is greatly reduced. Off course, if you are of established lower status you will have to pay attention at all times, without fail.

If you give then a smack when they are asking you to back off aren't you then doing the opposite of what is required at the time and in escence not really listening.I'd smack him as hard as I felt necessary because I'm listening. He's trying to dominate me, it might be a nip now but could be a real bad bite another day, so I'm going to let him know to NEVER do that to me.

I don't think horses like people around their faces too much and becasue they usually have such good looking faces I think we tend to gravitate there.
Tell the Vet who comes to treat your horses teeth, eyes or head wound not to touch your horses head because he's taught you not too ! I feel "hard luck horsey" you may not like your head being touched but its the one thing above all that I need to be able to control so (after desensitizing it first), get used to it.

I know if I do something to warn say a friend to back off and they don't that it could escalate and that coudl be pretty bad for everybody.
Yes thats the idea ! You don't go around bullying your horse but if he trys to bully you like you are warning your friend, is it not better to put your horse back in its place quickly and sharply before things escalate.

However, I have been around those few individuals that think they can do or say anything they want to others and if youd dare stand up to them then you are the agressor. Well, I say they get what they deserve in that case, and it is darn near impossible to ever want to have a relationship with them. Because I do back off when I get a little nip from my horse I haven't ever gotten what I call a bite from him and I don't think I ever will. How else can they tell us? Do we have a right to impose our will on them at all times? Yes we do, horses impose their will on each other every second of every day, wheres the difference ? We buy them, BUT NEVER "OWN" THEM, However, when we choose to "own" them they must learn not to harm us.
I want a relationship with my horse so naturally I want the two-way communication, and that doesn't mean he gets to act like a brat, or hurt me.... nor I him.

You obviously have a great relationship with you horse that you seem to be happy with. All horses are dangerous. Yours potentially alot more as he appears to think he can do what he likes regardless of what you want. Thats a terrible road to go down.

Can I now feel justified that my original observation that some you Gals might be becoming increasingly softer and softer and that these gals own bad mannered horses (that bite and nip), that are horses that are superior in the herd to them, that dominate these Gals when they choose, are potentialy more danderous to them and others.

Machines are not all black and white either, but that's a whole new forum.

I don't really care how you Gals treat your horses. I basically have nothing to do with them now, but am required on occasions to help out. It at this time that I expect horses to have at the very least manners and respect. It does appear that a new type of owner is emerging, one that has lost sight of the basic fundamentals in favour of the friendly, do no wrong, don't make him do anything cuddly wuddly horse. And no I'm not jealous, no complaints at all in that department.

We guys quite like you Gals for obvious reasons! So keep safe..............................................................

Appreciate the oportunity to respond.


Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 12:42 pm
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Hello again Second Sam - you're really no fun at all - there I was building up a terrific picture of a hairy orange ape and now I have to scrap that and start all over again!

Joking aside, methinks we are talking at cross-purposes and have a lot more in common than you might guess.  There would be few participants on this forum who would consider it acceptable for any horse to bite, kick or in any way threaten their human handler (Sorry Pam, I do have to agree with #2 Sam on this point, even a mild nip tells me your horse is unclear about some aspects of his relationship with you).   If we take that as an agreed common ground, then what we are really disputing is the 'how' of communicating to the horse that this is unacceptable behaviour. 

Your view appears to be that we should act like another horse would act if a prior warning was ignored and use physical force of some sort, saying that in your experience this has been a permanent solution in dealing with a particular horse, although you do not specify what type of horses you have used this method on.  The point I was trying to convey in my last post was that this will not work on all horses, but I did not clarify what I really meant - my error.  Although I spoke of the young TBs, which was quite amusing when I understood what was actually happening, I am grateful to them for making me find a better way (Wendy gave an excellent  description of the realities of working on the average racehorse - any therapist is expected to be able to handle any horse, get the job done with a visible improvement or the bill doesn't get paid and the reputation is shot) before I got to work on some older, sore, cranky, intolerant racing mares and stallions.  The racing industry as a whole gets some very bad press, but I never saw any trainer mistreat any horse and certainly never saw anyone slap or strike a horse.    Race trainers are not known for being touchy-feely, cuddly-toy types, they have exhausting jobs, appalling hours and bad pay where a horse is a money-making commodity, but most of them have found that using force does not get the best performance out of the horse.

Breed does make a difference.  The so-called 'cold bloods' which would include many of the pony breeds, the draughts and some of the warmbloods are better described as non-reactive.  These horses respond to confusion and unclear signals with a sort of 'if in doubt-do nothing' philosophy which is frequently misinterpreted as stubbornness or low intelligence, they are also unlikely to retaliate to physical force from a human handler although just the other day I did hear of a vet being killed by a Clydesdale mare at the end of her mental tether.  At the other end of the scale are the 'hot bloods', the thoroughbreds, arabians and iberians for example, who could also be called 'reactive'.  Many of these horses are sensitive in the extreme, quick to take offence and act accordingly.  It's not unusual for a racing TB stallion to be handled by men wearing body armour using steel rods instead of lead ropes to keep them out of striking distance.  They would not go to these lengths if a 'good firm slap on the muzzle' was all it took to make the horse comply. 

Gender also makes a difference.  Whatever the breed, a gelding is the least likely horse to injure it's owner in retaliation to rough handling.  Mares are generally less tolerant, and anyone who challenges a stallion might as well book their hospital bed before they start.

We seem to be discussing hypotheticals in speaking of a horse not seeing an attack coming.   I have not seen this, you have not seen this,  I doubt that anyone has seen that happen as I can't believe any prey animal would be as unaware as we are.    We get bitten or kicked and think it came 'out of the blue' from an unpredictable animal, another horse would see the warning signals a mile away even if they then chose to ignore them.

There is a way to interact with horses that does not require any agression or retaliation on our part, but produces a quiet compliant horse with no desire to kick or bite, regardless of breed or gender, but we haven't even begun that discussion yet.

Best wishes - Pauline

Joe
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 02:14 pm
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Pauline:

It appears that we do agree, at least in general.  I certainly read with respect anything you post -- for one thing because some execises you prescribed for another animal were simply wonderful for my old Arab -- and results like that earn you respect even though we have never met.

Your comments about the hot bloods brought a smile.  I grew up amongst Arabians, who, as you know, are pretty sensitive and reactive.  Of course, not knowing better, I just thought of them as horses and related to them as they required.  I also had a Standardbred as my principal riding horse during my teens when I actually had time to ride and not just write about it on the web.  The Standardbred was pretty reactive, too.  Then one summer when courting my wife I spent lots of time at a T-bred breedding operation owned by her best friend's parents.  Talk about reactive!  We used to give a snap to the halters of Arabs who were engaging in minor misbehavior, or ignoring us.  Arabs would usually get the message.  T-bred yearlings and two-year olds could (and you didn't know when) blow up, and then heaven help you. And I have had a few scary experiences with stallions.   In a fair fight, horsey wins every time.

Still, Sam's point about letting the animal dictate "space" by means of nipping shoving, etc, with which you also seem to agree, was really the point I was trying to make in my last post. That kind of behavior is unaceptable and can become dangerous.  It is not enough to say that people who don't "get" it and are consequently hurt, should have known better.  Taken to an extreme, that is similar to keeping a dangerous dog and saying theat people should just know to stay away.

That said, taking a hypothetical horse over 5 yrs of age, with a lack of good manners, if the occasional hard smack is not the way to go, where DO you start?  Lets talk nipping and biting first.

Joe  

Pam
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 09:38 pm
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Sam,

I fail to understand your point about dominance. 

I didn't say my horse NEVER lets me touch his face or head.  Also my vet has no problems with him.  She would tell me if she did.  When I need to do something like clean his eyes or face he is just fine with it.  He often puts his head in my arms and rests it there.  He is very gentle and sweet.  My horse does not push me around and he is not a bully.  To my knowledge he has never hurt anybody either.  In fact he is so cooperative he let me put a man's batman costume on him last Halloween and we rode like that....and won best costume... I might add. 

I don't see how an occasional nip from him is going to lead to something bigger, like kicking or biting.  You have not proved to me that I can expect this.  So what do you think the horse is thinking when he nips at me?  Is it not possible that I am in the wrong when he does that.  Or are you saying that doesn't matter?  I think that is what you are saying.

When I first got my horse, about 3.5 years ago, I boarded at a barn that was owned by a woman who tried to teach me to be afraid of horses because she was.   I won't go into details but as it turned out the horses should fear her because she hurt one in particular by backing him up fiercely into a wood bench, in an attempt to teach him ground manners.  He was just a baby and didn't deserve that treatment.  But I am sure in her mind it was justified.

I understand teaching manners to horses and my horse has manners.  But what I think I hear you saying (and lots of people) is that I should fear horses.  Sorry, but I just don't, and trust me I have a very fun horse.

Pam

Joe
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 10:01 pm
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Pam:

I know you replied to Sam and not to me, but here are some thoughts anyway:
  1. You have no reason to fear horses, and certainly should not learn to.  In fact, they read fear in a millisecond and assume that if you fear them they should fear you.  I have been around horses, and lots of them, all of my life, and have never feared them -- although there have been certain animals of whom I was very wary, and certain circumstances in which I was downright afraid -- for example the time a green hand had something (we never knew what) go wrong with an Arab stallion who reared and came after him.  The hand lost his balance and was supported by the leadline attached to the animal who wanted to strike him.  I ran around the corner and took the lead, then had to dodge forelegs and hooves that were not only striking out but also being brought together like a hammer and anvil.  I was as afraid then as I have ever been.  That stallion was normally quite calm, BTW.
  2. Although you should not fear them, you should respect them not only as fellow creatures, but as immensely powerful animals whose actions can rapidly harm you or others.
  3. Horses do not have and cannot fathom humal emotions or relationships.  You and your horse can certainly build a relationship of mutual respect, trust and reliance but deeper feelings of love only go one way and cannot be relied upon to modify animal behavior.  Keep in mind that regardless of what lots of people think about it, we have no idea of how horses experience emotions, or why.  Dr Deb has written an excellent and throught provoking book called The Birdie Book just trying to explore equine attention, consciousness and focus.  Deeper emotions are impossible to fathom in another species (maybe even just in another gender).  Heck, we can't even imagine very well how horses percieve physical reality.
  4. I agree with Sam and Pauline. Nipping to move you or cause you to act is unacceptable, and can lead to other disrespectful behavior.
  5. It doesn't matter how good your relationship is otherwise.  The animal must behave respectfully and within bounds all the time.  Nipping is out of bounds.
Cheers!

Joe

Last edited on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 10:04 pm by Joe

Sam
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 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 11:49 pm
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Hi Everyone,

This is getting more and more strange, I find I go online to firstly post a reply to a friend who lives 20mins away and now I find I am posting a reply to someone who lives in the same house as me, I am talking to them via America!!!! All causing a bit of a laugh. It has been really interesting talking horses with my other half. If he had raised this 'thread' a year or so ago I would have stuck my head in the oven. I still can't answer all he fires at me but its great, I just say go put that on the forum, thanks so much for all your feedback,folks it is wonderful. Like Cyruus 44, I had been living the failure story, and suffered badly from 'NOTSMD' (No one to save me disorder!) it is a bitter pill to swollow to discover the superhero with his undies on the outside of his clothes is not going to save you. The help must come from with in. I did cheat a bit as I enlisted the help of an amazing life coach. Anyway I toddled off down the path of treating my horses as 'cuddly wuddlys' (of course Shetland ponies are cuddly wuddlys) and poor old 'Sam I ain't' bravely kept his mouth shut as I would come in crying and feeling like a failure coz I had hurt my horses feelings and put both me and my horse in the poopie while at it. I must say this little journey was a massive learing experience as there truly is an ability for us to 'feel' and understand horses in our very souls at times. But, I have now discovered the horse/pony finds you of no benifit to be in that place all the time when dealing with them.

Pam I am, your horse sounds lovely, in the past my sensitive horse has put a yukky look on his face and swung his head around to me to say 'don't touch me there' and like the good student I am I'd back off, and coz I was afraid of hurting him and upsetting him it got to the stage I could only brush him and do his feet. Now here is where I have cheated majorly and turned to the Birdie Book as this is exactly what my aim with my horses is now, coz it was never an option for me to 'hit' them after they have bitten or kicked. A direct quote from the Birdie book, " The lessons for horse owners: speak to your horse to create a change early, deflect and redirect--before the horse "takes over" Getting your spoke in early eliminates the necessity of hitting, fighting, wrestling or disiplining. To be early you have to be able to see where things are likely headed and that in turn requires you to pay attention to your horse 100% of the time."

I have seen a lower ranked mare accidently give the highest ranked gelding (ex stallion) in the herd both barrels, (five black ponies standing in a row...she made a grave mistake.) It all happened in a split second, she kicked him, realised what she had done, look of horror on face, started to run, he ran after her and nailed her, you can bet she will never make the same mistake again but she was terrified, I wouldn't want to bring out this sort of 'respect' in my horse/pony. Normally this highest ranked gelding never kicks he moves the others with facial expressions and little nips on forelegs, if his sheer presence doesn't move them first. BUT he is not the herd leader, this falls to a young mare, full of wisedom, calm confidence and shining intelligence. She is not high ranked but they defer to her decisions for going 'places', it is all soooo interesting. Also with my Shetlands as foals I never reprimanded them for mouthing me etc, yes I admit coz they were too damn cute, but lucky for me the herd took care of this for me and they don't mouth now, they just out grew a lot of these behaviours.

Anyway have stuck my oar in Sam I ain'ts thread, this is all such fun. All your posts have been wonderful.

Kind Regards

Sam the first.

Helen
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 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 07:27 am
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Phew, only my second post on this forum, but I find this a really interesting topic - not least because I've wondered about it myself - and feel like putting in my bit.

Sam I ain't, it's great that you're really trying to understand and question what is going on. You thank the forum for allowing you to reply, but I would like to thank you for replying in such a reasonable and cohesive manner. I've been on quite a few forums and in many of them would not be a bit surprised to find the poster of this thread replying with a post such as 'Well you're all just idiots anyone can see that you have to be boss of your horse' or some such. So yay for civilized conversation.

On to what I wanted to say: I think your point about needing to be the Alpha horse in your 'herd' is a good one. However - I can't remember if it was in this thread or another, but I think it must be another since I didn't see it here on a quick scan - Dr Deb made an excellent point in saying that the horse must be caught between the thought and the deed. This seems very important, at least to me. More on that later.

The system we all use to train horses is based on pressure and release. Horse training is nothing like dog training, where the command is given and then a reward is given for the correct response. Something different in the psychological system of horses means that they respond better to pressure of some kind being given, and then the pressure being released when the correct response is given.

With skilful training, horses can learn to associate more subtle signals with pressure. It is in this way that some horses can be controlled with only shifts of weight or touches of rein. The horse learns that if it responds to the lighter signal, the pressure (which it wants to avoid) does not come.

Back to the thought and deed business: it seems to me that whether intentional or not, Sam I Ain't is using a similar principal to the pressure/release in saying that shows of dominance by the horse should be responded to accordingly. The horse learns that a nip or kick receives pressure, so it doesn't nip or kick.
Sadly, in my experience, for some reason the horse brain doesn't work that way. Perhaps because horses are so very good at reading each others' body language. Anyway, the point is that it is incredibly rare for a horse to be 'punished' after the deed. It almost, almost always happens when the horse goes to make the action, but before they actually do.

Seems to me that if a horse does think itself dominant to you, that is where the pressure needs to be applied: between thought and deed. If we want to get in on the horses' pecking order, we need to learn to read their body language 'like a horse'. It can also be possible for them to read ours: many horses I know will respond to a tensed body and raised hand as well as a slap. I have yet to decide whether this is a good thing, but on the whole I think it can be useful to have a human equivalent of flattening your ears and baring your teeth.


*Please note that although in many cases it is not phrased as such, all of what is above is just an opinion from someone with no formal training in such matters. :)
Thanks for such an interesting discussion!

Sam
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 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 08:17 am
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Sam I ain't here

Just 2 points from the last posting.

I totally agree a horse should be caught between the thought and the deed, however, if you miss it, does that mean you do nothing ? - and if so, What message do you think the horse will get from your lack of action ?

Secondly, you mention the word "punished".     If I bump a horse, smack, whack or whatever its NEVER a punishment. Its not anger or given with malice, its just meant to be an unpleasant result to his undesirable action. I want him to learn he should'nt do that, rather like the first time he touches an electric fence or rubs his head on barbed wire, rather like us touching touching something very hot or shutting your fingers in the door, you just learn to be careful and not do it. It just IS what happens.

Your right about the forum, its a great tool, very interesting and very very civil.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond


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