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Eye Dominance
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Evermore
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 Posted: Mon Oct 24th, 2011 02:52 pm
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I would like to learn more about eye dominance. The picture of Harry Whitney riding the green horse who was looking in the opposite direction of travel portrays what I have going on with a green horse of my own.

 

I have been asking him to twirl his head both from the ground and when in the saddle. It was this picture and text, and studying the Birdie Book, that caused me to notice while he will twirl his head to the left, he wants to keep his focus to the right. I also have the Bitting DVD. Watching the demo on twirling makes me what to learn what is going on both physically and mentally with him when he does this.

 

Any help in learning what is going on will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Oct 24th, 2011 07:54 pm
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Dear Evermore: What you are describing has nothing at all to do with eye dominance, but rather with your horse's willingness and ability to be where you are mentally. To ascribe it to "eye dominance" is to ascribe all the problems that you may be experiencing to the horse -- "he's just that way". Not so, however; because even horses that are strongly one-sided can be, and must be, made by their rider/handler able to pay attention to either side at any time requested. So, let's go over the principles involved here and what you would need to do to create positive change.

You have been trying to turn your horse's head contrary to where he is looking -- which means, contrary to where the horse desires to be. But physically turning a horse's head in any direction other than the direction in which he is already looking, or in a direction in which he does not WANT to look, is counterproductive.

In other words: for your work to be effective, the direction of the horse's intention and the direction of his head and body, must match. I said "in order for your work to be effective," and this is true, but it is more deeply true also to say "in order for the horse to be 100% OK on the inside."

So you quit trying to pull his head this way or that way, or turn it, or twirl it; and instead you do something -- whatever it is going to take, which will usually be something quite small -- to get the horse to pay attention to the direction you want him to go in.

You take care of this FIRST. After that, then you can go ahead and twirl the head, because the horse will already be twirling it for himself anyway.

"Something quite small" from the ground could be you move your arm, you step crosswise his nose, you rattle the halter and lead, so that he'll look at you. "Something quite small" from the saddle can often be that you wiggle your foot on the side you want him to look/turn toward, or you move your arm out to that side so that he notices it.

This needs to get to be a habit, so that pretty soon, just you picking up the rein on the side you want the horse to turn towards will draw his attention and his commitment to that side. In order to get to that point, however, the horse first must reach, and surpass, the "8 second threshhold", i.e. he must be able to look at you on the ground for 8 running seconds. When this threshhold is achieved, other things will get much easier.

Of course succeeding at this will depend primarily upon your own consistency. You must be mentally present at all times before you can expect your horse to be mentally present at all times, or even for 8 seconds. If this sounds like a bit of a mystery, I suggest you obtain the "Mannering Your Horse" audio CD set, where I speak you through it in some detail. -- Dr. Deb

Evermore
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 Posted: Mon Oct 24th, 2011 09:25 pm
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Thank you so much for your answer. I do have the Mannering CD and will start it up again as soon as I finish typing. 

He is a horse who goes from shutting down to his mind flying off to 'who knows.' Then there are days where he's with me and it is just plain wonderful. 

I will take a pretty honest look at myself. What I think is consistency on my part might look like chaos to him.


I am editing this to ask: Should I stay off him until I get this 8-second attention span on the ground? I know this sounds like a stupid question, but I really need some direction with this guy...

Last edited on Mon Oct 24th, 2011 09:29 pm by Evermore

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 04:54 am
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Short answer: yes. Nobody should get on a horse that can't pay sufficient or continuous-enough attention. So do go ahead and listen to the "Mannering" program, and replay parts of that as you feel you need to. I also want you to think about the following important saying of Ray Hunt's:

"If it wasn't effective, it wasn't understood."

The proof that it was understood is -- if it was effective.

Keep us posted. -- Dr. Deb

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu Oct 27th, 2011 07:02 am
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Hello Evermore

Perhaps the photo below might help you to see what happens when the handler's own attention is distracted away from the horse. These 3 horses are participating with a 2-man team in a Class that is primarily judging the piece of equipment they are pulling, a corn planter, with the horses themselves taking secondary importance. The driver is an excellent horseman who is a master at ploughing a straight line. However, the camera has caught the moment when his attention was temporarily on the planter and the person operating it, not with the horses.

The 3 horses have not been asked to make a left turn, they should be going straight, but their collective birdies have flown to something interesting over to the left of the Ring - and their bodies are following their birdies.

Best wishes
Pauline

Attachment: Birdie in Action.jpg (Downloaded 254 times)

Evermore
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 Posted: Sat Nov 5th, 2011 05:53 pm
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Dear Dr. Deb – I have read, re-read and studied your response every day. Thank you so much. And each time I listen to the Mannering CD or read the Birdie Book I grow a bit more.

 

There has been a giant leap forward in my own consistency now which has, of course, improved my horse’s consistency and attention span on the ground. I had to take a pretty tough look at myself; I had to “manner” myself, if you will. What my other horse takes as normal 'volume' this one takes as screaming at the top of my lungs.

 

While the focusing and mannering is really going well, and I am learning to watch the body language and listen to the breath, and myself am working to be in the Now, I have to ask – and I know I’ll get a straight, forthright answer without any BS – what can you tell me about suitability? I'm not looking for sympathy or a pat on the back. The advice of my stable mates is is 'get a bigger bit, more spur, and carry a quirt. That'll get his attention and then some."

 

Am I anthropomorphizing the horse that, just like humans, mental contentment comes from having a job for which he is best suited? Do bloodlines matter? Was I an idiot to not consider that factor when taking on this horse? 

 

I will look forward to your reply. (I do have another horse whose personality is “anything is just fine to do today.” He likes people and would ride up that telephone pole just because it might be fun. He easily forgives my faults and takes no offense as I improve. The better I get, the better he gets - and he seems to enjoy it. The other one is making me ask some serious questions...)

 

I am hunting down clinics with those on the recommended list. But right now...some insight would be appreciated. I tried to bring up this subject at our riding club's educational meeting. Everyone seemed to be of the mindset that the horse SHOULD do what we want whether it likes it or not.

 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 04:45 am
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Evermore, the horse's first and primary mandate, given directly to the animal by God, is that he must survive.

If you are doing anything with any horse at any time that gets in the way of what that animal perceives to be his ability to survive, then the animal will hurt you. He will do this whether he loves you or not, because he will obey God first, and he has no choice about that.

You therefore should be asking yourself -- where am I getting in this horse's way? You ask this without considering whether the horse is "right" or you are "right" -- this is not a question of right or wrong, or who should or should not obey whom. It is a question relating to PERCEPTION -- where does the horse (from his own point of view) perceive you to be getting in the way of his ability to survive?

A primary objective at all times is to get it to where your horse would rather be with you than anywhere else. In terms of this discussion right now, what this translates to is that your horse appears not to believe that you could be of any benefit to him, at least at times. So, you need to work to get him to believe that he does need you.

You begin on doing this by showing him that you perceive what HE perceives. For example, you know and I know that a piece of white paper caught on a barb of a barbed wire fence, and fluttering in the wind, is nothing to be afraid of. But many and many a horse will perceive that piece of paper as being more dangerous than an oncoming semi, and will shy from that paper right out into traffic. This is the horse's way of perceiving things, and it will get you hurt unless you gain the ability to see it as the horse sees it, fore-see his likely reaction to it, and deflect that reaction so that it never occurs.

The horse's processing time is frequently longer than ours, as well. For example, just before I left on the present trip I was riding Ollie in the back pasture. There's a pond near this pasture and the owner's grandkids come out in the summer and paddle around in a canoe on that pond. During the summer, the canoe is pulled up onshore near the dock. But in winter, when nobody's using it, they pull it around the back of the pond. The other day when we went by, the rear half of the canoe had been shoved so far up away from the pond that it was halfway across the path that you have to take through the back pasture to get through the gate.

Ollie definitely let me know that this was a worry to him. From his point of view, it was a horse-eating kind of canoe. I saw and felt him "loooooook" at the canoe -- they point their nose toward the thing they're getting concerned about, as well as their ears. I felt him want to slow down as we approached it. Therefore, I told him to come to a stop at some distance from the canoe -- close enough that he would still be wanting to look it over pretty carefully, yet not so close that he would have to do anything drastic, such as whirl or run backwards. In short, I permitted him to stand there and snort at it if he needed to and look at it, and do that as long as he needed to.

Then, as always happens, I felt him relax some. When I felt that, I asked him to step forward toward it a step or two. His tension level did not rise, so I let him stand at that distance for some more time -- until I felt him relax even more. We were then able to step by it without Ollie having to shy, balk, rear, whirl, run backwards, or bolt forwards away from it. He did need to turn his ears toward the canoe as we walked by, so it was clear that although he had had enough "processing time" to be able to walk by the canoe, it was still not fully processed. Therefore, after we had passed the canoe, I stopped him about thirty feet beyond the canoe and turned him around again to face it. I then let him look at it (and therefore be thinking about it) for another couple of minutes, until his breathing was completely OK and relaxed and his ears and general feel were completely OK. Without asking anything else of him in the way of bravery, I then turned him around to the direction we were originally going and walked him back to the barn.

The next day, we went down this same trail and the canoe had been moved to a new position. Now it was tucked in behind the fence at the gateway -- a new position. I knew this was liable to surprise and upset Ollie, and the reason I knew this is because I know my horse. I therefore rode him to the position where the canoe had been the day before, and let him sniff the ground and graze. Amid doing that, I felt him notice the canoe's new position. Ollie raised his head and quit chewing while he checked out the canoe. Then he put his head down and I let him graze some more. This is when they do some of their best thinking.

After several minutes, I asked Ollie to raise his head and I deliberately faced him toward where the canoe was. He was relaxed, and that was my "permission" to ask him to step forward through the gate. When we got to the gateway, there wasn't too much room because of the narrowness of the gate to turn him to the left to face the canoe, so I stepped through the gate one step and turned him back to face the canoe, and just stood there while he processed this, i.e. while he considered it and thought about it. After another couple of minutes, he relaxed and we walked on.

This is what it means, on a practical basis, to see out of your horse's eyes. You must allow this, because this is how they learn. Demanding that the horse obey ON YOUR TIME SCHEDULE is what gets both the horse and the person into trouble.

Hope this is of some assistance. -- Dr. Deb

Evermore
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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 02:48 pm
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There's a whole lot of assistance in your response, Dr. Deb. A whole lot. And I can see right now, I need to get out of 'the dog and pony show mentality so I'm accepted by my barn mates' and start being there for my horses.

Thank you for the clarity of your response and the example that followed. Yeah, I can "ride" and do all the horse care things but I'm realizing what I really KNOW about horses is like pouring a glass of water in the lake.

 

Evermore
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 Posted: Mon Nov 14th, 2011 08:29 pm
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Well, you were right, my horse (the non-twirling, won’t focus, can’t make him “must have an eye problem” sort of horse) didn’t have a horse problem…he had a people problem…or more specifically, a person problem. Or to be really honest: a ME problem.

 

Your responses to my questions have given me a lot to work on and work on it I shall continue to do. Every day brings a bit more awareness and the problems I first wrote in seem almost silly now. How could I think I could force the horse to focus on me? Now, since improving myself, I find (in amazement!) he WANTS to!

 

It is one step along a journey that will take the rest of my life, I know; and I’ll have plenty more questions as it goes along. But I wanted to write back and tell you how much I appreciate your help.


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