The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:28 pm 
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Level 1: The start - the first exercise

The very first exercise in the Art of Natural Dressage (AND) is not an exercise for your horse, but for you: it teaches you to stop demanding, and instead become interesting. Therefore you shouldn't see these first lesson as exercise or training, but as a task you need to fulfill. Your horse is your teacher, and only when he shows you that you have succeeded in this task, you have the basis to train all the other exercises in a true AND way. This way doesn't rely on pressure, and not that much on foodrewards either, it relies on the fact that your horse wants to be with you and wants to learn from you. So first you have to show him that you are fun to be with and very inspiring too. If your horse believes you - which he will show you by starting to spend more time with you - he has accepted you as his teacher.


Why
Most training methods are based on stimulating the horse to do things. Traditional and natural horsemanship methods use corrections and pressure to stimulate the horse to do an exercise, clickertraining uses food. The first are not used in the Art of Natural Dressage (AND), foodrewards can be. However, the main motivator in AND is not what you give him (corrections or food rewards) but what you yourself are: an inspiring an interesting being - or not.

When you set your horse free, without any tools to capture his attention or to keep him close, you will need to get him interested in you by your personal qualities only. Only then he will want to be with you, and only then you can start to do exercises together. And as in a cordeo or neckring the horse is essentially free and cannot be forced to do anything, you need to become that interesting that he wants to be with you. You have to inspire your horse to work with you. And to do that first he needs to learn that being with you and moving with you can be totally voluntary - his choice


The first task: Just be with your horse
The first training sessions in AND are spent by doing nothing. You probably have a history of training your horse, demanding exercises. That means that your horse will see you as an omen of work, and maybe even pressure and corrections. Your first lessen therefore is to teach him that you have stopped (mis)behaving in that way and that you won't pressure him into exercises anymore. You do that by simply not asking anything from him the first training sessions.

Practically this means that the first training sessions you start with your horse in the training area - without trainig him. Just sit, walk and run around yourself (maybe with a ball to amuse yourself with?) and move or stand still as much as you like. Basically ignore your horse, and don't ask him to do anything! If he ignores you, you continue with what you're doing. When he then turns to face you, stop playing, walk towards him, reward him with some attention or scratching a favorite spot for about a minute - and then leave again playing on your own yourself. If your horse walks towards you, you stop and go towards him, praise him for showing the initiative to join you in your play - and then go and play again.

Do this the first couple of training sessions - reward his interest in you and what you do by turning your attention to him - but don't destroy that by seizing the opportunity and squeeze some exercises out of him! Just leave him be. Only reward his attention with your attention back.

When your horse after a couple of sessions really starts to get an interest in your play and starts walking, trotting or cantering to come to you or keep up with you, then you know that he's getting interested in you. That's a huge accomplishment, you can be really proud of that achievement! Because he has now shown you that he wants to earn your attention in a more energetic way - essentially he really wants to work for earning it. That's why only now you can start asking him a small excercise when he's with you, like moving his hindquarters a step aside or touching your hand. If he does, you reward him and go and run around yourself again untill he starts joining you again. If he doesn't do the exercise you suggested, then you can repeat your aid (touching the skin not harder) two or three times, and if you still get no response then you're off again untill he gets near you again and you ask the exercise or another again.

What you teach him with this playing by yourself is that you as a person are really exiting and fun and inspiring to be with. When he starts to give attention to you, you reward him with your attention, and then you leave again. That makes you interesting! Most horses get bored to death by the cartloads of unwanted human attention they get buried under during a training session. Now your horse has not only learned that your attention is fun (instead of hard labour), but also that it's rare - so he will learn that he needs to become more interesting too in order to catch your attention. And he can do that by performing a little task you ask from him - be it standing with his head low, flexing at the poll, shoulder in or piaffe...

The 'you inspiring your horse'-fase can take one or more training sessions, depending on how much your horse liked your training sessions before. If he really depended on corrections as motivator to play with you, then he probably will need some time to be reassured that moving around and playing with you can be voluntary and fun. If he before was mostly motivated by food, maybe even to such an extent that he would do stuff for a carrot even when he didn't really want to repeat it again, then he will need some time too to discover that you can be inspiring without food too. But every horse can learn this, you just need to follow the rules of not going to the horse unless he shows interest in you, and not asking him any exercises before he shows you he really wants to work. Also remember: you're only interesting to the outside world if you think you're interesting yourself to begin with. Occupy yourself. If you can't do that by just sitting, you can walk or dance. If you don't feel like moving, you can occupy yourself by drawing patterns in the sand of the arena, playing with a ball, knotting ropes in a string. Do something to amuse yourself and keep yourself busy, and your horse will start to wonder why his human looks to content and happy - and will want to investigate how he can share that same feeling too.

Don't worry if you and your horse need more sessions together just doing nothing before you two discover your inner power and happiness. It's not just something your horse needs to learn, but sometimes you yourself too. But you will see a change throughout your 'training sessions' of doing nothing particular. Also try not to make them too extensive. Don't make these first exercises of doing nothing longer than 15 to 20 minutes. After that your horse will grow tired because he needs to think this mental shift over, so give him that time.


The second task: The rest of your life
When you've established this new relationship in which your horse actually wants to be with and learn from you, you need to be very carefull with that. You'll need to alter your own views on training too, because when you decide that you'll do a lot of exercises the next half hour, your horse will get bored, feel pressurized with all the (even pressure-less!) demands and stop playing along again. Because the deal was; if you as human get interesting enough, your horse will start to play with you. So then don't get boring again!

And if your horse walks away from you: let him. Take over his idea and walk away yourself too and start amusing yourself again, for example go to another horse and give him attention, check the haynets or other things. The more your horse realises that you won't push him, follow him or force him to be with you, the more interested he will be in being with you. This doesn't mean that from now on you can never go to him anymore when he doesn't come to you - as you have an equal relationship, you're allowed to express your opinion too. But keep in mind that your training wil only succeed if your horse wants to be with you. So walk to him, scratch an itchy spot or stroke his mane, and see if he likes the attention. If so, you can decide to let him graze or to take him along to play with each other. If he doesn't like this attention either, know better than to push through and still take him along, and just let him be. Because tomorrow there's always another day!

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Last edited by admin on Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 11:38 pm 

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I hope you don't mind but I wanted to add something I have been doing with my horses when doing the just spending time to get their interest in me and trust. I will move toward them and wait till the moment they look ready to move away than stop. I turn in the direction they are facing and mirror them from than on. They turn to look away from me I look away from them, they take a step I take a step, they back I back, they put their head down I do the same. It has helped greatly with horses whom are scared of humans in understanding I don't want to hurt them but interact with them. It becomes a game to them esp. when they see if they stomp I stomp. It has lead to my two horse following me and mirroring me at times like I mirrored them.

When I do this I like not to do anything else and never do it for very long. It def. has made the horses more curious in what I am about. :D

Just some of my thoughts!
Eileen

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:18 am 
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Wonderful, Eileen! This really is the basis of asking the horse to mimick you; by starting to mimick him yourself first. Thank you for reminding us of this! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:33 am 

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I noticed that there havn't been any posts in this topic for over 1 1/2 years. Does this thread continue somewhere else?
In any case, I had a question about it. I would love to know if people have noticed differences in how long it takes horses to be interested in people depending on breed. I know that there are differences depending on good or bad experiences a horse has had but am curious if some breeds are quicker to bond easily with humans, like Andalusians or Arabs compared to Quarter horses for instance. Since I have used positive reinforcement ever since we have had our horse I never had the chance to try this out with her. Whenever I come to see her she's always affectionate and happy to see me but of course part of that could be the expectation of food, since I feed her twice daily. It seems to me that horses would always associate at least one person in their life with feeding time and I would therefore assume that whenever a horse approaches a person there is always the thought of food somewhere in the back of their head. I'm actually wondering if horses that live in a herd would show any interest in people they have seen before and investigated (meaning their natural curiosity is satisfied), since it seems they would be so much better able to relate to their own kind. This compares to me to people, who, when given the choice, will try to relate to other people who speak their own language. Only when this is not possible will the need for companionship motivate them to learn another language. Another motivation of course could be a strong motivation to learn something, like on this forum, where many of you are willing to go through a lot of extra effort to communicate in a foreign language.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:01 am 

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Birgit,
This is an interesting question. I for one do believe that there are certain breeds that like humans better than others. Of course there will always be exceptions to this and temperament and previous handling is a big part.
When I searched for my boy, I went looking for a horse that had has as little as possible human contact BUT an interest and curiosity in people. I really truly believe that there are "horse" horses and "people" horses. I think this is why some people struggle so with their horses and interaction. For one reason or another their horses are the "horse" type and will choose the herd for safety over the human every time. The quieter more sturdy cold blood types seem to be more willing to try to co-operate or want to learn what the owner is asking, perhaps because their flight/alert responsiveness is less heightened? However the down side is they can be a little reluctant to show play and a more energetic side as their nature is to be calm.
So I guess it depends on what one wants to see and how energetic the owner is!
What I do find very interesting is the interaction with my horse and people he has never met. Some he will trot to meet, others he gives a very wide berth and won't even let them touch him. He knows who he wants to interact with and what their intentions are. Is this smell, body language or intuition.....whatever, he knows immediately!
It always fasciantes me to move among a herd of unknown horses and see which ones want the human interaction and which ones don't. This is not to say that they can't learn to want to be with humans but if the need and curiosity is there to begin with, I do think it makes life that much easier.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:37 pm 

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Hi everyone !
I hope it is ok for me to reply to this post as i have only just signed on tonight! It has been a long time since I have written anything in english so bear with me :blush:
I find this very interesting about what kind of horse is suitet best for interacting with people....I have found that this depends as much on the person as well, some horses just doesent want to have anything to do with some people, some horses loves everybody and some are very selective in their choice of human friend! Klaus Hempfling has said something about this.
In my own experience I have had a horse I found it extreemely difficoult to connect with, but it was well worth the effort, I had to develop certain sides of my personality,and be very,very patient for a period of 2years!!!!
This horse and I then had 15 wonderfull years together, and he turned out to be very talentet, very special...When I am old and have forgotten most things I am sure he will be the one I remember!!
If this was not quite along the lines of this post , I am sorry, still new ar this. ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:50 am 
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This first exercise is really nice. :yes: Basically this is how I try to do everything - being interesting with no need for food.

Birgit wrote:
It seems to me that horses would always associate at least one person in their life with feeding time and I would therefore assume that whenever a horse approaches a person there is always the thought of food somewhere in the back of their head.


I feed my horses 3 times a day oats and hay, and 1 or 2 times a day carrots. But I did not feed them anything from my hands for some months now - they do get food only from the ground. Their bodylanguage is different, when they think I might be the source of some carrot or such. They do look at me with the "food?" expectation by now mostly when I do things connected with feeding only.

They used to be handfed in the past. When other people go near the horses, the horses are all over them, searching and sniffing for food. So even when I do feed the horses, they do not associate me with handing out food, but basically everyone else they do associate with food handouts.

So I believe, that if you do not use training treats, nor do hand feed your horses, but just feed them for feeding times from the ground, that they do not always have the thought of food connected with people.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:44 pm 

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Hi Lisann,
First welcome and your English is great so don't worry about that. I would be very interested to know what Klaus has to say about horses that like/dislike human interaction. Can you elaborate on that?
We had this discussion somewhere else about how the foals upbringing by the mother can affect that too. If she is nervous she generally puts that across to the foal or so I am led to believe. I know my friend won't breed if the mare has any kind of people issues at all as she says it is always harder to home the foal that doesn't come to greet or is nervous.

Andrea, I agree with you about the feeding only at feed times etc, but I do believe that if the horse has the same person feeding them all the time they do connect that one person to their feed but not all people. The time of feeds, being regular also elicits a feed response from most horses...hanging around the gate, waiting by a feed pole.
For this reason I try to interact with my horse away from his feed times so he is not distracted.
Luckily for us we are on a private farm so not too many hand feeders....but I know this can become a bad problem.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:41 am 
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It would be wonderful if you would start a topic on it an appropriate section...perhaps mental and emotional connection?

It sounds like a very good topic to have!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:20 pm 

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Hi guys! ;) I feel very welcome! Thanks for nice comments, I will start a new topic in the section Karen sugested ! :friends:
Lisann


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:28 pm 

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Quote:
Birgit said: I'm actually wondering if horses that live in a herd would show any interest in people they have seen before and investigated (meaning their natural curiosity is satisfied), since it seems they would be so much better able to relate to their own kind.


There is a fascinating book by Carolyn Resnick called 'Naked Liberty' which traces the story of her life with wild Mustang herds and she goes into this sort of thing there - it's a lovely book and very interesting, also on the concept of dominance/leadership, her ideas and conclusions being drawn from her observations of horses over the years, plus how she got them interested in her too! I can really recommend it, a great read! (I got it through amazon.uk).

Quote:
I would be very interested to know what Klaus has to say about horses that like/dislike human interaction. Can you elaborate on that?

me too me too!!!

I'm so glad this topic was 'resurrected' after two years - so newbies like me were sure to find it!!!
susan
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:58 pm 

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fab, thanks Lisann

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:48 am 
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I too find this subject very interesting (even though it really doesn't have anything to do with "the first exercise").
I was thinking about my two horses while reading everyone's ideas and I don't agree on everything.
I hand feed my horses, a T-B and a QH. I have taught them to not invade my space. I clicker train so when I am teaching them something, I feed them. Of course they are motivated by food - that's the name of the game. But they wait for their treat. I feed them twice a day (beet pulp & other good stuff). Right after they're finished, they have fresh hay so they will eat for about half an hour. Afterwards, they know it's training time. They will move from their hay and come to me (they are always at liberty - in stalls 11 x 22). Corado, my T-B will show me what he can do even before I ask him (of course he's expecting a treat. But that's ok). He reminds me of a child who is showing his mother what he can do.
While I'm training Corado, Magik will eat his hay. when I'm ready for Magik, he will stop eating his hay and come to me. He will also lift his leg to show me he's ready to learn (I had the hardest time with him for leg-up and now he's lifting on his own).
This behavior I owe it to clicker training and of course the encouragement I received on this forum. I used to be a Parelli student with Corado, my TB. I didn't have a true relationship until I proved to him that I can be a friend. I will give him treats for no reason. Sometimes he's just standing beside me and he's letting me pet him. I'll give him a treat and a stroke.
He has changed so much in the last 2 years. I still don't ride him, and maybe I never will. I don't have the riding experience to ride an ex-race horse but on the ground, he is my best friend. So why ruin this relationship. I think he will give me a sign when he's ready to be ridden. right now, he still doesn't have the confidence he needs and I don't want him to rely on me. I want him to rely on himself. We're getting there because now he dominates Magik but he still spooks at the slightest sound or move. Maybe he always will since he's so nervous but I'll continue working on that.
But going back to the subject, the first exercise. I believe time spent with your horse and developing the relationship is what this is all about. And, in my opinion, if hand feeding is part of developing the relationship, then that's ok with me. Of course I don't have agressive horses, maybe my opinion would be different if that were the case.
Again, my opinion.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:01 am 

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Horsefever, the 'work' you are doing sounds amazing, with a horse that has so many issues it's a real test of love and patience! And clicker training is all about that, right? slowing down to where your horse is at, and taking it from there, taking as long as it takes. There is a lot of that in other training approaches too, I know it's not just clicker of course.
Re food treats/rewards, Alexandra Kurland is very eloquent on this and allows for using or not using them. I do use them, and my horse can get pushy and over-excited about it, especially in the rapid-fire moments when we are establishing a cue or similar. But that is also to my advantage: because he loves his treats so much he pays extra attention when he can't have them because he's being too pushy or grabby and it's a superb learning experience for him, he really puts his all into working out why they suddenly get harder to get at....
In her books AK tells the story of Fig, a very aggressive ex-racehorse with huge anger issues.....treats were what in the end helped her to turn around and become herself again, so I think treats and aggressive horses are two separate issues that can work together or not....I wonder if the secret to the success or otherwise of treats is not simply in the attitude of the human in each equation? It's not right or wrong either way, it's what works for each individual and there is no point forcing yourself to give, or not give, treats just because of a 'dictum' from some training manual. (And ditto all the other 'golden rules' we have imbibed from our respective cultures childhoods etc etc etc).
susan

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:06 am 
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I moved the part about the waterhole rituals so that they have their own topic now: The Waterhole Rituals

Feel free to continue discussing them over there! :)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
I noticed that there havn't been any posts in this topic for over 1 1/2 years. Does this thread continue somewhere else?
In any case, I had a question about it. I would love to know if people have noticed differences in how long it takes horses to be interested in people depending on breed.


With me, it doesn't seem to be tied so much to breed as the horses' own personality and history. Blank slate horses, with no or little human interaction, seem more naturally curious about us. Trained horses with a long history of being used to the human's purpose even though there has been no severe abuse, seem more closed off to the bonding at first, though can be enticed if they are shown that you are something different.

I've found neglect cases are the hardest. This is actually true in human's too as when I worked with child abuse and neglect, it was neglect cases that were less likely to respond to human intervention then those who had experienced abuse.

Horses that are more alert to their surrondings seem to be more curious too. The horse that is always looking around and responsive to changes in his environment, such as pony, are very interested in interacting with the "new toy" aka human. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:30 pm 

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Quote:
I've found neglect cases are the hardest. This is actually true in human's too as when I worked with child abuse and neglect, it was neglect cases that were less likely to respond to human intervention then those who had experienced abuse.

Thanks for sharing that, I have had that same experience with animals. Animals that receive some positive interaction regularly but someone is abusive to them at times, seem to often have hope left, they may be unpredictable for a long time, but understand that good things can happen, too. In neglect cases something in the brain gets turned off, a reason for hope maybe, and it can take a long time to turn it back on. In some cases I think it takes a "positive shock" of some sort.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:41 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
In neglect cases something in the brain gets turned off, a reason for hope maybe, and it can take a long time to turn it back on. In some cases I think it takes a "positive shock" of some sort.


Of course in humans there is a developmental problem if the child never received mothering/nurturing as an infant. Developmental stages, if not met at the time, can have little hope of being regained.

I am not sure how that would work with horses. I know with cats that have been taken from their mothers too soon, have eccentric issues, sometimes anti-social or aggressive behavior, because of it. There is also a developmental stage in dogs (I think it's seven weeks?) where they are susceptible to gaining a long term fright if frightened during that time. And I was watching a show about a dog that had been neglected by a hoarder who had to re-learn how to trust.

OTOH abuse cases, just some of my limited experience, is that they remain unpredictable. You never know when old memories will be triggered or what triggers them. Like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) the trigger event may be even very unrelated to the actual past event.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:18 am 

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I think there is two different periods in dogs and in people and many other animals that are relevant here, the one is what might be called the imprint period. This the critical time of bonding with the mother. Failure to bond with the mother (or a maternal figure) is probably the most important to develop a normal emotional life. Then there is the socialisation period, which is the time period in dogs and cats where they learn about relating to others of their own species and to humans and other animals. This socialisation period can end anywhere between 10 and 20 weeks for dogs, quite a bit earlier for cats, depending on breed and genetic background. After that time it is very difficult and much more time consuming to socialize, if not impossible. For a long time there was the belief that there are also one or more fear periods in dogs, during which time they are much more fragile emotionally to negative stress experiences. This is now questioned my many animal behaviorists.
Horses' development is, like that of all prey animals, very different from dogs and even from people, who are predators. Horses can see well and walk, run and eat and eliminate on their own shortly after birth because this is essential for their survival in the wild. I know that people talk about an imprint phase for horses, but it seems that the term is used somewhat interchangeably with socialisation period. I believe the popular "Imprint Training" developed by Dr. Robert Miller is considered controversial precisely because it might interfere with the imprinting of mare and foal. I would love to know what the experiences are that people have had with socializing later, ranging from later in the first week of the foal, to several years old.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:39 am 
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Yes, I can see what you are saying about the 1.) Imprinting; and 2.) socialization period. Although horses are not prey animals, biologically we all have similiarities. The bonding and parenting from the mother; the socialization via the structure of the family.

When either is interrupted, the animal, whether prey or predator, develops strange behaviors. I mention cats and dogs because I live with them and have directly seen what happens when these patterns are interrupted. I am sure a horse has it's own eccentric behaviors that develop too.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:03 pm 

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Hi everyone,

I have a question about this ¨game¨
I have a3 year old stallion. he always comes to me and loves attention, but he takes a bit too much space. I mean he wants to play with you and tries to dominate you.
How would I do this game with him?

Love,

Helene

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:29 am 
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Helene,

Try this topic! Dealing with a Pushy Horse

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=441

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:04 am 

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Hi everybody, I am new on this forum and would like to react to Birgit's question about particular breeds and if there are differences between in play and training in f.i. warmblooded horses and the more "coldblooded' horses. I have two fjordhorses and first of all they are very human orientated (I would like to add that have owned also 2 straight egyptian Arabs and a Friesian stallion) and they are so gifted in groundwork exercises. They know immediately what I mean and perform it beautifully. My fjordhorses are quite sturdy, but they are so flexible and loose. From these horses I learnt the most. Especially my younger gelding is very clear in what he wants and shows it when he is not amused or when he loves something (he loves showing off his tricks and loves driving the carriage). We have joined a training from Nathalie Penquitt and I am proud to say that he was the best in his group (in this group were Morgan horses, Irish Cobs, Merens and Friesians). Training in liberty gave me something that I never thought I would learn, a way to be with your horses that feels good and without pressurizing the horses.

Sorry for my long reply but I am also thrilled to have found this fantastic forum.

Warm regards,
Sandra


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:17 pm 
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I had the opportunity to work with several fjords and they where absolutely sensitive, intelligent, awake and sooo fast, clever and spirited.

I also observed that, when humans are pushy and unsensitive with them, that is exactly what humans will receive back from them.
And then their vast proportions and strength realy show :green:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:20 pm 
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If your horse believes you - which he will show you by starting to spend more time with you - he has accepted you as his teacher.


And I would add:

"and playmate/friend and is prepared to teach you".

For in my case, anyway, the horses really do the teaching :)

I myself teach only humans, and then again, I only teach the humans what the horses have said/are saying :green:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:42 pm 
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We have joined a training from Nathalie Penquitt and I am proud to say that he was the best in his group (in this group were Morgan horses, Irish Cobs, Merens and Friesians). Training in liberty gave me something that I never thought I would learn, a way to be with your horses that feels good and without pressurizing the horses.


This is so nice Sandra! And so nice you have joined us here! If you ever have the time, it would be great if you could explain more about Nathalie Penquitt? Perhaps start a new topic in the Research and Training Methods section? I would love to know more but there doesn't seem to be an english web page for her.

Thank you and welcome!

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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 12:07 pm 

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This first exercise as you explain it is what I call: become horse with the horses.

Parelli gives a little hint on this sort of exercise in his dvd, where you should be with the horse for half an hour or so and do nothing.
But I interpreted that as a constant way of hanging about with them and doing my own thing in the meantime. Whereby I would stop in between to give hugs or a little scratch to the one that stayed near me. I could read a book (they would come to see what I was reading) or even doing some work on the laptop (beats working in a boring office...). But the best way is when I started to pick up the droppings daily in order to prevent worm spreading. This is a very good exercise to keep you busy and be with your herd at the same time.
I only had to watch them coming near the wheelbarrow to inspect what's in it, especially when it is very full... as they like to fling it over so you can start all over again, the villains! :rambo:

I agree with Susan on the handgiven treats.
It depends not only on the horse and the human, but even on either one's mood of that day/moment.

Tachat will not be bothered too much about treats, if he's not in the mood you can forget about it!
Wodan would come over to earn some as soon as he sees something could be received...
My Billy is very mouthy so with him I have to be very careful on the treats or they become a threat... to me! :roll:

Since I started with clicker training recently, this was one of the first issues.
I was acting quite like you suggest in the first exercise, while picking up the droppings taking an interval when one of the horses came to 'check' on me :smile:
But the problem was that the others than quickly noticed that he got a treat, so they also wanted one and I got surrounded by horses all wanting something from me: treats.

My trainer suggested therefore to separate the horse I would like to work with from the others, so at least we were left in peace and could concentrate on each other. I will try that but somehow I feel a little sorry about that because before it was really the 'natural' way...

ama


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 7:19 am 
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I read this after I had starting working with Ra. It makes sense. Now that hes back home and Laska is here and is unsure of this new place and new human I have intensified(?) my "do nothing".

I pick the pasture daily and sometimes they come over but mostly they just graze and give me more presents to pick up!! :funny: :funny:

Afternoon times are the best as I go into the barn and sit on the saw dust bales and read a book. Or I just lay there and let them whuffle me. Freckles is quiet used to this behaviour but I can see Laska thinking it over.

I dont mind doing nothing with the boys. In fact its the highlight of my day when they choose to come over to me and see what I'm up too. I think Freckles wants me to read to him as he is always trying to see the book. I have quite a few pages with horse slobber on them :D

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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:02 pm 
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I dont mind doing nothing with the boys. In fact its the highlight of my day when they choose to come over to me and see what I'm up too. I think Freckles wants me to read to him as he is always trying to see the book. I have quite a few pages with horse slobber on them


I have NO doubt that Freckles can read!

8)
:yes:


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:50 pm 
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:funny: Do you think I could post a "No Horses Beyond This Point" sign and have him actually pay attention to it? You see, he broke a "temporary" 2-strand rope barrier today - after leaning how to climb through it yesterday ... :rambo: :funny: :funny:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:02 am 

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Can this be done in the pasture with the herd? I don't have an enclosed arena that I can put Baloo in. There is a paddock, but its right next to the pasture and he gets very upset if he can see the horses (his mares!) out and he isn't with them. He is fine under saddle, but if he's at liberty, he must be with his mares. I am not sure what to do in this situation. I board so I can't go around building things on their property, lol.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:34 am 
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BalooEyes wrote:
Can this be done in the pasture with the herd?


Yes, absolutely. :smile:

I even like that much better, first because in their pasture where they are at home they have much more other options, so that when they come to me that means that they are really interested. The second reason is that when there are other horses or interesting things around, I don´t have that focus on the horse, this strange "I won´t hope that you will come (but please, please hurry up)" attitude but could just interact with the other horses or do something else instead of waiting. Not that I am not willing to spend some time waiting for my horses, but I think that in any relationship it´s not really the best basis when one of the partners is waiting for the other one to finally get interested in him. ;)

My horses and I do almost all our work and play in the pasture and whereas we might not be very efficient and fast at getting results in our training, we are most certainly having lots of fun. :smile:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:24 am 

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haha, I know some of the other horses in the pasture will be excited about that. Some of the mares there are so friendly and always come right over to me wanting to say hello and be pet. They love when I take the brushes out to the pasture.

Sounds like I have my days this weekend cut out for me. :) I'm looking forward to it though, after my week (I know, its only Tuesday!! Shows you how stressful its been so far... Nursing school, its crazy!!), some time spent relaxing in the pasture will be soooooo nice!!

Very good to know.
This has been an interesting thread. I've seen some changes in Baloo this year that have shown me we've bonded a lot since last year more than I realized. Like he stands much more relaxed in the crossties when the others are in the pasture and being more comfortable when its just him and me and no other horses around. The other day I was standing in front of him and talking to a friend and he lowered his head and laid his head against me gently as if he was greeting me, and licked me. Not sure what the licking was about, but it was so different for him. He's been such a "horse's horse" as someone said on this thread earlier that little things like that are HUGE for him.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:09 pm 
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I didn't read all but I like to write this here.
ik ging
I don't remember how I started with Mira, but she didn't take food :huh:
She wouldn only run away.
I remeber :D , I did sitting in the meadow and waiting to she came, did give attention and did halter on with a realy long line.
I walked to the end of the line and went sit and wait to she came closer.
She didn't like it mostly when you touched her body, that is also why I use food but most of the time took she it between her lips and waited...
I spended hours with her in the meadow, just to learn her to follow me, to prepare her for the walk to home. :smile:

One day, they escaped so, when I came there it made me feel bad...
But I promise you, that day she wouldn't work with me :blush:
She just walk for me back in the good meadow that was all...

But the walk to home did go realy good :yes:

Last time I was in the meadow of the donkeys just doing nothing and hating the world :huh:
Mira was the only one who came to me, just standing with and taking care of me.
When she walk a way, I did the same (to go sit in the sun), she came immediatly to me.

But now I understand what I do wrong about the donkeys and my boy friend.
I just ask to much of him, we started of the begin but we go to fast.
And I can let him read this, this will be more clear than the way I speak english.
I was all looking long time to find english tekst about horses for him, but they were still here waiting for me... :blush:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:33 pm 

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Hi all,

I am new to AND and am not sure if this topic is still active but I will try!

Last night we tried the first excercise and my horse got very aggressive with me. This has never happened before and we spend plenty of time at liberty together. I have just never ignored him as was suggested for this excercise. Any thoughts before I continue?

Thank you and I love the topics!


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:23 pm 
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Hi

Was is suggested to ignore him? (I have not read it all now). The point of this first exercice is, as I can understand it, to get rid of pressure, as in always be the one who desides what to do - and kind of figure out what your horse likes to do - and especially together. it is about togetherness. you and your horse together. So in my mind it is not about ignoration 8except maybe ignoration af "wrong" behaviour).

If you already do have lot of time together at liberty, you maybe are here already? Maybe you already have your own "secret language" with your horse and he got confused (and then angry) if you ignored him?


I am not sure what you did - maybe you shoult try to explain that? And also what your intention was - what you were trying to? Maybe you would get better help then...?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:58 pm 
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I agree with Kirsti, you only ignore him when he's not paying attention to you. The goal, as I see it, is when your horse only sees you as work, work, work. We want him to see a different you: play, play, play.

So at first when you're with your horse and he's not paying attention to you, just let him be and you play by yourself, not looking at him. When he does look at you, approach and only show him your hand (that's what I do) to acknowledge you. Then move away and start playing by yourself again, not looking at your horse (just at the corner of your eye). When you see him either looking at you or coming towards you, you repeat.
There will come a time when he will want to play with you. That's what the first exercise is all about.

This is my interpretation of the first exercise. I've done it a long time ago. And now both of my horses will see me in the pasture and come to me because they know I won't make them work but rather play.

If you believe the horse is being impolite, I would simply lift my arms in the air until he turns away then I would turn away in the other direction. I'm sure he'll stop and look at you then. Maybe wait until he comes back to you or if he's standing still but looking at you, approach him again, show him your hand and see if he's going to be impolite again.

This can take some time before your horse sees a different you but sometimes it happens right away. It depends on the horse. But when you do have this relationship, you are in heaven!!!! :cheers:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Welcome! :)

Kirsti and Jocelyne already gave great suggestions. :) If you want to read other ideas about dealing with aggression, you will find a collection of discussions here: Link to threads about different topics (scroll down a bit until your reach "Control" and then the aggression links are part of it).

For me it's like that: when I go to the pasture, I don't ask my horses to interact with me, but if they approach me, we can do something together. However, if they act aggressiely or impolitely, I show them that this is not the way I want to play (by freezing, verbally explaining it to them and (politely) asking them to move out of my space) and I refuse to interact with them until they try again in a polite way. If they do that, I reward them and then I am all ears to play the games they like.

Usually I do not to ignore them, as in acting as if they weren't there. Instead, I try to make it clear to them that they do have my attention, but that I do not like aggressie behaviour so they will only get my action they are longing for when they behave nicely. :smile:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:35 pm 
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Reaching exercise goals while working with the horse's initiative on the level of single movements

When getting to know a new horse, I usually don't do the "Doing nothing" as an exercise but instead start building up a body language basis for our communication right from the start (for a description see Encouraging politeness). However, for me the concept of not asking the horse for anything but working solely with his initiative is an important one. Only yesterday I was reminded of its benefits even for horses that I have been interacting with for several years and who already know that they will not be forced to do anything and are always free to interact or not. At the same time, I was a bit shocked by the fact that I seemed to have unlearned how to combine an actively goal-directed training (working on specific movements) with the concept of not being the initiator of our communication. It seemed like a dichotomy had formed in my mind of either just playing on the one hand (which was largely building on the horse's spontaneous offers), and a more focused training on specific exercieses on the other hand (where I was suggesting things and the horse's choice was just to make use of these suggestions or not).

What I had forgotten was that there also can be something in between, namely that it is still the horse who is initiating the activity, but that I pick up and reshape his communicative attempts to get the exercises that I had in mind. Therefore, and just in case someone else may have similar difficulties like me, I want to explain in some detail how I am working with the horse's initiative in a situation in which I am having a clear goal.

Just like in Miriam's description of the first exercise, I begin by not asking the horse to do anything. The difference is just that I do this on the much smaller scale of single movements or communicative acts. That is, I am standing still (or scratching the horse or walking around, or doing anything else except asking the horse to do something) until I see that he wants to do something with me. Or more precisely, that he starts doing something with me. I do not react yet if he is searching me for treats or just looking at me in an interested way but wait until he actually initiates a movement.

Now one way could be to wait until he has performed a complete action (e.g. walking backwards for two steps) and then reward. This can be a great thing to do because it allows you to really work on the things your horse wants to do and completely go with his ideas. I love working in that way! However, as this post is supposed to describe how you can combine working with the horse's initiative and still working in a goal-directed manner, we need to start a bit earlier. That is, I start responding at the very moment when I see the horse initiating his movement. With my horses, this is reflected in small changes such as tensing up right before they are going to make a step, or shifting their weight in a certain direction. The benefit of me stepping in right at that point and not later is that I can still reshape the movement fluently, without interrupting the horse. This would be difficult otherwise, for example if he was already making a step backwards and only then I asked for a sideways movement. He would have to abandon his idea and instead go with mine, which might seem like a correction and thus be unpleasant, especially if it is done all the time. Therefore, what I do is that as soon as I see the horse preparing any movement, I change my own posture in a way that directs the movement into a certain direction (again, see the Encouraging politeness thread for details).

There are several benefits of this exercise. One is that it allows you to see at what temporal rate your horse wants to communicate, because it is always him who determines the when component of your interaction. For me this is very interesting, because it is masked so easily when I am the one who is initiating the single communicative acts. Usually my horses respond to my requests, but that does not mean they are always ready for it or would have chosen to do so if I had not asked. In that way it also makes me more aware of the temporal fluctuations in the horse's motivation to interact, because as he can decide over the timing of our joint activity, it becomes much easier for me to see when he gets faster or slower, which in turn allows me to change something in the things I ask or the rewards I give, depending on that feedback.

Another advantage is that it encourages the horse to be proactive. In my own training with horses, one of the main problems in my behaviour is that I am filling in too much. That is, I tend to make up a very specific plan and instruction for a single movement, specifying in lots of detail at what time, in what speed, in which direction and in what other ways I want the horse to move. This plan is presented to the horse in the form of a body language signal, and he can choose to react to it or not (or react in another way). In case he chooses to react, this puts him in the rather passive position of someone who is receiving instructions and just performing the tasks given to him, while I am the one who does most of the planning. This in turn can become rather boring for the horse, because after all he just has to wait for what I am doing and then simply react, without playing a very active role in controlling our interaction.

Instead, when working in the way described above, the horse simply has to stay awake and be proactive, because otherwise nothing will happen. But besides the fact that it is necessary for the horse to be the initiator, it also can be a lot of fun for him to be the one who is calling the shots instead of just being prompted to react. At the same time, it remains to be a fundamentally joint activity with two active partners, because although the horse determines the when, I am still playing a major role in determining what we are doing.

I still have to do a lot more experimentation with this way of letting the horse be the temporal initiator, but this might turn out to be what I have been trying to find for a very long time: A way to combine my main goal of working with the horse's initiative and my interest in working on very specific details of a body language based communication. :f:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:11 pm 
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I find that this exercise with the mules at work is extremely powerful, because normally all of us staff have a massive great list of things that we have to get done to a set time, therefore to stand there and do nothing in the mules' company really turns lots of equine heads!
I wish that I really did have all day to spend with them though, because otherwise it is so easy to 'reach out and grab' for that little bit more... A nervous mule comes up, starts nuzzling my hand. We share a special moment for a long time, just standing. I then begin to feel that perhaps I can touch the mule further down his neck... BAM! Moment gone, mule halfway across the field and me in a cloud of dust! :ieks:. The moment your still, calm thoughts turn to intention, the animal is aware of this. If those thoughts are deemed as a threat, in milliseconds it can be ready to flee from that human who is once again full of ambition.

Skylark and all of the horses and ponies i've had the pleasure of caring for more exclusively have become very familiar with this exercise. But then, this is the girl who spent her childhood going on hunting trips with cats and sunbathing in the dust with chickens! :D
It is different at work though... It seems a shame that I have so little time for these guys who need so MUCH time the most.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:38 am 

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I have a horse and a pony. When they come up to me, my horse nips at the pony, not sure why, maybe jealous? He actually grabs her on the neck and holds her until she moves. Should I just ignore this behavior?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:06 am 
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Davy, we have a thread about training with two or more horses together. Maybe you can check that one out and if you still have questions afterwards, we can continue discussing it over there. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:30 am 

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I love this idea. I have been using clicker training with Phoebe. I feel that it has opened up a line of communication for both of us. I am new to horses. I am not one of those people who have loved and wanted to own horses all of their lives, nor have I been around horses. Before I took riding lessons last summer, I had only been on a horse, maybe 3 or 4 times.
I am 53 years-old. I am the mother of five, grandmother of seven. I am married, 23 years.
I took riding lessons because my son was taking them and I didn't want to just stand around. The lessons did not include groundwork at all. But, we did stall cleaning and grooming daily. During those times, I discovered that horses were wonderful, intelligent, exciting, affectionate, individual beings. I loved just being around them far more than riding.
When I first got my own horse, Phoebe Snow, I took lessons with a Parelli instructor. I enjoyed it but, I felt there was still something missing. I found my way to clicker training. I took lessons with Leslie Pavlich and found a way to really communicate with Phoebe. Through clicker training, Phoebe and I have become good friends.
Now, I am looking to do more with Phoebe at Liberty. Phoebe and I spend hours everyday together. We do some groundwork, grooming, and while she grazes, I sit with her in the pasture. We walk around the property, explore. And just recently, I have started riding her around the arena. I clip the reins onto her halter and get on her bareback. We just walk around the arena. As I said, I am pretty new to all this. It was important for me to know and trust Phoebe before I just jumped on her back and rode her. I also wanted her to enjoy being with me. To carry me because she wants to not because I make her. In order for me to know this, I'd have to learn to communicate with her.
I have had Phoebe for almost a year now. She is a treasure to me. I adore her.
I want to do more than just teach her what I want, I want to learn to play with her.
I am so happy to have found this particular post. It gives me a place to start playing with Phoebe.
I will start tomorrow and post what happens. I know this post is years old, but, thanks for posting it ! :)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:44 pm 

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Okay, Phoebe and I played with the idea in this post. I ran around the arena, kicking, rolling, bouncing, throwing a soccer ball while Phoebe watched from afar like I had gone insane. A few times, when I'd stop to catch my breath, she would lumber over to me. I'd rub her head, between her ears, tell her she was a "good girl" then run off and play, alone, again.
Phoebe reluctantly, touched her nose to the ball, not out of fear, out of boredom.
I was out of breath and sweating into my eyes and Phoebe was standing over by the gate begging to be let out. She'd turn her head to me, glance at the gate. "Can we end this already?" She seemed to say. She put her head through the rungs and just let her head hang like she was having a miserable time.
Phoebe is a horse that is definitely motivated by food. We have been clicker training for maybe 8 months now. And today, instead of doing our normal groundwork with rewards, we were playing with a ball. Or I was playing with a ball and no rewards for Phoebe were forthcoming. She was bored.
Now, from here? Do I keep this up until Phoebe interacts with me? Will she ever? Or is she just not into sports? :cheer: Phoebe is 7 years old. She is the youngest horse at the barn where I board her. The other horses range from 14 years-22 years. When Phoebe first arrived, she tried to engage them in playing with her. She'd be running around, kicking up her heels in the arena and she'd look over call out to the horses in the nearby pasture. They would just look over at her and walk further away. She doesn't do any of that anymore.
She had all that playfulness in her, I think it's still there. But, how to get it out again and with me?
Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to developing a fun and playful at Liberty with Phoebe.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:58 pm 
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KeliNM wrote:
Now, from here? Do I keep this up until Phoebe interacts with me?


I'd say there really isn't a correct solution. For me this way of doing something on my own just for the sake of it does not really fit into the way I want to interact with horses (or humans for that matter). Instead, I prefer being available, showing the horse that I am open for interaction, and then if he wants to join in, we slowly develop a language from there. But there are so many different ways that work for different people and horses. If you want some ideas, we have a sticky on just that: Different ways of starting to interact with your horse. :f:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:16 pm 

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Thanks, Romy. I will look at the post. Here is the picture of how bored Phoebe looked with the games this morning. :)
Well, that didn't work. I have the picture saved on Google+ and I thought since it has an internet address it would work. But, It didn't. I will have to try something different when I have more time.( See picture of Phoebe looking bored, in the "pictures and videos" post)
In the meantime, I will read over the post of ideas and see what I can come up with for Phoebe. :yes:


Last edited by KeliNM on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:30 am 
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I also highly recommend the thread that Romy posted. There are so many ways to initiate an interaction, but I think they are all about finding a common language. That process takes time.

The way I see "just being with your horse", is not just being with my horse at any place, but at HIS place ;). I meet the horse at his home, in the herd. And there, I behave by their rules, trying to blend in with their customs. If I remember correctly, I wrote about that in more detail in the aforementioned thread...

Regarding playing with horses, I think horses are in generally curious by nature, but they are also wary by nature. As I experience it, playfulness comes out only against a backdrop of safety and all games need established rules at first. That applies especially to playing with objects.

With Mucki, it took a long, long time to have him play with me when we are alone in the arena. At first, I mostly met him in his home, among his herd buddies, in the environment where he felt absolutely safe. Even there, it initially took a while for him to engage in playful interaction with me.
Then, in the beginning, I spent most of the time playing, but the playing was actually a means to find a mutual language together. I learned how to use my body language so that Mucki could understand it, and Mucki learned what I meant by certain cues that were not so intuitive.
From that common ground, we were able to have fun with other games, like playing with a ball for example. But I had to explain to Mucki that objects (that were uninteresting, or even scary before) could be used as toys.

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