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 Post subject: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:52 pm 
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Hi,

How do you guys teach your horse's to lie down?

Thanks,

Ivy

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:04 pm 
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We did this by mimicry. Whenever I came to a sand area on our walks or when we went to the arena of the riding club and I saw that Titum wanted to roll, I started pawing the ground, said "Platz" (the German dog command for lying down) and went down together with him. I always rewarded him for his intermediate steps like sniffing the ground and pawing and then I rewarded big time for actually lying down. As I knew where and when he would want to lie down, I could also start with that pawing behaviour before him, so that this cue directly preceded his lying down although he did not lie down because of the cue yet. Over time we could increase the impact of the cue. First it only accompanied his own idea, then it was able to convince him when he was in a rolling mood anyway, then it could convince him even if he was not in a rolling mood but the ground was nice and sandy and now I can ask for it whenver I want and wherever we are (perhaps not on gravel though 29), because lying down is just so very rewarding for him: doing almost nothing and getting stuffed with small portions of oat for that all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:52 am 
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With both my horses, the down evolved from the Goat on a Mountain...and making sure the ground was very inviting and good for rolling before I would even try to ask.

I also managed to get Tam one time when he laid down on his own...he was quite sruprosed to get a cookie for it.

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 2:04 am 
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Karen wrote:
With both my horses, the down evolved from the Goat on a Mountain...


That's very interesting! I'm trying to picture it... did you just C&T when their hind legs started to buckle as they were experimenting with GOTM?

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 2:25 am 
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Well, with Cisco, one day he just got tired and laid down. He was easy. I then just had to watch for his legs to get a little wobbly in GOTM, and suggest it, and he was quite willing to lie down.

Tam was different. He could stand in a goat a very long time before it would occur to him to lie down. In fact, he would rather just move a hind foot back. So with Tam, I would ask him to go into a Goat, then I would kneel down beside him and move the ground with my hand, paw at the ground...and I rewarded him for any lying down behavior that he showed. If he sniffed or snuffled the dirt with his nose, click treat. If he raised a front or hingd leg and set it back down, click treat. If he pawed the ground, JACKPOT.

We played with it on and off for weeks before he finally tried to lie down. Then I got so excited I clicked before he was fully down and he got right back up again. 23 It was quite funny. Took me about another week for him to get him to do it a second time...then I manage to control myself and not click until his belly was on the ground.

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:16 am 
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Thank you, Karen! That is very helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:20 am 
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Thanks, guys. That leads me to another question. How do I teach Goat on the Mountain? I don't remember seeing it as a sticky. Maybe that should change. 29

Thanks,

Ivy

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:49 am 
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Here ya go!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=640

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 Post subject: Re: [Q] Lie Down
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:48 am 
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Great advice, guys!
I'm afraid I'll have to turn this into a sticky. 25

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:47 am 
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Has anyone tried it from a one legged bow? Our bow is good- GOTM not so much.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 3:27 am 
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I've seen it done from a one legged bow, but you basically have to pull the horse over from that point. I just didn't want to try that.

If you can get your horse to tuck the other front leg though...from a one legged to a two legged bow (kneeling), then the down is bound to happen at some point - and probably with very little encouragement.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:57 am 
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You don't have to pull a horse over to let him lie down from a one-legged bow: you can use a target to bend his head over the stretches leg towards you. When the horse tries to reach with his head to that side (on a 90 degree angle from his body) and you move the target further and further towards his girth area, he will have to sag further through his bent knee in order to reach it. Of course that what you click for when the targetting itself is going well!
When he's going down so much on that knee that his body actually is resting on the horizontal cannon bone, often it's just a question of time before the horse will just lie down completely.

The same way, with target, you can also teach them to lie down from the kneeling. Both Blacky and Sjors have learned the lying down through rolling/mimicry, but I can also ask Sjors to lie down from the compliment and from the kneeling. Once he knew all the three exercises seperately, he connected the dots and suddenly could lie down any of the three ways.

It's so handy to have a pony who does the thinking for you! 8)

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:41 pm 
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Thank you Miriam!!! It hadn't occured to me. I have only seen it done with the horses being pulled over. And it was done quite gently, actually. So why is it that I then think it's the only way to do it?

Being brain lazy?

Thank you for the targeting idea. Now that you've described it, I can see it clearly.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:42 am 
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You can also wash your horse (when it's warm) and wait 'till they begin to roll over :D
Or have always treats in your pocket for situations when your horse will lie down by him/her-self.
This is the way I trained Evita because this way its totally separate from other exercises, which I find useful.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:39 pm 
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Bianca wrote:
You can also wash your horse (when it's warm) and wait 'till they begin to roll over :D
Or have always treats in your pocket for situation when your horse will lie down by itself.
This is the way I trained Evita because this way its totally separate from other exercises, which I find useful.


Ooh, ooh, Bianca, thank you! :applause: :applause:

I've been so far stymied about the lying down thing (I'm just starting to teach Circe how to bow, and am hesitant with Stardust -- he's a big, uncoordinated galoot and I'm not totally convinced he wouldn't get himself stuck), and we've not gotten to lying down with me around very easily. (When I do the Romy patented scratch the ground with my foot, Circe responds with enthusiastic scratching!)

But, yes, the post-bath roll! Brilliant! This is a given!

:-)

Thanks, all, this is a helpful thread!

Best,
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:10 pm 
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Continue with the scratching, and do it on deep dust, or on sand. It is the trigger (the natural one) for the lay down response.

You might be doing this already. But don't stop with the scratching.

And think in terms of rewarding the response as it escalates.

Here's where the big challenge lies.

Catch that moment when you see the horse drop his shoulder in prep for laying down and REWARD IT, even if the horse stops to get the reward. Once you have the shoulder drop you own the cue and response. At that point you simply hesitate a moment longer from time to time.

And I say this because there is a vice. And it's the laying down and rolling with saddle, and sometimes with rider vice.

So YOU have to have control. And just waiting for the horse to lay down without a cue and then rewarding is a no no...and in fact should be in any activity that might result in injury.

Note how folks work on spanish walk. Very much on cue, and extinguished if done spontaneously. (At least I hope so.)

Just a random thought.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:27 am 
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Rave tried to roll with my saddle on one day and I freaked out, so he won't lay down near me now- at least he hasn't in a long while. Since winter is in full force I dont think we'll be doing much bathing :ieks:

The targetting idea sound nice :alien:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:30 am 
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Well, here is a video where I'm making Fáni lay down, by using my body-language :)
http://www.hestegalleri.dk/html/vid_vis.asp?VideoID=13421

But I don't like the beginning of the video where I make him kneel down on a leg.


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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:23 pm 
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Bianca wrote:
You can also wash your horse (when it's warm) and wait 'till they begin to roll over :D
Or have always treats in your pocket for situations when your horse will lie down by him/her-self.
This is the way I trained Evita because this way its totally separate from other exercises, which I find useful.


That is an excellent one! :clap:
Now waiting for summer to return... :huh:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:42 am 
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The same way MJ learned it.

Then I would go with her so she would get confortable having me around when she is lying down.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:59 pm 

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Hello all, I am new here. I love the idea of using as little pressure and tack as possible so that's why I am here. I began with Parelli (laying myself on the line here, ha ha) and have learned a lot; my passion is bridleless riding. I can already do what you guys call run with me and run to me and some mimicry. I already use as little pressure as possible but love the idea of shaping things more willingly and naturally so that's why I'm here. I currently use the string around the neck (cordeo) but support as needed with the stick (which I understand is less than ideal so will be working on phasing that out). I already learned to use a 'click' and a food treat for my food oriented introverted mare and it works great. I love the idea of cues and what Donald said about the importance of an initiation cue so that the horse doesn't start to do wanted behaviours at the wrong time.

Re: Donalds scratching comment, are you referring to the scratching being a pawing of the ground? Sorry for the silly question ;)


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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:26 pm 
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Janelle,

I'm not Donald, but yes, the "scratching" is pawing or scratching the ground.

I'm not so much a stickler for making sure the horse has a cue to do it the first few times. I can add that in (and have) once the horse is showing a willingness to lie down.

With Tam, the first couple of times he laid down, it was totally his idea and I just happened to be there with a treat (I always have them with me). I approached carefully when he went down, and he allowed me to come to him and give him a treat. So then I knew he could be comfortable with me being close when he was down. Some horses are, some aren't.

Watch what horses do when they lie down. You can train or just reward for each separate piece of the puzzle.

1) They put their head down and sniff the ground. Often they will wiggle the top lip back and forth in the dirt...stirring up the scent and getting information from the ground.

2) They will likely paw the ground (the scratching).

3) They will bring the hind legs under themselves to some degree. Some horses bring them just a little under, some bring them under very far. Tam also stamps a hind leg (why, I don't know, but he does).

4) They bend the hocks in the hind legs at the same time as they bend/fold the knees in the front legs. The hind leg bending may preceed the front legs folding.

5) Cisco then literally crashes to the ground. Tamarack then just lowers himself a little more gracefully to the ground.

With Tam, as soon as I passed the stage of jsut rewarding his own idea to lie down, I began to use a cue (Donald will be happy with this!!) - actually several cues from the horse's point of view.

I trained for the head down.

I trained for the hind legs to come forward under the body, while the font feet remain in one place (the Goat on a Mountain Top).

I am in a crouched position near Tam's front leg (this is a body language cue for Tam). You can just bend over, or you can actually sit on the ground if you really trust your horse not to step on you. If they will step on you, then it's possible that the trust factor isn't quite there yet, and then I would wait until it's more solid before asking for a lie down.

I used my finger to ruffle through the dirt beneath Tam's nose, and rewarded him if he mimicked that a used his lip to play in the dirt as well.

I bend over beside him (facing the same direction he is) and paw the ground with my foot, and reward him for pawing the ground too.

I tap the ground with my whip or my hand and say, "down".

If he stamped his back foot, I rewarded him.

If he bent his hocks, I rewarded him.

If he buckled his knees, I rewarded him (even though this stops the lying down process for him).

I rewarded him for all the possible behaviors that he normally uses before lying down. All of them. He then knew that every possible one could earn him a reward.

Then, I would NOT reward one. So he would try another. He might get rewarded for that one.

Then I would skip rewarding for another one, and he would try yet another one.

One day, I skipped them all, and he went to lie down. I rewarded before he got all the way down, so he got up again. Silly me.

Then the next time, I skipped rewarding for all of them again, and controlled my enthusiasm a little better, and he laid down completely.

Just be patient. The whole process took quite some time with Tam, but it was worth it. He has a much more sold and ready down than Cisco does.

And yes, he did try once to lie down with the saddle one. He got two people screeching at him, and he stopped.

I actually would not mind if did lie down with the saddle on, but I know he would then roll...which I do not want! It did not scare him from ever trying to lie down again. And if I need to leave him loose with my saddle on (to go refill with treats), I simply take one stirrup (I use a dressage saddle) and thread it through the reins. This keeps just enough tension on the rein to keep him from doing his lying down ritual.

IF I'm leaving him for more than a minute or two, I just take the saddle off and he's free to roll. He gets itchy if he sweats a little, and I can't blame him for wanting to roll...so I'd rather leave him the freedom to roll and relieve himself.

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:46 pm 

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wonderful, thank you! A year ago I'd see these things people did with their horses and it seemed so out of my reach. Now that I understand (have for a while) to break it down into tiny steps and rewarding each try, it's amazing. Sometimes I need the mental help to break it down but I'm getting there!


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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:08 pm 
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Donald Redux wrote:
So YOU have to have control. And just waiting for the horse to lay down without a cue and then rewarding is a no no...and in fact should be in any activity that might result in injury.

Note how folks work on spanish walk. Very much on cue, and extinguished if done spontaneously. (At least I hope so.)


Oops, we are messing it all up again. 8) ;) Not only that almost all our exercises can be offered without a cue (except for some dangerous examples, like rearing close to me for Summy... although not for Titum), but especially lying down is an exercise where I even prefer the horse offering it all by himself.

For Pia, lying down and sitting is just her way of expressing that she either wants a reward NOW, that she is very excited from our wild play or that she wants to do something especially nice. Well, or that she just feels like it - and I love it. :smile:

With Titum I also hardly ever ask for it but reward it big time when he offers it all by himself. This is because lying down is en exercise they only want to do under certain circumstances, like when the ground is nice enough, and they just know better when those circumstances are right. Contrary to that, they feel comfortable with things like rearing under almost any circumstances, so I feel much more relaxed about asking for this.

I guess that what is a No-Go depends much more on the people and horses involved, their goals, their experiences and the situation, than on some general rules that are supposed to apply for everyone. :smile:


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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:45 pm 
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Oh, it's not messing anything up! I do this a lot with Tam because he offers cool things on his own and none of them are dangerous. If he rolls on my saddle, well, I'm sure it will be uncomfortable enough that he'll only ever do it once!

With Cisco, I take offers and reward them simply because he's such a quiet soul that I feel it's a way to let him know that I just love what he feels like offering. Again...nothing dangerous. But as a war horse 8) , he will, on a slight lift of a rein or the cordeo, gladly jambette right at any enemy, coming within inches of them.

I think we're about ready to slay dragons! :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:28 pm 
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Guilty! :blush:

Noodle offers jambettes and 'spanish nearly walk' all the time!

Yes - she has caught me a few times in the shin! And yes - I will extinguish some of it later - I guess I do extinguish some now not least because otherwise that's all we'll train for if she has her way - she loves it so! But I don't want to flatten any of her enthusiasm and she is just learning that she can work the treat dispenser!!!!!

Interesting stuff about the lie down - we will have a go at this at the next ideal moment.....

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:50 am 
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Quote:
Guilty!

Noodle offers jambettes and 'spanish nearly walk' all the time!

Yes - she has caught me a few times in the shin! And yes - I will extinguish some of it later - I guess I do extinguish some now not least because otherwise that's all we'll train for if she has her way - she loves it so! But I don't want to flatten any of her enthusiasm and she is just learning that she can work the treat dispenser!!!!!


Yup, me too! 8) ;)

Shin bonking has happened occasionally as well...and we're working on the "please don't do this when you're likely to clip Leigh on the shin" as part of a larger "this is what personal space actually means" project with Circe. (Not a concept she came equipped with!) ;) I created this possibility, in part, because I've been cueing her to work towards Spanish walk while standing in front of her. And she has SUCH a lovely extension! But, while it's done with energy, it's not done with force, so the contact is mild -- usually more surprising than anything!

Both my guys offer leg lifts/jambettes a lot -- they are one of the few things so far that they offer on their own, and I love that and want to encourage it. They think it's a really fun game!

Right now, I don't want to say "no, you're wrong" with this kind of exercise -- I'm really trying to eliminate that message except in moments where they're doing something that I really don't like.

Sometimes I'll push past it when I'm asking for something else, reward it for a couple of lifts instead of what I'm asking for, and then say "that's lovely, but can we try this now?" and ask for the new movement again. That seems to make sense to them. Circe almost unilaterally is wiling to shift gears after one or two asks, and I'm finding that it's an indicator with Stardust -- if he's up for the other movement/exercise, he'll shift gears quickly, too. If he doesn't want to do the other exercise, he'll continue to offer the leg lift.

I guess this is a version of our highly unscientific free shaping experimentation! :)

Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:52 pm 
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Quote:
Shin bonking


:D :D :D

Quote:
Both my guys offer leg lifts/jambettes a lot -- they are one of the few things so far that they offer on their own, and I love that and want to encourage it. They think it's a really fun game!


Yep! Us too!

Although today I realised that the jambette is her way of asking for a treat. Aha, thought I! Maybe I should teach her another way of asking for a treat! So I tried to teach her, this was our first exercise in the session, to do a stand and look slightly away (therefore no nose in my pouch!) to ask for a treat. I taught this to Karena and she does it so nicely that I just have to reward it whenever I catch it! But it is subtle so its easy to miss. Well Snudes went through the whole gambit of most beautiful and long, teo pointing, stretching as far as possible, jambettes!!! Oh how cruel not to celebrate them!! But, she quickly got the new idea. Immediately after this short lesson I asked her to walk away from that spot to a new spot, AND THEN..... wahay, double wahay.... we did jambettes til your heart is content and overflowing to bursting!!!!!

So I digress further from the topic.... In an attempt to come back to topic - I got to be with Kaz during a lie down.... oh bliss!!!! And this was after we had done a bit of free leading and very mild chasing (lame old girl!!!). We were heading back to the others and there was a yummy, scrummy patch of rolling ground... she was all nose to the floor and getting ready to buckle at the knees,.....hang on, hang on... says Mama (can she hang on for long enough for me to take off the rug and not interrupt the pattern)...... and sure enough, mission accomplished. A glorious naked roll!!!! I even managed to treat her while she was down, but I was afraid she would choke cos she had it in her mouth while she was rolling back and forth (overly worrying mama!) and I couldn't hold her attention to treat her down there before coming up. But it twas a cool exercise and so much fun to be beside....

I missed Noodle - she rolled while I was at the other end of the field with Kaz. And when I stripped her she didn't wanna go for a mud bath. SHe just doesn't have that wallowing gene that Karena does!!!! :f:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:10 am 
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asthis is something that i am working on at the moment, and i am expecting that it will take a long time, i have found some links of different people doing lay down. i am posting them ere so i can refer back to them :D :D :D


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNMdib9Gctc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ0ymOuzFh8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt4pTJGEUzc

does anyone have any other ways? :f: :f: :f:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:21 pm 
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Great Thread!
I looked for it because I just started pracising lie Down.

My inspiration was the new book of Jean-Francois Pignon gave my husband as birthday present.
In this book Pignon gives some instructions how to do things and there I read the first time about a lie down without using compliment and/or foot lunge by a professional trainer. He teaches the horse to take the head down and than touches the front legs with a whip until they knee down. I liked this idea very much but becase his introduction is very short I looked in here for more inspiration and - found it! :yes:

Especially Karens hints are very usefull!!! And the videolinks Jessplum put in also, only they don't show how they came there... But the result is nice and shows that the horses do it like a natural lie down and haven't been forced to do it. By the way: I wasn't aware that Parelli workes with mirroring!?!!

I pracitsed with Filux about three times and what e does is putting the head down, scratching with one or both front legs and somtimes stomping with one hind leg. It already looks already a little bit like what horses do before they lie down by themselves so I think we are on a good way. I suppose I just have to be patient and go on with it. :smile:



I'm very happy about your reports about the self-offered leg lifts/jambettes. :D Filux does this alos very often: This is one of his favorite things he offers very often to get rewards. He didn't kick me yet but because I'm a little afraid :ieks: I tried to change it into the very much less dangerous Ramener - and it worked! I asked for and rewarded Ramener a lot and now this is what he offers mostly to get rewarded! (But also still enough Jambettes...!)

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:48 pm 
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hi there Franziska,

this is the most exciting move to be working on i have found, and also the longest ;) i did it with flossy with mirroring, so scratching and pawing etc, but i also would drop everything and go give her a treat if i saw her laying down in the paddock on her own. this worked well, and we had this result.............

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pfm3BHzNB8

all was going really, although i found that some days she did nto want to do lay down, and others she just wouldnt stop.

then we started one knee bow. and she stopped laying down then. i think that the cues confused her. once she became quite reasonably good at one knee bow, then i started to play with the other leg, if i walked to the other side and cued bow, and played with the top of her leg just behind the elbow, she went into kneel. so we worked on that. just recently she has been just about laying down from this position. i think she will get there, and i think it will be a less confusing way to lay down for flossy. :love: :love: :love:

so far though we have done laydown on a few horses, and we have wet them and stood in the arena ready to treat. this workes well, but i find that they all loose it when teaching bow, so i have started to teach bow and kneel first. here are a couple of photos of our bow and kneel, and then another of the lean she is developing that i hope lay down comes from.

Image

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:56 pm 

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What a magical moment in that video Jessplum :love: :love:
That was beautiful to watch

xxx

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:11 pm 
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:love: :love: :love: thankyou, i wish she would still do it, but we will get there again :kiss:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:56 am 
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Hi Jessy, wonderfull video and great photos!
Interesting that the lie down goes lost with the kneeling... :roll:
So perhaps I should also work on the kneeling first...? I tried already but as we didn't succeed I gave up. My original plan was to teach the lie down over the kneeling and than I found that discription in Pignons book and prefered that way ... Everthing in process all the time :)

After our first lie down session, Filux suddenly started to stomp in spanish walk :ieks: - before he had made a very nice high and slow leglift....
But then I did a few jambettes and after that the spanish walk was okay again :applause: ...
Very interesting how the different things influence each other!

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:54 am 
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i know! it is like a ballancing act. i am learning on my forgiving horses, and as i work things out i can then play with my less forgiving horses ;) ;) because i have found that there seems to be a logical order working out here. i cant wait till i have trained to haute ecole, although that is soooo long off. but i want to be able to look at the most logical way to train. doing this with several horses is great because i can compare results. ;) :D but at the moment, it is all just fun :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:54 pm 
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Jess, it is LOVELY!!!!!!!!

:applause: :applause: :applause:

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:21 pm 

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Ive been trying to get Navara to bow properly for well over two months, she will lift the leg move it backwards and really stretch between her legs but as soon as she feels like her knee is going down she quickly stands up again. Ive tried everything, targets etc and really small baby steps. I have tried getting her to associate lying down with being fun too, by showering her with cookies when she does it naturally. But alas nothing.
I suppose I should just strive on!

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 Post subject: Re: 2: Lie Down
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:02 pm 
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FancyTrot wrote:
Ive been trying to get Navara to bow properly for well over two months, she will lift the leg move it backwards and really stretch between her legs but as soon as she feels like her knee is going down she quickly stands up again. Ive tried everything, targets etc and really small baby steps. I have tried getting her to associate lying down with being fun too, by showering her with cookies when she does it naturally. But alas nothing.
I suppose I should just strive on!


You present two goals, deep kneeling into the bow, and laying down. Let me address each with some general suggestions, and a specific or two.

Karen is the shaping mavin here. And if I am correct she is because she can isolate a desired minimal approximation response. That is she can identify and isolate preparatory movements toward and end behavior. She is currently even discussing this very thing with Wind Horse Sue in another thread. Getting the horse to relax the head and neck is preceded (probably) by the ears going floppy. Building toward relaxed head and neck by focusing on shaping ear floppiness will be the path she will likely follow. Sue may do it as well.

Alexandra Kurland in her books on clicker training often discusses breaking down things into "small baby steps," but what I sometimes forget is that also urges the handler to go back - that is when stuck go back to the earlier preceding behaviors you did get and work forward again from there.

It's not enough to chunk with a stuck horse (and handler :blush: ) but retreat and start over must come into it.

What, if you can recall it, was your earliest obtained behavior upon giving the cue for bow? Just a downward nod of the nose a few inches? That would be what to ask for and reward, heavily. Build enthusiasm as that is what tends to move the horse further in the various motions and actions you want to reach in your goal.

Many horses respond with energy to random jackpotting, while others give more when the best effort results in a jackpot. Personally I get more success with random jackpots. Even occasionally not rewarding after the click at all. This can really get horses' attention the next time you DO reward.

You'll have to experiment with what your horse is responding to.

Some horses will give up quickly if they give a little try, not sufficient to please the training, and there is no click or reward, others will try harder. This part is an art, and knowing the specific horse.

I suspect the learning routine will go something like this: cue for the bow, get the bow, click, treat, cue for the bow, click, treat, say four or five times. Then throw in surprise; cue, get the bow, do nothing, wait a few seconds, cue, get a bow AND JACKPOT even if it's just a weak response - though it may well be a strong one, but more than likely the NEXT response on cue will be very strong indeed.

The horse is trying to learn how to operate the treat dispenser. He's not trying to learn to bow.

You'll think I'm crazy when I tell you the next thing you must remember to do - before your horse jumps back up, as you describe it, click and treat while she is down into the position a bit. Do not wait for the jump up.

On using intermittent reinforcement:

It's an axiom that we learn better if we fail occasionally. It makes us try harder. Success with no striving is taken for granted and soon results in lose of enthusiasm. Though I say "treat dispenser," the horse sees it as a personal relationship event, just as in the herd when he finds a way to comply with Mother Maretm or with the lead mare, or with someone with more status than he, that results in being allowed to share hay, or water, play, or skritches.

If it takes dropping the head to get a treat he learns how to get a treat. If it takes putting his nose between his knees, then he learns how to get a treat. If it takes buckling a knee and putting his head between his knees, he learns how to get a treat.

He learns how to relate to the treat dispenser not how to bow.

The same principle applies to teaching a horse to lay down on cue.

It does no good, or very little to my mind, to treat the horse after he's laid down. Why? Because laying down on his own is very different from laying down on cue, and consists of a series of events that result in laying down, or NOT. Sometimes a horse will do all the things that result in laying down, while other times he will do some and change his mind and not lay down.

You can get a lay down if you cue each step and TB and +R each of them.

What's the first thing a horse does to prepare to lay down?

Nope, it isn't what you think. What he does, and many of us miss, is that he searches for an appropriate spot - some times passing over a few.

Start with the horse at your side ready to walk off and give your cue.

Then, go on a "laying down rolling spot" search with the horse - in other words cue him to follow you and examine the ground - following you head down. I presume your horse will follow on request. I presume he will, or you will teach him to walk with his head down.

Next stop and shuffle your feet and kick some dust around (having chosen a nice dusty soft spot or a sandy scratchy one to improve your odds of getting a lay down). The instant he snuffles the ground, click and reward. Snuffling tells him the nature of the spot and allows him to judge if this will do or not.

Then drag your foot rearward just as the horse tends to paw before laying down. If he paws, just like the other action, TB and +R, click and treat.

The moment of truth has arrived. If he's inspired, he will buckle at the knees and drop to them, CLICK AND TREAT. If he gets up, no big deal, just don't C/T his getting up.

Watch for him to stay in the down on his knees position and C/T that. And wait. You may encourage by sitting down yourself. Some horses get that right away, especially if mimicry is part of the relationship with the handler/companion.

It just so happens it's not comfortable to stay in the down on the knees position for long, so the horse much choose either to get up, or to lay down. He will likely show you he is about to lay down from the kneeling position - CLICK AND TREAT and THEN WAIT.

Here's a thought. Why is it that those who write books on training don't go into such detail?

Could it be that they give classes and seminars face to face and your failure to get results from their books and article will bring you in?

How COULD I be so cynical, eh? They may not do it consciously - but the end result is you come to sit at the "feet of the master," which costs a lot more than the book. :funny:

I've tried to break down the steps quite a bit. They will not be the same for every horse so when the horse does something other than describe use your head and think about how you can use what they do to get to the next step, and the next, and the next, until you are at your goal, his to learn to get a treat, yours to get a full bow. And prepare to be frustrated a good deal of the time.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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