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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:54 am 
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Dealing with a pushy horse

Every human has an area of personal space. It's roughly an armslength all around you in size, and you can 'feel' it when someone you don't know or don't like comes inside that circle. You feel itchy. ;) Horses in groundwork work very close to us, and sometimes get too close and start to become a little crowdy or pushy. The thing is not to see that as an attack or an aggressive (dominant!) move, but instead a small misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up:

- you have to tell your horse that this specific behavior is not allowed
- you have to tell your horse why it is not allowed
- you have to tell your horse what alternative behavior is allowed

The bad thing when you don't clear this misunderstanding up, is that it will put stress and negativity on both parties: you will feel a bit annoyed and also a bit threatened and limited in your movement, and your horse will sense that his/her presence causes stress in you and that her presence with you is also felt like something negative.

There's no need for violence or force or loudness in order to teach the horse to move out of your space. See it as a little misunderstanding about how big your personal space is. In fact it's very much like with Greeks. One year during my study a Greek student came to Holland to study at our university. And Greeks have very, ver tiny personal spaces around them. When they talk to you, face to face, they don't mind if their face is only 20 centimeters away from yours even when you have never met each other before. While in the Netherlands everybody who doesn't know each other has a space of at least an arm length around themselves. Instead of beating this Greek student up for being disrespectful or making ourselves bigger all the time, or walking backwards away from him to enlarge our personal space (well, we tried in the beginning, but in the end there will always be a wall blocking you, and he just stepped forwards too anyway), at one point we just explained to him that you can't stand this close to people you don't know in our country and that it makes people feel unsafe, or at least a bit funny. And we showed him how large a personal space would be generally (just as much as with horses), and that when you don't know someone, you place the edge of your space against the edge of the space of the other, and not overlapping your two personal spaces just yet. And without us having needed to whip or threaten him or force him backwards, he decided to just go with that, because he had never meant to annoy us and still wanted to talk to us.


Method
As your personal space is the size of your arms lenght, you can easily give your horse these three messages by swinging your arms around you. With that you tell him that being too close now isn't allowed (when swinging around, your arms will get in contact with his body as long as it stays in your personal space), you tell him exactly where he shouldn't be (exactly that arms length all aroudn you that he can see because you swing your arms around you), and you tell him where he can be (outside that personal space, and you can actually reward him when he moves out of this!).

A lot of people just lap their arms around at fast speed or flap them up and down, which is not only annoying, but also hard to read, because you still aren't very clear where your territory is as your hand flap around at different distances from your body. It's hard to help you through the computer (just standing next to you we could do it within seconds!), but I'll try to explain in steps and I hope I'm clear enough!

1. Stand up straight:
a lot of people send out mixed messages about their space by just standing with hunched shoulders and a bent back. Try this: bend forwards and now try and swing your arms around you: you will only have a small space right under your upper body, and no space whatsoever in front of your head or behind your back, because your arms cant reach that.

2. Stretch your arms (lock your elbows) and hold them stretched horizontally at shoulder height next to your body (when you would look from above and down on you, your arms and shoulders form one straight line from hand to hand)

3. Now lower your arms untill your hands are at navel-height - still with stretched elbows!

4. Now slowly turn your hands around you clockwise: while the left arm is making a part of the circle forwards and to the right, the right arm is making a part of the circle backwards and to the left. Turn your shoulders with your arms, and when your left arm can go anymore to the right without losing his stretched elbow (and instead curving against your body). When you can't go further, go anti-clockwise back: your left arm now moves to the left towards and behind the back, while the right arm moves forward around your body to the front. If you can't go any further without losing your stretched elbows, revert to clockwise again.

5. Swing your arms clockwise and anti-clockwise like this, and do it slowly. Your power is not in your speed, but in your strenght. If you keep your joints and back straight while turning like this, your arm will feel very hard if it encounters anything on the way forwards or backwards (for example a nose of a nosy horse ). It will actually be harder when you go slower, because you can stretch your arm better. Amaze yourself by turning only one arm around like this, and holding your other arm in the path of the turning arm (and keep that elbow straight and locked!!!): feel how much power is behind that arm when you hit the other. Now do the same when you don't stretch the turning arm, but just have it loosely swinging around: you wil notice that this arm will give as soon as it encounters something and flex around it. And that's exactly not the message you want to send out. Now straighten the turning arm again, and repeat this to discover how your power is at different speeds of turning around. If you find it difficult to hold one arm still while turning the other, then just place the edge of a door, cupboard or table in the path of your swinging arm. Just be aware that it will be bruised quickly.

Find that speed of turning around where the centrifugal powers keep your arm lifted in the air a bit, and keep that untill your horse has moved out of your space again - then reward him.

The good thing about standing straight, with straight arms and a relaxed turning around isn't just that any contact with your arms is quite powerful, but much more it's good because your horse can clearly see what you doo: an arms that's just flashing around, up and down, is hard to follow. While you want to send out a very slow and clear message: This Is My Space A slow, conscious and precise movement just shows it all, and enables the horse to prevent the active correction of having your arms bumping against his body.

Actually I've never experienced a horse getting aggressive because of this, or annoyed or scared. They tend to try four or five times if you really mean this and if they can't go back to their old behavior, but they realise that you're not being annoying, unreasonable or aggressive, but just telling them that this is your space, not theirs. And because you use such a calm and clear posture and movements to point this out, they can really think this over and decide not to bump against you again - instead of being forced or driven or annoyed out, with you think about territory and they think how annoying and aggressive you are.

By the way: with a slow moving or more polite horse, you can hold your arms somewhat lower when asking him not to be in your space, and with a bigger, faster moving or less polite horse you can raise your arms up to shoulder height, giving you a bigger territory. The most important thing is not to be aggressive. Don't direct your emotions or thoughts against your horse. Don't think 'get out of here! you shouldn't be here!', but instead think 'I feel the need to now stretch my shoulders by swinging my arms around myself in a calm and powerful way.' Actually you could do that any time you want, as it's your territory anyway. It's just that sometimes your horse reminds you to do that, by placing his nose or shoulder too close. Just think 'Good idea, I should really go and stretch my shoulders!'. And as an added bonus it's really very nice for your shoulders too.


Being consequent?
For some reason horsepeople sometimes seem to have the idea that if you're not very consequent, your horse won't understand you and get entirely out of hand. This would mean that according to this idea you should always keep your horse out of your personal space. Which would be a bit sad. ;)

With Blacky and Sjors: yes, of course they can come in and stand next to me or in front of me, or bump their buttocks against me with the message 'scratch here, I'm itchy' :roll: , but sometimes when I don't like that, I can tell that to them too without them getting annoyed or angry with me or feeling confused about it.

Indeed, I'm not being consequent (because then I would never accept any closeness coming from their side, only allowing it when it was on my command) but as I'm also not making a big deal of it when I don't want to be crowded, they just accept that because they still want to play with me. If they wouldn't, they could just leave as we're working at liberty anyway. I'm not a rigid dictator with subjects who are only allowed to do exactly what I tell them to. I'm communicating with the ponies, and because my messages aren't violent or forced on them, they're willing to listen to them.



For a somewhat different approach, also within the AND framework, see: Encouraging politeness

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Last edited by admin on Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:10 am 
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Good topic!! Thank you...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:10 am 
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You state this very well :mrgreen:
Evita knows my asked space is shown by my hands. She is always at the end of my hands so close to me when they are next to my body and further away when my hands are further away from my body. I don't have to push her, mostly its even without touch. This is nice because it comes in 'handy' with many movements wich can be done very close because our communication is so subtile and controlled.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:11 am 
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Miriam wrote:
Your power is not in your speed, but in your strenght.


Exactly. To make it more spiritual, ;) I would add, that it's not the strength of your muscles, which has a limit (especially comparing to horses...), but your internal strength, which in Chinese martial arts is called "chi". This energy we can develop through practice: learning to breath efficiently, to relax, to find our own balance (which means being balanced on the ground just like you should be balanced when riding a horse), and to concentrate, which allows us to manage our energy consciously. Here is a video of one of T'ai Chi masters, who demonstrates how he can "send away" an opponent using only his internal energy, without any muscle effort. Notice that he doesn't look agressive, and he doesn't need to touch another person:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSnUDkCQ0WU

Of course you don't want your horse to fly away like these poor guys :lol: this is just to demonstrate how much power we actually have 8)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:08 pm 
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I need to practice this. I thought that when I wanted my horse to back away, I would say "back" but like he was a child who didn't understand. I said it loud and articulated so he could understand the word completely. I think I've got it all wrong.
I don't want my horse to think I'm annoyed and that's what I would sense if someone was talking loud at me.
Something else to do. Great! Thanks for the advice.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:58 pm 
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Of course you can say 'back' too when he's too close, and repeat that when there's no response from your horse. Sometimes I choose that too, but the problem with that is that you might enter in a discussion. Because when your horse then doesn't respond, you will start to get angry/annoyed with him for not following your cue. And then because he also doesn't respond to your louder cue. ;) You forget that in fact it all started because your horse was just too close, because now it has turned into a murky 'you never do what I say but you should still do it'-discussion.

I would say, just reply to your horse getting too close, by making being close uncomfortable and reward when your horse moves out of your circle again. And be very clear about how much space you want, and where your horse is 'safe', because then you don't annoy him unnecessary and he will soon understand what you want from him. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:37 am 
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today, I tried teaching my horse to back by swinging my arms at a low level (he is quite right-brain) and my body was straight. He understood me after about three tries. They are so smart. He didn't seem upset but looked like he was wondering what I was doing. When he did understand, he backed. I gave him a treat. After two tries, he waited for his treat at a distance.
Thanks for this. I will use it everytime. It works.
Jocelyne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:45 am 
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:lol: Freckles responds to this very nicely, but as soon as I stop "stretching" myself he crowds right back in again. So I stretch some more, and he backs out of my space. Then I stop stretching, and he's right on top me again! We're playing "yo-yo horse"! :lol:

So can someone tell me please what I didn't understand properly?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:53 pm 
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Do you reward him as soon as he gets out of your space?

Because that might be the trick to keeping him away: now you only send him away - and draw him back in when you lower your hands. 8) You now have to teach him that his response getting away is superb, but that he can also stay away when you lower your hands.

Just reward him as soon as he back out of your space. Make sure that when you give him the treat for that, you also walk towards him and give it to him, and not let him walk back to you in order to collect it himself. Because that would sort of totally contradict what you're trying to teach him. :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:01 pm 
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Thanks, Miriam

Sometimes I've been walking to him to give it, and sometimes not - so that must be why it is only sometimes working. :oops: I didn't think "horse logic" only people logic!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:17 pm 
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I have one word: excellent! 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:34 am 

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Hello,

I'm brand new here and just tried this as my first attempt at AND. To my surprise and glee it works!
I have a very pushy pony so I need all the help I can get.
THANK YOU!! Carla (& Elvis)
:thumleft:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:07 am 
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Miriam, this is great,I have try yestrday and it works so smoothly. :)
I have three "pushy" horses, each on their own way, and I didn't figure how to explain them and not to chase them of to move out of my space.
I really love it, we will work on that. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:16 pm 
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Miriam wrote:
Do you reward him as soon as he gets out of your space?

Because that might be the trick to keeping him away: now you only send him away - and draw him back in when you lower your hands. 8) You now have to teach him that his response getting away is superb, but that he can also stay away when you lower your hands.

Just reward him as soon as he back out of your space. Make sure that when you give him the treat for that, you also walk towards him and give it to him, and not let him walk back to you in order to collect it himself. Because that would sort of totally contradict what you're trying to teach him. :wink:


Excellent and so very true. Though I will let a horse come to me for his treat he must keep his head away (nose actually) and maintain body distance as I give it to him.

At first one must do it rather quickly but in time one can relax the movement.

I have also, when I was doing pressure release style training so many years ago, found I could teach a horse to respect my space just as they sometimes do with each other - a little body block. Usually just bumping with my hip into whatever part of the horse had intruded into my personal space.

Many horses will respond with a quiet "excuse me," expression and move over and maintain the space.

On the other hand one must remember that when one "speaks horse," the herd dominance issue can intrude very quickly. He might choose to bump you back, though I never had one do so to me. So I don't recommend this with a herd dominant animal. It's more a herd-buddy level response.

Know your horse.

Donald R.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:57 pm 

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This is great! So simple, yet so effective!

I have one question, I suppose it belongs in this topic:

A month ago I started working a little bit with 7 months old filly. We started playing - just running around. It was all great but one thing - during the game she tried to bite me and reared at me. Oh yes, and when running next to me she speeded up and kicked at me. I avoided it all. After that we continued playing normaly for a while, I intoduced clicker to her and it was all just fine. I know that young horses play that way, but an inosent game to them can be a fatal game to human. Since then I haven't had a chance on working with her either because of lack of time, then the 3 week raining weather, but mostly because I gave myself a brain torture on what to do with her, mostly how to work with her? I'm so very afraid of doing something wrong, on giving her wrong signals, but still stay safe. She's a very young horse and I would like to work with her, but properly in order that one day she grows up in socialized, happy, confident horse who accepts humans as friends and teachers, not only th food-giving machines (her owner saw her twice since she was born and noone has worked with her at all).

I understand the ''hand-waving'' signal, but what to do when it occures during the play? Or should I teach her that before even playing? How to show to a young horse that his way of playing is not the great one (meaning biting and kicking) without discouraging him from play?
Please help! :pray:


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:04 am 
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Hi Natasha!

I'm guessing that you'll get a variety of helpful suggestions from people...but I thought I'd jump in since no one else has responded yet. :smile:

I'm working with a young horse -- got her when she was just two, so she's a little older than your baby -- other people who've worked with even younger horses may have better thoughts, but here goes...

The first thing, for me, was to help both Circe (my filly) and I figure out how to play as horses while helping her to understand I wasn't a horse -- I was smaller and more fragile, and play kicks and bites weren't fun for me!! ;)

I think young horses think of people as other horses -- not that they can't understand the differences between us, but they know how to be horses and assume everyone else comes at the world in the same way.

So I learned to think about Circe playing hard as just that -- not being too aggressive, but just playing too hard.

The first thing I tried was to think about how an older horse might shut a baby down a little bit if she was playing too hard. They get aggressive back, and will kick or bite back, or do a dominance thing over their necks, for example. I didn't want to do any of those things :ieks: ;), but it did occur to me that the "NOPE! This isn't how we play!" message was important.

I do a few things when Circe gets too excited (she's getting a lot better about this, but still sometimes forgets). In all of them, a lot of it is about my energy -- up and excited with her, calmer, not approving, etc. -- and I talk to her a lot, telling her what I don't like and what I do like.

1. I'll do the personal space windmill every time I feel like we're running and she's getting to close to me (she still does this a fair amount -- she has a very small personal space!) :) The first couple of times I put a lot of energy into it saying "give me room" as we ran, and she understood it. Now, generally, I don't even need to wave my arms, but if I just put an arm out she remembers that she's supposed to run next to me rather than on top of me! :-) We didn't work on this before we played -- we learned it while we were moving.

2. If she does a kick threaten (she's famous for these -- she'll pop her hind up in the air like she's going to do a big double barrelled kick but never extends her feet) in my direction, I push my arms out and tell her out loud that I don't like that game. If I'm close enough to her, I'll actually push her hind end away from me a little bit, once she's back on the ground.

3. If she still plays too hard, I'll stop the game and walk away. Game over! I'll walk quietly past her and go and do something else. She stops pretty much immediately at this point and comes over to ask if she can be with me again. Most of the time, we'll start to play again right away, and she doesn't do what she was just doing. I think young horses can be like little kids and get really wound up -- as I'm writing this, there are a bunch of little kids next door playing on a trampoline, and I'm listening to their play wind up into what is going to be, I can guarantee, someone sobbing in the next few minutes! :D Sometimes just a break in the action can bring them back to playing nicely without being total lunatics!

4. A couple of months ago, she and Stardust (my other horse) were really excited and playing wildly and were really forgetting the only rule we have when we do this -- if they are going to fight with each other, they must do it when and where they can't squish me! No Leigh squishing allowed! :) They both had forgotten this, so I stuck my arms out to keep them out of my space. Stardust remembered what that meant, but Circe was too excited, and she decided the next fun part of the game would be to body slam me as she kept in between me and Stardust. She did it once and (once I'd recovered my balance! ;) ) I told her I didn't like it. She did it again, and I put my arm out after she ran into me. Still didn't get the message! So the next time I was instinctively ready for her and threw up my arm with my hand in a fist and bent my knees and grounded my energy so she couldn't knock me over, and she ran into my hand.
I felt a little badly, because she instantly got it and she was a little upset -- she was licking her lips and apologizing all over the place. But it actually worked really well - I didn't go after her and punish her, I just became the immovable thing that it wasn't fun to knock around. (I wasn't angry, just really clear!) She's not done that since, and it doesn't seem to have made her at all nervous about playing hard -- she just doesn't use me as a bowling pin any more! ;)

5. Oh -- another thing that's helped a lot is I've taught her that if I put my hand in front of her chest (initially, I would touch her chest, now I don't actually make any physical contact) she slows down and/or stops with me, so she stays at my shoulder. This has ended up being a really good lesson for both of us about how we can run and play really together, not just at the same time, if that makes sense.

6. Lastly, I've learned that if she's really extra wound up and excited, it doesn't hurt to let her run and kick and buck a little bit on her own before we play -- sometimes even just for a minute or two -- she gets to be as wild and crazy as she wants (which I love watching!) and then is better able to play nicely with me, remembering that I'm breakable, after letting of some extra steam.

I think the biggest thing for me has been to figure out where my comfort/safety levels are, and to learn that I can shape the game to reach that point but go no further -- again, a lot of this is about the energy that I share with them.

(And yes, now the children next door are ALL sobbing and the instigator is getting yelled at! Did I call it, or what!?? 8) )

Hope this is helpful!

All the best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:45 pm 

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Thank you soooo much! This is extremely helpful! I've cleared my doubts now.

Quote:
I think young horses think of people as other horses -- not that they can't understand the differences between us, but they know how to be horses and assume everyone else comes at the world in the same way.


Yes, that's exactly what were my thoughts on young horses. I was just worried how it would turn out if I showed her that her way of playing wasn't interesting to me. If that would be counterproductive. I don't have experience with baby horses. I've dealed with agressive ones, unconfident, etc, but never with a baby horse and hurting a youngster's feelings... :sad:

So you say it's working just fine... Instead: offer an alternative way of having fun - nonviolent way.

Thanks! Your experience is very helpful! :kiss:


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:28 am 

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Thank you a lot.

I think this could work. I will start today. I really understand it could surely be his problem as he has been with a little girl all his life.

Love,

Helene

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:25 pm 

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I did it and it really helped me. I had to keep him on a rope as he jumped out of the arena again, but when he got my point he became relaxt :)

Thank you a lot :)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 3:51 am 
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hi there :D :D i wanted to post here my experiences with Doc. he is a stock horse who is extreamly playful, but very domineering and pushy. he is a pushy horse without any respect for personal space, not to me or to other horses. he is not liked by other horses as he just gets on top of them all the time, he gets agressive if they do not comply and so they do not like to even be in the same paddock with him.

he is a very talented horse who just loves learning, but it is a little frightning as he will actually walk right over the top of you, let alone doing anything faster than walk.

i played with him alot over a fence as i thought that this would get him used to being a little bit distanced from me, but he just about climbs over the fence now, this is a video of him over the fence....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aR5P_pxjXw

so i have gone back to basics. i want to show him how to mimic me but having a distance between us. so we are going to start with a little "step across"

i watched a youtube somewhere of a horse line dancing and it was apparent to me that this would be a great game to show them how to play without treading on my feet! so here is the very beginnings, this is the first day.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qkMVil7n0M

so let me know what you think about this idea, or anything you would add, or advice. this ould be greatly appreciated :love:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:02 am 
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here is a link that i thought was a great game to hep the pushy horse lear about not treading on you. this is the kind of think that i am aiming for, although i am not a line dancing fan, i think that the idea of the horse stepping carefully like a dance so as to keep that space is what i am after. what do you think??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XAlfM-OI94

love to hear any thoughts :love: :love: :love:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:28 am 
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Since pushy horses like to push into people with the shoulder, a nice thing to teach them is to circle around you with a good bend in the body...this keeps the shoulder up and off of you. If you elicit it and reward it often, the horse will be less likely to push into you - simply because NOT to push into you becomes more rewarding.

Also though, from a safety perspective, always be aware of where they horse is at...if they are moving past you but not focusing on you, you stand a greater chance of getting walked on. Emotions also play a part...if the horse is emotional, back off, and draw them back to you softly so their focus is back on you. If the horse is fearful and reactive (spooking), then stay aware of what's frightening them, and place yourself between the horse and the scary object...then you stay safer. If the horse is going to bolt, they will bolt away from you.

You can teach the bend around you at liberty, by placing your hand on the girth area and when they bend the body, reward (head toward you, rib cage moves away from you). Reward a step or two at a time, because if they get enthusiastic, they could drop the shoulder in on you again and BUMP! Oomph! You walk in an arc to help them get the idea.

If you use a halter and lead line, you can encourage the head toward you softly, and again, place your hand on the rib cage. Some horses like constant but soft pressure, and some horses like a soft rhythmic pressure with the hand. If you are walking side by side, very close to the horse, you can also use your forearm on the girth area.

In clicker terms, they say that when an animal displays an unwanted behavior, then it's a good idea to train an incompatible behavior. A good bend in the body is incompatible with pushing into you with their shoulder! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:52 am 
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this sounds like a great thing to teach, thankyou Karen. i will start this soon.

i began with the foot work game because he will actually try to targe my ankle while walking. he swings his leg out and stomps on my foot. :funny: :funny: :funny: i think that he finds this amusing watching me try to dodge the hoof. :funny: :funny: :funny: i will have a look through ground training exercises to find a good thread on this. do you know if there is one?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:29 am 
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HI Jessplum (sorry don't know your name),
Corado, my TB looks exactly like your horse! Same color, same white mark on the forehead.
Anyways, I don't have the same problem as you since Corado would do the opposite, he would run away from me when he spooked and he was not eager to come to me. Now things are different since he's alot more confident and sometimes he will push me with his head. But never has he tried to stomp me with his feet.
Just a suggestion: if your horse has it in his head to stomp your feet, I strongly suggest you wear shoes, and in your case maybe shoes with steel caps. I don't have that problem and would never go barefeet beside a horse. Maybe I'm too security-prone but I've never been hurt (touch wood). But when I saw your video, I kinda said to myself "I think she may be looking for trouble" Please don't get me wrong - maybe you feel completely at ease with this. Then that's fine - I should mind my own business, but maybe I can help. :f:
Also, your other video showing you running on one side of a fence and your horse on the other: is that barbed-wire?? I really hope not. But if it is, maybe you shouldn't excite him beside this kind of fence. Again, I'm always thinking about "what would happen if..." What if he decided to run into the fence OOUCCHHH!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:45 am 
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:funny: :funny: :funny: :funny: , hi there, i laughed out loud when i read your post, thankyou for the care :funny: :love:

i was practically born with horses, my first fall was in nappies :D and i have had every toe in my foot broken at least once. ;) almost all of the breaks happend with boots on, but lately they all ach so much with shoes on that i prefer to keep them off. i find that i can move them out of the way quicker. :yes: :yes: :yes: (although i have missed on the odd occasion) i found that boots on or off, they still break now as they are weak, only difference is that it breaks the skin when barefoot. actually, i find that i have not much feeling in my feet anymore :funny: :funny: :funny: :funny: :funny: i wouldnt suggest this to anyone else, but it is more comefortable barefoot :kiss: :kiss: but dont worry, i took no offence at the suggestion as i hear it all the time. it is nice to know that people care. :kiss: :kiss: :kiss:

(ooohhh, my name is Jessy)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:55 pm 

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Location: Estonia, Tallinn
I have a problem. And the problem is not my own horse, but someone elses. My shoulder is blue as she has bit me almost every time I walk to the pasture. She has galloped over me about 10 times and reared in front of me landing on the place where i was just standing about 4-5 times. She is 3 years old and not been taught to respect the persons space correctly, I think. The thing is...she does all those things with everyone else, but not her owner. At least I haven't seen her biting her owner. I have used the windmill (she ignores it and bites me instead). I have shut down my energy (ignores it and bites me or runs me over). Most of the time I try to make clear that "this is my space" I'm already too late, cause she is long gone, taking turns for next "runover" or grazing in the distance like nothing happened. All too often I find myself on the ground, groaning in pain. All the other horses have learned "who is who" as when a particular person comes, she/he comes for a particular horse and others basically continue doing what they do. Only she is always greeting everyone by running them over. I am getting really worried, cause me is me, but from time to time I bring some visitors to my horse and I really don't like the idea that they have to watch out for their life while finding their way around to see Ronja. So I have been thinking that I should let the owners see this particular topic and ask them to do something about it, but I don't know if they see the problem, cause the horse behaves really differently when they are around. But is there any suggestions what I can do to protect myself, so I wouldn't get bitten from behind unexpectadly almost every time I go to the pasture. (And this can't be just me doing something totally wrong, because almost every other person who goes to the pasture, experiences similar things).

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:00 pm 

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Sounds like a very dangerous behavior that was reinforced for this horse by being able to do this over and over again. Since this behavior is pretty regular could you have someone videotape or you videotape when another person who the horse does this to is dealing with it? The liability for the owner of this horse would be huge if someone get seriously hurt so that alone should make them want to know what their horse does to other people. If this horse will not easily back away from a lunge whip I would not even walk in there. What does the owner do to keep the horse from bullying them?
I assume you are boarding your horse at a barn where the barn owner decides who gets to do what (or is it the barn owners horse?) At any boarding place I've been at a horse like that would not be allowed to be in a group turn-out situation if it is non-aggressive to the other horses.
In the meantime, can you teach your horse to come all the way to the gate and then just use a lounge whip from the other side of the fence to keep this horse away long enough to get yours haltered and out?
Good luck,
Birgit
P.S. I just read over your post again, frankly I think this horse could kill someone. Even if you are willing to take the risk, wich I wouldn't, imagine a child accidentally getting in there,... please be completely open with the owners, it's better to hurt someone's feelings than for someone to get seriously hurt.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:37 pm 
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iidala wrote:
I have a problem. And the problem is not my own horse, but someone elses. My shoulder is blue as she has bit me almost every time I walk to the pasture. She has galloped over me about 10 times and reared in front of me landing on the place where i was just standing about 4-5 times. She is 3 years old and not been taught to respect the persons space correctly, I think. The thing is...she does all those things with everyone else, but not her owner. At least I haven't seen her biting her owner.

You have a small part of the problem. The owner has a much larger one. This horse has injured you. The owner and the BO both are now subject to legal action. Both and injury and mental suffering would be appropriate to explore with an attorney.

I understand that barn politics being what they are you have as yet not made a choice to pursue this, but a simple letter from an attorney (yours) to the BO and the horse owner stating the circumstances and the liability issues would likely quickly bring this horse to a separate holding area.

Your safety and that of others is being ignored.
iidala wrote:
I have used the windmill (she ignores it and bites me instead). I have shut down my energy (ignores it and bites me or runs me over). Most of the time I try to make clear that "this is my space" I'm already too late, cause she is long gone, taking turns for next "runover" or grazing in the distance like nothing happened. All too often I find myself on the ground, groaning in pain.

Never ever take that risk again. This horse could easily kill you let alone seriously injure you with this behavior.

Sadly, this horse believes she is doing the right thing and getting the desired results.
iidala wrote:

All the other horses have learned "who is who" as when a particular person comes, she/he comes for a particular horse and others basically continue doing what they do. Only she is always greeting everyone by running them over. I am getting really worried, cause me is me, but from time to time I bring some visitors to my horse and I really don't like the idea that they have to watch out for their life while finding their way around to see Ronja.

Those folks, and you as well, should never be in the presence of that horse without it being restrained by the owner (give you any ideas?).
iidala wrote:

So I have been thinking that I should let the owners see this particular topic and ask them to do something about it, but I don't know if they see the problem, cause the horse behaves really differently when they are around.

Chances are very good the owner knows. Since you are not the only boarder with this experience it's unlikely the owner doesn't know. The barn owner at the very least has heard from others. Have you talked to the barn owner? What has he or she said to you?
iidala wrote:

But is there any suggestions what I can do to protect myself, so I wouldn't get bitten from behind unexpectadly almost every time I go to the pasture. (And this can't be just me doing something totally wrong, because almost every other person who goes to the pasture, experiences similar things).


I can make no suggestions about being unexpectedly attacked, but I can about horse training.

The owner should be approached about training sessions with you and the horse - for that matter, others and the horse as well, where you and they take control from the ground, the horse being handed off by the owner. Even if that isn't one hundred percent a cure it is a starting place.

One will need to observe what takes place at that point, with both you and the owner on separate lines. I come from a cowboy background originally and we often trained (green breaking it's called) very reactive and dangerous horses, and it was common for two or three of us to put a rope on a horse while one person worked him from the ground. Even then there is risk, but this doesn't sound like one of those bangtails I worked with.

I hesitate to offer this one, but if I personally knew I MUST, absolutely MUST enter that field to get my horse for an emergency, I'd carry a boating air horn, fully charged, new.

I'd welcome the horse to come at me, just waiting. A series of quick blasts of the horn (don't make it continuous, that can provoke and attack) will turn just about anything. I, for instance, don't care much for protective sprays (other than for bears) but prefer the boat horn. I live in mountain lion country. I can assure you no lion would come through that wall of sound.

It's likely to be three or four times louder to a lion, a dog, and especially to a horse considering they all, and the last most, extremely sensitive hearing.

I would, though I don't suggest it to anyone else and in fact would caution against it unless you have either or both very fast legs and or a great deal of horse knowledge, pursue the horse about the pasture (never ever cornering it of course) and use the blasts to move it about a bit. I would control it's feet for it. That is how mares teach foals behavior. Discipline is usually a matter of mother mare moving the foal about. Moving tends stop other things from happening or ends those behaviors in the moment.

This is NOT training. This is punishment. You would be saying, essentially, "I am a bigger stronger horse than you and you will move when I say so."

You will have taught the horse nothing but to be afraid of you. NOT necessary desireable new behavior to replace the old behavior. Other animals might respond more with a desire to find a new behavior, but the horse will simply use their instinct, and run away when they hear this noise.

If you have never heard a cannister boat air horn you will be most surprised at the volume.

I run elk out of my gardens with it. I could move them with other means but in the Rut and bull elk in full antler I'd be taking my life in my hands to just run at them and yell. The air horn always moves them. Those bulls run up to 1,500 lbs and more. And have a lot more of a temper than that horse.

Now if I were the barn owner I'd offer the horse owner a little bargain - either move out or let old Uncle Don train that mare. To do that I might use the air horn, but I would have assistance and I would use it to "suggest," to the horse that approaching me safely is what will make the horse go away. That we can be quiet friends.

I wouldn't try to teach another how to do this, but operant conditioning would be my method. Positive reinforcement quickly replacing the punishment of the air horn. In fact I'd not likely even use an airhorn. I'd use a fence, some feed, and a little horsey teasing of the animal.

Let's say I'd use the old cavalry method that green horses were taught to not only tolerate the roar of battle, but to welcome it.

The bottom line?

Stay out of that enclosure entirely until you have safety insured. Get the barn owner thinking about their liability. Get the horse owner thinking about it as well.

Or, probably better, though I'm less socially responsible suggesting it, MOVE.

Find a better barn/pasture situation.

Where, may I ask, in the world are you located?

Who knows, you might be down the road from me. I love these kinds of challenges.

Donald

PS I fully agree with Birgit on the risk issue. This is a very dangerous situation. D

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:45 am 

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Location: Estonia, Tallinn
Thank you both for answering and giving me some ideas.
I live in Esonia, so not that close to you unfortunately, Don. : )
And I must say that Estonia is so small that we don't do attorneys...it's like hiring one for your own family or smthing. But thank you for suggesting that, anyway, it helps me to understand that I am not imagining this problem, but it really is a serious one.
The horse does not belong to the barn owners and the place is quite small and cosy. 4 boarding horses (including my Ronja and Vaim) and one horse of their own. I really like the people there (open-minded and warm and also interested in AND and so on) and I am not really planing on moving before I, myself, move to another town. The BO knows about the problem (they have the same problem...they deal with it by telling everyone to be aware) and I have talked about it with the horse owner (who is a very lovely and friendly woman, but I don't think she has that much experience with horses...) and she usually points out that "she is just so young".
I know a little about the horses backround also. What I've heard is that she was brought up with cows (no horses around) and so that explains why she has real trouble respecting other horses and the herd rules. I also know that she used to be the "foal of the village" as in everybody walked in to cuddle her and play with her and feed her treats.
I also know that she is a very fast learner (it is really easy to teach her to give legs and so on), but I feel that she lacks the real basics.
I know that this is not the kind of problem one could solve through the internet, but I am still really grateful for helpful answers. I have more confidence now to put together a "business" plan. I think my first step is to talk to the owner again and do it in a really clear way, so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding between us.

Btw, Ronja used to protect me from her and I used to take Ronja out to the other side where no other horse could reach us. But now she has a newborn foal to look after and I am also not comfortable with guiding Ronja out to the fenceless area with a foal yet. There are too many things that could go wrong. So the problem has turned into a real one. For now, Ronja and the foal have a smaller separate pasture, but to get there, I still have to cross the big one. And when we unite Ronja and Vaim with the rest of the horses again, I really don't have any good separating solutions in my hand. Ohwell. We'll see, got to do some serious talking.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:03 am 
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You've gotten fabulous advice from Birgit and Donald (I actually was going to suggest that you ask him for his thoughts when I read your post earlier -- had to leave and voila! he'd found your question.)

Only one last opinion from my end:

Quote:
I think my first step is to talk to the owner again and do it in a really clear way, so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding between us.


I'd do this, and I'd do it with the barn owner there so I could have a three way conversation about solutions.

No anger or anything (which it doesn't sound like you're doing, anyway!) but a very clear conversation about how this horse could seriously injure or kill someone. I think both the barn owner and the horse owner both need to help come up with an immediate solution to keep everyone safe and then figure out a training solution. They both have responsibilities to make sure people are safe.

Hope this is helpful! I think you're amazingly kind to not have completely lost your temper with anyone in this situation! :bowdown: ;)

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:52 am 

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Quote:
And I must say that Estonia is so small that we don't do attorneys...it's like hiring one for your own family or smthing. But thank you for suggesting that, anyway, it helps me to understand that I am not imagining this problem, but it really is a serious one.


I suspected that people don't sue each other in Estonia the way they do in the US. I think that is usually a good thing. Maybe the way to make a strong point to the owner is to appeal to their conscience, something like: I know you are someone who truly cares about people and would not ever want an innocent person or child hurt...but we (and have all the people who have been physically hurt physically present) are seriously worried for our safety (or our lives) because your horse does not seem to respect boundaries... How can we help you solve this today before a.nyone else gets hurt... This is kind of like an intervention for an addict that's destroying themselves and their family. It needs to be well-prepared and thought through before implemented but can be extremely effective.
Maybe the owner does feel guilty about the situation but is at a loss of what to do. In this case this approach might help because it sets clear boundaries (we need to solve this problem today) while offering help and compassion.
Maybe a couple of people could get together and put up some additional fencing to keep this horse separate from the others or only together with one dominant horse.
If that doesn't work, Cowboy Donald might just ride to Estonia, sounds like he's ready for the challenge. ;) :funny:
But seriously Donald, I'm glad you expressed how strongly you feel about this, a guy's perspective was helpful here. :thumright:
I have to say I do like the bullhorn idea if this horse were in a pasture by itself, but otherwise every living thing is going to get blasted, too.

Please keep up posted on what happens. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Birgit


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:11 am 
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I've been reading everyone's comments which are so interesting. But I do have a question.
How can a horse become that mean? Can it be in his nature?
I haven't been around horses long but I always thought that the basic nature of a horse was friendly (if treated with respect).
This is amazing how mean he is! I guess if ever I come across a horse I don't know, I should beware. I would hate to come across a horse with this type of personality and be taken off guard :sad: .

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:32 am 
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horsefever wrote:
I've been reading everyone's comments which are so interesting. But I do have a question.
How can a horse become that mean? Can it be in his nature?
I haven't been around horses long but I always thought that the basic nature of a horse was friendly (if treated with respect).
This is amazing how mean he is! I guess if ever I come across a horse I don't know, I should beware. I would hate to come across a horse with this type of personality and be taken off guard :sad: .


I have on rare occasions run across horses that were neurologically challenged. But not many.

I have more often, when I was interested in rehabilitation of them, dealt with extremely dangerous recovering rodeo broncs, and once a range bred six year old thoroughbred that was quite a dangerous nut himself.

I lost a little mustang mare that must have been badly treated by her breaking out of a corral when I had put a rope on her, and she went over a cliff. I can't tell you the emptiness I felt as I saw her go over that cliff out of my sight, and the rope tearing through my hands. She was so frightened, and I was so sad.

The thorougbred was the one I treated like a mental patient and cold soaked. He came through wonderfully well, and became a kids show horse.

I gave up on only one bronc. He was absolutely deadly and very very insane from the cruelty of the rodeo arena. He too was a thorobred and from the same herd the one I helped came from, but that one had not been a rodeo horse.

I wish you could have see the bronc's head - his face. It had strange bulges and tensions and dead areas you just don't see on a TB's head - only broncs before they are gentled.

He got a good kick in on me but I wasn't hurt as I caught it on my hip and rolled with it.

I used throwing with those kind, to put them in the sawdust (deep) where I could work slowly with touch, voice, and my gentling dog. One of the most loving and kindest dogs I've ever known. He'd lay on their tail and neck and just very quietly talk to them. I've no idea what he said but it must have been kind because he would quiet them much more quickly than my handling. Their eyes would go soft as he whined and purred. Strange stuff. I still miss that neat dog.

That one, the horse, though I did not let my dog near. He was, even more than the mare over the cliff, the saddest encounter with a horse I ever had, and hope never to have again. He was, simply put, insane. Completely.

I found a huge estate, many thousands of acres, that I got permission to turn him out in. And let him go. Never saw him again, but others said they saw him with the domestic horses that were also turned out there, but he never was in the roundups.

The risk of you running across a horse such as this is very small I'd think.

Donald

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:46 am 
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That is so sad to see what humans have done to these horses. The minds of these horses must be completely out of whack!! Because of whom?? Us, humans of course.
However, you have helped many of these horses live a "normal" (or at least close to normal) life after going thru this terrible ordeal. The ones you did save, they are forever grateful, I'm sure. So don't be sad for the ones that could not be saved. At least, they won't suffer anymore and they are in horse heaven (I'm sure!!).
P.S. you should write a book about your experience with horses. Would most probably be a best seller!!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:21 am 

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It is sad to read about those horses, but I must say that this is not the case here. The reason, I think, is in my last post. This horse is not mean. She is just playful and doesn't really know how to play or what to do with her energy. If a horse is raised far from other horses then there hasn't been anyone who could teach her the right kind of behaviour + the kind people, who probably thought it was cute when the foal put her frontlegs on their shoulders or smthing like that. It breaks my heart to read that you think she is mean....she most definitely isn't. No horse is. That is NOT their nature. Every insanity a horse might have, is a result of a human deed. Her eyes say "come play with me" not "I want to hurt you". She is just thinking that every human being in this world is there to play with her and play rough. The world is her oyster. And as far as she sees it - only hers.

Btw, keeping away from horses you don't exactly know is always a good plan. Though there might not be many totaly insane ones, there sure can be many horses with their own specific ways or they may have certain kinks that you are not aware of.
For example, my horse is used to strangers or people who don't handle her every day asking for permission before touching her body. I only let people treat her as a highly intelligent being who has the first right to decide things about her body. So one day the BO, who doesn't usually handle horses, went to check Ronja's dug. Of course, he didn't think of asking Ronja before and I must say, dug is a really intimate area. Ronja, who is a total non-biter, turned herself to see the man who was bowing on her side and touching her dug and bit his bottom. I say, well done Ronja in that particular case. But my point is: if you don't know the horse, you can't know what she/he is used to and what not. So I'd say it is more than a necessity to approach strange horses with their owner or handler and not on your own at first.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:10 am 

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Hi iidala,
I've just followed this thread briefly but I do think you need to not only bring this to the attention of the owner but also perhaps help her, help her horse.
I have known two horses that had this type of behaviour, and both mares. The first would not actually do anything but would come in a hurry with neck snaked and try to run you out of the paddock. Everyone would refuse to go in the paddock convinced she was about to eat them. She had learned that itf she looked mean, people went away. She would also do the mock bite thing when being groomed. Today (now that no one bothers with her antics) she has learnt that it has no point.
The other was more difficult, she is still a little unpredictable but I worked with her (about two sessions a week) with the owners permission to "teach" her some manners. She is a two year old that would mob for food, walk over you and then bite you as you were leaving!
I used Carolyn Resnicks food game, teaching her it is not appropriate to take food, it has to be given. I put her on a line and taught her basic rules around humans, ie please don't walk on top of me! :funny: and also taught her from the ground that grabbing hay when I am coming out of the shed is not on. I still stick my finger out the side so when she decides to lunge at it my finger connects with her face. Only when she has backed off and is no longer trying to mob me, I go to her and give her a small chunk of hay. Recently she has been waiting patiently a few meters from me whilst I get the hay.
Unfortunately at two, she has be allowed to do all these things for far too long. Now she is bigger she is quite frankly dangerous, especially when small kids are around with carrots.
She has got sooo much better but this is a joint effort between myself and the groom to be consistant and to not allow her to be rude.

Perhaps you can make her your project for a few weeks/months with the owners permission and then target certain behaviours you want to change. This will only work though if all the people that go in and out of the paddock have the same rules. Eventually she will learn that no matter how often she does it, the results are always the same. With no pay off, she will give up.

Now this horse is in a herd, half your work is already done as she will learn the correct behaviour from the others, now she needs to learn correct behaviour with humans too. It's very quick when the rewards come for the correct behaviour, but slow and inconsistant when the bad behaviour is just being punished, as babies they don't get it and think it's just another game. :)

Good luck and let us know how it goes.......

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:52 pm 
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Interesting Annette. When I read the initial inquiry I too thought that the perhaps the most innocuous approach (with the owner's permission and hopefully the owner's participation) would be some of the Waterhole Rituals. If one does not wish to bond with the horse (ie, not the owner), then simply skip the Sharing Space ritual and proceed on with the rituals of food. Whether it is hay or grain or whatever...set it out and do not allow her to eat it (drive her away from it) until she shows the respect of staying away or ignoring the food. Then allow her in to eat, but test that she will keep one eye on you in a respectful way - if not, drive her away again.

There is no harm in this, at all, to the horse - either mentally or physically - and it is a nice way to quickly gain some respect.

I practice this with horses of any age, literally, at the waterhole! When I bring Tam out of the field or when he goes back to the field, I will stand guard (as a highest ranking herdmate might) while he drinks. I swing my cordeo and clear all the horses away from the drinking fountain in order to allow Tam a much needed drink. I used to watch Cisco do this for himself. If he needed a drink, he did not wait in line as the lower ranking horses would. He simply walked in and the other horses would all clear a path for him without arguing. So I practice this with all the horses as well.

I go to the pasture to get Tam, and I do so with a pouch full of treats. The other horses can smell it and they may approach. Many of the older horses know now not to crowd in (or even bother approaching) unless they are invited to do so, but the youngsters don't always yet understand the concept of being pushed away - so they take a bit more effort and time and repetition.

But if a horse was taught (or allowed - which is also teaching) to be dangerous by an owner, and it was threatening anyone for any reason, our stable owner would tell them that they need to fix the problem immediately or board the horse somewhere else. Period.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:31 pm 

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Hi everyone,
I've been thinking about this a lot overnight, and wanted to share some more thoughts. One has to do with giving advice in a potentially very dangerous situation over the internet. I have done a lot of behavior modification with aggressive dogs, some so aggressive that they would try to kill people.
My number one rule when being contacted by an owner is in the case of aggression to NEVER give advice out over the phone or internet. The reason is that in many, if not most, cases there is some information that the owner can not give about the animal, either because they are not aware of it or because it's hard to describe or because language gets in the way. The same is true for the answer I could give. So I'm wondering if it might be good to not get too involved and leave this up to the owner of the horse and the barn owner to deal with and just make it clear that things cannot continue as they are.
I could see that if we could look at a video of this horse we might get a better idea, but even then it is only a short picture in time.
Concerning the horse, I always assume that it is not the animals's fault. I don't think horses or other animals can be held morally responsible for their actions (and in that sense be called "mean"). They do what they do by instinct first and they do what has been taught to them/what has worked for them. In some cases, in the case of brain abnormalities they do abnormal things. We interpret it as "mean" or "viscious" when an animal does things that are dangerous for us. It is always primarily the owner who is morally responsible to keep other people and animals safe. In this case I would think the barn owner has a responsibility to take action if the owner chooses not to or is unable to.

to Annette: I'm thinking from the description given that the horses you worked with may have had the same kind of problem but not nearly as severe, again impossible to know just by reading.

I'm writing all this because I do feel a moral responsibility to protect innocent people in a situation like this, and I know many other people will read this who have similar situations to deal with.
It's one thing to be kind to a horse whenever possible but people's safety has to come first. It's a legal obligation for the involved parties, not just a moral one. Don't know the laws in Estonia but I suspect that here in the US someone who knowingly exposes others to a horse that is likely to kill someone would be guilty of manslaughter if someone does get killed. Not trying to be dramatic, just realistic.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:48 pm 
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I think that is the best reason to talk to the owner first and ask THEM to fix the problem. Next, I would ensure that the stable owner is fully aware of the situation. I would never, ever, attempt to train or fix an issue with someone else' horse without full cooperation from the owner. It is the owner's responsibility/liability first, and the stable owner's responsibility/liability second. It is not the responsibility of an innocent bystander to fix the problem.

I think first and foremost the mare should be removed from the herd until the issue is resolved.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:51 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
Hi everyone,
I've been thinking about this a lot overnight, and wanted to share some more thoughts.

...

Birgit


And your points, every one of them, are well taken and I agree.

One of the reason I quit taking training jobs without a commitment from the horse owner to take lessons from me had much to do with this very point you make: that long distance information is not the same as being there. It works both ways. I want the horse owner-handler to be present while things unfold and progress. Otherwise they are flying blind when they attempt to do what I have "TALKED ABOUT," rather than coached them to do themselves with me present.

All advice given at a distance, but especially that to do with a pushy or aggressive animals must be taken with a grain of salt - very critically.

The reason I mentioned the boat horn was that it isn't a training device, but simply a herding device - a scare tactic to stay as safe as possible. Even it would have it's limits and I wouldn't try it up close without a fence between me and the horse.

Donald

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 4:47 pm 

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As some of you asked an update how things are going...

I spoke to the owner (and the BO beforehand...she agreed as she has the same problem with this horse). It appeared that the main reason nothing had been done so far is that....well...she just doesn't know what to do. So as I told her that this behaviour has to be changed..she replied: "I know, but how?" Luckily, I had done my homework. So I gave her some pages of a book of mine to read and gave her some decent ideas what to do and where to begin and I also recommended to contact a professional who could help her bigtime (as I know a really good horsewoman in the nearby stables). We also agreed on terms on how to behave around this horse. I personally tried very clear defensive movements today when the horse was coming in my way and it worked, she turned to another direction - but today she was also in a calm mood, I'd say. Ok for now, at least. The owner also seemed kinda relieved when we were done talking and she got some ideas on what to do next.
So I told her that the first step should be that the horse should stay calm when separated with a fence to a smaller "training" area from the herd (other horses are still visible..just other side of the fence). Well...first try: she ran down the electric fence and joined the herd. Better luck next time, maybe with a long leadrope.
Btw...as I rejoined Ronja and Vaim with the rest of the horses recently, I must say that all the other herd members are protecting Vaim (the foal) from this horse. This is the only horse that Ronja won't let near Vaim. So she has issues not only with people, but also with other horses. She is warmhearted and beautiful horse. She has just had an inapropriate upbrining and so she can't figure out her place in this world.
Anyway, I think that I put things into motion now and we'll see how it all works out.

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 5:16 pm 
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:applause: :applause: :applause:

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 7:20 pm 

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I second that!!! :applause: :applause: :applause:

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 8:49 pm 
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Wonderful. You nailed that problem and then solved it.

The plan looks good too, that is to get some professional help. I would bet you are absolutely correct in the horse not being properly socialized.

Some that behave in this way have been subjected to isolation and other abuses. Or even more likely, teased and the cowards running away when the horse came at them. Taught to be aggressive in their own defense.

You did a wonderful favor for this horse.

Hugs, Donald, Altea and Bonnie

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:41 pm 

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I just want to report that some time has passed now and i can't even believe how much better things are. Actually, I might just say, problem solved. The owner has worked some miracles with this horse. First of all, the horse gets along better with other horses in the herd. She doesn't run to me anymore, she doesn't pay attention to me anymore. If she gets too close, I just stretch my hand out and she stops and turns to another direction or starts grazing peacefully. She doesn't run me down or bite me anymore. The farm owners still say that she can be unexpectable, but I haven't had a signle problem with her for a long time now. She doesn't chase after my foal too that often now and I guess my foal is also a bit bigger and a bit smarter now. They get along just fine. I can bring visitors with me again and I don't feel threatened or afraid while walking around in the pasture. In fact I have been meditating and just lying down and feeling the nature on the pasture lately and I feel totally safe. She is so not interested in me. Mission accomplished!

I have to ask the owner how exactly did she do it when I see her. I know that she started with a small separate area in the middle of the pasture, that she put up exactly for that purpose. It had one open "door" (aprox 1,5 meters) and four "walls" (aprox 5 meters) as in single-line string. So she started with helping th ehorse to get used to being in a smaller area with the opportunitity to leave and come back whenever she liked. And I think she started to ask real politeness when the horse was in that area and only asked excercises when the horse was calmly settled.I have to ask for somemore details. The BO said that she spent hours and hours with her horse. What is really important - it worked. Much calmer and much more relaxed horse, who has a better relations in the herd and with humans. Yei!

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:30 am 
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Thats such a great outcome iidala :)

Zoe and I are needing some ideas for Bear at the moment.
We have being introducing him to our horses by putting them together in the arena. They are slowly getting used to him and they are sorting eachother out. Poppy and Marlee are beginning to interact a little more. Bear has quite a high play drive though and I think he intimidates them a little. Anyway he and Bj run around together and play biting games with eachother. Which is great fun for them but now he has started trying it with us.

We started by just ignoring him when he did it and asking him to turn his head away, which does get him to stop, but then he'll start up again. Letting him bang into my elbow didn't help much either. What really seems to trigger it is us touching him (especially his head and neck) and he is getting quite bad with this. He has stopped backing up when I tickle his chest as he takes it as an invitation to start a biting game. He has always tended towards being quite muggy and he will walk infront of us to block us if we let him. We reward him for turning his head away, for walking and stopping next to us and for walking a circle away but he needs to be reminded all the time (although he usually responds when you ask).

Our ideas at the moment are: to work on all the above exersizes, get him better at stepping under on the circle, walking away when he won't keep his head away and rewarding him with play when he is polite and lets us touch him.
I think we just need to make it super clear that biting games=no attention.

Any other thoughts/ideas??


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:46 pm 
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A few ideas that may (or may not) help.

1. I wouldn't tickle his chest anymore but simply press on his chest to back up.
2. When I don't want my horses to enter my space (barge into me), I have taught them an arm single (which is to place my hand in front of me as if I'm cutting the air with my hand and I use a hard look and say "stop" and then I rewarded (now I don't anymore because they know what it means).
3. as for touching, Magik was super sensitive. I think you have to play "approach - retreat" and after awhile they get it. I would click when I touched him and then immediately remove my hand. It takes time but after awhile you won't even notice you had a problem.

Anyways, just a few suggestions.
Jocelyne

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:04 pm 
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Marina wrote:
Thats such a great outcome iidala :)

[...]

Any other thoughts/ideas??


Study how horses in herd behave toward each other to fight, play, boss.

Then don't do those things. Don't act like a herd buddy. (Very tough not to if you are following AND)

Study what Mother Mares(TM) do when foals are small. Beware those things the mare does that are the same as the bossy, playful, and aggressive. Watch her softer communication.

I was going to suggest that you raise your hand and arm and wave it in an arc, as that is the boss posture, but it is also, as always with "boss," postures, an invitation to challenge the users' authority. In other words, a fight behavior.

I happen to use it, but my horses understand we are not to aggress and I in fact AM the boss horse. Not AND but practical in I believe both will outlive me and move on to other owners. I AND when I can, otherwise I condition and Rituals (but only as I know them, not like Jocelyne who is becoming so much more proficient in them.

I know though that approach retreat is often very effective. It's quite operant conditioning in concept and execution when done correctly. My horse wants to approach, and in a manner I do not want, such as mugging my pockets and hands. I move away and the instant he or she complies by showing they are stopping, I move toward them again. I initiate contact.

Not police, not good manners, but the horse started it first. :funny:

We have lots of ways of talking about these things, and while the connection might not seem obvious between them (approach retreat, and some say "go away from the horse") it's still the same concept.

I think we stress too that one study and respond to the individual horse. Some are so sensitive that going away would depress them. So I, if I owned such a horse, (my dog is like this) I would very quickly return and reward, hug, trade breath, scratch, etc. when they complied. I get nervous when I read about someone working with a horse over some problem and the horse goes off in the distance and stands and sulks.

I firmly believe, for instance, that the horse needs to be close enough, if we are interacting as in a relationship, to smell me, and in crises to have my breath if he needs it. So I offer it even when I'm not sure.

Bonnie usually is very excited to get out of her stall. I ask her not to come roaring out of her stall (I worry she will bang a hip on the steel frame, or trample my dog or me), so I offer her my breath, (well, :blush: I ask her for a little soft nostril kiss) and while I breath close to her nostril I think about calmness and walking quietly out of the stall.

I had not meant it to "train," but then in good relationships we learn to manage our behaviors so that we don't upset and offend our partner/friend/companion/loved one. Bonnie now waits quietly and comes out slowly and softly.

Weird though. As Altea becomes more healthy she is turning into a "Bonnie," all energy and rushing about. It's so wonderful to see I don't do anything with it other than to stay out of her way when she's excited. I've plenty of time to do calming work with her later - for now her behavior is so welcome I could hug her for it (I do, of course). Besides, as a socialized adult she is pretty careful not to run into me or trample the dog.

Donald

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:13 pm 
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horsefever wrote:
A few ideas that may (or may not) help.

1. I wouldn't tickle his chest anymore but simply press on his chest to back up.

Boy howdy, do I ever agree and concur. Tickling is a "let's play nip fight," among horses.
horsefever wrote:
2. When I don't want my horses to enter my space (barge into me), I have taught them an arm single (which is to place my hand in front of me as if I'm cutting the air with my hand and I use a hard look and say "stop" and then I rewarded (now I don't anymore because they know what it means).

Hmmm....I've got to try that. It's like my "take a break," gesture with Rio, my dog. When he's fetching he gets too excited for his age and bad knees. I do a baseball umpire 'safe,' gesture and say time out.

What I think I like about yours is that it doesn't seem to mimic much of any horse behavior that is an invitation to aggress. But it does look like some lead mare gestures I've seen.
horsefever wrote:
3. as for touching, Magik was super sensitive. I think you have to play "approach - retreat" and after awhile they get it. I would click when I touched him and then immediately remove my hand. It takes time but after awhile you won't even notice you had a problem.

While it's good manners, as Josepha recently reminded me, to let a new horse invite you into it's space, with a friend it's nice to initiate touch and closeness. Some humans, and some horses though, want to be approached with a clear pre signal. I think I can see how C/T would be useful to demonstrate that to the horse.

I'm about to show Bonnie that I want boundary respect and that she and I will stop on approach, even if asked for, and ask again if it's okay before coming up real close up to contact range out in the open. I think it will help with various behavior problems she's presenting.
horsefever wrote:
Anyways, just a few suggestions.
Jocelyne


Donald

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:17 pm 
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Quote:
I was going to suggest that you raise your hand and arm and wave it in an arc, as that is the boss posture, but it is also, as always with "boss," postures, an invitation to challenge the users' authority. In other words, a fight behavior.


I had no idea! I believe someone on this forum (or maybe when I started with Parelli) suggested we never hit the horse but rather immitate a wall using our hand. Anyways, good thing I didn't know, I probably wouldn't have tried it.

As for "approach & retreat", maybe you misunderstood what I meant. I was thinking that if her horse has trouble being touched, I would do the "approach - retreat" with my hand touching him, not move my feet.
So, I would touch the horse where he least has a problem (for example neck), touch, click, retreat, treat. If the horse knows clicker training, then he shouldn't have a problem when he is touched where he has a problem. But my body would stay where it is (unless the horse is going to trample all over you).

Again, I assume it depends on the horse you're dealing with. I don't have agressive horses by nature, only horses who were not "educated".
Jocelyne

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:18 pm 
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horsefever wrote:
Quote:
I was going to suggest that you raise your hand and arm and wave it in an arc, as that is the boss posture, but it is also, as always with "boss," postures, an invitation to challenge the users' authority. In other words, a fight behavior.


I had no idea! I believe someone on this forum (or maybe when I started with Parelli) suggested we never hit the horse but rather immitate a wall using our hand. Anyways, good thing I didn't know, I probably wouldn't have tried it.

I try hard to be clear with the horse when I am communicating in horse mode, and too when I'm in human mode. I'm trying to remember when I've seen a horse make a similar gesture as you describe. Can't. But then I'm probably just not making the connection somehow.

The over the head arm swing duplicates a gesture done by the horse with head and neck, that is reaching a superior level, higher than the other horse, and is seen in Mother Mare(tm), battling stallions, lead mare, and in friendly but energetic play. It's a boundary signal, if I'm not mistaken, asking for or attempting to force a boundary respect and to me it says, "move back out of my space."

I use it to establish I want them further away when doing things such as feeding or pushing the muck cart to an open stall door and they want to rush by me and go back in. That sort of thing. Sometimes just to get by them in paddock or out on walkies. It's reserved, unless I want a fight with a horse (I don't), for horses familiar with me.

I've a student's horse I'll have to use it with now that he knows me. He disrespects my space as a way of responding to her less than elegant cuing. In other words, he'll run over me in the lesson arena or hall if I do not move aside. Not a good habit in a school horse, which for now he is. I think I'll try your "imitation wall," as an experiment. I might come to prefer it, who knows.

horsefever wrote:
As for "approach & retreat", maybe you misunderstood what I meant. I was thinking that if her horse has trouble being touched, I would do the "approach - retreat" with my hand touching him, not move my feet.

I understood, and I think moved to use it as metaphor for something else. Clumsy of me.
horsefever wrote:
So, I would touch the horse where he least has a problem (for example neck), touch, click, retreat, treat. If the horse knows clicker training, then he shouldn't have a problem when he is touched where he has a problem. But my body would stay where it is (unless the horse is going to trample all over you).

Makes sense.
horsefever wrote:
Again, I assume it depends on the horse you're dealing with. I don't have agressive horses by nature, only horses who were not "educated".
Jocelyne


Most aren't by nature. They learn it. Or they are a stallion. Though now and then we see a pushy aggressive mare knocking humans about. But likely she's learned it, or has an hormonal problem.

Donald

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:30 pm 
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Possibly I should explain. In the prior post I mention but do not discuss, being in horse mode or human mode of communication.

A typical horse mode I refer to often is using an arm and hand to communicate. Such as my suggestion to ask for or even rudely demand more space, for the horse to back up away from me. That's horse mode.

My arm and hand replace the head and neck of a horse. It's all in the gesture and pattern, the outline of my hand and arm reminds the horse of the head and neck of another horse. In fact of their mother way back when she used it with them.

Now if I were to raise both arms and hands my communication would change, for the horse, to non-horse mode. Horses don't have two heads on two necks. So it's a very human gesture.

However, two arms raised, now becoming two front limbs raised IS a signal and a very strong one to a horse. It is used ONLY by stallions in combat, or as a challenge --- but, it is also the gesture common in some predators; especially in their closing leap.

Thus I don't recommend two arms raised high except in the most extreme circumstances. I might use it with shouts and yells if a horse were to be about to run me down, or I might use it when a sassy and excitable yearling filly (who shall remain nameless) kicks and hits me with her kick.

I think of it as an orangutan communication mode. :funny:

Bonnie seems to think (oopps! There I went and gave it away) it's one of the most outrageous behaviors possible from her human caretaker and is much offended by it, and even frightened. I don't do it often. But then she's not tried to run me down and has only kicked twice, connecting.

Donald

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:28 pm 
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This subject is quite interesting!
Question for you.
Quote:
However, two arms raised, now becoming two front limbs raised IS a signal and a very strong one to a horse. It is used ONLY by stallions in combat, or as a challenge --- but, it is also the gesture common in some predators; especially in their closing leap


Horses must know we are humans. Therefore, if we lift both arms in the air to move them away and talk to them asking them to "back up", I would assume they know we are humans and won't rear (if we have a dominant horse, for example). Carolyn Resnick does this move alot to back her horses quickly.

I will do this gesture when I ask for a back up and don't get one. Then I'll put more energy into my request until they leave my space. Meaning, both my arms will move in the air in front of me. For example, when doing the rituals, there's one ritual where you ask your horse to go trot and come back. When asking your horse to leave, he should be able to leave your space like a lead mare would ask (I'm still working on that one since my energy level is not as high as it should). Corado does leave my space and then kicks out and then he'll turn and face me when I stop walking. Then I ask him to come to me and he always does. Magik on the other hand, I need to really put alot of energy and it doesn't always work. I use both arms and swish them around me with alot of noise. Just recently, he trotted out of my space and then rolled ( :D ) Do I ever have alot of influence!! :funny:

However, if they are just being nibbly and I sense they are trying to move me, then I'll use one arm and make a wall in front of me. That usually works.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:04 pm 
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Quote:
Just recently, he trotted out of my space and then rolled ( ) Do I ever have alot of influence!!


You made me laugh, Jocelyne! :funny:

Very funny. You are a goddess!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:36 am 
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Thanks for the suggestions. :)

He was a bit better yesterday and we tried to be more consistant. He was also backing up again when I asked.
He is good to touch normally - its once we start playing/giving treats that he starts viewing any touch on our behalf as an invitation to play. He doesn't usually bite, he just nibbles or bangs into you with an open mouth.
His cue for moving his head away is us holding our arms in close to our chest, which he does when you ask, but sometimes even giving him the treat gets him started again (dropping the treat on the ground instead seems to help with this).
He doesn't really respond to body language or pressure as a signal to to move away and I think he might interpret anything like that as either more encouragment to play or just make him more pushy.
I think the hardest thing is trying to explain to him the difference between running around and playing, doing more sedate things and understanding how to play appropriately with people. He is impatient and he doesn't leave when he has had enough and he doesn't want us to leave.

Thats interesting what you said about raising both arms Donald. We have always used two arms reaching for the sky as a "stop and stand still" signal as I find it helps me ground my feet. Though I suppose I am not using it at them but as a specific signal.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:34 am 
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Alexandra Kurland, in her books, as well as other C/T authors/instructors make moving away for a treat the number one thing they do after charging the clicker. I presume you know what "charging the clicker," means, but I'll say anyway.

It's done to introduce the horse to the clicker sound producing a treat. This is done with a solid barrier between horse and handler to curtail the horse rushing and mugging.

Kurland et al quickly move to teaching the horse to turn it's head away at the sound of the clicker. Yes, away. Later when the horse is very responsive it can be done so that they hold still, and not reach for the treat. I'm personally very adamant with anyone I teach or discuss C/T with that they do NOT allow the horse to come to the treat but the wait for the treat to come to them.

I even, with more difficult horses, will leap to push the treat in the horse's mouth to cut off that urge they have to reach, grab, and gobble. I like to keep my fingers attached to my hand. Just a habit, I guess.

Most will settle down when they learn that the treat will arrive if they wait for it. This of course lays the groundwork for later removal of the treat as the motive to comply with a request.

This is not, to my mind, stricktly AND, but it can certainly be used in a therapeutic sense, to begin to move to an AND relationship. I can quickly help the horse to want to be with me, moving right on to showing them there are fun things to do with me that later will be their own motivation. C/T is very pressure oriented to my mind. And I really prefer a relationship based on mutual acceptance and friendship, even love as I think of how love is manifested between creatures, human or otherwise.

C/T is a very seductive practice. I'm not above starting a relationship by doing things that are "attractive," to the other, but I do not want a long term relationship that is based on this model.

Where C/T excels though is in corrective work. Just what you are doing.

Shape the horse to stop and turn away and stand still upon hearing the cue, followed quickly by the click and then quickly by the treat.

Some horses, possibly yours, will, if you move rapidly toward them without being scary about it, will come to a halt - there's your moment. Say your cue, click, give the treat, in very quick succession.

I have various little tricks to get halt and stand, and they are whatever works, of course, but my favorite because it has so many applications and depends on the natural instinct of the horse is to toss a short length of line on the ground, or if lunging, the lunge line. Most horses wild drop their head and halt, or sometimes raise their head - horses are afraid of snakes.

They will stop, and I will of course maybe have said whoa, even if they don't know it, so as to add it to our repertoire of requests. And I then click and then move very quickly to their head and thrust the treat in their mouth.

It very much changes the interplay between us when I rush the treat to them.

I'll not guarantee this, or any technique in particular, will work but these have worked for me and are worth a try.

Learn to be quick with rewards. Be quick too with the click on the instant of compliance, or just before as the horse telegraphs his next action.

Get creative. What does your horse normally respond to by stopping and standing? If it's a whinny, then whinny. If it's a dropping bucket, take a bucket to your training area. If it's the water hose, work where the hose is.

Work, pick your method, off the horse you know, not my horse or anyone elses' horse except to experiment, and you'll progress much faster.

Donald

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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