The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:43 pm 

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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
If tractors come into the grazing fields to harrow and roll, I utilise the opportunity and take treats, run behind the clattering vehicles. It gives the horses the chance to chase the tractors and 'own' their field. I think it helps for future meetings when out on the road in the traffic.

If my husband has his tractor working in the field my horses rarely lift their heads, although sometimes they wait until he is close and find it a good excuse to look scared and gallop around bucking and playing. They always like to come and investigate machines that enter their domain. When they are in luck there is new hay they can "help" to unload from a trailer.

There are so many ways to engage, play and inspire confidence in young horses, and usually the humans have a lot of fun too.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:51 pm 
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It is also used to teach horses to 'attack' cow skins and faux bulls on wheels.
The horse is harrased with the things described above and as soon as the horse acts agressive the harasment stops. But that is of course a less cheerful and fun form of it...

Of course AND presents nothing new accept for the use and form in which we train with our horses :)

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:18 pm 

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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Josepha, I think it is sad that as you rightly point out, all good things can be used for the wrong reasons.
Humans have such amazing capacity for extremes of 'good' and 'evil'.
My ponies will never be war machines, never be asked to charge into battle with a man waving a sword or under cannon fire. Many horses did find the courage to stay with their men, in pointless battles, directed by governments for political reasons, far from the blood, guts and mud.

I posted some pictures of a few of the ponies I have been lucky enough to play with, teaching courage and allowing natural curiosity to win out.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3045&p=57508#p57508

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:02 am 

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Hi everyone,

I have really enjoyed reading all the posts here about Chase the Tiger, and watching the videos. I play chase the tiger with my filly (I guess I need to start calling her a mare now!), Tempo. But, we have now progressed to a more extreme version of the game, using a tarp! Here's a fun video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS22p70TI8M

And, for those who might be interested, here's a "behind the scenes" video showing how the play session progressed to the footage shown above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPTb4vXDL2c

Kim Sturgeon
South Carolina

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:11 pm
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Location: Barcelona
This game is lovely.

I started with all five of them and all are different. Fosquito loves it he runs from the other end of the arean to cath the tiger.
Mangus has a lot of hormons going on right now and loses intrest quite quickly (anyone tips)
Exel and foc are abit the same in their way. They are fucused on the reward. Foc is more active as he is arabian stallion. I have to protect my own space with both but with foc I have to be really clear as he's a stallion.
Exel is focussed on the reward but will not set one step faster than really nessecery (anyone tips)
With sym I take it slow as she at the point of giving birth anymoment now.

Love,

Helene

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:32 am 
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And what if the equine is used as the bull to be fought on foot? :smile:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XxXeAn08PQ

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:33 am 
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Fun idea - if only it would not resemble actual bullfights that much... What is he supposed to use that sword for? :ieks:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:35 pm 
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In another video he uses the sword to cue the pony to lie down.
Yes, resembling a real bullfight, where the sword would be a weapon... but at leas it's done in a fun way to all! (or could be done, anyway, who knows how the whole training is done...)

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:41 pm 
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I agree it could look like fun but it reminds me too much of bullfighting (takes away my smile). What if they decide to replace the bull with the pony. Just kills me to think about it.

But if bullfighting was not in the picture, and if I were more experienced with "excited" horses, I would most probably try this. But I'll stick to the plastic bag and run beside my horse.

Thanks for sharing. I didn't know this type of "exercise" existed with ponies.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:07 am 
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I recently played CtT with Mucki again after a long time. It worked really well, he liked to chase it and wouldn't get too excited about it, so we did some nice circles.
Then yesterday I tried it again, first with Lily then with Mucki again. Lily transformed into a veritable killing machine, snaking her head down to it, baring her teeth and finally jumping with the forlegs to go for the kill :ieks:. I always thought horses were supposed to be to prey not the predator :green:.
Then when I did it with Mucki there was a whole different picture. He was so totally not interested that he couldn't care less about the little plastic bag around him. A few times he slowly walked to it, took it with his teeth and shook it for fun. But apart from that he didn't care. I could wave it around him, making all the noise I could, I even dragged it over his body and head, but no reaction. He just stood there casually and looked out towards the pasture to see what his herd mates where doing... Well that's how Mucki is at times :roll:

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:45 pm 

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Hi all, the Chasing the Tiger game is what brought me back to AND. I have had tremendous success by (almost accidentally) teaching, reinforcing, and inspiring one of my horses -- Draumur -- to display proud behaviors. For HIM, it was getting him to arch his neck like a stallion and act like a "badass". It almost immediately changed his attitude and willingness and everything else in his personality, and today he just keeps wanting to build on this. (I recently posted a video of his working on liberty passage).

BUT... My horse Vafi is a different story. I have tried to duplicate what worked with Draumur, but Vafi has not really seemed to get motivated by the arch-your-neck-and-prance show-off thing. I could get him to do it (using the clicker), but it never seemed to be INTRINSICALLY rewarding for him, he was still just going through the mechanical behavior but it did not "wake up" his inner proud horse.


I tried Chase the Tiger a year ago with Vafi, but we never seemed to get beyond the nose-on-ground targeting, and he NEVER got excited... Just going through the motions in hopes of a click/treat.

But I decided to give it another try a few week's ago because I REALLY want to get three things with Vafi, and Chase the Tiger still seemed like the best way:

1. I want him to have a "birdie" to follow instead of having to put pressure on him to get him to move. He does not seem motivated to really move out on his own, even in the pasture, though if a pasture mate DOES finally convince him to run around he always acts like it is the BEST THING EVER. But the next day when they try again, he seems to forget that it can be fun and he just wants to keep eating grass or just stand.

2. I want him to find a way to act PROUD and badass, something that worked SO well for Draumur, but so far have not found that thing for him. He is very low-drama, and is at the bottom of the hierarchy despite being the biggest -- and fittest -- in the herd. He just mostly keeps to himself.

3. I want to develop more athleticism in him in a way that he finds intrinsically motivating, just as Draumur now works very hard to put more energy into the arched-neck-fancy-trot, I wanted to find something that would create this inspiration for Vafi, who does NOT like to use his energy. I ESPECIALLY want him to free up his shoulders. I do trapezius stretches with him daily, but it is clear that he is will very restricted in his shoulders, despite having conformation that supports MUCH more movement.

So, this time, DAY ONE: get him to target it with his nose, click/treat so he knows that is the thing to do. This works, as I expected. But now the question was if I could get it to be anything bigger and more exciting.

Day Two: he puts his foot on it. Click/treat, and he definitely understand that nose or foot. He does this with VERY LOW ENERGY, but still it is a positive move.

Day Three: he puts his foot on it with a little more energy. Not quite stamping, but definitely with some energy. Will use either foot depending on what side it is, and I also can now get him to move away from ME and out toward the tiger (which I have out o the end off long longe whip).

Day Four: More energy!! This is already more than we ever have gotten from him doing anything at all. He clearly is LIKING the act of pouncing on the tiger. Both front legs lifting and striking. This is awesome.

Day Five: bigger movements all around, and he will now CANTER toward me if I run with it. His front legs are showing more movement, and if it gets beside him, he tries to kick with his back leg as well. Hmmm... I have to be careful to stay out of THAT range, but it is SUCH a positive and rewarding thing to see.

Day Six: a little more elevation some of the time, though if I lift it to chest height, he does not want to lift THAT high, but a few times I accidentally timed it where he did sort of rear up and strike with both feet, high energy on attacking the tiger. It is NOT making him want to run around like a maniac, but he is displaying HIGH energy for attacking the tiger. which for him, is AMAZING. I did not even KNOW he could move like this... The range of motion in his shoulders is HUGE and dramatic. My husband watched us, and while concerned that I am creating a monster, he could not believe what he was seeing.

SO... Now I wonder where to go next with this? I want to use it as a path to more collection, so I want to move less toward having him attack it with nose down and on the forehand (though that is a good stretch, what this horse really needs now is more motivated energetic work from behind). I am guessing that if I time it right and suddenly move it back toward him he will begin to lift from behind as opposed to jumping forward from behind. In other words, I want to encourage carrying power over pushing power... and this seems to be so fun for him.

My other comment is that I DO think I have seen a little change in his behavior in the pasture. While playing with another gelding, which he rarely does, I noticed he was doing the same display with his front legs -- really lifting and stamping -- that he does with the tiger, though I have NEVER seen him do this before in the the years I have had him. It could have been a fluke, but I have certainly seen how Draumur now does his proud prance in the pasture all the time where BEFORE we began doing this together he never did that.

What I want most is for Vafi to start acting proud more often as a result of chasing the tiger, and for him to also continue to enjoy this activity instead of just going through the activity to get a treat. I am always worried about this, as I want to transfer them to intrinsically pleasurable activities as soon as possible to avoid the DEmotivating effect of overusing rewards for behaviors that should be intrinsically rewarding.

Thanks everyone. I have read through most of the original long thread on chasing the tiger, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that this time it seems to be working. Why now and NOT one year ago when I first tried? The only guess I have is that this time he IS in much better physical condition. Not more energetic, but definitely in better overall fitness in his posture, musculature, straightness, etc. Maybe for him he needed to be a little stronger before getting excited about chasing the tiger.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:34 pm 
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Kathy, I have added your post to the tiger sticky because I believe it is such a good contibution and can be helpful for others as well, so I did not want it to disappear in the list of groundwork discussions but be in a place where people can easily find it.

I just LOVE the idea of rewarding the horse for touching the tiger with this feet. As easy as this sounds, but I have never even thought about this possibility. I will try this with Titum as well, because as you describe for Vafi, Titum also follows the tiger without much enthusiasm, just stalking it in walk and trot.

Concerning collection, I have no experiences in using the tiger for this because for me it is much easier with body language and I cannot combine a clear body language with holding a tiger in front of the horse. But I think others have made good experiences with it, so I hope you will get some helpful replies. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:13 am 
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Kathy, your progress with Vafi sounds very promising! Well done! :applause:

kathyIceHorse wrote:
Why now and NOT one year ago when I first tried? The only guess I have is that this time he IS in much better physical condition. Not more energetic, but definitely in better overall fitness in his posture, musculature, straightness, etc. Maybe for him he needed to be a little stronger before getting excited about chasing the tiger.
I'm convinced that any kind of gymnastic work, body awareness and strengthening is very important for exercises that require a confindent horse. I believe a healthy, strong and supple body is so much more important to a flight animal as any human can imagine.
I use certain kind of basic exercises that I think are beneficial to all other things I train: body awareness (obstacles, pedestals, going through difficult terrain, etc.), suppleness (stretching, bowing, lateral movements, ...) and strength (lateral movements, School Halt, walking/riding, ...).
I've only just recently seen Mucki put all these puzzle pieces together in a session of friendly play with another horse and it really seemed to me that he is really proud of his body. I also noticed a huge change in the last month where he had become way too fat from the rich pasture and I had to install a diet and focused training to get him into a healthy shape again. He moves so much more confident, now that he's gotten slimmer again.

I don't know if that's a too anthropomorphic view, but I really have the impression that horses know which exercises are beneficial to there physical condition. And I think they get some positive reinforcement from working out ;) Like I feel better and reinforced after a good yoga session...

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:51 am 
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Just found the Vafi video: Vafi Becoming Badass

So wonderful, Kathy! :clap: :clap: :clap:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:00 pm 
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Okay, I cannot at all get my horses to chase any tiger. Punto has done it 1½ times, and the first time was awesome! Haven't gotten any of the others to do anything, and Punto hasn't really done it since.

He got really MANLY the first time, and I always reward lots in this game.

I get them to target it with either nose or legs - or any way, really. They make walk a few steps to touch it, but more than a few feet away and they lose interest.

I'm kind of at a loss here. I've tried several times but without succes :sad:

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