The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:50 pm 
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Donald wrote:

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I think we, AND members that is, are at a point where it's difficult to find any of us not using some variation on Chase the Tiger.

Yeah team!


Truly!

And for me and my beloveds, this has been one of the most important, ground shaking, paradigm shifting ideas here -- the simple (but so not obvious when you've trained traditionally) idea that you can invite rather than push. And a straightforward way to begin to play with it that opens up all sorts of other possibilities.

It's been fun reading about how Chasing the Tiger came to be as a concept! :-)

And it's exciting to see that it is gaining traction elsewhere...

Good ideas are good ideas...

Thanks so much to all of you who were a part of shaping this one!

It's a huge gift.

Thanks!

:-)
Leigh


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:35 pm 
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I remember seeing something similar in a Deb Bennet article, but without the name or the liberty. Similar concept though I think, of encourage the horse to follow his "birdie". She uses it to help with straightness.
There's a picture of a ridden horse chasing a tarp dragged by another horse and rider.

Quote:
The most fundamental way to help a horse to go straight is to get it interested in what is out in front of it – to induce its "birdie" to fly a certain distance ahead of it.

Dragging an "interesting" object, such as a tire or a tarp, ahead of a crooked, restive, or fractious horse, so long as the object is so manipulated as not to scare the animal, will induce it to follow. The same may be said for following cattle. It is as if the horse's "birdie" flies out from him and lands upon the tarp or the calf; after that, the animal is almost compelled to follow.

And when he follows, no matter how physically crooked he had been only moments before, he will carry himself sufficiently straight.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:29 pm 
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I've been following the posts to this and other threads, and occasionally posting myself, because I have been under a four day "can't work on Altea's little horsebarn," weather watch.

Three days of 100F degree + temps, and the last one running over fifty percent humidity, and today? Why today dunder and blitzen, with 80 degree temps. Some of the blitzen hitting just a tad close in the mountains around me to be out there in the open.

Now, to the subject here.

Not only will such an exercise tend to straighten a horse, but because we often present very low with "The Tiger" the horse will drop his head and likely lift the back and abdominals to chase or follow.

You can see it in the videos of different posters, especially with Lucy (when she isn't wearing her winter frock) while Brenda is assisting her in her exercise routine. :lol:

Altogether the Chase game has tremendous potential.

I saw, the one time I allowed (well, teased would be the more honest term :D ) Dakota to chase. He dropped his head, tried to leap on the Tiger and went into suspension in his trot. High suspension.

So, we were looking at the beginnings of Passage , I do believe. And with the head down. Remarkable and indicative of the great range of "frames" a horse can assume, as compared to the limits seen in modern dressage.

Can a horse collect and work off the hindquarters with their head down? The western reining crowd seems to think so, and train to that very frame. And call it collection.

In fact, they do, if done correctly, their spectacular sliding stops with the reins down on the horses neck, completely loose, and the horses head down down down.

Old pics of this maneuver, of course, show the opposite, head up, mouth agape from the bit being pulled by the reins and the horse's back hollow.

It seems that in many disciplines the truth is beginning to emerge. What gives power and flexibility isn't high collection alone (the often convex arc).

But collecting through a convex arc as well.

As we see in our horse's play.

Freeing the horses head and neck frees the rest of the body in relation.

Now if I could get the reining people to stop with the peanut rolling as the only "collection." :lol: :lol: :lol:

More freedom.

Donald R.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:31 pm 
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Can a horse collect and work off the hindquarters with their head down?


Yes, of course! But I'm sure you know this already you sly old Vaquero you! :lol:

It is lovely of you to leave this food for thought here for all of us to feast on.

The lowered head (and otherwise4 engaged body) is where Cisco first found his suspension (he has had to build muscle and balance and bring his head up slowly over the last several months to a poll high position), and as you point out, those great stops that the western horses can do is done ideally with the head down - the entire body rounded and croup down. Flying lead changes done with a level or lowered head is also indiciative of collection and something you see in reining. Collection is engagement of the hind end, regardles of specific head position...would you not agree?

A horse can have the base of the neck lifted and the back rounded and the tummy muscles engaged, even with the head below the level of the withers.

There is a nice dvd by Walter Zettle, called "Extras" and it's an "east meets west" video where he schools two western and two dressage riders. One of the western riders is Pat Parelli, and one of the english riders is Linda Parelli.

The other wester rider (his name escapes me at the moment) shows a classic example of his little Western reining horse moving much freer in the front and therfore being able to work better on the hind end, simply by raising the base of the neck...the level of the head itself doesn't change a great deal, but you can see the horse become more engaged through the exercises that Mr. Zettl puts them through.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:44 am 

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I really enjoyed reading through this thread and am looking forward to trying this exercise with my horse! :) Everyone here is so supportive of one another--I feel very positive and optomistic after this hour spent reading. :)

I do have one question about the videos that were originally posted--the ones of Esprit, I believe. Why, at certain times, does she drop the Tiger? (The word "GOTCHA!" (or something of that nature) flashes on the screen right before this happens.) Is this a reward, and if so, what is the logic behind it and what is it rewarding?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:53 am 
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I can only speak for myself, but with Sjors when he stamps on the tiger or touches it with his nose, then I give him a foodreward. With Blacky I do the same if he picks the bag up with his teeth (his way of catching the tiger :roll: :lol: ).
It's like a game of tag - when they've tagged the bag, they have won the reward. Of course you can also not give a foodreward, but make a couple of seconds of killing the motionless tiger the reward. 8)

Of course you can also play with the tiger without foodrewards, but as the game can go pretty wild, sometimes the horse scares himself with his response (bucking towards the tiger, lashing out at or jumping on top of it) and I want to reassure him that that response is great and that he shouldn't feel ashamed or scared about that. So that's where the foodreward comes in in our training - but that's only one way to do it! :)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:34 pm 
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If I may add a bit.

Of course taking you own, others, and your horses safety into consideration the development of boldness and self expression, self determination if you will, with the human encouraging can develop into a completely different horse and completely different experience for both human and horse.

Virtually any behavior can be a part of moving toward new behavior, wanted or unwanted, so due deliberation is called for.

What can you tolerate? What can the horse tolerate? What can the environment allow and also tolerate?

This kind of liberating play has an ingredient that I believe, if you watch the videos, you will see AND practitioners demonstrate.

Depth of relationship.

The best relationships tend to enrich both individuals beyond what one can find alone. A new dimension is added and new possibilities show up.

Exploitive relationships, on the other hand, might appear to be enriching to the uninformed observer, even spectacular, as many equine competitions present, but in the end, it's extremely one sided.

That is the horse gets little or no chance to show what he can do willingly.

Those that exploit might respond, if you told them this, with, "so what?"

And there is the key point in doing games like Chase the Tiger. As well as, I might say, the key point of AND.

Most people that began as a child having a pony or horse know this and lost this: that the horse is not a machine, always predictable, always waiting to be used.

For myself, and I suspect others in the AND way of doing things, there is a desire to return to that child like awareness of the potential of the horse as a living thinking curious learning creature.

To try and see life through their lives and thoughts. Essentially to be the horse to some degree.

A much larger picture of life.

As for Chase the Tiger; it's simply one more way to explore the relationship and see life through the horse's senses.

It doesn't even have to be an "attack" event as so many of us have seen. It can simply be a targeting exercise.

Touch the tiger, follow the tiger, get a reward, and learn to play.

One the horse will touch the tiger with his nose, then it's time to touch the tiger with different body parts.

Once the horse will touch the tiger with different body parts all kinds of behavior can be called forth by simply asking rather than, as I was taught and practiced for over 20 years, by force.

Donald R.

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So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:57 am 
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I've read this whole thread with such excitement, because while I first was thinking, "well, I've done this with my horse" I realized quickly that I hadn't played this game with my horse at all.

What I have done in the past is have my horse 'chase' a plastic bag on stick (or a shirt being waved in the air, or etc. etc.), both from the ground and on her back. But the purpose was to desensitize her and that was pretty much it. What a difference it will be to do the same thing, but for an entirely different purpose. Now I'll do this purely for play (which will make her brave in the process I suppose), and for exercise.

My newer horse, Sophie, is afraid of the plastic bag...she'll sniff it, from a distance, and leans her body backwards (she looks so funny) so I don't want to use the plastic bag with her. Maybe a ball on a stick or something not noisy that she can chase with confidence and actually have fun or find it interesting, not terrifying.

I'll have to get out early in the morning to do this... it's been hotter than hell here (107 in some parts!!!).

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:18 pm 
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Caro wrote:

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My newer horse, Sophie, is afraid of the plastic bag...she'll sniff it, from a distance, and leans her body backwards (she looks so funny) so I don't want to use the plastic bag with her. Maybe a ball on a stick or something not noisy that she can chase with confidence and actually have fun or find it interesting, not terrifying.


Stardust, my big rescue Warmblood, is also really afraid of anything that's crinkly plastic, and his response is to run away rather than try to kill it! :-) (Get me outta here!) He's starting to overcome his worst fears about this, but we've got a ways to go.

So plastic didn't feel like fun for us, so we use a small piece of flannel tied on the end of an old longe whip. That's working quite well! He doesn't do the spectacular pounce/attack stuff that some people's horses do (actually, Circe, my other horse doesn't really either). But the flannel is great and we definitely have found that it's more fun to chase than be chased!

Enjoy with Sophie! I'm sure you two will find the right variations on the game for you.

Best,
Leigh


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:10 pm 
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There was a very detailed post by Alexandra Kurland on her mailing list, about a horse who was afraid of plastic, and how she taught him to overcome this fear by clickertraining during a clinic.
He also didn't like having his ears touched.
She taught him to target the plastic bag with his ears :D there was a lot of microshaping in this, but it did work well for him (being a new and a free shaped behaviour).

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:42 am 
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Ania wrote:
She taught him to target the plastic bag with his ears :D


Now THAT is creativity!! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:36 am 
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Ania wrote:
There was a very detailed post by Alexandra Kurland on her mailing list, about a horse who was afraid of plastic, and how she taught him to overcome this fear by clickertraining during a clinic.
He also didn't like having his ears touched.
She taught him to target the plastic bag with his ears :D there was a lot of microshaping in this, but it did work well for him (being a new and a free shaped behaviour).


Don't know if you've ever visited my photobucket album, but you can see there the result of clicker training to overcome anxiety and fear of just such things. In one pic you can see me rubbing a large HUGE piece of black plastic, the infamous Black Plastic Sabertoothed Tiger over Cody.

He was terrified of plastic just fifteen minutes or so before I had him chasing it. Same with umbrellas. In one of our vids, Dakota and I, you can see me waving an umbrella around his head.

His expression is like you'd see a person do if someone was being annoying...but he's not frightened.

Another vid, you can see me riding him coming up to the highway (another fearsome monster object for him with log trucks roaring by regularly) and I'm waving the umbrella all about his head and body. Same look of annoyance, but no fear.

Another pic or two, and a vid, shows him walking up to a rotting deer hide and putting his nose right on it, for the click, and the treat.

He got to where he'd run UP to anything that startled him, and put his nose on it, or front hooves, according to which was most convenient.

All with clicker training. And there as no shaping being done. I simply put the feared object out there, clicked him when he got over his startle and treated.

Pretty quickly the startle went away and of course the treat replaced the fearsome object, sound, or smell.

He has stood in a driving wind and rain, in hand, while my wife raced the engine of my pickup just six feet from his nose, flashed the light and blared the horn, all at the same time.

Oh and I was beating on the hood of the pickup the whole while. All he expected, most obviously, was that treat he'd come to associate with noise and other formerly fearsome things.

This horse, on the lungeline lost the old saddle I had on him while he was dragging the BPST and when it broke loose it tangled around his hind legs. He slide to a stop, snorted and looked at me as if to say, "Okay, now THAT has to be worth a treat avalance, right?"

And of course :lol: it was. I think if I came off him and got tangled in the rigging if I could still make a click sound with my mouth, I would be in no danger. And it's quite possible that even without it, he'd stop and ask for his treat.

I was not familiar with C/T in any specific way, though I knew generally about the principles (used to watch Karen Prior work with Dolphins in Hawaii), and from my own professional life, so it was pretty easy for me to just jump in and apply it.

It made perfect sense to me, and to Dakota.

The other day I made a miscalculation about using my misfit saddle on him with one less blanket (usually takes two) and when I mounted up I know the gullet must have come down on his withers. He bolted...for three steps and stopped, and peered around to see if I had that treat ready.

He got it, and I went to fetch my extra blanket to bring the padding I use up to the right depth.

We had a nice ride after that.

Hooray for click training.

If you want to look at my pics and vids follow the URL below and click on the album (left side of your screen) "Dakota" -- don't forget the password below.

Donald Redux
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If you are curious, you can see my photo and video albums at -

http://photobucket.com/guestlogin?albumUrl=http://s236.photobucket.com/albums/ff51/donald_redux/

guest password is 'haumea'

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~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:58 pm 
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I had a most playful time with this yesterday. I tied a little plastic bag on the end of a long branch and dragged it about the field with the 6 horses in it. I was very interested in their individual reactions.

Firstly, Karena, in good and true lead mare style came over to see if 'we should all be running like the clappers or what...' She followed me around for a bit quite inquisitively but a little nervously. Eventually the whole group came into this paddock from the one next door. Now the 2 older boys were brave and followed avidly. My little Noodle stayed well back and very unsure. And the 2 yr old Shizzer came trotting up to it, bold as brass, and attempted a couple of leap attacks - very nice! He's not mine so I am cautious not to over play with him in case his mummy doesn't like the outcome!!

Karena remained inquisitive and Noodle could be inquisitive from the back of the group. Eventually she did come forwards a little and even touched it with the end of her nose a few times.

What was really interesting was that when I unstuck that bag from the end of the branch the little inquisitive heads of Karena and I think Noodle accepted having this piece of plastic rubbed on their head and necks. I just did it spontaneously and was amazed at how they accepted it and didn't bat an eyelid.

They seem to really like chasing this fear thing and they get really quite confident. I want to do more. It led to Karena trotting after to me today and I am sure that was as a direct result. Noodle still doesn't understand this concept but then she has been trained to be a very serious little racehorse - we will break her of her seriousness at some point along the line, I am sure of it.

Next, I shall go for a bolder larger black sack and see what the outcome is of all that!!!!!!
x

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:51 am 

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I finally get around to reading this topic after we played chase the tiger today and got my question about collection answered (is it collection if head is down). Guess I have to look everywhere for my answers. :)
As far as the origins of this game, I know it from dog training, esp. teaching lure coursing to sighthounds, there it's called bunny chasing, of course and most sighthounds don't need food rewards, it's self-reinforcing. It's also been in use for teaching dog agility for many years, both to teach the obstacles and speeding up dogs on the course.


Last edited by Birgit on Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:00 am 
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Our origins of the game came from a combination of games shown by Helen and Esprit with a big plastic bag,
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=467

And Donald training Dakota by inviting him to kill a small tarp (it was a tarp, wasn't it Donald?). Donald...you called it Tiger slaying? Was that it?

And around the same time, I found videos on youtube from our dear Brenda using a target as a replacement for lunging and begged her to come and join us here.

Anyway, the concept quickly morphed to "Chasing the Tiger"!

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