The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:44 pm 
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Jocelyne asked me to repost what I have written in Patrice´s diary some days ago, so here it is:

The easiest way towards back crunch is moving their frontfeet forwards. Theoretically they also could move their hindlegs back out but I think this would be much more difficult. What makes it a front crunch later is the leaning back, but as I said, this is only the second step and we will get to that later. Just to give you a work in progress video: here you see Summy´s beginnings of back crunch last spring. So how to ask them to move their frontlegs forward?

For me it depends on how many difficulties the horse has with that, but let´s just assume he does not get it at all, so I will try to describe all the intermediate steps. You can skip some of them if necessary.

First you want him to see that you are asking for the frontlegs (and still ignore the hindlegs at that point). You can point to them and if he does not move them in any way, make a step forwards. As soon as your horse starts walking (and almost every horse that I know starts walking with a front leg) or lift his leg, click and reward. In those first steps it might be useful to really use a timely precise reward signal like a click, so that your horse exactly knows that it was this frontleg movement that you were asking for. Do reward each movement of the frontlegs in the beginning, no matter if there was a forward movement or if it was only a leglift. As soon as your horse understood that he is getting rewarded for moving the frontlegs, you can make it a bit more difficult and only reward (or reward more) when he really put them forward, still ignoring the hindlegs. Do this until your horse walks forward with your frontlegs when you point to them. The next bigger part is explaining to him that you want the hindlegs to stay in place - so you ask for a front leg movement again and just click sooner - that is, you click when your horse starts lifting that leg so that he will probably stop moving before it´s the hindleg´s turn. If he does follow with the hindleg, just praise him verbally (without a treat) and ask again. So very soon you should have a horse who moves his frontlegs while leaving the hindlegs where they are.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:12 pm 

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I have a question about the bow> I try now to do it with Aranka since a whie now but it doesnt work really well... And she try so hard! She put her head REALlY far between her front legs but she never stectches her legs...I tried the same and holding a leg at the same time, it worked a little bit better but she did a really fast movement down (She actually did a "full" bow on one knee, for 1 mili second :cheers: ) and she go as quickly as possible back to stand up to get her treat... I am really careful with this; I am afraid she gonna hurt herself doing it so fast :sad: BUt I can I make her understand to first stretches her front legs and second relaxes and keep the pose?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:26 pm 
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Maybe you could try to touch her at her chest with your flat hand (like pushing her back, but without much pressure) and reward her for leaning back. Some horses get this at once, with some you have to reward for a tiny weight shift in the beginning. Probably she will try walking backwards. In that case you have to be very precise in your timing. That is, giving a reward signal after the weight shift but before she lifts a leg. Good luck! :smile:


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:28 pm 
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Elix wrote:
I have a question about the bow> I try now to do it with Aranka since a whie now but it doesnt work really well... And she try so hard! She put her head REALlY far between her front legs but she never stectches her legs...I tried the same and holding a leg at the same time, it worked a little bit better but she did a really fast movement down (She actually did a "full" bow on one knee, for 1 mili second :cheers: ) and she go as quickly as possible back to stand up to get her treat... I am really careful with this; I am afraid she gonna hurt herself doing it so fast :sad: BUt I can I make her understand to first stretches her front legs and second relaxes and keep the pose?


If I may:

Could you start treating at the bottom of the bow? And if so, then slowing the time between when she bows and when you open your hand to serve up the treat?

It might help too to make a "bridging," cue. That is a quickly repeated sound (I go "tsk tsk tsk ... ") during the beginning of the bow movement (I tsk even before the behavior requested is offered) that tells them a treat-reward is on its way.

Bonnie, for instance, did the same thing as you describe when I was teaching her to lift a foot for me. She'd curl up her front leg, but quickly snap it back down to the ground. I simply continued the tsking sound while she had it up, and sure enough, pretty soon she was holding it up longer.

(The tsking became the cue support saying "keep your leg up.") She actually stood on two diagonal legs one day in her attempt to learn what I wanted. It was rather cute, but didn't last long, and I'm not going to ask her to do that. Though I'm tempted. :smile:

We are now working on the hind feet and the problem is the same, and she's learned on one foot to begin holding it up by herself just a few seconds longer. One more leg to go, and my horse will hold all four up off the ground and fly ... :funny: :funny: :funny: :funny: ;)

Am I being clear in my description?

Best wishes, Donald

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:13 pm 
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Quote:
I have a question about the bow> I try now to do it with Aranka since a while now but it doesn't work really well... And she try so hard! She put her head REALlY far between her front legs but she never stectches her legs...I tried the same and holding a leg at the same time, it worked a little bit better but she did a really fast movement down (She actually did a "full" bow on one knee, for 1 mili second :cheers: ) and she go as quickly as possible back to stand up to get her treat... I am really careful with this; I am afraid she gonna hurt herself doing it so fast :sad: BUt I can I make her understand to first stretches her front legs and second relaxes and keep the pose?


You have two really good ideas already! If she's going down too hard, then simply spend more time on the in between phase. If you are supporting her leg as she tries to bow, then support the leg a little lower and reward her attempt BEFORE she goes down. Do this for a while...as long as you can and actually avoid touching down to the ground. The reason for this is twofold.

1) The first reason is for yourself. It will teach you how to watch for and reward the technical parts of the movement...HOW she does it from her first set up to the motion of leaning back and down and finally how she touches down. Reward her for good quality of movement. Watch for, and reward ANY tiny attempt to lean back, and you will probably find that as she learns to just lean back, she will begin to move her hind legs farther back to give herself more room to bow. As she relaxes about the whole process (from being able to spend so much more time on the act of leaning back and down), she will get better and better and more careful. Tam spent about a year learning how to bow carefully.

2) The act of setting up for the bow (moving the hind feet back, leaning slightly back, lowering the head) will all work muscles that she will need for better control of her own movement. This is not a very natural move for a horse to make, and it's worth spending the extra time to help her develop the muscles she'll need to bow in a strong, balanced and controlled way.

Also, for a one knee bow, not all horses find their balance with the head between the legs. For an obeisance, yes (where both legs are stretched out in front and they lean back without folding a leg). That one seems to work better for some horses with the head between the legs. But the bow on one knee is different, and she may find her balance with a different head position.

So I would not concentrate on that particular part of the movement for right now and rather do as Romy suggests and see if you can convince her to allow you lean her back. Actually, the cordeo is a VERY good tool for this. You can support one leg for her then gently pull back on the cordeo.

The first thing you want to reward her for is simply lowering her head when you pull back and down on the cordeo, without moving her feet at all. Reward for this until she will drop her head as soon as you pull back on the cordeo (or as soon as you ask her to with a halter and lead rope, or if you are doing it with a verbal cue that's fine too).

The second thing is to support one leg and ask her to drop her head. Reward for this until she's really sure about this part.

The third thing is for her to drop her head with her leg supported, then to allow you to lean her back a little You can gently pull back on the cordeo AND her leg, but only move her leg back an inch or tow to start...reward often for very small progressions. If she adjusts her own stance by moving a hind leg further back, reward for that a lot before moving on. She will decide if she needs to widen her stance at all. Some horses don't. But reward for the slightest, tiniest shift backward, or for any other thing she does to help herself.

Then all you have to do is progress it very slowly. At some point she will be leaning back and she will lower herself. Set her leg back down gently, always...do not drop it. It is really nice to help her right herself again and hold her leg until you can set it back where it started from, but it's not essential. Wherever you set her leg down, try to do it carefully and not to just drop the leg.

Making sure the ground is very soft where you are practicing is good too. If it's not soft enough, you can put padding and wraps on her leg to protect it.

Later on, you can add in the head between the legs (and the horse will do a one knee bow with their forehead on the ground) if you wish.

I hope this is helpful!! The key is to not hurry. Set it in your mind that you don't want her knee to touch the ground at all, and you want to reward a lot for all the tiny components that go into a bow...and she will probably progress to kneeling on the ground before you know it!

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:21 pm 
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Ooops, I did not realize that you were asking about the compliment, Elisabeth! :blush: I thought you meant a stretch where both frontlegs are stretched out in front, something similar to a front crunch. So just ignore what I have written. And what a great description, Karen, really wonderful! :)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:23 pm 
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Romy, I think you are right....she was asking about compliment... :funny: :D

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:03 pm 

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Thanks for all the explanations it's really usefull! :green: But I think my question was ot that clear... :blush: In the first place, I wanted to do with Arank more like a front crunch.. but, trying to do that, she was just putting her head really far between her fronts legs without stretching the front legs.. So I didnt know really how to proceed to obtain a front crunch so I thought: maybe a bow on the knee will work then. It did but too quick, as I explain. So, my question is about how to get the front crunch and/or the bow on the knee in a relaxed movement... I think now I have a lots of tools to work with :)

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:11 pm 
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Karen wrote:
Romy, I think you are right....she was asking about compliment... :funny: :D


Hm, for me the compliment is a bow on one knee (at least that´s the way the term is used in Germany, maybe it´s different in Canada?). But from reading Tam´s diary it seemed to me that for you the compliment is that exercise where the horse stretches out both frontlegs? I think I will add pictures of all versions of bows and crunches into the first post of this topic later so that it will be less confusing for everyone, but now I have to run.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:26 pm 

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It's ok I understand now what you mean by 'compliment". And also the difference between that and front crunch. My question there was related to both of thoses exercises finally.

Kind regards
Elisabeth

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:30 pm 
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I'm always confused by the terms! :funny: :funny: :funny: :funny:

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:00 am 
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We are now working on the hind feet and the problem is the same, and she's learned on one foot to begin holding it up by herself just a few seconds longer. One more leg to go, and my horse will hold all four up off the ground and fly ...


Something like this Donald? :D
Image

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I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,
But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:02 am 
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windhorsesue wrote:
Quote:
We are now working on the hind feet and the problem is the same, and she's learned on one foot to begin holding it up by herself just a few seconds longer. One more leg to go, and my horse will hold all four up off the ground and fly ...


Something like this Donald? :D


Gorgeous as that is it's only an approximation of the strange and wonderful things Bonnie can do with gravity and her body.

Yes, she's airborne but not running. Just lifting herself off the ground.

Image

She has a repertoire of airs above the ground.

Image

Image

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


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:15 am 
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OH WOW!! :applause: :applause: :applause:

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Image

I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:23 am 
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:cheer: :bowdown: :cheer: :bowdown: Go Bonnie!!! That shot with four feet in the air is amazing!!!!

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