The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:40 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:33 pm
Posts: 33
Location: New York, USA
Hi. I'm Jen from Upstate New York. I've known about this site for a while, but I'm pretty shy and it's taken me a while to get up the courage to post here.

The philosophies of AND are extremely attractive to me. I've always wanted my horses to have as much fun as I have. I spent a couple years doing struggling taking lessons from a traditional riding instructor (with some very upsetting experiences), then discovered Parelli, and spent a couple years following their program, hoping that it would help me form the relationship I wanted with my horses. It was pretty upsetting when I looked back and realized I wasn't far from where I started.

Lately I don't do much with my horses. I groom them and hang out and that's about it. Every time I actually ask them to do things with me, I feel so guilty, because they have no interest in being with me. I want my horses to offer things to me, and I don't want to force them at all, and I have no idea how to get there! It's really inspiring to me that there are people on this forum who have made this work. Everyone on this forum seems so positive, it seemed like a great community to join. I would love advice on where a good place to start is.

And because it wouldn't be a very good introduction without mentioning my horses, here are two of my horses:
This is me and my horse, Cal about a year ago:
Image

And this is me and my horse, Lyssi, last fall:
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:45 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Hi Jen, Welcome.

You set me to thinking, that's for sure.

And what popped into my head was this question:

What does the horse think when the tables are turned? That he or she tells us what to do and we do it.

I take it you can read a horse, and these two for sure. Can you tell when either are asking you to do something? And what it is they ask?

Donald

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


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6077
Location: Dresden, Germany
Welcome, Jen!! :)

So great that you have joined us. Your horses look absolutely stunning, especially Lyssi - what a beauty! :)

I am looking forward to reading much more about them and about you! And don´t be shy, we don´t eat humans (we only make them wear green burkas and do a mysterious chant all day long to worship our AND cult :alien: :twisted: :funny:)

Warm Regards,
Romy


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:51 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Hi Jen,
It's good to see you here and I am glad you plucked up the courage to post! It is a really friendly warm place here and everyone wants to help and support not criticise or judge. All of us are at different places in our journeys and are working our own paths with what feels right to us. Here you will find lots of games and ideas to try. The most important advice I can give you is to listen to your horses. Your horses will tell you how to be with them if you really listen to what they are saying.
As Donald suggested, a good place to start is backing off and stop asking, but rather listen. When you go into the paddock, do your horses want to play and be entertained, do they want their itchy spots rubbed, can you improve their day so that they believe you are the direct means to all things good?!!!!
There are lots of ground games you can play that horses seem to enjoy like "chase the tiger". You will find those in the practice section. (Look at the pull down "jump to" box at the bottom right of the screen).
I think regardless of what you have done or not in the past with your horses, it is possible to change the relationship you have into the one you want but you have to let go of a few things along the way including agenda and ego!!!!!
You may want to try your hand at some clicker training (but make sure you introduce the treats in the correct manner....there is a tread about that too).

I will be very interested to read your diary (I hope you will start one soon) and see what you decide to try next and how it works out.
The most important thing is that both you and the horses have fun.

So welcome here and your horses look fab.
Best
Annette

_________________
Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:15 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:18 pm
Posts: 103
Location: uk
Welcome Jen,
both your horses are just beautiful. I think you have probably already found the right place to start, by stopping :yes: Just spending that time with your horses and having no demands on them really helps them to see you in a different light and it can take a while.
I am still at that stage which is why I dont have a diary (also time issue :roll: ). I am spending all my time studying and fully intend to start something this year. However, the difference in my two "rescue" horses is incredible. Both came from homes that expected them to "do" things without any respect for them. And now there is no doubt they enjoy being around me. I have a long way to go on the learning path but Im really enjoying the journey. You have taken great steps already :D :applause:
Colette

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http://www.equinissimo.com


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:26 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:33 am
Posts: 114
Hi welcome Jen,

Lovely horses! Glad you posted. The groundwork exercises section is a good place to start, I think and the videos that show the exercises too. I also think it helps to read peoples diaries (choose a rainy day so you can spend lots of time)!

I hope you start a diary as it's so useful. Especially at the beginning as so much change happens at the start....

Fiona


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:45 pm
Posts: 788
hi there :D :D :D

Jen, you sound so lovely!!! i agree totally with Donald that you sound like you can read horses clearly. i think that you have already started on your first steps here. it sounds to me that you have stood back and watched your horses and started listening. well done. that means that the hardest step over!!! :funny: :funny: :funny: its all fun from here!!!! :funny: :funny: :funny: these are some great places to start

1: The start - The first exercise

1: The basic exercises + movie!

1: Playing - Chase the Tiger + movie!

1: Playing - Calm games


and also, my advice to every one new, find some diaries that you like and read through them. i know that they can be long, but they are a wealth of information, the good days and the not so good days!!! ;) it has people problem solving, sharing, pondering... :funny: they are just great! and videos, heaps of videos. there is never enough to learn on video!!!! :cheers: so i now cant wait to get to know you, and your horses, that are totally beautiful :green: :yes: :yes: :yes: anmd to hear your experiences and thoughts.

so welcome welcome welcome!!! :love: :love:

_________________
just keep swimming, quote from nemo!:)
love jessy


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:57 pm
Posts: 146
You do not need to be shy, your horses are very beautiful and have a lovely energy to them, as do you. I would not be surprised if you had a better relationship with them than you think you do (I know we think we can always do more and be better and that is the joy of having horse as teachers, they cause us to want to be better, but we also need to give ourselves time to find that and not be mean to ourselves). Have the confidence to know that! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:04 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:33 pm
Posts: 33
Location: New York, USA
Wow! What a warm welcome! You guys really made me smile. :D

Donald - You really just got my mind going with that question. At first I thought, "My horses ask me things?" (I don't think they think too much of me...) And then I realized that when I go out to the pasture, I can tell which horse really wants my attention first, and if they want me to itch their head, or rub their ears, or just stand there with them. So I guess in a way I do wait from them to ask me to do what they want. As I said, that's about the limit of what I do with my horses now, and I'm curious what other people would answer. Is there a point where your horses ask you to play with them? (I dream about that!) When you work with them, do they have certain things they'll ask to do?

Romy - :funny: As long as there's time during the all day worship to go see the horses.

Annette - I'm still thinking about Donald's question, and I was about to say to you, "But my horses never want to play!" And I suddenly realized, maybe that's not true! Maybe I just don't know how to read when they do want to play. Hmmmm. I'll have to ponder on that.

Colette - Glad to know I'm not the only one here at the beginning of the journey. I'd love to read your diary if you ever find the time (darn that time problem!). :D

Fiona - I'll make sure to check them out! I've always kept a journal of my sessions with my horses. (It's so amazing sometimes to go back and read from a couple years ago, and realize, wow, I actually have learned things!) I don't see why I couldn't post them here.

Jessplum - You've got it backwards for me! Standing back and watching is the easy part! I'm stuck there, actually...I'm terrified :ieks: to actually do anything with my horses because I feel like I'm never good enough!

Natalie - You are so right. I am definitely my own worst critic. :yes: I'll work on thinking about the good things, too.

I have a few questions I'd like to ask. I guess my first question is if I should be asking those questions here or over in the Groundwork Questions section of the forum?


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 4733
Location: Belgium
Welcome!!

Quote:
Jessplum - You've got it backwards for me! Standing back and watching is the easy part! I'm stuck there, actually...I'm terrified to actually do anything with my horses because I feel like I'm never good enough!


I know the feeling :)
So... let your horses do something with you instead :alien:

Warm regards,

Josepha

_________________
www.equusuniversalis.com


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:07 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Jen,
You can ask in the groundwork section but you will probably find that if you read there you will get most of the answers you will need.
If you start a diary (which is as easy as starting this post! Just start a new topic in daily training), you can ask questions there as well and then report back any issues you have with what you did that week or day and others can suggest ideas or tell you whatt they did that worked for them.
I think you are going to love it and posting more than you think!!!!!!
My husband asks me every morning "Is everyone okay today?". He is being sarcastic of course as the first thing I do is wake up and drink my tea whilst checking who posted!!!!!!
On the matter of emotions and feeling like you are not good enough/doing enough/whatever, you will find that you can do as much or as little as you want and feel good about just that!
It's so much fun here and the people are so great, so hurry up and start that diary and get creative.
Here's some things I did to make myself interesting:
Make a pedestal (upturned bucket/log etc). Ask you horses to put their feet on it.
Take in the grooming box and let them decide what they want from it. Try different brushes/different strokes/hard or soft. Let the horse decide where they want to be brushed or scratched. Hose pipe can be fun too.
Take in an assortment of toys. This can be bags/balls/branches/hula hoop/umbrella. See what games you can play with these.
Play hide and seek with yourself and treats. (Peek a boo behind a tea towel with Morgan was hysterical).

This is what I was doing while reading all the ideas here and deciding what I was going to do next.!!!!!!!........ (don't be surprised if they come to lock you up though when they see you "playing" with your horse...lol!!)

_________________
Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:33 pm
Posts: 33
Location: New York, USA
I haven't yet found the answer to my confusion.

To put it simply, my horses have no interest in doing anything with me. When I go out to see them I'm pretty much ignored. If I ask, I can usually get my horses to walk over to me, but they don't stick around for long. I've tried sitting out there for hours just watching them. I've tried spending 15-20 minutes every day just being near them. I've tried mirroring them. I've tried taking a horse into a separate pasture and doing all those things without the other horses to distract us. I've tried just taking them out for walks and letting them graze (which they do enjoy immensely). And when I say I've tried these things, I don't mean I did them one day, and gave up. I mean I spent at least a week or more experimenting. No matter what I do, I feel as if I can't connect with them.

Sometimes I think that I just need to move on and play with them, and maybe they'll see that it can be fun. But the original element of them wanting to be with me is missing. I can get my horses to stand on pedestals, salute, smile, the beginnings of spanish walk, move off the slightest touch, play fetch with a ball, let me groom them at liberty, etc...my horse Cal (who is the horse I know the best) I can ride with a neck rope even better then I ever could with a bridle or hackamore. All with me being very light. But being able to do those things don't matter at all. What matters is that they don't enjoy any of it! I want to change that so badly, and I don't know how!

I hope I don't sound too negative, it's just it really gets me down sometimes. I try so hard to do the best I can...I've spent the last four years trying to do all I could; it's a bit disappointing when I see so little change. Sometimes I really don't think it's worth the agony I go through (I feel like I'm in tears half the time after I'm out with my horses)...But I remember the one time (the only time) Cal trotted to me completely by his own idea...Looking at him, with his ears perked and the most beautiful look on his face literally made my heart pound. It was the most amazing thing to see him so happy and excited. All I want is to experience that again.


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
I don't really know how to respond to that except to say that now you are here, it will get better!

A big learning curve for me was understanding how my horse reads me. I am certainly not the most exciting person to be around for a horse. I don't like high energy and get a little intimidated (although I'm getting better), so my energy is always low and plodding and get the work done, seek a specific movement, task. I had to relearn my approach to horses and that meant thinking really hard about what my body and thoughts and energy were saying.
How do your horses react to other people?
What kind of areas/things perk up their interest?
My horse will come to me and if I don't make myself interesting he will also walk away! The biggest lesson I learnt was to seek moments to praise and praise enthusiastically. Really let your horse know how thrilled you are that he has honored a request or choosen to come to you or play with you.
Carolyn Resnick has some interesting things to say about the rituals of how horses greet each other and how we can use that to help us interact with them.
http://www.inhorseharmony.com/waterhole-rituals-with-carolyn-resnick-episode-1-of-3/

Let us know what you think.....

_________________
Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
Posts: 3270
Location: New York
Hey Jen, and welcome!

Your crew is just gorgeous.

I'm going to jump to your journal now, but wanted to make sure I welcomed you here!

All the best,
Leigh

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"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi
www.imaginalinstitute.com


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 Post subject: Re: Hello!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:47 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:20 pm
Posts: 1822
Location: Norway
Hi Jen

your horses are just beautiful! And you seem to have such a beautiful attitude as well....

I have also been where I don't dare to do anything - thinking anything will harm them....


If it is like you describe, your horses don't have too much intrest of being with you, I guess it is because they have never learned to feel the joy with you. (I think NH-training takes the joy away. But I have also learned Parelli is a very soft NH-trainer, so I am not sure about his way...).

If I was you, I would just be with them - join them. lay down in their fielad while they was eating. Sitting watching them. Give them a scratch if they cam - maybe even a carrot..... And maybe take them for walks - where nothing is expected of them, just the walking together (I guess with a line at the beginning - but letting them search for grass or go off with you in the forest if they'd like).


After some time, I guess they will start thinking of you as more fun. And you can do even more things togehter with them.


Good luck - I just loved your horses - and your attitude to them


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