The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:20 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:58 am
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I've been guesting here for about a week and I have many questions. First I should say that I probably would not be here if the Nezvorov forum had accepted me. Here is my letter to them requesting access to their forum:
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My name is John Edwards, I've been working with the Washington State horse rescue Hope For Horses for 15+ years now. My wife Jenny is a criminologist working with local law enforcement and the FBI on Bestiality issues.

As you can imagine we have been traveling the horse training path for many years. Sometimes dealing with the effects of certain disciplines, sometimes learning new ways to work with strange and troubled horses (lately focused on sexually abused stallions). Primarily, however. my greatest long term problem has been formulating an approach that could be communicated to volunteers so that we would have some semblance of consistent and non-destructive interaction with our horses. Our latest and most successful attempt was to use the training approach of Frank Bell . Small, simple, supportive, harder to mess up than some.

Call that background. Recently we have come to a place where we need to step up the training of an orphaned filly named Autumn's Hope who has been with us from 4 days old to now (28 months). It's a long story, chronicled on the HFH Facebook page. I am effectively her mother and now have a very easy relationship which does not translate to many other people. It certainly does not transfer to new people). We specifically raised money for her training and should have had many options. So far most of them bad.

For at least 2 years I have been pretty hard core that we do not hit horses here. No bonks with the handle of the whip, no snaps to drive them off, and even no overt smacks when a horse "invades" personal space and bites. As you and I know there are other ways, they may take longer, require self control, but a better horse results. This is almost impossible to communicate to volunteers and is not normal, accepted practice by almost anyone within the state.

My latest attempt at finding a trainer was to ask Carolyn Resnick and Robin Gates (Liberty training) for a local reference. I had watched a couple of Liberty DVD's and it seemed like a gentle, positive approach. The ubiquitous whip with a 4 foot snapper should have given me an idea that this also was not so. Net the trainer came to our barn, Our young Autumn tried to nibble and she hit her 5 times with the lead end (16mm Anchor line). Two and a half years and no one had ever done anything like that to her. I was too shocked to react. So, no Liberty training.

I should have talked to Cynthia Royal who has elements of Liberty training in her program but uses only a grass reed as a horse que. Sadly she has had some bad luck and was not available.

Frustration and Google then led me to Hempfling then Mitzlaff then Bevilacqua (reading his book) then Maksida Vogt at Academia Liberti then Nezvorov (Watched the NHE Principles DVD and reading the magazines) and now to this forum.

Its fair to say that I'm getting it. In many ways what Nevzorov espouses is a place I've been close to for many years. But the problem is a practical application to today's reality. Many horses, many people and no where near enough time or money.

To be frank, I like what Nezvorov says and has done very much. But he is like all the other horse Guru types except even more radical. Very passionate, very erudite, very philosophical, very impenetrable. What I see is one guy, his wife and 10 or 12 people around the world who have studied with him. That's great for religion but how do I use this on a daily basis. Can you help us?
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So that was my note, It still stands and I would still like very much to engage with Nezvorov's followers.

I'm sure you can understand how happy I was to discover this forum (AND)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:14 am 
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Welcome, John! :)

We cannot offer a guru or the One Best Way because we do not believe that there is such a thing. You will not find anyone in this forum who will tell you what is right. After all, we differ from each other in our approaches as well. Therefore, if you think you will enjoy a study group with different members all sharing their individual approaches and learning from each other and - most of all - from the horses, I think you might feel at home here.

Best wishes,
Romy


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:41 am 
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Welcome John! :f:
That is quite a journey so far ;). And certainly an interesting and challenging goal.
As Romy said, you probably won't find exactly what you're looking for here, but I'm not sure you will find it elsewhere. That is an easy to follow method or recipe for handling horses in a respectful manner. It sounds though, like you already found out how you want your interaction with horses to look like - and that is more than you can find anywhere on the web.

It sounds to me like your challenge is twofold. There is the training of the volunteers and then there is the training of the horses. I have the feeling that the volunteers might be the bigger task here ;).

The way of interacting with horses that I read here at AND is very much built on a very close and personal relationship with the horse. I daresay it's one of the most important ingredients. While it's easy to establish with my own horse, it's nigh impossible (and probably not even advisable) in a horse rescue, where the horses are supposed to leave again after the rehab process.

On the other hand, the interaction itself (and thus the training of the horse) can be a structured process, following rules and patterns.
Romy, for example, has a very nice and handy way of establishing interaction "rules", that are especially useful for first contact.
I for one, like to integrate and modify all kinds of lessons learned from clicker training.
So to sum it up, I believe that there are some very nice, reward based techniques that can probably be used for a horse rescue facility. The nature of such a facility though will always hinder the important factor of building a relationship with the horse. And even if it's possible, it falls into the responsibility of each individual person and cannot be taught by a step-by-step guidebook.

Anyway, I'm very interested of hearing your further thoughts on that topic. You have surely thought about it a bit more than I have ;).

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:58 am
Posts: 4
Thank you both for your kind welcome. It may be some time before I have anything but questions to contribute.

In general these horse forums are of mixed value since they quickly devolve into personal attacks and arguments about silly things. I can already tell that this is a different kind of place. There is so much to read, thank you for the "Links to threads about different topics" that gives me a sideways access point to the material as a counterpoint to the top down index.

The biggest question I have is where did you people comes from, how did you find each other? Is there a common starting point?

The only bad thing about this forum is that I didn't find it 7 years ago. I'm still trying to figure out why this did not pop up in my regular or random searches over the years. The lack of an "Ego Center" to a horse teaching method is unique.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:12 pm 
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JohnEd wrote:
The biggest question I have is where did you people comes from, how did you find each other? Is there a common starting point?


We have a very old thread about this. I found this forum. Back then, many people came here via NHE, but I think this has changed now. Perhaps if we revive the thread, some of our newer members will add their stories.

My story is a bit weird, actually, because although I got to the AND forum via NHE, I got to NHE because in 2007 I had a time when I was temporarily not interested in my work at the university anymore. As I wasn't particularly interested in the trail riding I was doing with Titum and Summy before, either, I simply googled for different things like "rearing" or "training at liberty", hoping that I might find some ideas for tricktraining. This brought me to a Nevzorov video and then I entered their forum, but left again after about a week because I did not want to be a part of their forum culture. I said so publicly in the NHE forum and then was directed here by some nice people. :f:

When I came here, I first thought I'd just ignore the funny talk about the horse being the master of the training, and simply learn about the techniques. Well, it only lasted for a few days and then my perception began to change completely... :)


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:29 am 
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JohnEd wrote:
In general these horse forums are of mixed value since they quickly devolve into personal attacks and arguments about silly things. I can already tell that this is a different kind of place.

JohnEd wrote:
I'm still trying to figure out why this did not pop up in my regular or random searches over the years. The lack of an "Ego Center" to a horse teaching method is unique.

I think those things might be connected somehow. Most of what makes this place so special to me comes from the fact that it is not built around an "ego center". It is indeed a grassroots kind of place. Of course there are members who are more prominent than others because of their contributions, but also that changes permanently. And every one has left their mark here.
There is also a strong commitment here to be positive in our communication (with humans as well as horses) and not to invade the spaces and ideas of others, but to share our own experiences and respect that of others.
That may result in a poor visibility of our group to the outside. That doesn't mean we are seclusive, but people tend to find us, instead of us recruiting them or trying to convince anyone :).

I came here by the detour of a clicker forum and by googling a member there who did things that I liked. Her name popped up her as well so I digged deeper. Originally, I was looking for instructions to learn clicker training, but it soon turned out that I have opened a much bigger door than that :f:.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:23 am 
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Welcome John :f: I am very interested to hear more about how you work with rescue horses .

Volker, What you say about not going out and recruiting people troubled me soon after I had joined . But the more I stayed , written and read from here I quickly understood that in not recruiting people you are managing to miss quite a lot of trouble makers :yes:

I found this forum after I had been searching for awhile . I was only 13( nearly 14 ) all other '' methods '' I had turned my back on ( in disgust ) But I was only 13( and a novice ) , my parents weren't horsey and the livery yard owner of where we were staying at the time was adamant that I was completely delusional and I need a BHS qualified instructor to discipline both me and my lightly backed 4 year old ex standardbred . My mother was amazing and stood behind me the entire time , not listening to the livery yard owner ( thank you mum ! :giveflower: )
. She says she saw how i loved Charlie and he loved me and how the livery yard owners horses hated her . But even though we were on the right track I was still kind of lost . I was desperate to find someone/people who were experienced in horses that could tell me i wasn't off my rocker , in my thinking and philosophy . I spent hours on Google and found dear Nevzorov . I was impressed and amazed at what he does , but i found him to be egotistical in the extreme . I watched him with his knee high leather boots run around a ancient gothic church with suites of armour , and thought '' Is this supposed to be non egotistical ?? :huh: :huh: '' . So i continued searching until ,by chance i found this wonderful place :giveflower: I actually found it on pinterest . When i was looking a something about Fredric pigon ( i didn't spell it right ) I found the link to here :yeah:
AND ( ;) ) we havent looked back since !! :sun:


Last edited by Ali on Mon May 05, 2014 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 7:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:58 am
Posts: 4
We started rescuing neglected horses. Primarily this was starvation but sometimes it involved horses that had been brutalized in some undefined fashion. Horse abusers all lie. The neighbors who turn them in are unreliable witnesses. We have to accept that we will never know the history of any horse.

Refeeding is now scientific (Carolyn Stull at UC Davis) so in general we make them healthy and then leave them alone. Let them learn to be horses again. We used to have a number of old mares that would accept any horse and we could would create ad hoc herds to allow the new horse to rest. It can take a long time.

The critical issue is to understand that these horses may have been treated very roughly in their past. We have always had to be very gentle, very soft in working with them so as to not bring up old memories. Horses and elephants really do never forget.

I stopped drinking beer because one group of horses had clearly been aggressed by the angry, beer drinking husband of the neglecter. Even a little smell of beer made one girl freeze up and shake in place. The other would just as soon kill me as look at me.

My greatest challenge is that I am the one who has to treat them. So as nice as I might be I am still the one who squirts foul tasting things in their mouths and who causes pain every day as I clean and bandage a wound. Sometimes they forgive sometimes they don't. This is why my interest in training approaches is less for me and more for other people who have some horse experience. I need to entice them to think differently and approach our horses from a different mindset.

Thank God for the Socratic method or I would never convince anyone.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:15 pm 
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JohnEd wrote:
My greatest challenge is that I am the one who has to treat them. So as nice as I might be I am still the one who squirts foul tasting things in their mouths and who causes pain every day as I clean and bandage a wound. Sometimes they forgive sometimes they don't. This is why my interest in training approaches is less for me and more for other people who have some horse experience. I need to entice them to think differently and approach our horses from a different mindset.
I have no experience with traumatised horses, but would I have to work with them, my preferred choice of training approach definitely would be clicker training. It has a solid scientific basis, it's positive, its basics are generally easy to learn (or to teach) and it can be used even without physical contact and from a safe distance.

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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:21 pm
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Welcome John :f:

I am certain that you will find it a fabulous community here, and also a great place to let your own inspiration and creativity with horses grow :smile:. I haven't been on here much at all lately, but I can say hand on heart that this is such a wonderful forum to be a part of. Enjoy reading through all the interesting topics!

Sunny
x


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