The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:42 pm 
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When you give treats to a horse, you have to observe how the horse takes the treat from you.
1- Does he see the treat as a gift from you
or
2- Does he take it away from you meaning this is mine not yours.

It is important to be aware of the difference. In the second case, the bond and respect is not fully in place.

It is important to bond with your horse and also to show him you can be trusted by spending time with your horse where he feels confortable and where he can leave you if he wants. However, bond and trust does not necessarily mean respect. Isn't there a say in English: "Familiarity brings contempt". The same is true with horses. Once they feel good about being with you and they trust you will be nice to them does not always mean they will respect you . To the contrary, they may start to bully you around. Not aggressively necessarily but they can be pushy. You need to show them that you are a good partner or leader who needs to be respected. This can be done very gently by leading him from behind or taking its territory. This is how lead horses do. There is a big difference between a lead horse and a dominant horse. the lead horse will take care of the group and will assure its securtiy. The other horses in the herd always have an eye on the lead horse. The dominant horse just want a better spot in the pecking order. He wants to access the good gras and the water hole first. He has no concerned for the rest of the herd.

We do not want to enter in a dominant relationship with our horse it is counter productive and we will lose over a 1,000 pounds animal. We want him to follow us because we are a good leader who will take care of him.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:00 pm 
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Quote:
You need to show them that you are a good partner or leader who needs to be respected. This can be done very gently by leading him from behind or taking its territory. This is how lead horses do. There is a big difference between a lead horse and a dominant horse. the lead horse will take care of the group and will assure its securtiy.


Love your post Madeleine.
Please explain what you mean by "leading him from behind". How would you "take his/her territory?
Joc

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:54 pm 
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Leading from behind and Taking up territory are part of the 7 waterhole rituals by Carolyn Resnick. She has been studying wild horses all her life. Her experience is quite unique.

In the last 3 months, I have been pretty quiet in my journal. Something happened that lead me to research horse behavior more thoroughly. Bravada snapped me twice coming out of her stall. The first time it caught me by surprise and I have to admit I felt quite insulted.

I know I have a bond with her maybe not as good as I would like and also that she trusts me. Why was she bullying me.

Snapping in a horse herd is quite normal, horses do that all the time. It is up to us human when we interact with horses to stay away from the horse's mouth. For that we need to understand the difference between a leader and a dominant behavior. We should never take the dominant path with a horse. Nothing new so far.

What I like about Carolyn's method is a way to communicate to our horse that we are a good leader using the language horses use all the time between them. If you observe your own horses you will see them do that to each other every day.

Before doing Leading from behind or Taking up territory you have to start at the beginning with the first 2 rituals : Sharing territory and Say Hello. I am sure that you have done that many times so far with your horses.

Sharing Territory: you go with your horse where he is quite confortable and can stay away from you as he pleases. You sit in a chair take a book and read. You wait until your horse comes to you and smell you all over (face, head, neck...) That will create a bond. If you feel your horse is too much on you and you are not comfortable, ask yourself if at the moment your horse is shy, fearfull or dominant, rude. If it is the first case, remove your chair 10 feet away and start again. If it is the second case, get up, move your horse away until you are sure he understandd to stay away. Go back sit in your chair and wait for him to come back. Repeat until he comes and he is polite around you.
This helps the horse get interested in you. It creates a bond under his good will.

Say Hello. Always at liberty in an area where the horse may again leave you at anytime without feeling enclosed or threaten by lack of space. You approach your horse by cercling around him and going further when you come in front, then you turn into him facing him. If he shows any sign of inconfort or he makes the slightest move to leave, you leave before he does. Start again. Until you can touch the tip of his nose, after you have done so, back up, leave and start over again. That shows your horse that you will always respect his space, you will come into his space only when invited. This attitude will create trust.

As I said earlier: bond and trust does not necessarily mean Respect. That is where the other 2 rituals come into play. Leading from behind and Taking Territory.

The first 2 have to be well in place before we do the other. It may take 5 minutes, an hour, a week, 3 months... It is the basic for a good relationship. Don't forget when you go and say Hello a few times you can give a big carrot, lots of them.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:18 pm 
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That's very interesting Madeleine. I guess I'll have to buy Carolyn Resnyck's book. which one describes the 7 rituals? I'll start with that one.

I did try reading a book in Magik's territory (his stall is 11 x 22). He would come to me and smell me and bite my book. He didn't seem at all fearful. But I didn't see it as dominant either. I just saw it as being curious because I normally don't do that. I did push him away gently and continued reading so he left and continued eating. I haven't tried with Corado but I would assume he would be curious too (unless something spooked him while he was sniffing me).
But "saying hello", I have never tried that. I always show my hand, palm facing down, and wait for them to smell it. And that's it. I'll have to try what you wrote.
Just a small question,
Quote:
and going further when you come in front, then you turn into him facing him.
I don't quite get it. Do you mean as soon as I get close to his head, I turn my back to him and walk away. Then stop in front of him and turn around to face him. Then I would check his reaction. If he comes to me, then that's ok, if he starts leaving, then I would turn around before he does.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:44 pm 
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First I would not recommend it in a 10 by 20 stall. I would rather do it in an open area where the horse has the choice to literally ignore you if he wishes: arena or field.

For Say Hello, let's say you approach your horse from a 30 feet distance, you circle around him keeping a 20 feet distance radius, when you come in front of him you don't go in the circle to the contrary you move away, let's say increase the radius at 30 feet distance when you are in front of him, then you turn facing him. Hope it is clearer. The idea is not to go directly to the point, the face of the horse, but to increase the distance when you are in front of him, then start approaching unless the horse tells you he does not want you to come in. Then you back off, and slowly start approaching again.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:39 am 
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I don't know if this has been posted before?

But it's pretty cool...podcasts with Carolyn Resnick discussing the water hole rituals.

http://www.inhorseharmony.com/waterhole ... de-1-of-3/

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:15 am 
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Her work is pretty interesting. I have been studying it a lot recently and applying it mainly to the little pony who is so scarred of humans. We are doing tremendous progress. Slowly but surely.

I also practice Taking territory and leading from behind with Bravada because of her latest snappinngs. I notice it improved her performance on the ground and under saddle.

However, it is something you need to do often like horses in the wild do every day many times a day. Its their way of living. What I am most interested in is the Company walk or Magnetric connection. However, the fact that I C/T right now ruins the spontaneity and the true connection. She expects a treat for trotting with me Looking pretty. I am not sure I ever had true connection before because of the treat or lure. We are working on it.

There is also some web interviews every Saturday The Path of the Horse: Resnick, Rashid, Kohanov, Nevzorov. I don't remember the name of the 5th person.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:26 pm 
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nice post...i haven't read her book Waterholes rituals, but her book Naked liberty was good. Maybe something for in the future.

i have heard the latest intervieuw from Stormy May with Linda, nice to hear her talking about her idea's. I have all her books and now i understand some more about the "why".
The path of the horse is a good initiatief.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:14 pm 
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Hi Madeline -

I am also doing the Waterhole Rituals. My three horses are very different in personalities so it's interesting to see how the Rituals have a different flow with each of them.

With my two year old who is dominant, we moved pretty quickly to Taking Territory and Leading from Behind... now we are flowing back to Sharing Territory and Saying Hello.

With pony, we are already at the Go Trot stage.

My TB is on stall rest so we are Sharing Territory.

One thing I like about Carolyn's work is that it happens in a big area; the horse has the choice to leave and that is so different then say, roundpen work.

Do you have any further updates about your own work?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 am 
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Hi Pandora,

Nice that someone else is using the Rituals. I have been using it for the last 2 months. I received the book and the DVD just after New Year. I really enjoy her work. It helps understand our horses better and communicate with them better.

I am a novice in the rituals but so far I can see a big difference with the little poney I work with. He came to the barn 3 months ago at age 3. He is so afraid of humans. You cannot touch him, he goes in the back of his stall. You have to be extremely gentle, soft and calm around him otherwise he gets scarred.

I started the Sharing Spaces with him. He immediately came to me and smelled me all over. At one point I had to move my chair because he was too much. Say hello is still very difficult. He still has a lot of backward movement or tension in his body. He often looks with big white eyes. I did Eye contact. That went very well because he always keep an eye on me. I did not do taking up territory because I am afraid he is not confident enough and I am afraid to loose the little bond we have. Leading from behind was a bit hard at the beginning because he would run off even though I was walking slowly.

Last week, I did the Reciprocal movements ( 5 minutes, do nothing, 2 minutes circling around him at a distance then leading from behind 8 steps). I was thrilled to see after that him coming towards me trotting and even galoping. However, if I try to rub him he backs off. I decided to back off instead of saying Hello. I think for him, my backing off is like saying Thank you. Well he kept coming closer and closer. I tried to brush him, I could only do it twice without noticing any tension in his muscle. After that he would leave me if I tried to touch him with the brush. It is an improvement because he let me touch him with the brush twice.

I think we are slowly making progress, He is so fun to play with because he is full of life and jumps all over. You can go and see him in the video section Lotus my new little friend.

It will take as long as he wants.

The other horse I work with his Bravada. She is also the reason I started investigating Carolyn's work because she snapped me twice in a 2 week period coming out of her box. It was interesting to read Carolyn's say "bond and trust does not bring respect. You have to stay away from your horse's mouth". That helped me dedramatized what happened.

With her I did Sharing territory. She came once but soon lost interest and went her own way. Then say Hello, was OK but again no enthusiasm towards me. Leading from behind was difficult because I've never done it and I trained her to back up when I was behind her. She was confused. I had to insist. Taking up territory took her by surprise and she did not like the idea of sharing or having me taking away her lunch. I had to insist. I think that ritual made a difference.

However, I have been doing a lot of Clicker training so when I try to do the companion walk or magnetic connection she will trot with me and take a nice pause like I taught her. She expects a treat and get frustrated if I don't give it and then looses interest i n the game.

Carolyn says that we should not teach the connection, it need to come freely and naturally. That is right now my major challenge. I think in a way I have poisoned our bond. I am trying to figure out how to go back to a deeper relationship.

Do you know how long you do leading from behind. When I stop walking, she stops but does not come to me and does not follow me unless she got a carrot and wants more.

Do you practice every time you are with your horses. What is your schedule lwhen you are with your horses.

Something changed since I do the Rituals: our riding is more smooth, also I have been trying for years to made her lay down and rub her back. I was able to do it 2 weeks ago for the first time ever. She laid down because she wanted to roll but she let me come close and rub her back. Usually she gets up before I come more than 5 fett from her.

I am anxious to know how you use the rituals

Thanks

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:35 am 
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Madeleine Balcer wrote:
Something changed since I do the Rituals: our riding is more smooth, also I have been trying for years to made her lay down and rub her back. I was able to do it 2 weeks ago for the first time ever. She laid down because she wanted to roll but she let me come close and rub her back. Usually she gets up before I come more than 5 fett from her.

I am anxious to know how you use the rituals

Thanks


The beautiful thing about horses is that they are so adaptable... please don't think you have poisoned your bond! I think a bond is flexible and can always be rebuilt as long as we haven't done anything truly horrible... which you have not. :f:

What I noticed about my pony is that she is extremely quick and sensitive. She is the perfect horse for me to test with as she will tell me immediately if I have goofed up or not. I think ponies are more primitive (something Klaus Hempfling talks about with his horse types) and because of it they are more of the earth then perhaps their larger kin.

Perhaps you could combine the Reciprocal movements exercise with the Saying Hello? Since he came to you with Sharing Territory you could combine it that way too. Once he came up to you, give him affection/little treat, then pack up and leave.

With shy horses I find walking backwards away from them can also help. Like approach enough that they notice but do not flee. Once you have their attention, walk backwards, then stop and see if they approach. With Saying Hello I don't think it would be necessary to actually touch him but just to insert yourself on the fringe of his territory where he feels comfortable but if you went any more would make him upset. Does that make sense?

If it was me, I wouldn't even do the Taking Territory or Leading from Behind until you see a huge difference in him wanting to be with you. You might find Go Trot would be easier on him then TT or LFB.

With my pony Pandora, we were rather pass Sharing Territory and Saying Hello, just because she is eager to be with me and will run across the field to be with me. We have been doing Go Trot and here is a little video of us doing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuHu3EKz7cw&feature=channel_page

Carolyn talks about the horse that is too shy then becoming too dominant, then too shy and you have to balance it. Pandora is becoming a bit too dominant so I will probably try Taking Territory just to remind her.

Would you characterize Bravada as dominant or a leader?

My two year old filly is very dominant. She is very friendly and curious but things had gotten dangerous with her not respecting space. After doing a bit of Sharing Territory, Saying Hello, we had to get right to Taking Territory which was an interesting exercise.

I took her to our arena, where I had laid out a flake of alfalfa. Instead of letting her take it, I guarded it from her. Then I asked her to come in and eat by walking backwards with my hand out. After she settled down to eating, I circled, stopped, circled etc... She didn't pay me any attention. When I got behind her she hadn't moved and was still gorging her face! It took a lot of energy to move her off!

After about three different sessions, she has completely changed and waits to be invited. And she watches while I move around her. If she watches, then I walk away and let her continue.

I don't have a video of that but I do of our leading from behind.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKaZGAZHsXA&feature=channel_page

One day I had a brainstorm - I lead her from behind from the one end of the pasture to the other where the gate was (her favorite place so it was easy to point and keep her going). At the end of the gate, I had hubby hand me her food over the fence, and I fed her... essentially leading her to the food like the leader would.

One thing to keep in mind is that I think this is a very slow process. Don't get too discouraged if you don't see results quickly.

I also combine Clicker Training - Carolyn Resnick doesn't seem too fond of CT but she does state on her DVD and articles that if you are using a method and it is working for you then go with your heart. I use more CT with pony as this motivates her strongly. It is not as big a motivator with the filly.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:04 pm 
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I developed a bit of interest into this topic. I have finally found the time to listen to the podcast, where Carolyn explains the first 5 rituals.

I discovered, that I have been doing the first 2 rituals already.

1st: Sharing territory - especially while cleaning the pasture from droppings. I do my work ignoring the horses and they come up to check me out. First I did allow it, then I started to always move away, now I started to ask them keep their distance and let me do my work. This is basically done every day.

2nd: Saying hello - approaching politely, giving my hands to sniff and then walking of again. Or seeing would they like a scratch, or just standing with them a bit. I do the same, when they approach me.

3rd: Taking territory - actually I do not want to drive a horse away from food. Horses do enjoy eating a lot and savor the taste and whole chewing experience. I do not want to destroy such - I would really not like to be driven away from a fine dinner either. But Carolyn also says, one does not have to do that, if one does not feel like it.
What I have started and consider an important point is, that the horses do not run you over when you carry food around. They have to respect your space, may it be just for safety reasons. So I started to hold my territory while having a bucket full of carrots.
Now they get each a share of linseed or vegyoil from a little bowl. I do protect the one horse from the other stealing the highly valued food.

4rth: Eye contact - What I see, a horse would value to be watched over while eating, so it can eat in peace and does not have to pay attention to other stuff too much. That is what I try to do. So I often also watch over them while eating. It goes along the lines of my remarks to the 3rd ritual - I do not want to disturb my horses while they eat. I do not touch them, I do not threaten to touch them, nor threaten to drive them away.
I practice attention and giving eye contact just while standing with them. It is "Exercise in focus". The idea is, that they know they can relax and do not have to be alert about the things around, as I watch over them.

5th: Leading from behind - I do not want to use the whip in the way Carolyn describes. Actually, I do not want to use a whip in any way, if possible. So I will have to figure out, how I could approach this. When working with the lead rope, one can change from a leading into a driving position - maybe that is what will work for me, but I am not yet that far advanced yet.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:42 pm 
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Very interesting thread!

Because me too I have the feeling that I have a good bond and relationship with Filux but not that much respect from him...
There are many situations where he gets pushy, doesn't resect my space, takes the treats in a agressive way, pushes me out of the way. When he follows me in trott or canter I'm often a little bit afraid that he could kick me from behind.
I think this would become better if he would respect me more...

So I'll study the waterhole rituals and see if this is something for us. I just bought the book "naked lieberty" anyway. Thank you very much for the link to the podcast, I hope I find a way to copy them to my Ipod, so I can hear them in the bed instead of in frotn of the computer... ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:37 pm 
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Franziska wrote:
There are many situations where he gets pushy, doesn't resect my space, takes the treats in a agressive way, pushes me out of the way. When he follows me in trot or canter I'm often a little bit afraid that he could kick me from behind.
I think this would become better if he would respect me more...


Something Madeline posted at the top - that Carolyn asks - is your horse "taking" the food, or does he perceive you giving it to him? is something that is a mindset that is important.

In the taking mind, then you get aggression, pinned ears, spinning to kick, or pushy behavior when feeding. Just for safety sake I just can't allow that type of behavior to escaluate.

To me what is important about Carolyn's message is that this is a balancing act and we have to pay attention to it.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:29 pm 
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I would try leading form behind for an agressive horse. At a safe distance.

If you are sure to surprise your horse, meaning he did not see you coming, Taking territory will bring respect. However, it is something that you do once in awhile in a horse's life. No more than 6 times. But the key is you have to surprise your horse so he flies away.

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