The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Okay, there was to much dense rhetoric in my last post about +R and -R, and you never got down to see Bonnie steal the halter, so I stripped out over half of the long windedness.

Even if you don't want to read what's left, you an at least enjoy watching Bonnie slyly outfox The Old Man.


I'd been studying natural movement and actions of the horse as communication. Herd society manners, customs, and social behaviors. My last professional work was for a few years managing a breeding and rearing program using Appaloosas and QH mares for breed line improvement. And I was isolated and alone most of the time and it was not very demanding. No one hanging over my shoulder.

I watched mares and foals. Probably 600 to 700 hours total. In time I had identified a set of instructions and directions, "asks," from mare to foal, and foal to mare.

We are familiar with human babies making certain movements of body and face, fingers and lips, head turns, etc. in seeking the mother's nipple. So too the foal seeking his mothers teat.

These are the basis, along with mares responses, for all learned communication behaviors. Simple, very simple compared to the highly complex system of communication that grows out of these. Yet the adult horse shows clearly where his communication behaviors comes from.

We know that babies mimic. If a mother wants a foal to reach for the udder she has a couple of things she does ... one, she may stretch her neck out and reach toward the foal with her nose extended, the very posture he needs to reach the udder. Did this originate with the mare, or with the foal, and which is mimicking the other?

I do not know. But I do know it has the qualities of a dance, as do the rest of communication package behaviors.

Mother Mare, I presume feeling her udder fuller and tight, will lift her head, catching the foals attention, drop it down in his direction and sweep it away from the foal, incidentally rather toward her own flank. Something in the foal, I suspect entirely instinctual, triggers a response we see used in NH - the draw. When the PNHer leans forward and pulls the rope, or even emply hands toward himself it is a repeat of the foal memory draw by the mother toward her and toward the reward of her milk.

Think about it again and transpose the view of the Mother Mare over the PNH handler doing a draw, bend toward the horse (MM drops her head and extends it), handler begins to reach out and draw toward themselves. Get the picture.

I use a more direct and unchanged method from the MM as much as possibly. I reach out with my hand on the end of my extended arm (mimicking the head and neck of the MM) and wiggle for attention them draw it toward my ... yes, my flank, the point of my hip.

Since the coming to something gong away is an instinct in the horse the foal will even follow that hand around me as he approaches, even if I turn. We have then the beginning of many possibly asks for many possible end response, both circle work and with forward or lateral work.

But I have a halter to put on a little filly that hates it. Can I get her to not be afraid of it, in fact can I get her to accept it, or more - WANT IT?

Yep. And I just described the tools for doing so.

These are the photos of Analiese, please remember they are copyrighted by her.

They show how Bonnie learned to take the halter away and keep it for herself. Bonnie is about to learn a new use for "targeting." The halter is now the target. The concept of Chase The Tiger has more purpose than only play.

Descriptive text included. :)

Ho hum, another quiet boring day in the Deep Dark Forest. Maybe the old man will come along and we'll go chase the bears and lions in the woods.

Image


Below Bonnie is loosening up, doing head and neck play with Ramener, teaching the old man to put his hand in the right spot for her to touch it with her chin.

Image


Uh oh. What's the old coot up to now? Is that the Venomous Blue Cobra I see? OH NO! I hope he stomps it to death. Ugh!

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Yes, it IS. Hang on to it old man, I'll help you kill it! Hmmm...it looks kind of like you might have killed it already. Let me see ... wait, come back here, stop trying to get away with it -STOP RIGHT NOW AND LET ME SEE.

Image

Blast it, hold that Cobra still so I can see if you killed it.

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Yep, Dead as mud. Funny looking. Can I touch it? Would you PLEASE hold the thing still?

Image

This above is, of course, just about the time some horse handlers would revert back to approach and retreat directly and try to slip it further on her head. No, I take it away again and again, but not just away, away with the same sweep that Mother Mare does with her head and neck.

This, below, is the beginning of just one of the many sweeping "draws," around me, somewhat like a bull fighter, to bring her along to the halter, to try and take if from me, to spear it with her nose and "own," it. And this happened to be the sweep that Bonnie won, watch:

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Take it off, down and sweep it around;
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And Keep It Moving! She's trying to force her nose in and take it.
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The old man is defeated. He gives up and holds still, The Venomous DEAD Blue Cobra now held in a convenient spot for Bonnie to take it, if she wants. Does she want it still?
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Mmmhmmm....LOLGOT IT! Oh, and look, the old man has coughed up some treats too. Nice old man.
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Mine. ---- MINE MINE MINE MINE!
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Mine...my little blue baby cobra...mine mine mine mine mine.
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And Bonnie Cupcake wins again.

For many months afterward she'd come to the cobr-- opps, to the halter and jam her head through to make sure I couldn't draw it away from her. I began to diminish the frequency of treats, and today she just dips her nose a bit to order me, her personal groom, to put it on. Then we go play at other things.

Like following that hunk of the Blue Cobra we cut off and stuck on the end of a stick (blue pool noodle section on a light plastic handle).

Pretty soon she'll be able to make me let her catch that too.

You guys go ahead and chase Tigers. WE are now graduated to chasing Blue Cobras.

How did this particular "ask," meet ethical criteria? Was there pressure? Did I release pressure, or - did I convert it to play pressure. And yes, eventually I did use release of pressure - when Bonnie took the Blue Cobra from me with her nose and her head. If you look at her expressions and language from the beginning you can see the progression of various states of body tenseness, ear and tail signals (look at those belly diagnonals - this horse is going to be able to BUCK, and of course lift in airs above the ground as well).

And finally you see the relaxation of everything, even her ears droop, and she's got that lovely sappy look I so like to see in a horse when they are both confident and relaxed.

I'm going to give myself a passing grade on ethics of horse handling here. And an A+ for play ground director.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:18 pm 
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:love:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:25 am 

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Loved reading this en watching pictures. It put a big smile on my face.
And ofcourse.... its interesting.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:43 am 
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:love:

what a wonderfull wonderfull interesting, funny and lovely story :)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:51 pm 
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:funny: now a real story with pics.....you are a funny writer Donald....
thank you


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:04 pm 
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Hahaha! LOVE the commentary. Also the idea is entirely new to me... finding a way for the horse to 'want" that elusive but scary object. I see now the difference in that versus a plan "approach/retreat" method. It really empowers them.

"No I don't want you to have it.... nope...nope..."
All the while thinking "Come on... you know you want it, you know your curiosity is just too much!" :funny:


Hmmm... I think this is right up Diego's alley... *scheming* :D

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:08 pm 
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:clap: :l: :f: I like the idea of pushing the curious button a lot - way to go, Donald. Now then, where and how can I make use of this with my chap? :funny:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:46 am 

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how very entertaining and what a beautiful filly!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:43 am 

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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Bonnie is growing up. Such lovely photo's and nice to have the camera catch your interactions.

My flighty little Ben is happy if I hold his headcollar, then he will put his nose in and helpfully wait for me to fasten it. But if I were to approach him with his headcollar in the stable or field instead of approach, show and wait for him to put it on....... no catch the pony would be the result.
Arthur and Daniel need something really scary, more frightening than a rope spun on the ground to keep them from under my feet, or crinkly tarpaulin, much too nosey and jealous of each other if they think a mutual groom with the human herd member might be on offer. Cobra's might be a solution, but I'll need a live one. xx
Altea waits so patiently in the shade without joining in or taking the Bonnie treats, somehow can't see me persuading Dan or Arthur to stay out of the way so I can have one to one with their buddy.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:46 am 

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A lovely story Don and Altea is becoming even more of beauty than she ever was before!

Keep up the good playing!

:love:

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AnneMarie

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make'em drink...


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:47 am 

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Bonnie I meant!

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AnneMarie

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:19 pm 
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PiePony wrote:
Bonnie is growing up. Such lovely photo's and nice to have the camera catch your interactions.

My flighty little Ben is happy if I hold his headcollar, then he will put his nose in and helpfully wait for me to fasten it. But if I were to approach him with his headcollar in the stable or field instead of approach, show and wait for him to put it on....... no catch the pony would be the result.
Arthur and Daniel need something really scary, more frightening than a rope spun on the ground to keep them from under my feet, or crinkly tarpaulin, much too nosey and jealous of each other if they think a mutual groom with the human herd member might be on offer. Cobra's might be a solution, but I'll need a live one. xx
Altea waits so patiently in the shade without joining in or taking the Bonnie treats, somehow can't see me persuading Dan or Arthur to stay out of the way so I can have one to one with their buddy.


:funny: :funny: :funny: Altea is tied in the shade under the tree. Trust me, if there is something going on that involved food treats she would be right there asking for her share. She is most genteel and gracious in her asking though. Bonnie is more assertive. More like an assertive teenager.

It's funny to read what you say about your horses.

There is another thread going on with Chuck about Friendship Training, where he mentions various things that if you have followed my posting here recently and in fact over the years, you'll find that I regularly post on the subject of "intention," and the exercise of speaking aloud to quiet the monkey in the human mind and bring focus, clarity, and above all, congruity to ones communication with the horse.

The first time I read Chucks FT material I laughed aloud as AND is replete with similar views and approaches to relationship. If there is a theme that is the most prevalent in AND it is that, relationship over "training," and control. I could have sworn Chuck was reading my stuff as well as AND members generally.

He's even brought up the issue of how smell is a communication medium. How long have I been "lecturing," on that and describing how our intent rides on our breath and horses evolved to read pheromones for their survival as well as social and personal interaction? At least for the last year I think.

Some of the work I did 40+ years ago serve as the foundation for this thinking and my bringing it together in the Mother Mares'â„¢ concept and methods.

Of course he's not copying us or me, as this direction in horse handling thinking and philosophy has been going on for a great long time and is natural in its evolutionary paradigm. This had to happen.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:24 pm 
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it's fantastic! very good explained with the pictures! Sticky material :applause:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 4:06 pm 
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I agree and just changed the thread to a sticky!

I think this is such a powerful demonstration of the (I know this phrase is over-used but I think it's really appropriate here) paradigm shift in an approach like AND -- how it is about inviting and building on everyone's strengths and ideas and instincts, rather than creating obedience.

Really beautiful, Donald. It's going to be one of the places I send people when I'm trying to explain how different this way of thinking about our interactions with horses is than traditional training -- it's an exquisitely clear example of something that is on so levels so simple -- putting a halter on your horse (how many times do we do that, and how often do we think about it as a place to learn and create new opportunities?) -- that captures the essence of what we're trying to get to.
:f:

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:08 am 
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Pretty funny. Great minds and all.

I just posted a PM that used that very comment, a paradigm shift.

I think possibly I should have said, as it's truly more relevant and to the point, "PIVOTAL Paradigm Shift."

It makes me fill with glee sometimes as I read the AND stories in training, groundwork, mounted, theories, explorations (and even when we fall on our butts/bums) as we learn.

This is such a great experimental laboratory. It takes us, collectively, and often individually, to new pivotal awakenings, and does it often.

Donald, Altea, and Bonalaria Magdalena

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


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