Glen Grobler wrote:
The thing is, even though I see it happening in front of my eyes I still find it hard to "grasp." I do feel as if I am "doing nothing" to change the way Laska views his life. He gets groomed every now and then (maybe 2 or 3 times a week), his feet get picked out every day, he gets food, shelter, water and affection. In the 3 months since he came to live in my back-yard
I have done 3 10-minute C&T training sessions with him and 1 10-minute "can-you-still-lead-like-I-taught-you?"
session which involved only praise rewards. That shouldn't be enough interaction for this level of mental turn-around. Obviously it is, but in my little rationalize-everything brain, it shouldn't be such a dramatic result from such a pitifully small effort on my part.
Think aloud here, I suppose I feel a bit of guilt because Laska is my "second-string" horse and I do put Freckles first in everything. So Laska is giving much more than he is getting, and that makes me feel sad and bad.
Another interesting thing about Laska, now that we are well into spring he is leaving a few mouthfuls of his food
my little food-monster that drives other horses off their food because he wants more is NOT licking every tiny morsel out of his bowl.
So the grazing is improving and he's feeling GOOD.
In the "Olden Days," in the horse world it was common for instructors and those with more experience to tell newcomers and youth that they must project confidence. And they youth and newbies would give that a try and often fail.
Yet, now and then, a child that had been told nothing in particular (I had NO instructors or "knowledgable horsemen" around me when I got my first horse) simple is with the horse and sorts it all out.
I'm convinced that the horse is far less bothered or made anxious by confusion and lack of clarity than they are by incongruence.
The first time I read Josepha's (so it was the first time I visited AND) comments that included the concept of the horse as the master of instruction (paraphrasing liberally of course) that is what struck me from my own experience. Many a time I was unclear and uncertain with horses in new situations, but I let myself be, decided on a course of action to move beyond it and the horse settled down easily.
This is a tough concept to get across to a student, but I do work at that. They wonder how I can ask them to do things that are not consistent with things I've taught them before. Yet they try it and it works.
I pretty much forbide, for instance, new students that have taken instruction from others or done a lot of reading, the use of the legs for a few lessons. With some, for months, others in a few weeks. Then suddenly I'm having them use their legs - often in new ways, and the horse responds like never before.
It IS a matter of congruence, just as you mention, Glen. Horse's understand momentary and even longer confusion and uncertainty (that's a big part of many horse's personality profile) but they do NOT understand someone acting confident (arrogant really) but sending other signals they are not. That they are scared and confused.
I teach students to use the leg by starting them not using the leg at all. Just learning to be quiet and accept the horse's temporary confusion at not getting leg cues (actually what I "forbid," is kicking the horse with the heels, but to get there I stop ALL leg use for a few weeks of lessons).
And I do this to myself when I find old habits coming back. If I am to be clear in my intent, and congruent in my self, my feelings in synch with my behaviors, then often I find I must go back to babysteps level.
When I do I hear my horse sigh in relief. Dakota was a good retraining for me. His feedback tended to be immediate and less than polite.
Even Altea, in the little I've ridden her, reminded me of my clumsiness and failure to come from a quiet place and be clear in my intent before acting.