The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:39 pm
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Location: Denmark
I did a search here on AND, but didn't fine him mentioned anywhere.

Rick is a practical and logical, not to mention quite hilarious at times, in his horse handling. Down to Earth, no "connection to horses happens by magic". He's endorse (proper and intelligent use of) pressure and release and sacking out.
He's against bits as well.

I like him, and I think you might like some of it, too :)

600+ videos on Youtube! http://www.youtube.com/user/horseawareness?feature=watch

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:03 pm 
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Rick stresses the importance of teaching a horse to give into pressure. Not to use it (only) as a means of controlling the horse better, but also for safety. To teach the horse to help itself.

For example, he hobble ties his horses. Why? Because it teaching them not to panic if they get caught up in something. He does this by sacking out and making sure NEVER to scare the horse - for obvious reasons. He wants to make the horse confident, but also to seek out him, and seek guidance with him when its scared.

I also just watched a video where one of his horses has entered a narrow shed filled with bales of hay. The horse is totally comfortable being there, but knowing to give in to makes it possible for him to squeeze between the horse and a narrow space, in case it's needed.

Anyways, I see lots of great points in his thinking, and is using much of it in my everyday life.

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:08 pm 
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Bissen wrote:
For example, he hobble ties his horses. Why? Because it teaching them not to panic if they get caught up in something. He does this by sacking out and making sure NEVER to scare the horse - for obvious reasons. He wants to make the horse confident, but also to seek out him, and seek guidance with him when its scared.
In my opinion, there are better ways to teach a horse how to deal with scary objects than sacking out. Sacking out is usually done by flooding, as is hobbling a horse. This can easily cause the horse to shut down and put it on the road to learned helplessness.
I prefer active 'ghost busting' whenever possible ;). That is, I reward every step towards the scary object - later every contact. So the horse learns to actively work on its own fears and not just suffer it, because it cannot escape from it. It's the only way for me to keep the initiative of the horse alive and prepare it for future scary situations :f:.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:23 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:28 am
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You can tell a "shutdown" horse by looking at their eyes. They have a 'glassy', 'nobody home' look.
One of my horses came to me that way - "very well trained and bombproof".
She didn't know how to become part of the herd due to having been desensitized too much.
The Waterhole Rituals have helped her to be a confident, radiant horse who has no trouble eating from the same hay feeder as the other horses at the same time.
But the point of my whole story is that even though she was 'bombproof' in most situations, every now and again something happened she hadn't been trained to stay calm about and then she would bolt in a mad panic with no way of stopping her, right down the main road if that happened to be the shortest way home.
Now if she gets scared she looks at me for direction because she know that I can offer care-taking leadership to her. She knows I would never force her to do anything and we share a close bond of mutual respect and love. We look after each other and I highly appreciate her opinion on things. If she is scared of something we investigate first and if I decide it's safe she trusts me just like I would trust her if she said 'no way!'.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:39 pm
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I'll point out that Rick doesn't use flooding. Not with hobbling either. He uses sacking out for that, too. The point to him is to NOT get a reaction from the horse. He's different from for example McLean. Rick also doesn't

I'm not 100% for Rick's methods in every scenario, but for some things I do use negative reinforcement (like with yielding), but for different things (like lifting feet) positive reinforcement WITH negative works the best.

Bissen used to be shut down when I got her, so I too know horses like that. I'd never want to take away the confidence, curiosity or spirit from either of them.

I watched a video where Rick sacks out his mustang stallion to a flying helicopter (remember, the horse was chased by helicopters when caught).
He was in the saddle the whole time, and it was really nice to see how he let the horse figure out for himself, that he didn't have to be afraid. He "forced" (as much as he could with one rein in a rope halter, holding a camera in the other. I'd rather say "encouraged") his horse to face his fear, and taught him to think for himself, let him figure out that it won't hurt him. I don't think anyone believes it's possible to sack a horse out to every single thing in the entire world :funny:

Rick's point in being sacked out is that it builds confidence between you and your horse. Your horse gets more and more certain that when he's with you, scary things won't hurt him. That's his main point. He wants the horse to come and look to him when it's scared. It's exactly as you describe your relationship, Ulrike :)

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:39 am 
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Only that I wouldn't confront my horses with scary objects or situations to teach them that lesson. I work on our relationship only. To me the path is what's important, not only the goal. I will not use force, not even in the slightest. My horses always have a choice and their opinion is highly appreciated. Confidence and trust are the side effects, not something I train. That makes every imaginable situation more safe and I don't have to find as many scary objects as possible to cover for any future situation.


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