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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:08 pm 
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Miriam wrote:
I just saw that I've exchanged the letters! :roll: :oops:

Of course, when A attacks B, I'll start training with B, the victim and not with the attacker! :lol:


But it's an interesting point you're having there, because I wondered something similar myself often too. Generally, it's Blacky, when I'm training him, who attacks Sjors. So I immediately start training Sjors. But Sjors is a very sneaky and sly pony, and even though he does 'nothing wrong' when he is being attacked because he just stands there looking at us or slowly walks towards us, I can't help wonder if he isn't being rude in horse-language to Blacky. He did something similar when driving them both in a team as well, with very subtle nastiness getting Blacky to attack him, and then have me correct Blacky for attacking Sjors.
Those attacks continued no matter what I did to try Blacky to stop doing that, right up to the moment that I decided to instead correct Sjors with one slight slap of the whip as soon as he looked at Blacky in a slightly foul way - He got sooo angry at that! I can't help but suspect that most of his anger was about being found out, because he did it two more times and then it stopped and Blacky never attacked him in front of the carriage anymore.

So training two horses already is quiet something, but if one is a potential evil genious, it's quite a challenge indeed! :roll: 8)


I should have known <slaps forhead with hand>. I thought, knowing you, that the A to B sequence was totally incongruent with your thinking. And I assumed a training error when it's much more obviously a typographical error in writing. :oops:

I wonder how many people would catch the subtlety of the "setup," as you describe it?

When I worked with emotionally disturbed children I observed again and again when a group disruption occurred, that the quietest child in the room was in fact most often the real instigator.

Masters of the lifted eyebrow, the subtle turn of the body or appendage. The artist with the seemingly innocuous comment, reading the others and picking not just the right insulting comment, but the exact second to deliver it.

Fascinating that you pick this up with your horses.

There is nothing so frustrating as the passive aggressive manipulator, and you I think you have identified one. :lol: :lol: :lol:

My best guess as to your question about Sjors being rude in horse language?

Well, horse's speak to each other by movement and proximity as well as direction and speed of approach, and body attitude.

In fact, slow approaches, coupled with body posture can be a much louder 'insult,' via threat, than and all out charge. Lead mares are elegant with the "slow threat."

Horses also read subtle facial expressions.

A whole herd can transmit anxiety by one starting with that tight skin round the eye look.

A little wrinkle at the corner of the mouth.

More subtle still are the combinations communications. Head up, tight eye skin, one ear swiveling. It gets MY attention when I detect a horse doing it.

So tell me, what do you think a horse kicking at its own tail means? That's one that I guess has to do with anxiety, but darned if I feel confident in that simple an answer.

Donald

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:08 pm 
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Sjors really is subtle indeed. I totally missed the carriage-thing with him for months, because Blacky seemed to attack him out of the blue: the pony's were trotting forwards on the road, and suddenly Blacky would swing his head at Sjors with ears pinned back and bite him in the neck.

The weird thing is that it just didn't stop, even though I corrected Blacky for this every time and even though he usually learns really fast. So when the pattern just stayed like that, I decided to observe them very well to see what happened right before that might have provoked the attack. And the thing that made Blacky explode, was that Sjors would lift his nose a little more to the horizontal and then turn it a couple of cm towards Black, really looking down on him. He would do that for a few seconds and bang - Blacky would be on top of him and I would punish Blacky for that.

When I saw that this happened literally every time before Blacky attacked, I decided to keep a real good eye on Sjors and flick him with the whip and say 'no!' as soon as he gave Blacky the dirty look. And it was amazing to see that from that point on - me correcting Sjors only three times (and Sjors being really angry for that, up to the point of squealing and threatening to lash out) and Blacky never touched him again.


I think something similar is happening during training together at liberty - although Blacky's competitive streak might play a big part as well. For example. when Sjors just stands somewhere in the paddock for a while and Blacky and I are running around, Blacky sometimes veers off and decides to bump into Sjors. :roll: Then I really can't find fault with Sjors.

But other times Sjors will be politely (my interpretation) approaching in a slow walk when Blacky and I are training on a circle, and Blacky will give him one foul look the first time he passes in front of Sjors (of course I reply with 'No Blacky, come here') - but when Sjors still stands there the second or third time, he will launch himself on top of Sjors. So most of the time I break off that pattern as soon as I notice it and go somewhere else with Blacky - but it's quite a puzzle every now and then, especially because Blacky is really keen to keep a grudge going: When he's given Sjors a nasty look, he keeps the angry thoughts alive untill he can 'express them'. :roll: I haven't really found something yet that can really distract him from that, but I'll just keep on searching!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:28 pm 
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Most interesting.

I've known for some time about this behavior, and that keeps me from getting kicked or run over, I think. :lol:

However it brings to mind something I've picked up about similar human behavior and how this anti-social behavior plays out if one wants to change the dynamic and have the individuals deal with each other with less revilry

An analogy is in order as a way to start describing this.

The mother with two children, or more, who finds them fighting a lot and constantly demanding her time. But still fighting and still demanding.

The horse needs, as the child needs, some alone time with "mom."

And by this I mean intensely focused time, with the human "listening" to the child, errr...horse.

I almost wish I had Dakota and Altea together again to test this out. And to see if Altea was, like Sjors, actually instigating, though she seemed the non-dominate member of the pair.

I forgot, apparently it was a triad. And as in human behavior issues in families, there likely was a triangulation going on by someone.

Dakota is too out front for it to be him, so that leaves just Altea. Hmmmmm....the sweet sweet innocent thing. :roll: :wink: :lol:

So I wonder what role "mom" plays in this?

That reaction from Sjors when you disciplined him for his subtle provoking of Blacky should be a clear message that something is up with Sjors and you, mom. :wink:

But you know that. Now to find what it is. Could it be some listening time, all alone, is in order, as with children?

By the way, my children scrapped a great deal at one time, and when I learned how to listen properly it all not only stopped, they became best friends. Very comfortable with each other.

Still are, in fact. In their late thirties, and early 40's.

Maybe, and I think someone said this, to training two horses together, is to create special time for each separately. Fill up their cup...errr...feed bucket. Emotional feed bucket.

Donald

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:22 pm 
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That's also my strategy now, thanks to Lydia: both the ponies are in the paddock, but I train one of them for some time in which the other is not allowed to barge in, and then I switch and the same rule applies to the other. That really created some rest in the pack! 8)

About the Sjors-me relationship, it sure was a different one than I had with Blacky! I guess it stemmed from the fact that after the first year of having met Sjors, I was convinced that I was never, ever, ever, ever able to teach him anything (before we discovered clickertraining). So I regarded Blacky more as the pony I could really work with, and Sjors was the one that I could fuss around with, cuddle and ignore the things he did wrong sometimes because I knew I couldn't change them and because he never seemed to do them out of being bad, more out of not knowing better.

The carriage thing was eight years ago, when we had Sjors for two years and had already introduced clickertraining and had discovered how I could reach his brains. :wink: But still he remained in my actions 'the special child' who I allowed more than Blacky. When I then joined a training by Chris Irwin with Sjors out of curiosity (we didn't have any problems relation-wise), the first thing Chris Irwin said was that Sjors was an extremely dominant pony who was a master in manipulating and putting people in their place in really subtle ways (slightly pushing into them, harmlessly ignoring them, friendly intruding their personal space whenever he wanted to while softening the obtrusion by starting to lick your pants). 8)

Even though I didn't like the way Chris Irwin handled that in practice, it was an eyeopener for me in that I realised that Sjors indeed was quite the little manipulator and that I had been quite lenient/unobserving of that the past years. The thing is that Sjors never did something really wrong (biting, rearing, bucking, threatening or anything clearly aggressive), instead he just ignored things in a pleasant way, did things in a different way that I had asked. So that, combined with the carriage-thing in the past, made me realise that I hadn't really been fair to him and Blacky either.

The funny thing is that when I become more 'strict' with Sjors in that I say 'no' whenever he does something not very nice or is a bit impolite, be becomes both calmer and more eager to train. Maybe there really is something in which Chris Irwin said, that horses respect and like the people and other who respond to their smallest signals - especially the masters of manipulation themselves. That's a bit blacky&white view on the world, but I do understand that when horses/children are manipulative in order to draw your attention, when you really give them your entire attention (and not just negative of course!), they receive what they needed and become more happy.

But I think I could train the ponies more seperate from each other, and more often go out and train with only one of them. Good advice, Donald!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:15 pm 
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I wonder sometimes if it is not as much of a risk to behavior and the relationship to 'discipline,' rather than use some other more humane and companionable response.

I think, for instance, that when I'm being unconsciously "manipulative," with Kate, she, rather than discipline me, just ignores me pointedly.

Reminds me immediately to be direct with her. Just as I prefer she would be with me.

I guess I was fantasizing what it would be to out-Sjors Sjors.

Ignoring is tough to do with the first kind of horse you mention, the one that has dangerous behaviors, but for the little sly attention getters, I think ignoring is a powerful tool.

Of course, when I taught this to human parents I warned them that they must pick the behavior they are going to ignore, it must be ignorable (safety), and they must NOT NOT NOT break down and pay attention when they mean to ignore.

I, of course, had to admit then when I 'therapeutically' ignored my own children my biggest challenge was to cover up my laughter.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: It makes my ribs hurt even now to remember all those times I worked so hard to hold in my laughter.

Just some idle thoughts at your training diary expense. Forgive me.

Donald

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:01 pm 
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Well, out-smarting Sjors is what I (try to) do most of the time. 8)
All the things I wrote above about discipline stemmed from 6 years ago when I wasn't even close to doing natural dressage yet. 8)

My latest victory :wink: was on the scraping: for years now Sjors will start scraping the ground with a front hoof whenever he is bored, exited, nervous, unwilling to do something, willing to do something etc. It really started to annoy me quite soon (years ago) and I tried everything to teach him not to do that: correct him, make him walk, ask him to do an exercise every time he did that, ignoring him, walking away as soon as he started and only walking back when he stopped, rewarding the moment he set his foot down again - and literally nothing worked. He just continued to do this, and I guess that when this forum started I decided to just let it be, walk away whenever he started and then do something else.

Lately though, it started to annoy me again and I decided to dive into it again. So two weeks ago when I was standing next to Sjors and he started digging again, I decided to go with that and ask him to lie down - not with our official voice-cue, but with the scratching his chest and belly that accompanies that. Sjors went down immediately, and I ignored him untill he stood on four hooves again. Then suddenly it clicked in my mind when I realised that 10 years ago when we got Sjors, he already was the scratching kind, but about 8 years ago when I taught him to lie down, I also rewarded the scracthing when he was preparing to lie down. So what if the scratching he did nowadays wasn't just out of stress or mental reasons, but more out of habit because once it was allowed when lying down. So I decided to abuse that 8) by just 'catch his idea' and ask him to lie down every time he started scratching. And it worked!
:shock: The first training session two weeks again he still scratched the ground often, but a lot less towards the end when he realised that every time he was scratching the floor, I caught the idea of asking him to lie down for free, without reward. And he sure doesn't like that! Pretty soon he both stopped lying down when I cued him after the scratching, but also stopped scratching in most instances that he would do this.

It's still not completely gone, but today he only scratched the ground 2 times, where usually it would be between 10 and 20 times.

I think the success of this method lies in the fact that apparently mentally he still had the lying down and the scratching connected, and saw that it was logical to stop scratching in order not to have to lie down anymore - where all the other correction according to him were very illogical indeed.

So victory at last!!!!! 8) He sure is a challenge to train because he's so intelligent and stubborn and has a very definite idea of how things should go and how they work and how not, but I catch up with him - slowly... :roll: :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:45 pm 
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Wow! I really like how creatively and thoughtfully you handled the "ground scratching."

Doing a historical recall on his past performance and how you might have trained him to do what he was doing by reward it back then to get a lay down.

I don't think you used the word, "trained," but is seems to me that was what happened.

Then using flooding to extinguish the behavior ... immensely funny, and of course it appears to be quite effective.

I'm not sure 'flooding' is the correct term, but I'm a bit sleep deprived lately and not very sharp, so I said what best described what I mean that popped up in my brain, rather than search my memory.

Your example with this certainly gives encouragement to thinking one's way through such behavior challenges.

Donald

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:20 am 
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Hey Miriam!

I think that is a good example of extinction, eh?

Diminishing a previously reinforced behavior by NOT reinforcing it anymore!

Also, like you said, the lying down is hard work so could also have had a punishing effect on the scratching? i.e. lying down was an undesirable consequence following scratching?

Now if we think about scratching and lying down to be chain, it is interesting to see how you could break down a chain! Something to keep in mind when we DON't want the chain broken!!

Either way, both punishment and extinction diminish behavior so one or both were probably working here!

Thanks for outlying how you applied them!

Now will you re=train lying down without a scratch??

Brenda

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:45 am 
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Asking him to lie down is no problem, because I always ask that with a voice-cue plus scratching his chest, where I asked him to lie down as a correction only by scratching his chest.
Yesterday, at the end of the training I asked Sjors to lie down again in our official way, and down he went without a second thought. ;) So he knows the difference between the exercise for food 8) and for nothing as a sort of correction very well. Smart pony!

If you mean scratching the ground with his hoof: the funny thing is that years ago he already stopped doing that when I cued him for lying down. It seems to somewhere down the line Sjors had turned the one chain (scratching the floor and then lying down) into two seperate behaviors (scratching the floor whenever he felt like it, and lying down on cue). That's also why I didn't connect the annoying scratching with the lying down sooner.

For me the real challenge in playing with and training Sjors is that he seems to have one method in which you can teach him a certain exercise or can stop a certain exercise - and all the other methods always fail to some extent. So for me the challenge is to always keep looking for that opening by constantly experimenting with how I ask things, what my bodylanguage does. But when I've found the opening, he learns the behavior instantly. I guess he keeps my brain in shape. :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:32 am 
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Very interesting topic. Yes, I have to play and teach two horses that are in the same paddock.
Like Miriam, when I'm playing with one and the other comes along, I will simply ask him to "go" and point in the direction away from us, until he does. I protect the one I'm with. If the one I'm with no longer wants to play and leaves, then I'll say "fine" and go towards the other one and start playing with him.
Example: If I'm playing with Magik and Corado comes along, I will guide Corado away until he moves away. If Magik no longer wants to play (learn), then he'll leave. I'll go to Corado and start playing (and teaching) him. If Magik comes along, I'll guide him away.

there was a period I tried to teach both at the same time and sometimes I still do when I don't have much time and I want to play with both, but then I will simply teach them stuff they already have done just to make sure they do it well.

But basically, I don't get much done when I'm trying to teach both horses at the same time. I'm not as organized since as you know, things usually don't turn out they way we want with one horse so imagine two!!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:24 pm 
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Just copying a reply to Patrice from Summy's diary:

Patrice wrote:
I remember you had started to work on that once.....did you get any results....or come up with a brilliant plan to keep Summy less threatening when you played with Titum and he together?


It is no problem to play with both of them in the same area and Summy doesn't attack Titum when I do not allow it - that is one of our basic rules that attacking is just not allowed when I am around.

The problem with this has been that Summy indeed stopped attacking, but that he did so because he had to and not because he was okay with it. So I wanted to work on it in a positive way by rewarding for friendlyness instead of correcting him for being nasty. I let him interfer with our training and rewarded him whenever Titum got rewarded. In that way I hoped to change his perception of Titum getting rewarded into something positive.

It didn't work out to do only that. Maybe I just haven't done it long enough or not careful enough or not exclusive enough (like ONLY rewarding him when Titum was around and got rewarded), but in the way I had done it, there were many situations where he was friendly, but also quite some instances where he chased Titum away.

So I changed again. I kept on rewarding him when he was around while I was training with Titum and I still trained with both of them at the same time, but I let him be with us only when he was nice. As soon as he laid back his ears or tried to bite Titum, I sent him away or went away with Titum to continue our training alone for the next minute or so, until Summy got a new chance to join. And that seems to work quite well for us. It is not purely positive reinforcement, but I felt like I owed it to Titum to change the situation RIGHT NOW and not hope for a shift in Summy's attitude after 100 more attacks. Still this period of always rewarding Summy for being nice and not correcting him has helped me a lot as it has changed MY perception. I don't think "oh no, here he comes again..." when Summy is approaching, but I smile at him, greet him, give him a treat and work with both of them as long as he behaves.

What is helping us really much if we want to train without Summy for a while so that we can focus a bit better or do more complicated stuff is to specifically reward Summy for waiting. Sometimes I will train with Titum in one place in the paddock and after some time I will run over to Summy, give him a treat and say thanks for waiting. He understands that quite well and sometimes he will stand somewhere and really fight with himsef, trying to control himself and NOT come over. :smile:

At the moment the situation is completely different again though. Since I have put them together with Pia only three days ago, I don't give treats to Summy at all for now - or only if we are in a completely different corner of the paddock and the other two are far away. I will get back to playing with all of them and using our mixture of rewarding and correcting as soon as they have got a bit more used to Pia.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:18 pm 
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Hi Andrea and all:

I'm all jazzed because I finally got my very first video up and cooking 8) ;), but I thought I'd share a link here to it, as it's of Stardust, Circe, and I playing together.

This is mostly versions of our "Three Musketeers" game -- we've spent a bunch of time figuring out how to work as a threesome on some basic exercises (we're slowly but surely expanding our repertoire) -- but thought you might be interested in seeing a little bit of how we're making it work...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bryvX0g6tKA

:smile:

Leigh

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:43 am 
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Just copying a post I wrote in Lauren's diary a few months ago, so that next time I need it I won't have to search. ;)

This is an update on how I deal with jealousy and try to make sure that my horses are nice to each other while I am working with all three of them at the same time.

Romy wrote:
Concerning Sonny chasing Toby off and keeping him from playing along, I guess that's a basic decision you have to make, or for me it was, anyway. I had to decide whether I would tolerate chasing the other horses off or not, and once I decided that this was a no-go, I had to do something about it consistently. For us this means that when one horse is giving the others angry looks or chasing them off, I tell him that he cannot do this. I immediately stop playing with that horse and go to the others.

But forbidding the chasing is just one part, the other is that I try to make it a pleasant experience for them to be nice. For example, it helped a lot with Summy to reward him for standing and waiting, so that he got attention and lots of treats specifically for NOT interfering with my training with the others. But as the goal was to play with them together, I had to make it a nice experience for them to do that specifically, instead of just staying away.

That is, I reward Summy whenever he is nice while I am interacting with the others. For example, when I am playing with Titum or Pia and Summy comes close, he always gets a treat. If he stays, I take turns in asking him and the others, so that there is not much need for him to be angry, because when the others are around, he is getting rewarded just as much - or actually even more and for easier things - as when they are not. This helped us to get rid of the chasing and anger so that now it is possible to play with all three together.

This summer during the AND meeting I had an extreme case of this, because Bianca's Imperia was chasing off Unico, and consequently he had become so scared that he even ran away when we just came close to him, without Impie doing anything at all. Therefore, I ran from one horse to the other and gave them treats. Once this worked, I worked on decreasing the distance: While playing with Impie, we moved closer towards Unico until I felt that just one step more would make him run off, and then I moved over to him (asking Impie to stay and rewarding her for this). After a while it was possible to walk with one of them on my left side and one on the right. Later Bianca wrote to me that she had continued this and now she can play with both at once, so it seemed to work also on the long run.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:55 pm 
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Wow, this is a really interesting post, and really relevant to me, Spirit and Skylark at the moment! Sjors sounds a little like Spirit, who subtly winds Skylark up through a quiet manipulation that went unnoticed for a while until I caught on! Poor Skylark gets quietly 'persecuted' by Spirit in horse language while I try to do stuff with her, then it is Skylark who becomes a dangerous tank because of it and forgets all about personal space because she is feeling threatened by Spirit, so forgets about anything else. I have found now that I acknowledge that Spirit is making rude faces, I can ask Spirit to give us space, then Lark is a lot happier.
Spirit usually just goes off and does her own thing after that...

When it is the other way round, Skylark DOES become a pest! She really wants to have the attention, so she comes towards us and does a wild run through the middle of us both to try to break us up. Either that or she'll try to get to me, then Spirit will threaten her, then she reacts to that! :ieks:
Sooooo... I have naturally begun what you said Romy, where when Skylark gets the idea and goes and stands out of the way, I do a little more with Spirit and then go over and really reward Larky BIG TIME for giving us some time. I think this is the best way at the moment, as we need to practice that a little more. Once she has the idea though, I will try to play with some different ways of doing things, perhaps beginning to do stuff together.

It's certainly very interesting play with more than one at once, and it really teaches you to listen to every subtle signal that is being given to each other.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:17 pm 
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SunLily wrote:
Sooooo... I have naturally begun what you said Romy, where when Skylark gets the idea and goes and stands out of the way, I do a little more with Spirit and then go over and really reward Larky BIG TIME for giving us some time.


I haven't done that for a while, simply because Summy is so easy with the others now that it's no problem anymore to train with all three of them at the same time. But when I still praised and rewarded him a lot for staying away, he was so utterly cute sometimes, standing at a distance, leaning towards us and neighing, but without his feet leaving the ground. It looked as if he was physically glued to that place and could not possibly leave, poor thing. :pet: :funny:


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