The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
It is currently Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:40 am

All times are UTC+01:00




Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:28 pm
Posts: 70
Edit by Romy: This topic was split from the sticky about Forwards movement and running

Thank you SO much for this sticky, Romy!! :D sparks lots of thoughts in my head.

Quote:
This means that I try to make sure that even small movements of mine trigger a corresponding movement of the horse in an almost automatical manner.


Perhaps I'm doing something wrong here - I've been trying your encouraging politeness exercises for a while - but can't seem to be getting anywhere with that. With any movement that I do (with one notable exception), Outlaw takes a 5-10 second delay before responding. Usually I just hold my cue until he does, because if I ask for something else while he's thinking about the first task, he looks confused and disengages from me.

For example - if I cue him for a leg up, he will first figure out his balance, adjust all his feet to the most comfortable position, and then raise that leg, or paw the ground. He will also frequently lower his head and look at his leg as he is doing it, as though watching the move he makes for some reason. All of this takes time, and if I change my cue to back up 3 seconds after I ask for leg up, he will look confused, and start the 5-10 second thinking/changing focus from scratch, focusing on the new task - or just puts his head down and starts looking for things to sniff on the ground (a sure sign of loss of interest from him). Is this something I just need to work through somehow?

The delay is the biggest for walking forward, or moving forward in any regard. There is one notable exception - if I walk backwards at his shoulder, he will start backing with me immediately. However, if I ask for backup with body language (hips swinging), which is a cue he also knows, there is still the 5-10 second delay.

Edit:

Quote:
However, horses usually are much more willing to run if you look forwards and into the direction in which you are running...


I also have a question with this - how are you supposed to know what your horse is doing, and where he is, if you don't at least glance at his periodically? Currently, Outlaw walks behind me, rarely with his head at my shoulder - and he switches sides every few seconds of walking. I often try to look forward and keep my focus forward, but find myself bumping into him because he is suddenly on the other side of me, where he wasn't 2 seconds ago. Clicking and treating for staying at one side requires us to stop (even if I keep walking, he'll take the treat,then stop to eat it as i walk away), which then takes another 20 seconds of convincing in order to begin moving forward again.


Top
   
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:36 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6016
Location: Dresden, Germany
Alla wrote:
Perhaps I'm doing something wrong here - I've been trying your encouraging politeness exercises for a while - but can't seem to be getting anywhere with that. With any movement that I do (with one notable exception), Outlaw takes a 5-10 second delay before responding. Usually I just hold my cue until he does, because if I ask for something else while he's thinking about the first task, he looks confused and disengages from me.


Unless I am working with a scared horse or a horse who is doing this for the first time, I only give them a very short time window for responding. If they don't, I don't directly ask for the next task but end my cue and walk away from the horse for a few steps. Not like in giving a time-out but more like telling him that my cues are an offer for interaction, but it's up to him to make use of that offer. And then of course they are free to approach me again if they want to continue our interaction.

I think that if I left them a lot of time until they eventually responded, one of the lessons they would necessarily learn would be that they needn't be attentive to me in the first place. This is because even if they don't perceive the cue right away, they can still look at me a few seconds later and it will still be there. This may work for some horse/human combinations, but personally I prefer more fluent interactions and more immediate reactions to each other. For me, that means that I have to set the pace that I want my horse to adopt.

Moreover, I try not to hold a cue at all. In my experience, horses don't respond that much to postures but to movements. That is, if I have finished my movement and the horse still hasn't reacted by then, I have to either repeat it or preferaby do something else, but I don't stand there and wait, or not longer than a second or so. :smile:

Alla wrote:
how are you supposed to know what your horse is doing, and where he is, if you don't at least glance at his periodically?


With the horses I have trained with, glancing periodically doesn't seem to do any harm. I always do this, which for me is necessary if I want to keep up our communication. It's just that concentrated way of fixating the horse that seems to paralyze them.


Top
   
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:44 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:28 pm
Posts: 70
Quote:
Unless I am working with a scared horse or a horse who is doing this for the first time, I only give them a very short time window for responding. If they don't, I don't directly ask for the next task but end my cue and walk away from the horse for a few steps. Not like in giving a time-out but more like telling him that my cues are an offer for interaction, but it's up to him to make use of that offer. And then of course they are free to approach me again if they want to continue our interaction.


That's very interesting, Romy... I wouldn't call Outlaw scared by any means, but unsure and hesitant definitely. He seems to want to know if he is interpreting the cue correctly before making any movement attempt. I'm worried that if I leave before he has the chance to react, that he will be confused about what he did wrong - or offer a different exercise rather than approach me. I would love to have a more immediate interaction, though.

Also, do you face towards him or away from him as you wait for him to make the choice of whether to approach you or not - once you've walked your 3 steps?


Top
   
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:53 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6016
Location: Dresden, Germany
Alla wrote:
That's very interesting, Romy... I wouldn't call Outlaw scared by any means, but unsure and hesitant definitely. He seems to want to know if he is interpreting the cue correctly before making any movement attempt. I'm worried that if I leave before he has the chance to react, that he will be confused about what he did wrong


Yes, I had a similar thing with a horse last weekend, maybe you have read about it in my diary of the other horses. What I do in these situations, though, is that I just become slower and more careful and smooth in my movements, while keeping up the same style of offering an interaction and then (again, slowly!) walking away if they don't react.

Alla wrote:
Also, do you face towards him or away from him as you wait for him to make the choice of whether to approach you or not - once you've walked your 3 steps?


I look at the horse or somewhere nearby, but certainly not in the opposite direction. I'd worry that he might feel abandoned in the latter case, as if I was breaking the connection as some sort of punishment. Instead, I want to be in an inviting mindset, signaling to the horse that it would be nice to continue interacting, but that we need his contribution for that. :smile:


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:00 am 
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:42 am
Posts: 2147
Location: Vienna, Austria
Thank you Romy for that wonderfully detailed posting! :kiss:

Alla wrote:
For example - if I cue him for a leg up, he will first figure out his balance, adjust all his feet to the most comfortable position, and then raise that leg, or paw the ground. He will also frequently lower his head and look at his leg as he is doing it, as though watching the move he makes for some reason. All of this takes time, and if I change my cue to back up 3 seconds after I ask for leg up, he will look confused, and start the 5-10 second thinking/changing focus from scratch, focusing on the new task - or just puts his head down and starts looking for things to sniff on the ground (a sure sign of loss of interest from him). Is this something I just need to work through somehow?

Romy wrote:
Unless I am working with a scared horse or a horse who is doing this for the first time, I only give them a very short time window for responding. If they don't, I don't directly ask for the next task but end my cue and walk away from the horse for a few steps.
For me these are two aspects of one problem. One is the question of reaction time, so to speak - which Romy has addressed. The second question is that of insecurity of the horse, and/or slowness of execution.
What you described, Alla, reminds me a lot of Mucki in his early days. At first he was slow to react, but when he understood the basics of the clicker game, that changed. Then he was a bit slow to execute and thinking a lot, but that's another topic in my opinion and I would address it differently.
When you cued Outlaw for a leg lift, how long did it take for him to start rebalancing? If that happened within a short time, then his reaction was actually good. And at first, while the exercise is new, I would reward him for just the very first reaction.
The same applies for walking or running with me. At first, I would reward to very first, minute sign of reaction. A look in your direction, a turn of the ears. Then I would slowly raise the criterion for this behaviour and reward later and later in the process.
After all, each behaviour, even starting to walk, is always a chain of multiple, little behaviours... If you reward only the last piece of that chain, it requires a lot of brainpower to do it for complex things. Outlaw is thinking a lot, so I don't think it's a question of compliance...

_________________
Volker

The horse owes us nothing.


Top
   
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:41 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:28 pm
Posts: 70
Thank you for your responses. :D

Quote:
Yes, I had a similar thing with a horse last weekend, maybe you have read about it in my diary of the other horses. What I do in these situations, though, is that I just become slower and more careful and smooth in my movements, while keeping up the same style of offering an interaction and then (again, slowly!) walking away if they don't react.


So I tried this just yesterday. I would offer him to do an exercise, and when he didn't respond quickly enough, I slowly walked away, turned and faced him. Most often, he would then look at me for about 10 seconds, frozen, then do a leg lift or paw the ground - saying "here, i'm doing an exercise. Except I want to do this one, and over here, not over there." Usually at this point I'd walk up to him to treat him, and then ask for the leg lift again. Speed of execution did not increase, as expected.

And when I didn't respond to his pawing except verbally, he'd stand still for another 20 seconds, looking at me, look back at the herd, look at me, yawn a few times, then sigh and slowly amble over to me. Like he was saying "fine, i'll come over there. except i see no reason as to why we should be doing things there and not here where I am already".

Mohican, on the other hand, binds to my moves almost perfectly. He'll respond immediately to any gesture, change in posture, balance, speed. And since he knows what clicker training is now, it took 3 (!!!) clicks to get this food hound to turn his head away from a closed hand offering treats. Exercises for him are much harder - he will respond to body language, but with an exercise he has to think for a second and then respond. Almost as if he has to stop reacting to my body language, switch gears, and execute a remembered movement based on a smaller cue than just my body language.

Quote:
After all, each behaviour, even starting to walk, is always a chain of multiple, little behaviours... If you reward only the last piece of that chain, it requires a lot of brainpower to do it for complex things. Outlaw is thinking a lot, so I don't think it's a question of compliance...


I would agree with you here, of course. But for some reason I don't do it out in the field. :\ I think its because one time I tried - I'd step forward, and reward any movement in the direction of following me, be it a step forward, a neck stretch, anything *forward* - and he grew bored of the task before understanding what I was trying to get him to do. Maybe I need to break it down even more...


Top
   
PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:53 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6016
Location: Dresden, Germany
Alla wrote:
So I tried this just yesterday. I would offer him to do an exercise, and when he didn't respond quickly enough, I slowly walked away, turned and faced him. Most often, he would then look at me for about 10 seconds, frozen, then do a leg lift or paw the ground - saying "here, i'm doing an exercise. Except I want to do this one, and over here, not over there." Usually at this point I'd walk up to him to treat him, and then ask for the leg lift again. Speed of execution did not increase, as expected.


In situations like these, I usually do one of three things, depending on the horse and my own mood.

The first one is going back to him immediately and rewarding for the leg lift (or whatever exercise he is offering). Actually I don't reward for the exercise itself, though, but give the treat as a communicative feedback in the way we have been discussing in the other thread ("Yes, I've seen you, thanks for talking to me!"). And then immediately after having given the treat, I ask the frontquarters to yield away from me, reward right during the movement without stopping, and walk on for a step or two. As I have pushed the horse into the direction of my movement, so to speak, this automatically makes him move with me, which again I reward at once. It's important to not stop but do this as a fluent sequence, so that the walking directly emerges from the yielding and in that way it's becoming one big movement. Over several consecutive trials, I increase the duration of the second part, the walking together. And I reward a lot while we are walking, but again during the movement instead of stopping first.

In other situations I just walk on for myself, sometimes passing the horse's head, and then reward immediately if he shows the slightest sign of coming with me, or someties even just looking and shifting weight. Also here, I try to reward right during the movement instead of stopping first.

And finally, the third option is when I am not very open for compromises because I feel that the horse is just not interested enough and not putting much effort into our conversation (instead of just not understanding): I walk further away, do my own thing and if he comes to me all by himself and asks me to resume the conversation, I reward and praise him euphorically, ask for his very favourite exercise, and then afterwards I suggest the thing I had in mind again.


Top
   
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:25 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:28 pm
Posts: 70
Wow Romy, thank you for splitting this topic off - and sorry for hijacking the initial one!!

Quote:
And then immediately after having given the treat, I ask the frontquarters to yield away from me, reward right during the movement without stopping, and walk on for a step or two. As I have pushed the horse into the direction of my movement, so to speak, this automatically makes him move with me, which again I reward at once. It's important to not stop but do this as a fluent sequence, so that the walking directly emerges from the yielding and in that way it's becoming one big movement.


I really like this idea. :D We'll have to work on treating while moving, because he stops whatever he is doing to eat even if I keep going. The other part is, any yielding of the forequarters (and the hind, actually), results in backing up - so that is also something we'll have to figure out before attempting this again. But I like the fluidity of the concept - its something that I already do with Mohican during the rare times he doesn't stick to me like glue, but I didn't think to apply it to Outlaw... Actually, i didn't realize until now that I DO it with Mohican! It's just kind of automatic... Things are so much easier with a motivated student hahaha. :D


Top
   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC+01:00


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited Color scheme created with Colorize It.