The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 9:46 pm 
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Ok, I'm sure we did discuss this somewhere else, can't remember where. But again I'm haveing a nightmare rideing with so many lovely things in the hedgerow right now. When I ride Storm, I do some rideing and some walking, he is a super boy, so chilled, and just lately our rideing has been amazeing, I drop the reins and we ride for ages just him and me together, he picks up on my body when to go left or right, and he stops at just a light lift of the reins, it's just perfect, we are in the zone together. But now the spring is here, he flips out of 'our zone' very easily. When he gets hooked on snatching at greenery he goes realy in that zone, his eyes seem to glaze over and thats all he thinks of. I do make sure we have various places we stop, but he still gets hung up on diveing in hedges, and I don't want to enter a battle of pulling his head, I never have to pull him anymore, but sometiomes now I have to........oh, and I 'm getting all those realy helpful horse advisers again telling me I'm too soft, and that he knows it, blah blah blah, and he needs a sharp whack of the crop blah blah blah.

Poor boy is restricted on his grazing right now, so you can't blame him.........any suggestions.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 11:07 pm 

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How is he when you walk next to him, does he attempt it there as well? My horse knows she is not allowed to graze when we are working, unless I give her the 'release' cue. Both with walking and in riding she does try, but just a vocal warning and a slight pull of the reins and she stops again. Although the other day I was riding through incredibly tall grass which came all the way up to my knees (and her mouth)..that proved too tempting. :D


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 6:42 pm 
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sorry can not help you, have the same problem. :sad:

my two boys are restricted on his grazing too. i know what you mean.
when i am getting really angry and yell at him it is over for about 15 min. then it will start over again.
So i dont yell or pull....softy too???? :green:
My other pony have no problems, just one little pull and it is over.
and he doesnt do it during riding, tho not much ;) only when it comes extremely nearby so he can pick it up without loosing speed.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 10:00 pm 
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Dani, he will do it when I'm walking with him too, he be fine for ages, then I might let him stop to eat, then thats it, he'll just keep trying to pull to the hedge. Your horse sounds very disiplined, no such luck with my boy!!

Inge, my other pony Jason is like your other chap too, if I feel he's going towards the hedge, just a touch on the rein is enough, and I also find with Jason just focusing ahead and keeping my energy marching through realy bushy hedgerow is all he needs to keep him from eating, and this does work with Storm for a while, then thats it, it all goes to pieces.

I remember seeing a bit of video of Romy rideing bridless throught some realy long grass, and I thought, how the hell does she stop that horse from diveing into that long grass, so I see it can be done. There is hope yet, maybe my horse is just not very well disiplined!!

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 8:51 am 
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I just have to say....I know how you are feeling Annie!! ;)

My girls are both such hard work right now with all this lush green stuff in the hedgerows and verges....Bo is the worst...and I end up getting so frustrated with her. tegan isn't so bad...she only takes advantage when Bo does (the joys of walking them both out together! lol)

I am really looking forward to hearing people's ideas on this subject! :green:

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 6:41 pm 
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I have no nice and friendly, pressure-free, purely R+ based solution for this. The reason is that with the delicious fresh grass the most rewarding thing is simply just eating it and I have no stronger positive reinforcer. So what we are doing here is pressure-based, although it is mixed with lots of rewards.

In different parts of our walks we decide if the horses (1) are allowed to eat as much as they want, (2) eat as long as they are still moving or (3) not eat at all. When I say that "we" decide, I mean that the horses take part in that decision as well and we often choose according to their general motivation, their appetite and other things. It can change within a walk but IF we have made that decision for a given part I am very strict and consistent about it - and this is why I hardly need any visible pressure, the boundaries are rather clear here.

If we have decided that they are not supposed to eat and try it anyway, I first say or rather whisper "Na" (=no). In 80% of all situations this is enough. If they don´t react there are the following steps: saying it a bit louder, making a step towards the horse, shaking the rope that lies around their neck (once), throwing the end of the rope at the horse. When he stops the chain ends at the point where he stops. And he gets a reward for not eating of course. I don´t need more pressure, so there is no pain involved, it´s more like a warning signal. Still it´s not a nice positive way, so if anyone has better solutions I would be happy to learn. :smile:


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 8:35 pm 
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Oh Claire, it's a nightmare is'nt it, but you realy can't blame them, it's spring and they have a very strong instinct right now to eat all the healthy greens they missed all winter, it just doesn't fit into our plans.

Romy, your horses sound so wonderfuly disiplined. I have stopped walking Jason out in his neckrope as I simply can't stop him eating with it. Even saying 'no' and then offering carrot and apple bits isn't bringing them away. When I'm rideing Storm, I have been quite firm as we often have traffic around us on our way to the woods. Today on our ride, when we got to the realy green part of the track....the bit that has lots of beech trees and cow parsley, I got off and walked him, we did stop and eat aswell, but I could control it more on the ground, and he would never get full up I'm sure, he just eats and eats and eats.........

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 9:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
I was also interested to see the replie sto this!
With Morgan I just apply a little pressure to the line attached to the cordeo as he is thinking about it and about 60% of the time that works. I say 'UH UH" and after the first few attempts the voice is normally enough. If I have a positive "no eat grass mindset" and march at the beginning of a walk he gets the point that stopping and eating is not on the menu! If he is at liberty I can genrally get him to lift his head by placing my hand flat under his jaw. If I leave my hand there he doesn't try to eat grass and we proceed with the walk with my hand resting lightly under his chin to remind him until he no longer needs it.
I have more problems under saddle. I can haul on the noseband, nudge with my legs and even tap him, but he will not lift his head until he thinks he is done! So I will not up the negative pressure and am sticking to tarmac/mountain with less temptation.

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 1:39 am 
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Morgan wrote:
I was also interested to see the replie sto this!
With Morgan I just apply a little pressure to the line attached to the cordeo as he is thinking about it and about 60% of the time that works. I say 'UH UH" and after the first few attempts the voice is normally enough. If I have a positive "no eat grass mindset" and march at the beginning of a walk he gets the point that stopping and eating is not on the menu! If he is at liberty I can genrally get him to lift his head by placing my hand flat under his jaw. If I leave my hand there he doesn't try to eat grass and we proceed with the walk with my hand resting lightly under his chin to remind him until he no longer needs it.
I have more problems under saddle. I can haul on the noseband, nudge with my legs and even tap him, but he will not lift his head until he thinks he is done! So I will not up the negative pressure and am sticking to tarmac/mountain with less temptation.


As the horse begins to reach do small circles. There are two things that are pleasant for the horse, getting out (they are after all plains creatures that need to move to be healthy) and of course grabbing that grass.

Circles interfere with both activities. A circle or two, and then line out on the former path again. A few times and most horses, with little or no resistance tend to get the idea.

Making a circle shouldn't be punishment, just business that results in reward. It can be also while going to the walking out straight again be rewarded with other things as well.

Leaving grass alone results in pleasurable results.

Not leaving it alone results in keeping the feet busy in ways that don't allow for eating and don't move the horse on into the landscape. Leaving it alone results in walking on.

Donald

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 7:57 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Thank you Donald, will try that. I have to say I do use circles for other reasons but have never tried it for grass eating!
However when you have a clever horse it can work against you. The first time I rode Morgan with a cordeo he decided to walk to the corner and turn circles no matter what I asked for!!!!!!! It really was a case of him saying 'No I don't want to go where you want and so I will turn circles until you agree with me!!!! Very funny!!!!

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 8:11 am 
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My Bo does the same thing Annette....her way of arguing about something is to spin in circles....don't want to go that way....spin in a circle...you won't let me gallop flat out and want me to walk...spin in a circle...want me to stand still for more than a nanosecond....spin in a circle!! lol It's doing wonders for my balance though! ;)

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 8:14 am 

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They are so funny!
Whoever said horses were stupid have obviously not met ours. Sometimes it's a case of who can outsmart who....... :funny:

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 1:42 pm 
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Morgan wrote:
They are so funny!
Whoever said horses were stupid have obviously not met ours. Sometimes it's a case of who can outsmart who....... :funny:


For sure!! :yes:

I mentioned it in my diary but when Bo wants to stop and graze and I won't let her she will actually drop down to her knees so I can't physically pull her head up. When she was younger she would even just lay down so I couldn't move her away from lush grass!! She's not daft!! ;) Thankfully she's not quite as stroppy as she used to be or we'd never get past the first clump of grass....lol :funny:

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 2:09 pm 
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Well, I have to admit you have stumped me when it comes to the more gentle methods.

Considering that I have a horse who is Insulin Resistant and eating grass can turn deadly I'm sure I would, as I have, resort to punishment. Altea, of course, being so compliant, does not take much punishment to agree and refrain from the unwanted behavior. In fact I have to be careful not to use uncomfortable methods as she is so easy.

As for horses that spin as a way of non-compliance I'd simply let them spin until they dropped or stopped. And of course spin them the opposite direction.

I don't recommend the following method but I know, well knew, long gone old timers that with a horse that would lay down as a way of resisting would carry a canteen (water bottles now) and when the horse went down they'd take their chin, elevate the nose, and pour about half a cup of water (it doesn't take much, they didn't want to drown the horse) and pour it in one nostril. I know taking my horses in the ocean and lakes or streams swimming I've seen how very reluctant they are to get water up their nose.

I did once take a chronic "lay down so the little kids were scared to ride him," horse to the beach with one of my more skilled young riders and let her ride him in the surf. He was so stubborn he did lay down with her, for about two seconds until a wave hit him and he got water up his nose. It seems to work for the ear too.

I much prefer Romi's method of working out agreements with the horse, and rewarding for NOT stopping to eat grass, or not grabbing at it on the move.

Horses that are frantic to get to green grass, as long as they have sufficient fodder in their feed might want to be checked for dietary problems as well. My IR horse is quite eager for grass because she has such low carbs in her diet.

Donald

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 2:49 pm 
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Hi Donald...great ideas thank you! :smile:

If Bo does start spinning I do tend to keep the spin going until she decideds to stop having a tantrum....either that or I get off and we walk back tp the field...for Bo going back to the field is a punishment as she loves going out so much! lol

Thankfully she doesn't seem to lay down in protest these days....and she has only dropped to her knees once this year! lol

I know why she is putting up such a fuss, it's because the grass in the field hasn't grown much yet (we are still feeding hay at nights) and there is no lush grass in the field so she wants to make the most of the stuff when we are out! lol She does get vit and min suppliments and is healthy is all other respects....it's just her behaviour that isn't 100% lol :blush: ;)

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