The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:27 pm 
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Playing: chase the tiger

The AND Chase the Tiger movie: :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5rESt-HEPI


'Chase the Tiger' is one of the most popular games to play with horses on this forum and is developed by several forum members, so it deserves a spot of honour in the groundwork section indeed! :)

See for wonderful examples the movies of HelenMai and Esprit: :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe5CwweChzM

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


Chasing the tiger
Chasing the tiger is nothing more or less than letting your horse chase a plastic bag/piece of clothing or something else that you hold in your hand or have tied to a stick/whip/pole. A lot of traditional trainers also use sticks/whips with plastic tied to it, but then in order to let the horse flee away from it in order to make them run. You can compare it to the rope that is flung to the horse in a join-up, or even a lungeing-whip that is cracked in the air in order to 'scare' the horse so that he becomes faster. These training methods reinforce the horse that the human is the hunter and the horse is the prey, and therefore subordinate to the human.

Training
We do it the other way round. :D First you teach your horse through rewards that he can put his nose against a plastic bag that you're holding in front of him - and reward a lot for that! Then you just walk a step away from your horse and ask your horse if he wants to follow you and touch the bag again. Then slowly take longer distances, or let your horse touch the bag longer while walking, before you reward. If that's all okay, you can tie the bag on to the end of a whip and start running away from your horse, animating him into a trot or canter while holding the bag in front of him. When you tie the bag to a longer driving/lungeing whip, you can lunge your horse around you like this, let him do the more energetic moving while you're in a safe distance (and a bit less tired ;) ).

Why
The most important reason to do this, is that most horses just love it. They love the fact that they're the hunter instead of the hunted and that they can chase instead of be chased. Because for horses, chasing each other is very natural too, only a lot of horses never chase others because the others always chase them. So giving them the opportunity to change place really can give them a boost of self-confidence.

Chasing the tiger is also a very good way to conquer fears. Clickertrainers already know that targetting a scary object with the nose easily convinces horses that that object isn't that scary after all. Chasing is makes it even more harmless, as obviously the previous scary object is now running away, and therefore scared of the horse. :) So let the horse be as wild as he wants to be with the bag (or other object) and reward him for that behavior. Touching the bag with the nose is very good, but stamping on it with a front foot is even better, as it means that your horse dares to come closer to it with his body.

Another reason why Chasing the Tiger is a great game, is that it teaches horses to move freely and at higher speeds eventually, even the more timid horses. It also offers a wonderful opportunity to 'make' horses more independent of you, especially those horses who don't play wild games on their own because they don't like to leave you.

The last reason is that lungeing in Chasing the Tiger-style, with the horse following the bag with his nose stretched out down and forwards, is a very good way to loosen the back. With horses who tend to lean a bit too much on the frontlegs when moving, you can also hold the whip with your targetbag more at knee-or breast-height.

Essentially you can play Chase the Tiger with anything: with wooden planks that you drag through the sand, or a jacket tied to a rope so that you can drag it behind you, or a tennis ball or piece of cotton tied to the end of the whip. Start easy, with an object that isn't that scary according to your horse, and gradually you can make the game more interesting by taking more scary materials (plastic, wild colors) and by asking your horse to follow it at higher speed. Experiment! And everybody with new ideas for this game, place them in this topic! :D

Follow a Tiger towards collection
For the Tiger-experienced horses, Chase the Tiger is also a very good way of introducing them to good self-carriage and collection, as Marleen shows in her video amongst others.

For stretching the neck/back, you can keep the Tiger really low on the ground so that the horse follows it in a forwards-downwards posture. However, when he gets better at that, you can also start lifting the tiger a bit at knee/breast height of your horse and instead of just pulling it away from him (which would stretch the neck out again), move it away and then a bit towards him and then away again in for example walk or trot. Most horses will respond to that by raising the front, lifting the neck while looking down (the ramener-pose) in order to kick the hell out of the tiger with the frontfeet - using natural collection exactly for what it was originally meant for in the wild.

That way you not only can let your horse experience that collection is fun (and useful ) too, but you can also get more jumpy, upwards movement that you can put on a cue during the CtT game, and then develop and refine further as haute ecole movements (Spanish trot, passage) and jumps (terre a terre, rear, courbette...? ). That way your horse introduces himself to higher collection that you can use in the focused work again, while even more important, he also learns that moving in such an extravagant, flashy, impressive way is fun.

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Last edited by admin on Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:14 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:24 pm 
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This is SO deserving of having it's own topic...thank you Miriam!

I would like to add the videos that showed me it could be so much more than a fun game.

Brenda and Lucy, learning to lunge with the tiger!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BbOXlOnqoA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENzh9stQsiI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-Vmge5fX-0


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:29 pm 
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Teach a Spin: By targeting the plastic bag on the end of a very long whip, Tamarack is learning to do a 360 spin away from me. I hold the bag over his back, and as he turns away from me to touch it, I move a little so he has room to turn and keep the bag just out of his reach until he's turned 360 degrees. Then click! treat! I hope to put this on verbal cue.

backing Up: Also, by holding the bag under his belly, just behind his front legs, he does a really nice back up with his head down and neck arched. I can see where, with some horses, it would result in a bow.

Rearing: He is almost standing on his tippy toes to touch the bag when it's held over his head. If he will eventually lift one leg to try and reach higher, I can capture that and possibly turn that into a rear. Eventually, on cue.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:33 pm 
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Thank you for putting this here! I have wanted to start teaching this since I read it in Karen's diary. Hopefully a way to encourage Cody to move away from me a bit while trotting, without upsetting him. If only the rain would stop!! :evil:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:55 pm 
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We need to credit Donald for the unique name of this game, do we not?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:26 pm 
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Yes, a lot of credit goes to Donald, especially for the name! :D, and also to all the others who invented it, experimented with it and wrote about it on this forum. Thanks, guys!

And good additions too, Karen. Targetting can be used for almost anything, not just for playing Tiger. ;)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:44 pm 

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This is really cool. :)

April

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:50 am 

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Thank you for that topic!!! :D

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http://wwwesprit.blogspot.com


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:45 am 
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This is great! Thanks to all contributors. We've had some impromptu chase the tiger games here, now why didn't I think of turning it to part of our repertoire. What a cool idea.

Esprit is so inspiring. Love the way he attacks the bag, and at one point turns around and kicks it to death. Will have to go try this with Harlequin tomorrow.. he loves chasing things.
Sue


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:07 am 
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Check out this INCREDIBLE article to see why "chase the Tiger" can and will cause your horse to be straight AND lift the base of his neck!!!!

http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/woody.html

For those who don't have english as a first language I'll give you an overview, but PLEASE read the whole article- it is so good.

A horse's straightness can be defined best as being when his breast bone is in the middle of his elbows- becuase he has no collar bone he can easily slump to one side. When the horse is truly straight, only than can he lift the base of his neck. The article than goes onto prove that mamals automatically align thier haunches to their head- the shoulders do not automatically align. There are different thoughts as to why horses are one sided, but Dr Deb Bennet believes a lot of it has to do with a horse's eye dominance. Because he often scans things with just one eye, he will lean on one shoulder, cocking his head to the side and thus have a greater field of vision out of his dominant eye. If you can encourage the horse to FOCUS visually on an object his entire body will align! (she calls the horse's focus/confidence/attention/intent his "birdie")Once aligned naturally with a strong focus and intent in front of him, lifting the base of the neck will be easy and natural!!!

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Last edited by danee on Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 9:43 am 
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Wow, that's really great!! :ieks: :) But I didn't find a link to the article. Could you post it again?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:11 am 
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Just found it (after googeling for half an hour, thanks a lot, Danee... :evil: :wink: ) :D But it's such an interesting page that I immediately had to read it. Very recommendable!

http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/woody.html

When you don't have much time, or if you are interested in straightness only, I suggest you skip the first chapter (called 'Paradigm') and go straight to the chapter further down, called 'Straightness'. It's a very interesting, pivotal point articla, connecting straightness with on which shoulder the horse leans on - and it also gives both Chase the tiger-like exercises and Stepping Under as the only correct training system in order to make the horse straight again. So we must be doing something right over here. 8) :D

Thanks, Danee!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:13 am 
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Yeah, I have The Birdie Book.. it's excellent. I've always thought that Dr Deb Bennet's horses are really great examples of how lower levels of collection during less strenuous exercise help the horse to improve his body throughout his lifetime. Her old horse Sadie just gets better and better and better.


Today we've been filming Harlequin at his version of chase the Tiger.. the Tiger in this case being Miro, our yearling Shetland filly. Miro begins the game by approaching, coming in under his neck, lifting up on hind legs and biting him under the throat, then turning and inviting him to chase her.. YES PLEASE! The game is on! Harlequin follows at a trot or canter, nose placed as close as he can to the centre of her rump. Occasionally during the running, they erupt into kicking and hi jumps, and there's continual nips and kicks flying. Today they kept it up for twenty minutes.. then we decided to try filming Ella at the same game.

So Ella went up and scratched his neck, then turned and invited him to chase her.. YES PLEASE! They spent ten minutes trotting and cantering around the paddock. It was really interesting to see the different way that he played with her. He chased and spun and hi jumped just the same.. but instead of having his nose right on her, he stayed back about five or ten feet and didn't direct any of the nips and kicks at her, as he does with Miro. Just as enthusiastic, but so much more gentle and careful. How wonderful.

Then we tied a empty dog food bag to the end of a stick to see how that would go.. YES! Just as fun. The joy of having a young playful horse, they don't need to be trained and food rewarded to do this - they just love it for the fun of the game itself.
I wish my four year old was so easy to motivate to play.....


Want to get more serious with the bag next time and see if we can use it to teach him some turns.
Fun!
Will post the vids if I can figure it out.

Sue


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:14 pm 
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http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/woody.html


Sorry guys!!! I had copied it and thought I pasted, but, uh, appartenly not!!!

It is by Dr Deb Bennet and there are some other good articles on her site as well along with a forum where Dr Deb will give you great info after berating you and making you feel like an ant- but hey, all in the name of good horsemanship :D :!: Feel free to post, but good Lord, do it carefully!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:03 pm 
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For the Tiger-experienced horses, Chase the Tiger is also a very good way of introducing them to collection, as Marleen shows in her video too:

For stretching the neck/back, you can keep the Tiger really low on the ground so that the horse follows it in a forwards-downwards posture. However, when he gets better at that, you can also start lifting the tiger a bit at knee/breast height of your horse and instead of just pulling it away from him (which would stretch the neck out again), move it away and then a bit towards him and then away again in for example walk or trot. Most horses will respond to that by raising the front, lifting the neck while looking down (the ramener-pose) in order to kick the hell out of the tiger with the frontfeet - using natural collection exactly for what it was originally meant for in the wild. :D

That way you not only can let your horse experience that collection is fun (and useful :twisted: ) too, but you can also get more jumpy, upwards movement that you can put on a cue during the CtT game, and then develop and refine further as haute ecole movements (Spanish trot, passage) and jumps (terre a terre, rear, courbette...? :D ). That way your horse introduces himself to higher collection that you can use in the focused work again, while even more important, he also learns that moving in such an extravagant, flashy, impressive way is fun.

--- On second thought, I decided to paste this into the description of the CtT above too, as it's actually quite essential to AND.


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