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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:06 pm 
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Are there times when the dreaded "Contact" is acceptable?

You see, if Freckles is nervous or if he hasn't "worked" for few days he gets just horrible under saddle.

He doesn't listen, he naps, he carts his rider around all counter-bent, he looses his rhythm, very bouncy and hollow, too focused on everything outside the "arena" to pay attention, he starts to "spin" his turns instead of staying on the requested track, etc. etc. etc. I know none of this is particularly unusual for many horses, and is one of the things that has led to the "you HAVE to work your horse EVERY DAY" philosophy, but Freckle's is not all buzzy like an Arab or a TB, and he is not particularly spooky, and he feels emotionally chilled out when this happens, and his eyes are soft and bright. He is not high-headed, stressed or anxious - just totally set on his own ideas of zooming here and zooming there and forget what the rider is asking. If anything it feels sort-of like an attack of mischief.

HOWEVER what I find interesting is:
If I take an extra inch or so of rein under those circumstances he settles immediately - as if it helps, comforts or secures him in some way?
Maybe he sees it as me getting dominant, but it feels as if he finds it reassuring ???
:blonde:

Anyone here have anything similar anytime? Anyone here have any ideas about this?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:34 pm 
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I ride Beau a lot with contact, just a light contact, 100grams or so, like holding a mouse or a little bird... just that, makes him so much more sure and calm, he feels like I'm holding his hand, he has the same thing when I ask him to go further away from me on a circle, from about a distance of 5 meters he loves a lunge line just like I'm holding his hand.

I just ride with my hands softly closed and think about giving all the time and that is just what he loves, he searches contact and will follow it down to the ground or wherever I like his head, I don't ask him or force him if he wants to keep his head up there is no contact, but he always lowers his head and goes look for my contact (bitless) so it works on the nose just as in the mouth...

I don't think it is a problem, when he feels ok I can give him all the rein he wants and we ride on a loose rein, but if he asks for my support, my hand saying it's allright, he gets it :)

just have fun with it and if he says it feels good it is good ;) after all, they are our teachers aren't they ;)

big hug

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:58 pm 

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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Yes Morgan is the same. Some days I can leave the reins on his neck and he just plods along happily listening to my body language. Other days when he decides that perhaps he would rather be running around the field with his herd he is unplayable for the first 10 mins constantly napping and wanting to turn circles and bracing completely on the right rein. What I do in this situation is to let him turn a circle left and when he wants to head home I turn another circle left and another and each time I get back to where I want him facing, I drop that left rein and ask for forwards and it's his choice if he wants to go my way. If he doesn't then he gets to turn another circle. I simply refuse to play fight the right rein.
Today was the first time in maybe a month I had ridden him and on the spot where he always does this he probably turned about 8 or 9 times before he decided to go my way for a few meters before turning again. It took maybe 15 mins to get up the hill of maybe 1000 meters!!!
Being young and green he still sometimes forgets I am on his back even if I remind him by closing my legs a little. So then I will take a light contact with both reins and "cluck" at him and he settles nicely. Forwards and moving gives him less time to think about where he would rather be!

I think what you are seeing with Freckles is much the same. They all go through this testing time once they have understood what riding means and will try and evade and make it your idea to do what they want.

I know with AND it's a fine line. We have to ride them out to broaden their world and increase confidence etc but at the same time must remain safe.
My own method is NEVER to take a firm contact (remember I don't have a bit, either bridle bitless and lately halter) with TWO hands. A light contact with both as a block to turning too far, but if it is not respected I will drop one rein and take a firm hold on the other. This way he is never trapped between my hands and can move even if he is forced to do it in a circle!!!!

With Morgan I struggle the ridden aspect because I don't have the issues at all on the ground. Then again I have spent 3 years on the ground and in total only a limited amount of hours in the saddle. So yes he is of course more unsettled when I am on his back than on the ground and he still has to learn (through the hours) that he can trust me just as much up top as beside him. I think you probably have the same thing going with Freckles. I don't think there is much he won't do for you on the ground.

So keep at it and the two of you will work it out. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:42 pm 
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Glen Grobler wrote:

[...]

HOWEVER what I find interesting is:
If I take an extra inch or so of rein under those circumstances he settles immediately - as if it helps, comforts or secures him in some way?
Maybe he sees it as me getting dominant, but it feels as if he finds it reassuring ???
:blonde:

Anyone here have anything similar anytime? Anyone here have any ideas about this?


Sure, I've retraining many horses with similar and worse behaviors. The cause can be any number of things but most often a disconnect between horse and rider where the rider is unaware of the horse's reaction to the rein. And this is pretty universal.

Trying to put our self in the horse's place when it comes to either mouth pressure from steel, or nose pressure from a leather or other band is hard to do and rarely ever done.

This that I'm going to share may or may not be the method others have used. Personally I've not seen it used by others since I was a kid on my uncle's ranch watching the horse handling of various hands (cowboys) he employed. And at that I didn't see it often.

What I think has happened that allows horses to let humans dominate with less resistance is carefully breeding them to tolerate more pain and anxiety. Just my opinion, of course.

The "secret," if there is one, is to do something that is rather hard to retrain yourself to do, and that is to refine the rein release.

Refine it into the slow rein followed by the lightening release.

I make mys students, when they rein, use one rein at a time, never ever two (that's hard enough habit on its own to break in the rider that's been riding for a time without my method), and using one rein, ask very slowly to a two count.

In other words, close the fingers to put a small bit of tension on the rein slowly, and then, very abruptly, like a bolt of lightening, throw the tension away so the horse very clearly feels it.

Repeat for compliance.

Where this is difficult to do, outside of the wrong rein use habits that people have either by long practice, or the belief that two reins are used to stop horses (reins are to cue, to talk to the horse, neither for turning or stopping by force) is convincing the rider I'm teaching to NOT FOCUS ON COMPLIANCE AT ALL, BUT ON PROPER TECHNIQUE ONLY.

Here's how it works in the school. I will ask the student to do a ten meter circle - that's pretty big mind you - and use the "mind-eyes-head-shoulders-hip-buttocks-leg" progression softly. Notice there is NO rein being asked for.

If they are on their own horse usually nothing happens. The horse just kind of bobbles on, continuing around the school.

Though now and then, almost with a great sigh of relief, the horse does turn, happy that the rider has finally learned to "talk horse."

(All of this seems going around the subject doesn't it though? Bear with me - I'll get there but not before the groundwork to establish a good foundation for doing this correctly).

When it comes time to show them how what I've taught them cold (no horse under them, classroom work with each other or me) actually works, they are to close the fingers of one hand, after the downward wave of cues I wrote about above have been delivered, and do it slowly. Closing, oooonnnneeee, tttttwwwwooo, and at first, DROP THE REIN IF THE HORSE GIVES.

The circle itself does not matter. I do not want the student thinking at that time about the circle and attaining it. I want him or her to be thinking about whether or not they performed the rein-release properly.

What does the first time student trying this actually do if the horse doesn't stay on the circle (which I JUST TOLD THEM THE HORSE DOESN'T HAVE TO)?

They pull the rein to force the horse back on the circle, that's what they do.

And I call HALT!

And ask them to analyze what they did and if they think they might have a little habit that needs breaking.

The motto is, "It doesn't matter where you are going so much as how you got there."

In other words, they can get from point A to B with force but they will pay for it. The horse will do something to resist - the perfect teacher, the master himself telling them to NOT ask in that way, not with force, but with a gentle cue until he understands what they are asking and they ask in horse language.

Watch a Mother Mare... she is a master at pressure-release. If the baby is where she doesn't want it, first she will make a little motion, or lift a foot in a soft but slightly threatening request to stop or move away or go this way or that. And she will ask a number of times before she'll resort to laying on heavy pressure - usually not having to do so at all.

And she releases that pressure again and again, sort of signally the foal that, "Yes, you are on the right track there, keep doing what you feel like you should be doing."

In other words, she is NOT demanding immediate compliance. Though you will see that with foal "teenagers," the weanlings and yearlings. At that point Mother Mare is now doing "herd buddy," to socialize and that's harsher stuff not appropriate for humand-horse intercommunication and relations.

We should be using the "foal teaching language," of Mother Mare.

The soft slower ask, the quick release, and no escalation of pressure in the teaching phase.

If I want you to learn a "cue," from me, if you can get it by my asking you softly a number of times until you catch on, is that not more likely to get compliance from you later if I ask again, than if I ask, then escalate and scream at you?

The latter is what happens that makes horses develop what we think of as "bad habits," more especially the resistant ones. Either fighting back, or becoming sullen, or both, or drawing into themselves, just as you or I would with abusive commands coming at us, or being hard to catch, or jigging up and down, or rushing about trying to please this strange creature on our back that does not speak horse very well, or with a terrible accent. :roll: :funny:

The slow ask, the instant release, the repeat with no more pressure than the first time, or better, even less, and the horse will "hear," horse talk from you.

I wish I could show you.

Do I remember to do it? No, sometimes I forget, and start asking to fast, increasing level of pressure, and my horse doesn't hear me. Seriously.

Altea, who is tender of foot, when I ride tends to wander to the verge where it's softer. In fact, on the logging roads we ride the center is often quite soft and easy on her feet. So of course I make her walk there.

The other day I noticed that lately she had been not staying there and I was more frustrated with her behavior, to the point I got my head straight and asked her what was up. Of course what came to my mind was to examine my cueing. And sure enough, I had fallen into those bad habits of pulling steadily and demand more and more harshly.

Now to other horse people it probably would have seemed that I was very gentle in my cues, but I know better. I was NAGGING.

I went back to not caring about where her path was and where she was wandering and caring more about how I was asking for her to track to the center. Slooooow ask, LIGHTENING release.

And sure enough. In less than minute - heck probably less than 15 seconds she's respondling like she is saying to me, "Yes, now you remember, imbecile, and I'll show you you did it right by CHOSING TO WALK DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, when ARE you going to learn some manners?"

There I was riding a couple of miles on these jaunts, harassing my horse, absentmindedly pulling away on her like a fool, an ignorant one at that, when I knew perfectly well the right way to ask and the right way to say "yes, maam, that's it."

Give up the place you want Freckles as the goal, and focus on how you want him to get there. Ask slowly with one hand at a time, never double rein pressure (the sure fire way to get a horse to resist and even run off with one), and give more than take. Ask slow, give fast.

In short order he will relax and let you ride about on a loose rein. This is how to calm a horse. Soft circles and soft asking to calm down buy asking slowly and giving generously.

And before you mount up remember to breath softly into his nostril and think loving thoughts, and tell him, out loud, that you are going to do your very best to listen to him, and to continue learning his language, and to speak it with less foreign accent, and to make HIM more important than his behavior and where he goes.

Saying it out loud will align your body and other language paths with your inner state of mind and he will then hear you quite clearly as congruent in thought and deed. Without speaking it you will "sound," to his senses more like a chattering monkey. Honest.

Speaking love quiets the heart, the breath, the electrical nerve pulses that the horse reads quite nicely thank you very much.

Questions?

Donald

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:35 pm 
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:ieks: So much information there, Donald. :funny: I'm going to have to read it several times to be sure I think I get most of it. Er ... you know what I mean :twisted:

I usually ride with loose reins (much to the disgust of some other horse-people around here ;) ) who would like to see me control his head position.

With Freckles I "use" the outside rein more than the inside - mostly because he tends to forget how to bend when he gets "excited" like this :funny: and he starts the old lean-like-a-motorbike trick. :yes: So if I use the inside rein I will just increase the counter-bend, right? I have a feeling a certain Uncle Donald told me about that soon after I got him? Huh? :D 8) :roll:

I've been taking enough rein to just feel him when he lengthens his neck on each stride, and then it goes slack as he elevates. :D I have a feeling a certain Uncle Donald told me about that soon after I got him? Huh? :D 8) :roll:

What I was trying to say was that this only shows up when he's been unridden for a week or more, and especially if I have not played groundwork with him during the same time, which is not unreasonable and I understand - he's feeling "ready-to-go."

What I don't understand is that it shows up on the loose reins and disappears within seconds as I take a light contact - as if he prefers the restraint when he's feeling all bouncy. Unless I am misreading what is happening, which is entirely possible. :twisted: Five minutes later I am able to go back to loose reins and he's fine. It's confusing.

If I halt him and lean forward and ask him what's going on instead of taking that contact, his eye is all twinkly and mischievous. It's almost as if he says "you're not paying close-enough attention and I feel good la-la-la-la-la-la-la. You knew that I would now... so I can be a bit naughty and I'll get away with it"

I like counting the take-and release. That it much less subjective. :D

Quote:
and to make HIM more important than his behavior and where he goes.


I like this a LOT. :love: :f:

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Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:02 pm 
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Glen, contact in itself isn't bad...and it's very useful for communication.

Quote:
I usually ride with loose reins (much to the disgust of some other horse-people around here ;) ) who would like to see me control his head position


Contact does not equal controlling the head position. Contact is a way to communicate signals. You can certainly have too much contact, but if you are soft and attentive, a little contact can go a very, very long way in an on ongoing dialogue with the horse.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:51 pm 

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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Donald, thank you again for your wise words:

When Morgan turns he wants to head back to the stables. I take the rein on the direction he is already turning and hold the slack non giving. He can stop with his head bent in the wrong direction (ie the way he wants to go) or he can keep turning if he wants to move his feet. He can't turn his head back to the right as I have blocked it with the rein. I am not pulling just holding the line firm. As he turns to the direction I want him to go I immediately drop the rein. I now take up two reins, lightly no contact, just the excess and ask him to move in my direction. If he doesn't walk forward I ask again and "cluck". If he turns a circle again I do the same again. So he can evade what I want but the line is short enough he cannot run away with me or get his head down to buck, but I am not creating any pressure just blocking his attempts to go the way he wants.

This doesn't happen often but when it does it is normally in the same spots (on the way out) and 2/3rds of the way around the mountain route. Maybe I should look deeper into why he does it at these spots?

Please Donald, I need a step by step of where I am going wrong?
Morgan is a young green horse under saddle and I think I still have a lot of hidden fear of things that can go wrong. I don't want him learning that he can run off or buck me off. I try to allow him opinion. One the way back I wanted to take one path and he choose the other, I let him take it. I allow him to wander but sometimes he can be just a little jittery and not tuned in. I find the difference between allowing the horse freedom under saddle and expecting complience and really hard one. :whew:

Sorry Glen, I've hijacked your topic :kiss:

Barbara,
That's amazing that Beau seeks that contact. It must be wonderful to be able to feel that connection........I must learn more about the riding aspect, I feel like such a newbie sometimes. :blush:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:10 am 

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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
My old horse was comfortable with a light contact, always an open hand, giving rein to show direction, imagine swinging double bar doors, if you prop one open it is the likely choice for the horse to go since the other door requires a small effort to go through.
My old horse's Mum was a lovely unroken filly who became a wonderful riding horse, she would seek a gentle contact during fittening work with her muzzle bruising the daisies on 100 metre circles cantering at the speed of a fast walk, but she could manage more than 42 mph in a sprint and was responsive to halting in any situation. She even managed to ride amonst flags and carnival floats to raise money for ambulance equiptment, as well as jumping 5 ft 10 inch show jumps and racing cross country and point-to point, and covering 30 miles a day in heavy traffic, past pedestrians shopping and out in the country.
My horses know that when we reach grass underfoot it usually means we are walking this way and sometimes means we can gallop, but they do not expect to gallop everytime we reach a grass surface. Even race fit horses who know there will be some fast lung stretching work did not consider galloping in the fields and on the sand gallops before warm ups were completed and the "yes you can" signal was given, otherwise tendon and other injuries might have been sustained.

This is how I was taught and why I think my mare trusted and allowed contact, I still used a bit in those days:

The hand was always to remain in front of my body, NEVER must an elbow come behind my ribcage, it can travel forwards and hands can be thumbs up fist facing or one palm up when moving the hand forward to indicate direction, NEVER palm down or I have slammed down the phone to communication.
Half-Halts for rebalance and "okay honey there is a message coming..listen.."

And my arab and Thoroughbreds could be unridden for months and remounted as though ridden daily, coblets, cold bloods and children's ponies have a greater sense of being mischievious in my opinion.

Daniel really does not want any pressure on his nose or head, human instinct to clutch the reins into oneself (when a pheasant or ground bird flies up and breaks cover, or the hunt horses are galloping after hounds in the next field), would be dangerous.
You are allowed to gather the reins but not have a contact and definately no pulling, hold the front of the saddle and pull into the centre of the horse rather than pull his nose into my stomach, if I do not want a fight.
Slow myself and breathe, Daniel will slow down when he is ready.
This will improve as he comprehends more of what riding together entails.
I dread to think how this pony would react to a bit, luckily he need never find out.
(Having been an entire and Daddy to five, my healthy pony would have to undergo dentistry and anaesthetic to remove healthy teeth which would be in the way of a bit.)

Ben is fine with reins and is likely to slow as Donald suggests to a squeeze on alternate reins to ask his legs to slow down, I like the over emphasising clearly throwing the rein in release when teaching students. Like turning the car mirror to ensure you have to be seen moving to look, when learning to drive.

Freckles is fine with what you are doing, whatever is safest for both of you has to be right?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:00 am 
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Glen Grobler wrote:
:ieks: So much information there, Donald. :funny: I'm going to have to read it several times to be sure I think I get most of it. Er ... you know what I mean :twisted:

I usually ride with loose reins (much to the disgust of some other horse-people around here ;) ) who would like to see me control his head position.


Glen, you are a student of an ancient and venerable tradition and practice, that of Classical Dressage as practiced during the Reformation and before(as good a line as any to pull on them). You simply choose not to wear the silks and feathered hat, though it might be fun, while you school your horse (remember the "school your horse," phrase - it's a mind dazzler to the snooty and self absorbed nitwits).

If they have ever looked at illustrations of the masters of those times they will see many of the greatest names riding on a very loose rein. Likely with more loop than you carry on Freckles. You regret that he has not advanced to that stage as yet (don't forget that line either - and preface with some such statement as, "I know what you mean and how it might look etc......) Get my drift here? :funny: :funny: :funny:
Glen Grobler wrote:

With Freckles I "use" the outside rein more than the inside - mostly because he tends to forget how to bend when he gets "excited" like this :funny: and he starts the old lean-like-a-motorbike trick. :yes: So if I use the inside rein I will just increase the counter-bend, right? I have a feeling a certain Uncle Donald told me about that soon after I got him? Huh? :D 8) :roll:


You just described what some call "dropping the shoulder." It's an escape. One I don't always deny the horse. On the other hand the cure is rather simple. Impulsion. Push the horse and change the direction (and curve of his body for a bit).

Up comes the shoulder, and all should be softness and loving appreciation for his willingness to play the way you ask. You may even ask for the next gait upward, including going to gallop from canter. But trot to canter is good.
Glen Grobler wrote:

I've been taking enough rein to just feel him when he lengthens his neck on each stride, and then it goes slack as he elevates. :D I have a feeling a certain Uncle Donald told me about that soon after I got him? Huh? :D 8) :roll:


Hmmmm....I'm trying to remember. There are others here it could very well be rather than I. However, I do concur. But, the question implicit in this elevation is why? Why is he elevating? The answer often lies in change and discomfort in mind or body. Don't forget the body.

There is nothing quite so inspiring to head raising accompanied with various other wrigglings and vigorous complaining movements than a poorly fit, or even poorly applied that morning saddle.

Check you do not have a roll of numnah, or a bit of rigging of some kind under the bar or bars. (Panel is the term on some saddles, bar is on western)

A horse can complain about the pain and discomfort at first, but then go numb, and also click on his most tolerant nature to placate the predator on his back and one will think he's just settling down.

A too narrow gullet, the alleyway above his spine is a common cause of head tossing. It allows the panels to ride on his spine - ouch! Or too wide a one allows, with the rider's weight, the withers to be hammered upon.

I figure if a horse does crazy stuff like we are talking about either my riding needs some tuning up, badly, or there is something wrong with horse, or equipment, or to horse because of equipment.
Glen Grobler wrote:

What I was trying to say was that this only shows up when he's been unridden for a week or more, and especially if I have not played groundwork with him during the same time, which is not unreasonable and I understand - he's feeling "ready-to-go."


Groundwork is sometimes (unless safety is a concern), before riding, a way to mask the horse's concerns. I love to get on a fresh horse, all piss and vinegar as they say, and let him show me what he's really up to, and how he really feels.

Somehow this practice, one we used to use only to exercise the horse when we hadn't time or for some other reason couldn't exercise under saddle. Now it's to take the edge off the horse, it seems. I LOVE that edge.

I'll know that Altea is sound of hoof fully again when she'll buck with me like she can now do on the longeline and at liberty. I can hardly wait for my turn.
Glen Grobler wrote:


What I don't understand is that it shows up on the loose reins and disappears within seconds as I take a light contact - as if he prefers the restraint when he's feeling all bouncy. Unless I am misreading what is happening, which is entirely possible. :twisted: Five minutes later I am able to go back to loose reins and he's fine. It's confusing.


A number of things could be happening. The first thing that comes to mind is just the pure joy he can hardly contain at being played with again, and at having you pay attention to him. My Bonnie squeals with obvious delight much of the time when it's play time ... but then she does that when she just can't wait for her ration in her bucket either. Your horse is dancing. You are the one that has to figure out if it's from a negative feeling or a positive one.

I strongly suspect he's having fun whitcha. In a couple of ways.

Glen Grobler wrote:

If I halt him and lean forward and ask him what's going on instead of taking that contact, his eye is all twinkly and mischievous. It's almost as if he says "you're not paying close-enough attention and I feel good la-la-la-la-la-la-la. You knew that I would now... so I can be a bit naughty and I'll get away with it"


Toadjahso. 8) :yes:
Glen Grobler wrote:

I like counting the take-and release. That it much less subjective. :D



And I love the softness it brings. I am a rein talker. That is I teach my students, and discipline myself, to think of the reins as language. Of course I'm not in the horse's mouth, but rather on his nose with my Jaquima. Still, I can whisper to him. I can tell him I love him and that he tickles me when he tells me that yes he wants to play the way I want to play. And he can tell me, as Freckles tells you, that he wants to play another way if only I'll join him.

We can laugh together up and down the reins if I hae my head on straight, and am listening as well as talking. You are listening. That's why you have these questions. And you are finding the answers as you point out above. You know he's mischevious and you have NOT told me he can't be. On the contrary.

Glen Grobler wrote:

Quote:
and to make HIM more important than his behavior and where he goes.


I like this a LOT. :love: :f:


While I struggle with the AND concepts and philosophy (not that I don't believe in it fully) in my own choices of how I relate to and behave around my horse I know what they are for me. And they are about play, and companionship, and compassion, nurturing, mindfullness, exploration and discovery together.

Altea and Bonnie fill my mind so very often. As do my students and the horses they ride.

I am slowly but surely moving in on them with concepts of love and respect for the specialness of their horses. Some are already well along the way even without me.

When I introduced one of my young students to the idea of behaving NOT like a lead mare, as she had been taught, or like a herd buddy as so many children do, but as a Mother Mare, she lite up like the morning sun coming over the hill. She was ready.

A sign of it? The horse she is using on loan is a well trained superior cross breed that has taken some serious abuse of late from other riders. At the last lesson she almost begged me to let her ride him in a soft halter with a bareback pad. I knew what she was up to ... a demonstration of the fear and pain this horse has been enduring that's made him afraid of the rider.

She did a nice job, and together we also calmed him and helped him trust her. We used the rein release methods I just have been discussing with you. Now if only we can figure out a way to get that horse out from other riders for a time. I'm hoping the owner, someone I like very much, will see the light. She's done some things that indicate she does see, just not fully as yet.

Donald

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~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:06 am 
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Karen wrote:
Glen, contact in itself isn't bad...and it's very useful for communication.

Quote:
I usually ride with loose reins (much to the disgust of some other horse-people around here ;) ) who would like to see me control his head position


Contact does not equal controlling the head position. Contact is a way to communicate signals. You can certainly have too much contact, but if you are soft and attentive, a little contact can go a very, very long way in an on ongoing dialogue with the horse.


An elegantly and accurately stated truth.

The concept of rein pressure and release eventually comes right down to this as the effect creates soft attentiveness in the horse. No one can see you do it at that level of skill of course. The observer thinks the pressure is steady and unchanging. It's not. Rein talk goes on constantly.

When one is soft and steady and quiet I daresay the horse can feel your pulse through the reins, tell him about your state of mind and your emotions.

That ought to be the goal.

Donald

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~~~~~~~~~
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:55 am 
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Morgan wrote:
Donald, thank you again for your wise words:

When Morgan turns he wants to head back to the stables. I take the rein on the direction he is already turning and hold the slack non giving. He can stop with his head bent in the wrong direction (ie the way he wants to go) or he can keep turning if he wants to move his feet. He can't turn his head back to the right as I have blocked it with the rein. I am not pulling just holding the line firm. As he turns to the direction I want him to go I immediately drop the rein. I now take up two reins, lightly no contact, just the excess and ask him to move in my direction. If he doesn't walk forward I ask again and "cluck". If he turns a circle again I do the same again. So he can evade what I want but the line is short enough he cannot run away with me or get his head down to buck, but I am not creating any pressure just blocking his attempts to go the way he wants.

This doesn't happen often but when it does it is normally in the same spots (on the way out) and 2/3rds of the way around the mountain route. Maybe I should look deeper into why he does it at these spots?

Please Donald, I need a step by step of where I am going wrong?


"WRONG?" You'd have to tell me. I don't see it that way.

Let me make clear where I am with horses. I do not train, really. I do not play, really. I do both and more, because what I do in the bigger picture is relate as genuinely as I can with those two out there in the barn. We argue. We disagree. We complain to each other. We play. We laugh. Sometimes they scare me a little. Sometimes I scare them a little.

Just like any relationship. But my language isn't the same as with humans. Though I speak human as an adjunct to my "horse,speak." (That's for me, not the horse, to get my integration of mind and body and behavior and intent all clear, then the horse "hears," what my body is saying).

Then my horsespeak is congruent to the horse.

Your horse is saying he doesn't want to play what you want to play. That he's concerned about NEVER GOING HOME AGAIN.

It's quite easy to get him over this. And it's not, as it might appear, by "training him properly." It's by teaching him like a mother would teach a child.

"Baby horse, we are going to go just 50 ft (pick a number you like and trust) and then we are coming back, I'm going to hug you, I'm going to give you a treat, I might even get off and groom you some more."

Imagine, rewarding the horse for going back to the barn. Am I NUTS or something? No, not quite. I might just also, long before he "sticks," leaving the barn, stop and give him a treat too. In fact knowing what a generous soul I am, and a sucker for a those deep beautiful eyes it's a good bet that I'll treat that horse every chance I get, or can create.

Morgan wrote:
Another point you make I just love for teaching purposes, like a Mother Mare teaches a foal.

How do you keep your horse from balking at the same darn thing every time he reaches that point and trying to go back home?



Like a Mother Mare teaches a foal. Yes, there IS an echo in here. :funny: See above for some of the answer to your question and read on for more.

Horses are, in their superior life wisdom, concerned with survival first. We, fools that we are, often kill ourselves because we get so goal focused that we don't do the things necessary to survive ... and "blip," out goes our little light.

Trying to make a horse go where the horse doesn't, at this time, want to go is the perfect model of horse wisdom as opposed to human stupidity. (Pardon the insult, but I too am a stupid human, far too much of the time - that's how I got knocked down by Bonnie hard recently)

Now if I have the wisdom of Mother Mare I will do something different. I might even get off the horse and walk by the sticking point with him in hand. Or I might ride, if there is room, in little circles. Or I might ride to and fro approach and retreat, like a lot of current clinicians suggest, going up to the sticking point, and riding away from the sticking point.

It's calming. Especially if I get in my mind that we are NOT going past that point today unless the HORSE, in his wisdom decides to trust us and decides to go. Horse needs to look.

I use horses all the time for self protection. When we ride in the forests hereabouts where there are lions and bears (yes, real hairy ones, with teeth and claws, and they do attack big animals for their very food) I am quite attentive to the horse's going on alert. I carry a gun as well. Legally.

For I trust the horse wisdom that says when the lion or bear can't catch the horse he or she can certainly catch slow old codgers. And often my wife is afoot and couldn't get away in any case. So I trust the wisdom of the horse's superior senses. I believe that he can hear the breathing and heartbeat of the stalking lion and hunting bear.

And I do not know if that sticking point on the mountain side might not have some lingering residual trace of animals the bite horses. Who am I to say he MUST pass that point, eh? Just a half disabled crippled human (not because by human standards I am, but because by horse standards I most certainly am - my nose is nearly useless compared to his, and my hearing - what a joke to a horse).

So then, continuing with your question:

You don't take him to that point. YOU turn him around just before he reaches the tolerance limit. If you do it enough times eventually he'll walk right through that point. Times can equal 500 or five. It's not talent or knowledge that will take you through that point. It's loving patience with your companion. Just like Momma Mare touches the scary object but does not force junior to.

She just touches it and walks on.

Just turn back for awhile. I even do "horsetalk," just what wild horses do, and back the horse up when he shows fear about something, then at the relaxation point (you'll feel it) I stop and let him look and smell and think. And sometimes I go back to it, and sometimes I just ride away with that more peaceful memory planted in his head.

Morgan wrote:

Morgan is a young green horse under saddle and I think I still have a lot of hidden fear of things that can go wrong.

Want to live forever, do you? :roll: :funny: Your fears are your basic wisdom. If you feel afraid pay attention. Paranoia is good for you. It makes you attentive and causes you to attend, just as pain does to make you treat a wound, or go to the doctor.
Morgan wrote:

I don't want him learning that he can run off or buck me off.


Really? But he CAN. The way to get him not to is to be real and congruent with him, strong but vulnerable too.
Morgan wrote:

I try to allow him opinion.


Do you insist that he allow you YOUR opinion as well?
Morgan wrote:

One the way back I wanted to take one path and he choose the other, I let him take it.


Wandering for a bit is a wonderful way to tell your companion you like him, you like being with him, you like what he's doing just before the wandering. And that you too like to wander. Now it's time to get back to our mutual fun with riding on paying attention to each other. That is also part of a relationship, the healthy ones at any rate.

Morgan wrote:

I allow him to wander but sometimes he can be just a little jittery and not tuned in.


He's young. He's green. He's an adolescent. A fifteen year old boy is a five times the three year old he really hasn't left behind quite yet. Wildly interested in exploring, and yet not really prepared to deal with what he might find ... so he does things to get your attention so you'll "parent," him by providing some guidance that he can happily and confidently resist and rebel against. Remember being 15?

And didn't you like it (feel better) when your parent gently set you back on the path, and offered little lessons in morals and ethics?

Morgan wrote:

I find the difference between allowing the horse freedom under saddle and expecting complience and really hard one. :whew:


Well the rest of us don't. Really. It's the easiest thing in the world.

You believe me, don't you? :roll: 8) ;) :funny:
Morgan wrote:

Sorry Glen, I've hijacked your topic :kiss:

Barbara,
That's amazing that Beau seeks that contact. It must be wonderful to be able to feel that connection........I must learn more about the riding aspect, I feel like such a newbie sometimes. :blush:
[/quote]

I'm headed out to the barn now. It's time to do my newbie chores. A little horse manure tossing to remind me of the earthy reality of being a companion to a horse. And that I'm just really a slightly educated stable hand when it comes to horses and what's really going on with them.

Bonnie, in her kindness and childish tolerance for the clumsy human, will no doubt ask me for both a kiss and a treat, which of course she will get. Altea will offer me her sensible quietness, and beautiful gaze, and not even think to apologize for her habit, even when she could go outside, of pooping in the stall then walking it well into the bedding.

This technique of hers insures that that bedding and manure will more quickly move on to the garden where it's needed. Just how wise, I wonder, is this particular horse.

Then Bonnie will get in Altea's stall, and I'll have to snarl at them, which they both react to like I am the predator that they know deep down I really am. But all will settle as they find the hay bags laying out there in the paddock waiting for me to finish cleaning and then hang in their stalls. And Altea will continue to patiently teach Bonnie to keep her cute fat little nose OFF mom's haybag, little little bites to the knees.

Donald

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Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:07 am 
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I actually have to go back and read the whole thing, but Donald, this is priceless and I'm having it engraved -- maybe on my forehead. (Backwards, so I can read it every single day.)

Quote:
Let me make clear where I am with horses. I do not train, really. I do not play, really. I do both and more, because what I do in the bigger picture is relate as genuinely as I can with those two out there in the barn. We argue. We disagree. We complain to each other. We play. We laugh. Sometimes they scare me a little. Sometimes I scare them a little. Just like any relationship.


:love:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:57 am 

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What a great thread, thanks for all the great info, this will take me a while to read thoroughly. :)
And then I'll ask more questions. :rambo: :funny:
Birgit


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:21 pm 
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I am sure I wrote a huge paper on contact rein on here before...

Anyway, contact is not to dread, there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is that only a few riders seem to know what cotact is and mistake contact for trying to control the head. And in minor effect but far major cases;
riders can not follow up the correct contact especially in walk and trot and therefore destroy the horse’s tact because the horse’s head constantly walks into the rider’s hand and the horse can not finish the completeness of his movement.

That is why I rarely use it in my lessons. If I have to fix the rider’s being able to hold correct contact it takes many hours to get the feel, so I find other things to help the horse.

I do recommend in many cases an outside rein contact as you might remember from the clinics.

Now if a horse (and some young horses do) demand a contact rein, just give it. Especially with a bitless bridle you can do no harm. As long as you remember to have the horses head place your hands and not visa versa and you release the contact as soon as the horse demands for it.
As we say at AND, the horse knows best and the horse knows why :)
Keep your elboes bent and your wrists to the outside, your thumbs on top of the rein, that way you have the most feel to follow the head. contact is correct when the rein does not come slack and the head does not get to feel your hand. It must be like the rein is made of elastic. Oliveira describes it as holding the reins like wet newspaper.

Sorry if others already said the same, did not have time to read. But the more you read it, the more you feel secure on following Frekkies demand for contact without worrying :) Hope it's helpful..

Have to go now, bye!
:kiss:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:49 pm 

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Quote:
Oliveira describes it as holding the reins like wet newspaper.


That is so brilliant.

Donald.....THANKYOU

Great topic everyone! :D

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