The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:40 am 
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What did you use as a tiger and how exactly did you use it? I know that some horses are easily scared by it and some are not. They strange fact that I found is that if a horse is not scared by it, it is much harder to get interested. I guess it has to do with the way that the tiger lets the horse feel powerful. And that works because the scary object is running away from the horse.

With our mare Lily, the tiger game is super easy, in fact I have to look out not to go too wild with her.
With Mucki it is another story entirely. It took me some sessions to get him interested in the game by rewarding him for contact. Then, he's usually doing it in a very well-behaved, almost dutifully manner. What I did about that, was to take a larger plastic bag as a tiger and secondly act more irrationally and more aggressively with the tiger. I dragged it on the floor so it makes a good noise, I let it fly higher sometimes and let it wave in the air and I let it get sometimes closer to Mucki and then retreat again in a taunting kind of way. That usually helps to awaken the predator in him ;).

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:45 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:39 pm
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Location: Denmark
I've tried two different things for tigers.

A plastic bag and a fairly big, heavy "blankety" carpet. Punto is cold as ice, and I can throw either of them directly in his face, and he doesn't move a muscle. I have thought of taking a video of it, as it's quite impressive :funny:
He's the only one I've ever had actually chase and attack the tiger, though.

Bissen and May are a little more afraid of it, but don't fancy chasing it. Would be good for them though, as they currently only run away from it, if I start running around with it.
I reward anytime they take contact to it and touch it, but it just seems kind of "meh" to them. Maybe I should try get a video of it when I find a good time for it.

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:42 am 
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Most of my horses also aren't particularly fond of the tiger, most of the time. However, for them this directly seems to correlate with my own (lack of) enthusiasm for it. If I do it like a clicker exercise in the strict sense, rewarding for contact and approach and the raising the criteria, I lose them in no time. What works for us is when I am making mself believe that chasing the tiger is the most wonderful game ever, and that the horse is ever so cool and brave and cute and fantastic, and I am just so, so, so happy that we can play this!!! :bounce: :love:

Also, as soon as the horse has some interest in it, I am not rewarding them for "boring" things like touching the tiger but trying to find anything in their interaction with it that is cool, like stepping on it and pawing it. This, in turn, makes the game a bit more competitive, because if they stand on it or grab it with their teeth, I cannot move it. So I am getting more alert and excited, and then they do, and then I, and so we are pushing each other.

That said, we do not play with the tiger very often because for me it is hard to find that enthusiasm for any kind of "object play", and accordingly my horses find it boring most of the time as well. But in our case I know for sure that this is because of me. :smile:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:23 pm 
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I'm really trying to be enthusiastic, running around making weird noises pretending I'm having an awesome time.
It sometimes triggers activity, but more the "what-the-Hell-is-going-on-and-what-is-she-doing" kind of activity :green:
Lots of grunting, raised tails and open nostrils :funny:

Oh well, we might figure it out ;)

However, if I make things too challenging, e.g. by dodging any approach they might make, they quickly and often lose interest. I have to awaken their competitive spirit Image

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:31 pm 
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Bissen wrote:
I'm really trying to be enthusiastic, running around making weird noises pretending I'm having an awesome time.


Oh, but pretending switches my horses' enthusiasm off as well. I really have to enjoy it - and I have to enjoy it with them, not just having an awsome time by myself. But perhaps that's what you meant and I just read something into it. :smile:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:16 pm 
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Well, I probably meant that I'm running around trying to show them I want them to play along. Though my communication may be off :roll:

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:42 am 
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Bissen wrote:
Well, I probably meant that I'm running around trying to show them I want them to play along.


Do you know the Aylin lessons? Especially the fourth one (or a generalization of it) has re-shaped my life quite a bit, not just in my interaction with horses. Funny, I was just thinking about it yesterday. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:09 am 
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I noticed with our horses and others, that it takes time (and training) to get horses used to play with humans. Once a certain kind of (playful) interaction is established, introducing new games is easy. But to get there, can require time - always depending on the horses character and history.
Do you have other, similar energetic games that you play with your horses, like running together on the pasture? Or is your interaction usually of a calmer nature?
It took me and Mucki a long time (like 2 years) to get canter into our games - at least when done in an artifcial environment like a riding arena. And chasing the tiger also wasn't very exuberant at first ;).

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:14 pm 
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Our interaction has mainly been calm. Sometimes I can get them to take few runs, but that's not so much together as it's just them ;)

We probably just need time :)

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Then I started asking myself: "What can I do for my horse?"


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