The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:13 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:42 am
Posts: 2147
Location: Vienna, Austria
That's a good idea Romy. That topic definitely deserves more room... I'm not sure whether to answer here, or in the new topic, but since my answer is more about play, I think it'll better stay here.

I have no experience with traumatised horses. My horse is (or better was) very shy and sceptical towards humans in the beginning and it took us a while to be able to play. And I'm still working on his initiative in playing. So here are just random thoughts about playing with scared horses.

I would define playing as an activity where the participants can try things out in a controlled and secure environment, safe from consequences and repercussions that the same thing may have in the 'real world'.
For me that means that I have to create such a safe bubble for my horse in order to stimulate play. I think it's helpful to have such a place marked by either time (e.g. a 'let's play-cue'), or simply by location. A riding arena for example is the perfect place to establish as 'playground'. What that means to me is, that in that special place at least at playing time, errors have to go unpunished. Or better: there are no errors in play ;). And of course initiative will be rewarded. Cooperation even more so.
I will only use positive reinforcement in play. Negative reinforcement (pressure and release) and of course P- is severely hindering initiative (see: learned helplessness).
I do however use negative punishment (in that case: removal of myself from the play) if I feel myself uncomfortable with the play. (That should be the right of any playing participant, btw.) That's especially important in wild play.


The horse owes us nothing.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:39 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:01 am
Posts: 33
Location: Australia
I have to ask~why are the games in this order in another section

"The games taught in this level are Run with me, Run to me, Run away from me (and only taught in that order!) and Mimicry - slowing down together, speeding up together, place bodyparts on objects, collecting; if the first three running games go well, your horse will start mimicking you all by himself, this is not something you teach him, it's not a trick! It's is inspiration waiting to happen; everything is possible."

But different in this section....

Which way do I follow :)

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:14 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
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Location: Dresden, Germany
First, playing with your horse according to AND has no fixed order but depends on your horses' and your own preferences. The stickies are from a time when some of us came from places where there was quite some focus on "the one correct way", so that might explain some of it (although I cannot speak for Miriam of course, perhaps she had other reasons to write it that way).

Second, personally I find it very useful to work on running with me first, and only very late in my interaction with a horse (if at all) on running away from me. This is because I want to build on the horse's initiative, and I find that much harder if I send him away, which puts me in the position of actively imposing an action on the horse instead of having him join in the game in the way he wants to.

Concerning mimicry or synchronized movement, for me that is the very first thing and I do not play any running games before we have used this to establish a subtle communication. But then everyone is different and different approaches work for different horses, so there really is no fixed order. I'd say just go with what feels best for you and the horses you are working with. :f:

PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:09 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:01 am
Posts: 33
Location: Australia
Thanks :) xx

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