The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:39 pm 

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Bianca,
that was so beautiful to see. It takes a lot of knowing horse body language, feel and timing to be able to do this. This is really wonderful teamwork. I do similar things with my dogs and we both love it. With horses I don't trust myself to read them well enough to get them that excited to canter, jump and rear at liberty so close to me. It will take lots of time to build our relationship more, I think. We have gone as far as trotting and jumping over very low jumps together. I also do miss having a nice level arena with good footing to work in. sighh


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:41 pm 
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Yea mine live outside all the time too. They hoon around every night. :yes:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Birgit indeed it takes time and also the development of the horses concentration level. I would not do this with Imperia for instance because she doesn't have that ability yet or maybe she does but I don't trust her thát much (Romy does trust her more than I do :D) . I must say I really thank Evita for this way of playing because it is she that pays attention to not run into me. It's her level of concentration and movement and knowledge that makes this possible, not mine. Although we developed this way of playing together. I can say everyone can play with Evita this way, also people who don't know her, have no relationship with her. I've seen it happen, and some people are scared in the beginning because we are conditioned that it's not healthy to have a rearing horse just centimeters away ;). I hope I will also trust Imperia enough to make this possible but I don't want to overask her, so one step at a time :yes:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:55 pm 
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Bianca wrote:
I hope I will also trust Imperia enough to make this possible but I don't want to overask her, so one step at a time :yes:


I think this is really important - to adjust your play with your horse in a way that it feels safe for you with that particular horse. Whereas, as Bianca said, I did not have the feeling of Imperia being too close and possibly dangerous at all, I sure do have it with Summy, whereas maybe Bianca would not and maybe would trust his ability to be safe much more than I do. We have yet to test this (hint ;)). I also don't feel that safe with Evita, although I never actually played with her, so my ability to judge this is more than limited. It's just a feeling which I mostly already get when I only meet a horse without actually doing anything with him.

In this respect it was most interesting for me to meet Josepha's Ino, where I realized this more than I ever have with any horse before. This was a time before I have read anything about him being a bit dangerous sometimes and still I stood in front of that paddock and really hoped that Josepha would not ask me to go in. Something inside me said that I should not in any way do this.

I really believe that it is very important to listen to your gut feeling in those situations. And I think that it is such a pity when people make those strong assumptions and generalizations from their own experiences. Both Bianca and I did get comments on youtube asking if we were totally crazy to interact with our horses in such a dangerous way - from people who knew nothing about our interaction with our horses. That's one of the many reasons why I love this forum so much: here people do realize that they can speak about their own situation and their own experiences, without trying to make it some ultimate truth that holds for everyone else. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:09 am 

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Quote:
Something inside me said that I should not in any way do this....

...I really believe that it is very important to listen to your gut feeling in those situations

I learned this again in a self-defense class my daughter and I took recently. They also said to listen to your gut instinct. I think these feelings are nature's way of protecting us and they are not based on anything but small perceptions that we are not consciously aware of. To override these with knowledge/understanding can be dangerous. I've been working with rehabilitating dangerous dogs for many years and have only been bit twice, one I was prepared with a leather sleeve, the other time I did not want to look stupid. Two puncture wounds later I decided to rather swallow my pride next time.

Quote:
I can say everyone can play with Evita this way, also people who don't know her, have no relationship with her

Bianca, I think that is a very special horse. I'm wondering if she ever had a really bad experience with people? I've heard of many horses who are incredibly kind and gentle with little kids (presumably because they've never been hurt by one and because of parental instincts) but with adults as well, I would love to know how she came to be that way. Will have to look in you diary.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:40 am 
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Birgit wrote:
I'm wondering if she ever had a really bad experience with people? I've heard of many horses who are incredibly kind and gentle with little kids (presumably because they've never been hurt by one and because of parental instincts) but with adults as well, I would love to know how she came to be that way. Will have to look in you diary.


Evita has had no bad experience in life at all... except maybe for an occasional unhappy vet or someone. I've bought her when she was 3 at a stud farm where was happy in a field with other Spanish ladies. She loves all humans but she doesn't really show her feelings, puts up a smokescreen of wonderful exercises :giveflower: to hide her true self. She is not unhappy but is uncomfortable to attach herself to others and is hesitant let others come close to her heart, (this is also the deeper reason behind her having summer rash), is very sensitive and she does not even like to be brushed by me. Coming to think of it, I can understand that Romy, trusting on gut feeling, didn't feel she could 'read' Evita so didn't have an instant feeling to be able to trust her. With Imperia 'what you see is what you get' ... she shows all her feelings very well :hap: :yeah:. She pushes people around and when she succeeds she is very happy :rambo: :D.
And maybe also its about being on the same wavelength so you can be in the 'flow' and things happen all by itself.
Imperia has also no have bad experiences at all. I'm happy I'm blessed with 'blank pages' and after my experiences with owning 3 horses who were traumatized I consciously 'chose' to buy untraumatized horses and I do everything to make sure they don't have one bad experience with humans in their life. I love to see horses who can just love humans without fear and without being aware how cruel people can be... this is sooo rare! But I must say, traumatized Atreyu has come such a long way! If you seen how calm she stays when 5 men, of which 4 she does not really know, pull her up when she lays down. She has experienced that the men she feared in the past are now replaced my men who save her life.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 pm 
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Quote:
In this respect it was most interesting for me to meet Josepha's Ino, where I realized this more than I ever have with any horse before. This was a time before I have read anything about him being a bit dangerous sometimes and still I stood in front of that paddock and really hoped that Josepha would not ask me to go in. Something inside me said that I should not in any way do this.


I did not know that...
But I perfectly understand. And I think you understand what I am going through with him.
I totally learned to trust my gut feeling and it is always right.
And... I think horses develop this in humans, if humans let them.

How did you feel about Owen?
I never let people enter his paddock for he can sort of attack if he feels he does not get the proper respect. I do see when it is okay. Miriam for instance can just do abything with him. He likes her very much and I think he likes Bianca a lot too.
When Petra stood to close to him over the fence, he treatened to bite her.
I never tell my horses off for that. I feel they are entitled to have their personal space. Especially as alpha, on your own courtyard.

Things can change a lot. I used to be very scared of Owen, he was really angry all the time. But I was then to ignorant to show him proper respect.
But that was before I learned to let him be boss.
Now I trust him 100% and we can really act silly together :green:

I suspect, one day I'll have the same with Ino.
I feel it. We are growing towards eachother more and more each day.
He knows I do not long to control him in any way. We are just searching for a way to connect fully. The both of us.
And the older he gets, the more he becomes like his Uncle Owen.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:38 pm 
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Josepha wrote:
How did you feel about Owen?


Mixed. ;) I did not have the feeling like things were ever so sunny and normal that I got with Impie, as if I had known her for years. I also was not scared of Owen or felt insecure. Maybe a bit sceptical. Owen did not show any special interest in me personally and I felt the same, contrary to the Don where I was drawn to immediately.

I guess if you had asked me to play with Owen, I would have tiptoed around with him a bit first and probably then it would have been nice (although not anything special), but I would have needed a lot of focus on myself in order not to make a wrong movement. That is funny, because for Jamie I did not have this feeling, although probably in his case it is even more important to watch one's movements. But maybe that's a question of connection somehow: when it clicks with a horse, you don't have to watch your movement that much to do it right but you just automatically change in a way that it fits with that horse.

But as I have not really interacted with any of your horses, except for giving the Don some juice, that is all just a guess. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:46 pm 
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Sounds just about right :) concerning Owen I mean :)
And all the rest also, come to think of it.

Quote:
But as I have not really interacted with any of your horses, except for giving the Don some juice


Well then, we have to make sure next time the Don and you have every chance of interacting.
For he indeed took interest in you :yes:

Maye the Spanish breed is totally your thing and vise versa :alien:

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:41 pm 

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Not having met any of these horses, I love reading your posts that show that you take your horses' emotional life just as seriously as your own. That is part of makes it so fund to be on this forum, the deep level of involvement with the horse's personality. :cheers: :cheers: :kiss:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:20 pm 
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finally read this! LOL

Schatzi and I started with the come to me part. I wanted to try to work on a solid recall, with my dog training background it's one thing I find very important with dogs especially(too many horror stories). SO we worked on come to me, which is simply calling her name and asking her to come with a hand signal. Sometimes I think she cant see it. But if she at least stops what she is doing(grazing, standing in the stall)and looks at me when I call her I treat her.

It took a long while to get the run next to me part as well as the chase after me. But once she found out she can make me laugh and that gets her going and I laugh more, she just keeps on till I am too tired.

If I plan on any wild games, I do them last, or just not get upset that she decided today was a day for running around rather then quite stuff.

Any suggestions on how to put a rear on command? She started doing it today, and I know I may not see it ever again, but in case it comes out again, I want to put it on cue, word as soon as possible.

I am going to take the suggestion of using the "careful" as a signal she is too close to me, this may especially help when I am on her blind side and she gets close without knowing. I try to stay in front of her or on her right side so she can see me, but sometimes It's hard to do.

I'm going to go look at Evita's wild games video later to get another look at body language, as well as watch Romy's with Imperia(that one is loading up now. :D ) Schatzi is in no way sensitive to body language, and I keep on trying. It'll come one day when I least expect it, I'm going to do something and she's going to respond and I'm going to be stupified, like I was today.

I am so glad I met Glen and she is part of AND that I can experience the joy I have always wanted to with a horse, not just have them as a tool like so many others.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:10 pm 
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short answer, because busy busy busy :D
About the rearing, make sure you only practice it with your horse beside you and not in front of you. I raise my hand a bit and say 'up'. Also I only ask it with her on my right side so she won't rear when I lead her.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:16 pm 
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Bianca wrote:
short answer, because busy busy busy :D
About the rearing, make sure you only practice it with your horse beside you and not in front of you. I raise my hand a bit and say 'up'. Also I only ask it with her on my right side so she won't rear when I lead her.


In nature the Mother Mare© early in the foals life has little discipline to do. Later on though, as baby explores more MM© starts to have to move baby around more. The "step back from me," most common instruction motion is a wave of the head from low to swinging overhead. It tends to lift baby from the forehand. I did not see it with Altea and Bonnie until Bonnie was at least five or 6 months old.

It also works as a boundaries reminder. I've used it for horses that rush me when I'm bringing the hay or feed into their stall with them in it.

One learns quickly to moderate it considerably because used with great energy and lifting the hand (it's our "neck and head" to the horse) causes a more energetic (and sometimes unwanted) reaction from the horse. In fact, one can get rearing. Hmmmm.....

And of course especially if one rewards beginning with minimal approximations.

Many people that teach horses to rear do stand directly in front and it works, without danger, precisely because either they know it's a boundary marking gesture to the horse, as MM© taught it first, and of course then qualifies as a natural "aid," or they don't know why but only that it works.

Yes, I am using it with Bonnie now. I would not risk using it with a baby, say younger than five or six months. I think it's too alarming at that age, and I've seen Altea NOT use it until Bonnie was older.

Interestingly there is another gesture, unrelated to developing and aid and response for rearing that also is a boundary setter. I don't know how he figured it out, other than I know that he is one of the most keen horse observers out there, but Pat Parelli uses it to move the horse's butt away and keep him back ... bending over and "flattening the ears," by squinting our eyes up (since we can't flatten our ear literally) works very nicely to the the horse, "move away, keep back," without adding lift.

Where does it come from in the MM© paradigm? Weaning, of course.

When the mare has weaned the baby mostly, and has kind of used up the butt hop (threat of a kick that momma never really gives) he will resort to snaking her head in low, ears laid back, and going for a bit above the knee on the front leg, or just above the hock on the rear.

It's a very serious statement from MM©. As a herd social device it's obviously much used, "stay away from me patch of grass," or "I'm first at the water trough and you better remember it, you stupid nag." The facial expressions make me laugh. And MM© most certainly socializes baby to these communications the baby will use later in the herd.

If a horse won't move back from me (never happened yet) by a soft overhead wave of my arm and hand, I would use the same arm and hand, bending over a bit, to snake a "strike," toward the front leg. If I trust the horse, as I do Bonnie, I would use it on the hind leg as well.

I'm teaching Bonnie to yield all around her body at present - to move away from the flat facing hand cue coupled with my voice cue. She's trying but often gets confused because she was also taught to move toward two wiggling fingers with whatever body part I point to.

I will likely, next time or two, use the naturally derived "aid" of the snaking hand and arm to move her over, if I must, but prefer not to. My reason? I prefer to reserve these "hard," aids derived from horse social learning for only very urgent issues.

And why reserve them? Because I avoid playing "herd boss," or "herb buddy," with horses. I think there is risk in that the first role is a challenge role. That is to say that the position of lead mare or herd boss is always up for grabs, though rarely challenged it can get rough very quickly should it occur - and I'm little compared even to Bonnie. And the second social interaction, herd buddy, is one of very rough play.

Bonnie slams ... or used to ... me in her play like yearlings play with each other. This while I'm attempting to lead her down the road or forest paty.

I give her the Obnoxious Monkey Elbow for her trouble, so that she finds it unpleasant to ram me.

She is learning.

I would not teach her to rear at this time, but I can see she'd love to because she does it well away from us (Kate and I) out of youthful exuberance and joy. Mom has socialized her well.

By the time she's another half year old I might experiment with it. It depends on her maturity and her responsiveness to our safety signals. Her maturity in other words.

For now putting her ears in our hands (by name, left or right ear), lifting and holding her own feet up, again by name, giving a thank you curtsy, and such small things are enough.

I was pleased to see some of the effects of this training so far come out last evening as the trimmer was working on Altea, and Bonnie was standing on a lead line next to the very high (18 inches or so) concrete driveway. She wanted to come see what we were doing, and get in on the treas her mom was getting during trimming. When the trimmer was done I told Bonnie to come on up and join us, and she just wasn't up to it with the usual commands, so I stepped over by her, asked her to come with me, as I cue her to be lead forward, and she tried. At that moment of her trying I asked for her off front hoof (the right hoof, as I was on her left), and she shifted weight and brought it up on the concrete. That was enough. She then hopped up the rest of the way.

When the sun comes out here she'll now be more ready to learn to get in my horse trailer(box).

And I think I'll be using the driveway slab some more before then. :funny:

The reason I went on about all these things really does have to do with "wild games," the forum topic. I like to play, and to make our encounters play as much as possible, and I'm delighted in how much wildness Bonnie is willing to express, and still keep us safe.

Though she's bumped us a time or two, sometimes out of fear and wanting to have 'Momma,' protect here, and of course sometimes in play, she is generally rather careful.

Don, Altea and Bonnie

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 2:40 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:01 am
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Location: Australia
I have a mare here that has been severely abused. She is terrified of everyone except me and even with me she still has her moments. She is only 6 years old and has bitten many trainers, lunged for their throats and even grabbed onto ones jugular. Obviously this does not happen with me. But she is every part of possibly the most nervous horse I have ever worked or seen in my life. When we enter the arena on a lead she will defecate constantly until she has nothing left to give. Now I would love some advice on how to encourage a mare with such a low trust of humans to even want to play with me


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 7:34 am 
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I wrote a reply but then decided the issue of scared horses deserved its own sticky, so let's continue over here: Dealing with scared horses. :)


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