The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:52 am 

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And I must say that Estonia is so small that we don't do attorneys...it's like hiring one for your own family or smthing. But thank you for suggesting that, anyway, it helps me to understand that I am not imagining this problem, but it really is a serious one.


I suspected that people don't sue each other in Estonia the way they do in the US. I think that is usually a good thing. Maybe the way to make a strong point to the owner is to appeal to their conscience, something like: I know you are someone who truly cares about people and would not ever want an innocent person or child hurt...but we (and have all the people who have been physically hurt physically present) are seriously worried for our safety (or our lives) because your horse does not seem to respect boundaries... How can we help you solve this today before a.nyone else gets hurt... This is kind of like an intervention for an addict that's destroying themselves and their family. It needs to be well-prepared and thought through before implemented but can be extremely effective.
Maybe the owner does feel guilty about the situation but is at a loss of what to do. In this case this approach might help because it sets clear boundaries (we need to solve this problem today) while offering help and compassion.
Maybe a couple of people could get together and put up some additional fencing to keep this horse separate from the others or only together with one dominant horse.
If that doesn't work, Cowboy Donald might just ride to Estonia, sounds like he's ready for the challenge. ;) :funny:
But seriously Donald, I'm glad you expressed how strongly you feel about this, a guy's perspective was helpful here. :thumright:
I have to say I do like the bullhorn idea if this horse were in a pasture by itself, but otherwise every living thing is going to get blasted, too.

Please keep up posted on what happens. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Birgit


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:11 am 
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I've been reading everyone's comments which are so interesting. But I do have a question.
How can a horse become that mean? Can it be in his nature?
I haven't been around horses long but I always thought that the basic nature of a horse was friendly (if treated with respect).
This is amazing how mean he is! I guess if ever I come across a horse I don't know, I should beware. I would hate to come across a horse with this type of personality and be taken off guard :sad: .

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:32 am 
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horsefever wrote:
I've been reading everyone's comments which are so interesting. But I do have a question.
How can a horse become that mean? Can it be in his nature?
I haven't been around horses long but I always thought that the basic nature of a horse was friendly (if treated with respect).
This is amazing how mean he is! I guess if ever I come across a horse I don't know, I should beware. I would hate to come across a horse with this type of personality and be taken off guard :sad: .


I have on rare occasions run across horses that were neurologically challenged. But not many.

I have more often, when I was interested in rehabilitation of them, dealt with extremely dangerous recovering rodeo broncs, and once a range bred six year old thoroughbred that was quite a dangerous nut himself.

I lost a little mustang mare that must have been badly treated by her breaking out of a corral when I had put a rope on her, and she went over a cliff. I can't tell you the emptiness I felt as I saw her go over that cliff out of my sight, and the rope tearing through my hands. She was so frightened, and I was so sad.

The thorougbred was the one I treated like a mental patient and cold soaked. He came through wonderfully well, and became a kids show horse.

I gave up on only one bronc. He was absolutely deadly and very very insane from the cruelty of the rodeo arena. He too was a thorobred and from the same herd the one I helped came from, but that one had not been a rodeo horse.

I wish you could have see the bronc's head - his face. It had strange bulges and tensions and dead areas you just don't see on a TB's head - only broncs before they are gentled.

He got a good kick in on me but I wasn't hurt as I caught it on my hip and rolled with it.

I used throwing with those kind, to put them in the sawdust (deep) where I could work slowly with touch, voice, and my gentling dog. One of the most loving and kindest dogs I've ever known. He'd lay on their tail and neck and just very quietly talk to them. I've no idea what he said but it must have been kind because he would quiet them much more quickly than my handling. Their eyes would go soft as he whined and purred. Strange stuff. I still miss that neat dog.

That one, the horse, though I did not let my dog near. He was, even more than the mare over the cliff, the saddest encounter with a horse I ever had, and hope never to have again. He was, simply put, insane. Completely.

I found a huge estate, many thousands of acres, that I got permission to turn him out in. And let him go. Never saw him again, but others said they saw him with the domestic horses that were also turned out there, but he never was in the roundups.

The risk of you running across a horse such as this is very small I'd think.

Donald

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:46 am 
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That is so sad to see what humans have done to these horses. The minds of these horses must be completely out of whack!! Because of whom?? Us, humans of course.
However, you have helped many of these horses live a "normal" (or at least close to normal) life after going thru this terrible ordeal. The ones you did save, they are forever grateful, I'm sure. So don't be sad for the ones that could not be saved. At least, they won't suffer anymore and they are in horse heaven (I'm sure!!).
P.S. you should write a book about your experience with horses. Would most probably be a best seller!!

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[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:21 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
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Location: Estonia, Tallinn
It is sad to read about those horses, but I must say that this is not the case here. The reason, I think, is in my last post. This horse is not mean. She is just playful and doesn't really know how to play or what to do with her energy. If a horse is raised far from other horses then there hasn't been anyone who could teach her the right kind of behaviour + the kind people, who probably thought it was cute when the foal put her frontlegs on their shoulders or smthing like that. It breaks my heart to read that you think she is mean....she most definitely isn't. No horse is. That is NOT their nature. Every insanity a horse might have, is a result of a human deed. Her eyes say "come play with me" not "I want to hurt you". She is just thinking that every human being in this world is there to play with her and play rough. The world is her oyster. And as far as she sees it - only hers.

Btw, keeping away from horses you don't exactly know is always a good plan. Though there might not be many totaly insane ones, there sure can be many horses with their own specific ways or they may have certain kinks that you are not aware of.
For example, my horse is used to strangers or people who don't handle her every day asking for permission before touching her body. I only let people treat her as a highly intelligent being who has the first right to decide things about her body. So one day the BO, who doesn't usually handle horses, went to check Ronja's dug. Of course, he didn't think of asking Ronja before and I must say, dug is a really intimate area. Ronja, who is a total non-biter, turned herself to see the man who was bowing on her side and touching her dug and bit his bottom. I say, well done Ronja in that particular case. But my point is: if you don't know the horse, you can't know what she/he is used to and what not. So I'd say it is more than a necessity to approach strange horses with their owner or handler and not on your own at first.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:10 am 

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Hi iidala,
I've just followed this thread briefly but I do think you need to not only bring this to the attention of the owner but also perhaps help her, help her horse.
I have known two horses that had this type of behaviour, and both mares. The first would not actually do anything but would come in a hurry with neck snaked and try to run you out of the paddock. Everyone would refuse to go in the paddock convinced she was about to eat them. She had learned that itf she looked mean, people went away. She would also do the mock bite thing when being groomed. Today (now that no one bothers with her antics) she has learnt that it has no point.
The other was more difficult, she is still a little unpredictable but I worked with her (about two sessions a week) with the owners permission to "teach" her some manners. She is a two year old that would mob for food, walk over you and then bite you as you were leaving!
I used Carolyn Resnicks food game, teaching her it is not appropriate to take food, it has to be given. I put her on a line and taught her basic rules around humans, ie please don't walk on top of me! :funny: and also taught her from the ground that grabbing hay when I am coming out of the shed is not on. I still stick my finger out the side so when she decides to lunge at it my finger connects with her face. Only when she has backed off and is no longer trying to mob me, I go to her and give her a small chunk of hay. Recently she has been waiting patiently a few meters from me whilst I get the hay.
Unfortunately at two, she has be allowed to do all these things for far too long. Now she is bigger she is quite frankly dangerous, especially when small kids are around with carrots.
She has got sooo much better but this is a joint effort between myself and the groom to be consistant and to not allow her to be rude.

Perhaps you can make her your project for a few weeks/months with the owners permission and then target certain behaviours you want to change. This will only work though if all the people that go in and out of the paddock have the same rules. Eventually she will learn that no matter how often she does it, the results are always the same. With no pay off, she will give up.

Now this horse is in a herd, half your work is already done as she will learn the correct behaviour from the others, now she needs to learn correct behaviour with humans too. It's very quick when the rewards come for the correct behaviour, but slow and inconsistant when the bad behaviour is just being punished, as babies they don't get it and think it's just another game. :)

Good luck and let us know how it goes.......

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Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:52 pm 
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Interesting Annette. When I read the initial inquiry I too thought that the perhaps the most innocuous approach (with the owner's permission and hopefully the owner's participation) would be some of the Waterhole Rituals. If one does not wish to bond with the horse (ie, not the owner), then simply skip the Sharing Space ritual and proceed on with the rituals of food. Whether it is hay or grain or whatever...set it out and do not allow her to eat it (drive her away from it) until she shows the respect of staying away or ignoring the food. Then allow her in to eat, but test that she will keep one eye on you in a respectful way - if not, drive her away again.

There is no harm in this, at all, to the horse - either mentally or physically - and it is a nice way to quickly gain some respect.

I practice this with horses of any age, literally, at the waterhole! When I bring Tam out of the field or when he goes back to the field, I will stand guard (as a highest ranking herdmate might) while he drinks. I swing my cordeo and clear all the horses away from the drinking fountain in order to allow Tam a much needed drink. I used to watch Cisco do this for himself. If he needed a drink, he did not wait in line as the lower ranking horses would. He simply walked in and the other horses would all clear a path for him without arguing. So I practice this with all the horses as well.

I go to the pasture to get Tam, and I do so with a pouch full of treats. The other horses can smell it and they may approach. Many of the older horses know now not to crowd in (or even bother approaching) unless they are invited to do so, but the youngsters don't always yet understand the concept of being pushed away - so they take a bit more effort and time and repetition.

But if a horse was taught (or allowed - which is also teaching) to be dangerous by an owner, and it was threatening anyone for any reason, our stable owner would tell them that they need to fix the problem immediately or board the horse somewhere else. Period.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:31 pm 

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Hi everyone,
I've been thinking about this a lot overnight, and wanted to share some more thoughts. One has to do with giving advice in a potentially very dangerous situation over the internet. I have done a lot of behavior modification with aggressive dogs, some so aggressive that they would try to kill people.
My number one rule when being contacted by an owner is in the case of aggression to NEVER give advice out over the phone or internet. The reason is that in many, if not most, cases there is some information that the owner can not give about the animal, either because they are not aware of it or because it's hard to describe or because language gets in the way. The same is true for the answer I could give. So I'm wondering if it might be good to not get too involved and leave this up to the owner of the horse and the barn owner to deal with and just make it clear that things cannot continue as they are.
I could see that if we could look at a video of this horse we might get a better idea, but even then it is only a short picture in time.
Concerning the horse, I always assume that it is not the animals's fault. I don't think horses or other animals can be held morally responsible for their actions (and in that sense be called "mean"). They do what they do by instinct first and they do what has been taught to them/what has worked for them. In some cases, in the case of brain abnormalities they do abnormal things. We interpret it as "mean" or "viscious" when an animal does things that are dangerous for us. It is always primarily the owner who is morally responsible to keep other people and animals safe. In this case I would think the barn owner has a responsibility to take action if the owner chooses not to or is unable to.

to Annette: I'm thinking from the description given that the horses you worked with may have had the same kind of problem but not nearly as severe, again impossible to know just by reading.

I'm writing all this because I do feel a moral responsibility to protect innocent people in a situation like this, and I know many other people will read this who have similar situations to deal with.
It's one thing to be kind to a horse whenever possible but people's safety has to come first. It's a legal obligation for the involved parties, not just a moral one. Don't know the laws in Estonia but I suspect that here in the US someone who knowingly exposes others to a horse that is likely to kill someone would be guilty of manslaughter if someone does get killed. Not trying to be dramatic, just realistic.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:48 pm 
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I think that is the best reason to talk to the owner first and ask THEM to fix the problem. Next, I would ensure that the stable owner is fully aware of the situation. I would never, ever, attempt to train or fix an issue with someone else' horse without full cooperation from the owner. It is the owner's responsibility/liability first, and the stable owner's responsibility/liability second. It is not the responsibility of an innocent bystander to fix the problem.

I think first and foremost the mare should be removed from the herd until the issue is resolved.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:51 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
Hi everyone,
I've been thinking about this a lot overnight, and wanted to share some more thoughts.

...

Birgit


And your points, every one of them, are well taken and I agree.

One of the reason I quit taking training jobs without a commitment from the horse owner to take lessons from me had much to do with this very point you make: that long distance information is not the same as being there. It works both ways. I want the horse owner-handler to be present while things unfold and progress. Otherwise they are flying blind when they attempt to do what I have "TALKED ABOUT," rather than coached them to do themselves with me present.

All advice given at a distance, but especially that to do with a pushy or aggressive animals must be taken with a grain of salt - very critically.

The reason I mentioned the boat horn was that it isn't a training device, but simply a herding device - a scare tactic to stay as safe as possible. Even it would have it's limits and I wouldn't try it up close without a fence between me and the horse.

Donald

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


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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 4:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
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Location: Estonia, Tallinn
As some of you asked an update how things are going...

I spoke to the owner (and the BO beforehand...she agreed as she has the same problem with this horse). It appeared that the main reason nothing had been done so far is that....well...she just doesn't know what to do. So as I told her that this behaviour has to be changed..she replied: "I know, but how?" Luckily, I had done my homework. So I gave her some pages of a book of mine to read and gave her some decent ideas what to do and where to begin and I also recommended to contact a professional who could help her bigtime (as I know a really good horsewoman in the nearby stables). We also agreed on terms on how to behave around this horse. I personally tried very clear defensive movements today when the horse was coming in my way and it worked, she turned to another direction - but today she was also in a calm mood, I'd say. Ok for now, at least. The owner also seemed kinda relieved when we were done talking and she got some ideas on what to do next.
So I told her that the first step should be that the horse should stay calm when separated with a fence to a smaller "training" area from the herd (other horses are still visible..just other side of the fence). Well...first try: she ran down the electric fence and joined the herd. Better luck next time, maybe with a long leadrope.
Btw...as I rejoined Ronja and Vaim with the rest of the horses recently, I must say that all the other herd members are protecting Vaim (the foal) from this horse. This is the only horse that Ronja won't let near Vaim. So she has issues not only with people, but also with other horses. She is warmhearted and beautiful horse. She has just had an inapropriate upbrining and so she can't figure out her place in this world.
Anyway, I think that I put things into motion now and we'll see how it all works out.

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 5:16 pm 
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:applause: :applause: :applause:

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 7:20 pm 

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I second that!!! :applause: :applause: :applause:

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Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 8:49 pm 
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Wonderful. You nailed that problem and then solved it.

The plan looks good too, that is to get some professional help. I would bet you are absolutely correct in the horse not being properly socialized.

Some that behave in this way have been subjected to isolation and other abuses. Or even more likely, teased and the cowards running away when the horse came at them. Taught to be aggressive in their own defense.

You did a wonderful favor for this horse.

Hugs, Donald, Altea and Bonnie

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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 Jun 17, 2010 10:41 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
I just want to report that some time has passed now and i can't even believe how much better things are. Actually, I might just say, problem solved. The owner has worked some miracles with this horse. First of all, the horse gets along better with other horses in the herd. She doesn't run to me anymore, she doesn't pay attention to me anymore. If she gets too close, I just stretch my hand out and she stops and turns to another direction or starts grazing peacefully. She doesn't run me down or bite me anymore. The farm owners still say that she can be unexpectable, but I haven't had a signle problem with her for a long time now. She doesn't chase after my foal too that often now and I guess my foal is also a bit bigger and a bit smarter now. They get along just fine. I can bring visitors with me again and I don't feel threatened or afraid while walking around in the pasture. In fact I have been meditating and just lying down and feeling the nature on the pasture lately and I feel totally safe. She is so not interested in me. Mission accomplished!

I have to ask the owner how exactly did she do it when I see her. I know that she started with a small separate area in the middle of the pasture, that she put up exactly for that purpose. It had one open "door" (aprox 1,5 meters) and four "walls" (aprox 5 meters) as in single-line string. So she started with helping th ehorse to get used to being in a smaller area with the opportunitity to leave and come back whenever she liked. And I think she started to ask real politeness when the horse was in that area and only asked excercises when the horse was calmly settled.I have to ask for somemore details. The BO said that she spent hours and hours with her horse. What is really important - it worked. Much calmer and much more relaxed horse, who has a better relations in the herd and with humans. Yei!

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