I'm quoting Karen because I think this is such an important thought and so easy to lose track of!
She was responding to some things in Elix's diary with Aranka
After some wonderings about getting energy up in Chase the Tiger games, Karen wrote:
One of the things I see a many do (because I did it myself and I still do it too often) is to look right at the horse's face when I want to get more energy. If we look away, the horse is much more comfortable in letting go. I don't know if you are doing this, but it might be something to check?
Sometimes if we try for more energy, but look at the horse when we do it, they think it is something directed AT them, rather than an invitation, and they get a little concerned and don't know what to do...so they stop or slow down.
I think this is an exquisite pearl of insight/advice and thought it would be helpful here in the Chase the Tiger thread.
Thanks, Karen...and I'm only a little sorry I hijacked your words...
Aside from having likely been the one to introduce the phrase, "chase the Tiger," what is more important is to recognize, I think, two things in this "game."
One is something I've overlooked again and again. I tend to focus strongly on the horse's face, eyes in particular, attempting to "read" the horse to predict his behavior. I'm quite good at it, but am afraid I give up what Karen offers, and you quote and comment on, Leigh. I intimidate the horse - not what I want at all.
It's old training, and old tape I play that when things get hot with the horse and I just clicks in. Could be a self preservation thing.
The second point I'd like to comment on has to do with the War Horse aspect, that tendency to attack.
This is innate in the horse. Most horses, but the most timid, and even they when conditions are right, will tend to follow with the head, and possibly strike or bite.
If the object of their aggression moves in just the right pattern, usually a crossing track being made in front or to the side of the horse, and the creature is smaller than the horse, it will follow and attempt to control the movement of the creature.
Bonnie just demonstrated this with Rio, our dog, day before yesterday. She is perfectly accustomed to having him about. He's extremely gentle and non-threatening. Perfect to be around horses. But he will get up and move away if the horse approaches, creating exactly the pattern of a predator circling prey, and Bonnie went after him and even struck at him quite powerfully. She missed, thankfully.
This is exactly the instinctive urge that is called out from the horse being trained as a cutting horse, and it has to be managed, and controlled, as the object is to strike or bite the cow, but to simply hold it, or drive it.
Often when a horse I'm working with exhibits the energy and aggression for the very first time in a game of Chase The Tiger, it puts the hair up on the back of my neck and must recall some atavistic memory from my ancient horse hunting ancestors. Doubtless the wild horse did occasionally fight back and something in me reacts in a defensive way.
I've studied how various folks in the AND community play at Chase the Tiger with their horses and had to quell my feelings of alarm. This so that I not interfere in the training routines of others. Most folks show that not only do they know their horse's limits, but that their horse knows too and does not strike or bite them and focuses on the Tiger.
And of course too I am not the calm cool rock steady young man I once was. As I age I notice I startle a bit more easily. Loud sudden noises or violent quick movement cause a more strong reaction in me, so this particular exercise I may be seeing through this change in my personality as I age.
Thus I watch others so that I may continue to learn and to reduce the influence of my own subjectivity over what I observe.
I used, as you may recall, Chase the Tiger with Dakota the Morgan gelding to work on his tendency to shy and bolt. To help him gain confidence.
The first time he showed some was on his third day of training in bombproofing, when the umbrella I was using in windy rainy setting instead of opening slowly as I had intended got caught by the wind and snapped open right in his face.
He reacted quite drastically, but I remembered, right in the first instant of his startle, to click him and offer him his treat. He relaxed, took his treat and we played with the umbrella, and I got to watch him for the first time exhibit the aggression we call Chase the Tiger. He and I together kicked that umbrella all over the forest clearing with the wind helping us. It's the same poor umbrella you can see in the old short vid clips I posted her a couple of years back riding Dakota out by the highway and waving it about his head and rear and all about him.
I think Chase the Tiger has much more to teach us. Some of it about the psychology of the horse. And I expect those younger than I to be the explorers in this here in AND. Of course they are doing so without my blessing or urging. Youth will be served, as they say.