The Art of Natural Dressage

2: The bow and the Back crunch
Page 7 of 7

Author:  Volker [ Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2: The bow and the Back crunch

Mmmh... I'm afraid I won't be of much help there. Our mare Lily did stand everything but square in the beginning, but changed to standing square now. I'm not sure what really caused the change, as we did nothing to correct it deliberately.
My theory is that standing square has a lot to do with being even-sided. I think it is caused by the preference of putting more weight on the stronger legs, which is usually a diagonal pair as I understand it.
We do a lot of exercises to get the horses even - like classical groundwork with the caveson, shoulder-in, stepping under, lunging. Basically everything that lifts the inner shoulder and gets the weight more on the hindlegs.
With those exercises, our horses have switched their better sides like five times in two years, which I take as a good sign for evenness. If they switch preferred sides, they will also switch the preferred legs to stand on, thus hopefully standing more square in the end? That's my theory at least ;)

Author:  Luara [ Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2: The bow and the Back crunch

I was scratching my mares butt the other day and, when I scratched at some point over her spine, she shifted her weight forwards. Like when they move under our hands to be scratched at the right spot. I guess we're going towards this back crunch!
I couldn't see her overall frame, but her hooves were farther behind her body, and when whe'd step forward with one of the hinds, I'd stop scratching and she'd immediately put it back behind (she knows how to step back into me to keep the scratches when I stop and move further back... little problem, sometiems, is that she moves backwards even if I don't :roll: ).

She wasn't square, either (I tried to start at least a little square, but didn't manage to get it totally square), so I did it first with one hind ahead, then the other.
I have spent a lot of time with her in her stall on last month, and I noticed she usually keeps one hind under her body, and the other behind. And she shifts them ocasionally. Rarelly I've seen her rest in one hind while the other would be flexed, touching only the tip on the ground (as I thought that was the defaul resting position).

Well, she's had colic surgery 5 weeks ago (that's why I spent so long making company inside her stall), maybe that's the reason she found a different resting position.
Also because of this I wonder if I should practice this crunch already... maybe a little, without bribing much? For I suppose it's better to stretch slowly before allowing her to run loose again, when she'll probably end up kicking high in the air! :D

Author:  Volker [ Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2: The bow and the Back crunch

Luara wrote:
Also because of this I wonder if I should practice this crunch already... maybe a little, without bribing much?
Do you mean luring (make her follow a treat in your hand)? If you are concerned or unsure whether she might overdo a certain movement, I would suggest that you use shaping instead of luring. That way it is much harder to make a horse do something that goes beyond healthy thresholds.
Luring has several disadvantages in my opinion: greedy, jerky movements which could result in injuries, unhealthy feeding positions, deteriorating food manners. On top of that the learning effect is not so good compared to shaping for example, where the horse is actively seeking a way to the final behaviour.

That being said, if it works fine for you, stick to it of course :f:

Author:  Luara [ Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2: The bow and the Back crunch

Hi, Volker!
Well, it's not following anything with her nose, and I'm not giving treats either (I'm myself still reading and learning how should I behave with that).
I stand by her butt (usually behind her, sometimes besides her croup), and scratch her. Then she goes moving forward, so that my scratching falls where she wants most to be scratched!
I did it again, yesterday, and noticed there isn't a right spot for that. Or it's not always the same, anyway... guess she ends up shifting mostly forwards, but sometimes backwards too.

Thinking about overstreching the line of the surgery: is it much more stretching than a pedestal? (ok, depending on the degree...)
When she was swollen I would keep her on a pedestal for a while, hoping it would help to drain (it was draining near her navel, which was higher than most of the swollen area. On the pedestal it was lower than the rest). She didn't have any problem with that, even seemed to enjoy/relax in the position :)

Author:  Romy [ Tue Dec 29, 2020 6:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2: The bow and the Back crunch

Here is an extract from Maymun's diary where I describe how we learned the back crunch today.

Maymun became a stretch mouse this evening - he learned the back crunch. :)

I haven't worked on this exercise with a new horse for more than ten years, and at first it felt like I had lost the ability to do it: The foaly either just pawed, or if he set a frontleg forwards, he immediately set a hindleg forwards as well. Also, I cannot withhold a reward when the horse tries something, it just doesn't feel good and makes me feel so sorry for the poor little darling when he is trying his best but just hasn't understood it, yet. Accordingly, when he set a hindleg forwards, I could not simply correct it and then ask again. So after each movement of a hindleg, I asked for a step backwards and immediately rewarded that. Technically speaking, this could mean that it makes no difference for the horse whether he moves the hindlegs of not, because moving them gets him a reward as well, although with an intermediate step back. However, this does not seem to be how the foaly's mind works. Instead, he seems to be so eager to do well. So we were able to learn the back crunch in one session despite me being not as efficient as I could possibly be.

One thing that worked particularly well for us is when I kneeled down in front of him (next to where he is supposed to put his hooves) and fed him close to the ground. This reduced the pawing and made him put the fronthooves down, which he obviously had to do if he wanted to reach his reward. I immediately offered this reward after he lifted the leg, so when I was standing he could reach it while still pawing, but when I was kneeling he could only reach it after he had stopped pawing.

I also rewarded any action of the frontlegs, no matter which leg he lifted or what he did with it. If he lifted the same leg five times in a row and put it down at the exact same location where it had been standing before, this got him a reward as well. This is because the most important thing was to make him feel confident that doing anything with the frontlegs is a good thing. I think if I had been more specific and just rewarded the "correct" leg or action, this would have made him feel insecure and either stop trying or get all messy with desperate attempts of doing it right. Therefore, I made sure to communicate that everything is right, as long as he is trying.

Generally speaking, for me the important thing about this training experience was that it works well to be very liberal in my criteria, and put more emphasis on the horse's confidence instead of technical correctness. This makes him experiment instead of shutting down, so it is much easier to get the intended movement, which I can then reward a million times more enthusiastically than the others, so the horse still understands what I want although I reward almost everything. In consequence, after I had squealed "Oh, see how loooong the mouse is! :love:" and given many rewards in a row in response to him really stretching, it seemed like a lever switched in his little head. From then on he just tried to get longer and longer and longer, and later he offered this whenever I came close to him in between the exercises that I did with the others when TitSumJo joined in. I did not even need to correct the hindlegs anymore, because if he accidentally made a step with them, he immediately added two steps with the frontlegs all by himself. He seemed to completely understand the concept of “get as long as possible”, instead of only the low-level actions of “move a leg”. For us it is just so important to create an open atmosphere to encourage experimenting, and then the rest will come all by itself.

Page 7 of 7 All times are UTC+01:00
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited