The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
It is currently Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:52 am

All times are UTC+01:00




Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 56 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 3 4 Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:54 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 7:51 pm
Posts: 2055
Location: Netherlands
Dealing with a pushy horse

Every human has an area of personal space. It's roughly an armslength all around you in size, and you can 'feel' it when someone you don't know or don't like comes inside that circle. You feel itchy. ;) Horses in groundwork work very close to us, and sometimes get too close and start to become a little crowdy or pushy. The thing is not to see that as an attack or an aggressive (dominant!) move, but instead a small misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up:

- you have to tell your horse that this specific behavior is not allowed
- you have to tell your horse why it is not allowed
- you have to tell your horse what alternative behavior is allowed

The bad thing when you don't clear this misunderstanding up, is that it will put stress and negativity on both parties: you will feel a bit annoyed and also a bit threatened and limited in your movement, and your horse will sense that his/her presence causes stress in you and that her presence with you is also felt like something negative.

There's no need for violence or force or loudness in order to teach the horse to move out of your space. See it as a little misunderstanding about how big your personal space is. In fact it's very much like with Greeks. One year during my study a Greek student came to Holland to study at our university. And Greeks have very, ver tiny personal spaces around them. When they talk to you, face to face, they don't mind if their face is only 20 centimeters away from yours even when you have never met each other before. While in the Netherlands everybody who doesn't know each other has a space of at least an arm length around themselves. Instead of beating this Greek student up for being disrespectful or making ourselves bigger all the time, or walking backwards away from him to enlarge our personal space (well, we tried in the beginning, but in the end there will always be a wall blocking you, and he just stepped forwards too anyway), at one point we just explained to him that you can't stand this close to people you don't know in our country and that it makes people feel unsafe, or at least a bit funny. And we showed him how large a personal space would be generally (just as much as with horses), and that when you don't know someone, you place the edge of your space against the edge of the space of the other, and not overlapping your two personal spaces just yet. And without us having needed to whip or threaten him or force him backwards, he decided to just go with that, because he had never meant to annoy us and still wanted to talk to us.


Method
As your personal space is the size of your arms lenght, you can easily give your horse these three messages by swinging your arms around you. With that you tell him that being too close now isn't allowed (when swinging around, your arms will get in contact with his body as long as it stays in your personal space), you tell him exactly where he shouldn't be (exactly that arms length all aroudn you that he can see because you swing your arms around you), and you tell him where he can be (outside that personal space, and you can actually reward him when he moves out of this!).

A lot of people just lap their arms around at fast speed or flap them up and down, which is not only annoying, but also hard to read, because you still aren't very clear where your territory is as your hand flap around at different distances from your body. It's hard to help you through the computer (just standing next to you we could do it within seconds!), but I'll try to explain in steps and I hope I'm clear enough!

1. Stand up straight:
a lot of people send out mixed messages about their space by just standing with hunched shoulders and a bent back. Try this: bend forwards and now try and swing your arms around you: you will only have a small space right under your upper body, and no space whatsoever in front of your head or behind your back, because your arms cant reach that.

2. Stretch your arms (lock your elbows) and hold them stretched horizontally at shoulder height next to your body (when you would look from above and down on you, your arms and shoulders form one straight line from hand to hand)

3. Now lower your arms untill your hands are at navel-height - still with stretched elbows!

4. Now slowly turn your hands around you clockwise: while the left arm is making a part of the circle forwards and to the right, the right arm is making a part of the circle backwards and to the left. Turn your shoulders with your arms, and when your left arm can go anymore to the right without losing his stretched elbow (and instead curving against your body). When you can't go further, go anti-clockwise back: your left arm now moves to the left towards and behind the back, while the right arm moves forward around your body to the front. If you can't go any further without losing your stretched elbows, revert to clockwise again.

5. Swing your arms clockwise and anti-clockwise like this, and do it slowly. Your power is not in your speed, but in your strenght. If you keep your joints and back straight while turning like this, your arm will feel very hard if it encounters anything on the way forwards or backwards (for example a nose of a nosy horse ). It will actually be harder when you go slower, because you can stretch your arm better. Amaze yourself by turning only one arm around like this, and holding your other arm in the path of the turning arm (and keep that elbow straight and locked!!!): feel how much power is behind that arm when you hit the other. Now do the same when you don't stretch the turning arm, but just have it loosely swinging around: you wil notice that this arm will give as soon as it encounters something and flex around it. And that's exactly not the message you want to send out. Now straighten the turning arm again, and repeat this to discover how your power is at different speeds of turning around. If you find it difficult to hold one arm still while turning the other, then just place the edge of a door, cupboard or table in the path of your swinging arm. Just be aware that it will be bruised quickly.

Find that speed of turning around where the centrifugal powers keep your arm lifted in the air a bit, and keep that untill your horse has moved out of your space again - then reward him.

The good thing about standing straight, with straight arms and a relaxed turning around isn't just that any contact with your arms is quite powerful, but much more it's good because your horse can clearly see what you doo: an arms that's just flashing around, up and down, is hard to follow. While you want to send out a very slow and clear message: This Is My Space A slow, conscious and precise movement just shows it all, and enables the horse to prevent the active correction of having your arms bumping against his body.

Actually I've never experienced a horse getting aggressive because of this, or annoyed or scared. They tend to try four or five times if you really mean this and if they can't go back to their old behavior, but they realise that you're not being annoying, unreasonable or aggressive, but just telling them that this is your space, not theirs. And because you use such a calm and clear posture and movements to point this out, they can really think this over and decide not to bump against you again - instead of being forced or driven or annoyed out, with you think about territory and they think how annoying and aggressive you are.

By the way: with a slow moving or more polite horse, you can hold your arms somewhat lower when asking him not to be in your space, and with a bigger, faster moving or less polite horse you can raise your arms up to shoulder height, giving you a bigger territory. The most important thing is not to be aggressive. Don't direct your emotions or thoughts against your horse. Don't think 'get out of here! you shouldn't be here!', but instead think 'I feel the need to now stretch my shoulders by swinging my arms around myself in a calm and powerful way.' Actually you could do that any time you want, as it's your territory anyway. It's just that sometimes your horse reminds you to do that, by placing his nose or shoulder too close. Just think 'Good idea, I should really go and stretch my shoulders!'. And as an added bonus it's really very nice for your shoulders too.


Being consequent?
For some reason horsepeople sometimes seem to have the idea that if you're not very consequent, your horse won't understand you and get entirely out of hand. This would mean that according to this idea you should always keep your horse out of your personal space. Which would be a bit sad. ;)

With Blacky and Sjors: yes, of course they can come in and stand next to me or in front of me, or bump their buttocks against me with the message 'scratch here, I'm itchy' :roll: , but sometimes when I don't like that, I can tell that to them too without them getting annoyed or angry with me or feeling confused about it.

Indeed, I'm not being consequent (because then I would never accept any closeness coming from their side, only allowing it when it was on my command) but as I'm also not making a big deal of it when I don't want to be crowded, they just accept that because they still want to play with me. If they wouldn't, they could just leave as we're working at liberty anyway. I'm not a rigid dictator with subjects who are only allowed to do exactly what I tell them to. I'm communicating with the ponies, and because my messages aren't violent or forced on them, they're willing to listen to them.



For a somewhat different approach, also within the AND framework, see: Encouraging politeness

_________________

New horse book: Mandala horses!


Never stop making mistakes! Natural Dressage


Last edited by admin on Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:10 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:20 pm
Posts: 1822
Location: Norway
Good topic!! Thank you...


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:10 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:44 pm
Posts: 1938
Location: The Hague, Netherlands
You state this very well :mrgreen:
Evita knows my asked space is shown by my hands. She is always at the end of my hands so close to me when they are next to my body and further away when my hands are further away from my body. I don't have to push her, mostly its even without touch. This is nice because it comes in 'handy' with many movements wich can be done very close because our communication is so subtile and controlled.

_________________
Image


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:11 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 18, 2007 1:20 pm
Posts: 760
Location: Poland
Miriam wrote:
Your power is not in your speed, but in your strenght.


Exactly. To make it more spiritual, ;) I would add, that it's not the strength of your muscles, which has a limit (especially comparing to horses...), but your internal strength, which in Chinese martial arts is called "chi". This energy we can develop through practice: learning to breath efficiently, to relax, to find our own balance (which means being balanced on the ground just like you should be balanced when riding a horse), and to concentrate, which allows us to manage our energy consciously. Here is a video of one of T'ai Chi masters, who demonstrates how he can "send away" an opponent using only his internal energy, without any muscle effort. Notice that he doesn't look agressive, and he doesn't need to touch another person:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSnUDkCQ0WU

Of course you don't want your horse to fly away like these poor guys :lol: this is just to demonstrate how much power we actually have 8)

_________________
"Never just follow the crowd." Margaret Thatcher


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:08 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
I need to practice this. I thought that when I wanted my horse to back away, I would say "back" but like he was a child who didn't understand. I said it loud and articulated so he could understand the word completely. I think I've got it all wrong.
I don't want my horse to think I'm annoyed and that's what I would sense if someone was talking loud at me.
Something else to do. Great! Thanks for the advice.


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:58 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 7:51 pm
Posts: 2055
Location: Netherlands
Of course you can say 'back' too when he's too close, and repeat that when there's no response from your horse. Sometimes I choose that too, but the problem with that is that you might enter in a discussion. Because when your horse then doesn't respond, you will start to get angry/annoyed with him for not following your cue. And then because he also doesn't respond to your louder cue. ;) You forget that in fact it all started because your horse was just too close, because now it has turned into a murky 'you never do what I say but you should still do it'-discussion.

I would say, just reply to your horse getting too close, by making being close uncomfortable and reward when your horse moves out of your circle again. And be very clear about how much space you want, and where your horse is 'safe', because then you don't annoy him unnecessary and he will soon understand what you want from him. :)


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:37 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
today, I tried teaching my horse to back by swinging my arms at a low level (he is quite right-brain) and my body was straight. He understood me after about three tries. They are so smart. He didn't seem upset but looked like he was wondering what I was doing. When he did understand, he backed. I gave him a treat. After two tries, he waited for his treat at a distance.
Thanks for this. I will use it everytime. It works.
Jocelyne


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:45 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
:lol: Freckles responds to this very nicely, but as soon as I stop "stretching" myself he crowds right back in again. So I stretch some more, and he backs out of my space. Then I stop stretching, and he's right on top me again! We're playing "yo-yo horse"! :lol:

So can someone tell me please what I didn't understand properly?

_________________
Glen Grobler

Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:53 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 7:51 pm
Posts: 2055
Location: Netherlands
Do you reward him as soon as he gets out of your space?

Because that might be the trick to keeping him away: now you only send him away - and draw him back in when you lower your hands. 8) You now have to teach him that his response getting away is superb, but that he can also stay away when you lower your hands.

Just reward him as soon as he back out of your space. Make sure that when you give him the treat for that, you also walk towards him and give it to him, and not let him walk back to you in order to collect it himself. Because that would sort of totally contradict what you're trying to teach him. :wink:


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:01 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
Thanks, Miriam

Sometimes I've been walking to him to give it, and sometimes not - so that must be why it is only sometimes working. :oops: I didn't think "horse logic" only people logic!

_________________
Glen Grobler



Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:17 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 4733
Location: Belgium
I have one word: excellent! 8)

_________________
www.equusuniversalis.com


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:34 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:19 am
Posts: 72
Location: Rhode Island
Hello,

I'm brand new here and just tried this as my first attempt at AND. To my surprise and glee it works!
I have a very pushy pony so I need all the help I can get.
THANK YOU!! Carla (& Elvis)
:thumleft:

_________________
Carla


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:07 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:08 pm
Posts: 14
Miriam, this is great,I have try yestrday and it works so smoothly. :)
I have three "pushy" horses, each on their own way, and I didn't figure how to explain them and not to chase them of to move out of my space.
I really love it, we will work on that. :)


Top
   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Miriam wrote:
Do you reward him as soon as he gets out of your space?

Because that might be the trick to keeping him away: now you only send him away - and draw him back in when you lower your hands. 8) You now have to teach him that his response getting away is superb, but that he can also stay away when you lower your hands.

Just reward him as soon as he back out of your space. Make sure that when you give him the treat for that, you also walk towards him and give it to him, and not let him walk back to you in order to collect it himself. Because that would sort of totally contradict what you're trying to teach him. :wink:


Excellent and so very true. Though I will let a horse come to me for his treat he must keep his head away (nose actually) and maintain body distance as I give it to him.

At first one must do it rather quickly but in time one can relax the movement.

I have also, when I was doing pressure release style training so many years ago, found I could teach a horse to respect my space just as they sometimes do with each other - a little body block. Usually just bumping with my hip into whatever part of the horse had intruded into my personal space.

Many horses will respond with a quiet "excuse me," expression and move over and maintain the space.

On the other hand one must remember that when one "speaks horse," the herd dominance issue can intrude very quickly. He might choose to bump you back, though I never had one do so to me. So I don't recommend this with a herd dominant animal. It's more a herd-buddy level response.

Know your horse.

Donald R.

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


Top
   
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:06 pm
Posts: 11
This is great! So simple, yet so effective!

I have one question, I suppose it belongs in this topic:

A month ago I started working a little bit with 7 months old filly. We started playing - just running around. It was all great but one thing - during the game she tried to bite me and reared at me. Oh yes, and when running next to me she speeded up and kicked at me. I avoided it all. After that we continued playing normaly for a while, I intoduced clicker to her and it was all just fine. I know that young horses play that way, but an inosent game to them can be a fatal game to human. Since then I haven't had a chance on working with her either because of lack of time, then the 3 week raining weather, but mostly because I gave myself a brain torture on what to do with her, mostly how to work with her? I'm so very afraid of doing something wrong, on giving her wrong signals, but still stay safe. She's a very young horse and I would like to work with her, but properly in order that one day she grows up in socialized, happy, confident horse who accepts humans as friends and teachers, not only th food-giving machines (her owner saw her twice since she was born and noone has worked with her at all).

I understand the ''hand-waving'' signal, but what to do when it occures during the play? Or should I teach her that before even playing? How to show to a young horse that his way of playing is not the great one (meaning biting and kicking) without discouraging him from play?
Please help! :pray:


Top
   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 56 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 3 4 Next

All times are UTC+01:00


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited Color scheme created with Colorize It.