The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:30 pm 
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Someone on this forum asked about using a whip within the Philosophy of AND.

Here is a response to that which could be of interest to others:

Use of a whip
As concerning the whip, in some situations I use a whip, depending on the horse. (I often also use a branche or a poolnoodle depending on what is in the neighbourhood for me to grab). I could use it for instance to touch a leg to put emphasis on it, especially the inside hind leg.
I could use a whip to define my space with certain unknown horses (You know I meet new horses every week, and most horses they call me out for are really fed up with humans and are also the kind of horses who do not put up with humans and rightly so, so a long thing to keep between my tiny 50 kg self and an angry stallion is sometimes handy. After seeing I do not react and don't mind but understand the anger it mostly just flies off and I am safe again...).

You said if I remember that a whip alters our intention? That could be very well the case of course, but it also could not to my experience. Anyway the human's intention is of no interest to me. What is of interest to me is what the horses view of a whip is and by that the intention of the human becomes clear.

Now my ex bullfighter Don Jamie hated whips as in Spain he has had to indure more beating and horror then one can imagine for 13 years. So he hated whips or everything that looked like a stick really.
And I thought that logical so kept whips far from him. Now he gave me real insight on how horses can pick up on intent.
For once a woman in one of my contact with horses course was leaning on a stick. I said that she could not go into the arena for Jamie hated sticks of any kind. She said she could not walk without it. So we just let her try. As soon as she went into the arena Jamie came out to meet her! The stick did not mean anything to him! This is a horse who jumped out of a arena with me on him because someone walked in with a whip or even a dungcleaner! I was astonished, he knew she depended on the stick and in no way had it anything to do with him!
That lesson was well received and from then on I went on working with whips again with Jamie.
We did chase the tiger, and kill the whip and all sorts. He now does not mind whips anymore when I am holding one.

As to the fact of trying to get things done with a whip, I sometimes have tried it on Owen when he had no inclination of walking and I really wanted him to because the doctor said he needed to because of his lunges. Or worse; simply because I wanted to show something to Ralph Owen did the day before. I then tried to push Owen by holding or swinging a whip behind him :funny: He just does not react at all, I can jump up and down for all he cares, he is not going to do what he doesn't want. Why? Because he knows nothing will happen. In the old days he would attack any 'pusher' so I'd say that is a huge improvement :funny: But then he expected being punished for not doing what was demanded, so he only protected himself.

With other horses I have tried simular things, holding a whip and ask them to go forward when they not want to do it just on my invitation or asking with body alone. They then either walk away or get just as rude and pushy towards me as I at that moment are to them. :funny:
They read my intent and know I would never ever do anything to reprimand them or punish or whatever, I just could not. It would be like beating a human(baby), a dog or a cat... I can't do it. Not for any money in the world would I beat a horse and they know it.
So, a whip becomes just that, a thing this human holds and can touch you with, or hang a plastic bag on it for you to follow and chase and destroy, or you could help the human and bring it, our just chew on it a while and then give it to the human ha ha ! :applause:

As for riding, I like to hold a whip up in my hand the way my example Antoine De Pluvinel did. Why? Because it keeps my posture straight and second it keeps my hand occupied so I keep my focus with using my body correct instead of trying to 'get things with rein or cordeo'.
With one hand holding a cordeo or the reins of a Pluvinel cavesson, there is not much left other the neckreining... and that horses can simply igonore all they want. Which, if you had not guessed already, is for me a good thing. Then I know we have a two way communication going on, instead of a one way which of wich the latter is as we all know common.

Having taken the time to explain about a whip, I am going to post this text in the 'what tack section' if the question would pop up again, so thank you Chuck :)
I shall also post some video's of using whips or poolnoodles. Which you by the way can also find under 'chasing the tiger'. That is where a whip within AND finds it's most use I think 8)

Fear of a whip or any other object
When a horse has fear of a whip or any other object for that matter which I am able to lift and move I proceed as following:

I wait until the horse invites me to come closer and I stop there where the horse thinks it's close enough. Then I show the scary object. If the does not look at it I move it away. If he does look at it I move it in front of his face to see, keeping my distance according to the horse's preference.
I repeat this action. Looking away, object moves away, looking, object moves close enough to see.,
The horse learns within minutes that he is in control of A. me and B. the object. He can tell theobject to go away by displaying he does not want it near. He can call the object nearer by displaying he wants to see it. :)
Mostly soon after, the horse will move by a little closer. I then walk backwards, keeping the same procedure every time the horse looks away.
When the horse comes even closer, move away still untill the horse can take it no more and just has to sniff it. Then reward the horse like crazy and I often then throw the object on the ground so the horse can decided to 'kill it' (I often set the example by starting myself).
Or I play chase the tiger with it.
Depending on the situation I either leave the object with the horse or take it with me.

Anyway, what is clear is that here we have a 'fearless horse totally in control of the situation and all object in the vicinity :ieks: 8)

Has worked for me beautifully every time for years. How I came up with it? Well, AND is all about the horse having control again, so it came quite natural :green: Hope it will be helpful for others :)


PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:49 pm 
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Josepha, thank you! I think this is really helpful to think about.

I got into a conversation with Romy about whips and intention that has been really great because it's helped me really pull out my energies/intentions with any tool I use in some more thoughtful ways.

Hopefully my mental ramblings will feel interesting to someone other than me... 8) :green: ;)
It made me really think about my energy and it really doesn't shift with a whip at this point. It used to when I was carrying it when training in dressage and/or longeing with it, but it's just a bendy stick now that extends my arm -- I think because I've used it so much to invite the horses to come to it. I actually don't think "whip" any more when I look at them...more like fishing pole, actually...

This has been a really good tool with Circe as we've been exploring how she can move forward in front of me -- the target on the old longe whip is a way of inviting her forward rather than trying to push her from behind.

And I'm doing a pretzel impression with the smaller dressage whip when I'm walking with my arm over her back -- a super light touch w/my fingers from the hand over her back on her far flank and an equally light touch w/the end of the dressage whip on the near side -- am trying to help her get used to an even touch, and I can't reach her back w/my outside arm.

Maybe it's just a function of being short, but I really love being able to have extensions of my arms! And the only pool noodles I've been able to find locally are so wide I can't hold them easily -- I have small hands.

(It was really helpful to think about this, actually. I'm not over my control stuff with reins yet, for example -- still too hardwired to be rude with them. But no more weird energy around the whip for us.)

And then, in a second thought, I wrote the following:

I actually am hoping at some point to fade out as much arm (and extension thereof) as I use, and instead actually be focused more on my core/hips. I don't know that I'll worry about getting rid of the whip all together because it is a good tool for us, but...

As I think about how I use my arms, a lot of it is about helping Stardust and Circe to move in front of me.

One of the things that has made the most sense energetically to me about shifting my gears and living in the energy of AND has been to change my energy from being pushing to inviting. It's so where I've wanted to be with horses since I first began playing with them as a kid, and I had been so taught away from it. ("Get big, Leigh. Tell the horse who's boss! Don't let him stand in your space!" "Drive him in front of you!" And so on.)

So when I allowed myself to do it, we all were thrilled -- I have big energy and everyone, including me, loved the sense of connecting we got.

But then I realized that I have two horses who are delighted to be in my pocket at all times, and who've found that standing shoulder to shoulder with me is really lovely. And this could actually limit what we did together quite a bit!

So -- as I have tried to figure out how to shift that, I didn't want to go back to pushing them away, especially from behind. (Where I'd spent hours earlier in our relationship, especially with Stardust, chasing them with eye and energy and longe whip in circles -- and they hated it.) I wanted to find a way to invite them to step in front of me a bit -- really to expand my energy out and accordingly our bubble of what constituted "togetherness" -- and the longe whip became a really good tool for that because it was long, light, flexible, and I could tie flannel on the end so it became a good target. (And it was in my tack room! :funny: )

This is just what has worked for us -- and what I'm trying to do now with Circe is meld the two.

I've been trying to build a comfort level with her with me being at her midsection, where I am when I'm on her, rather than at her head. (When I first got on her, she go all bunched up because she was trying to get her head to where I was -- at first I thought this was about treats -- which some of it was -- but it was more than that. She was waiting for me and confused because I wasn't by her head.) So, I used the longe whip as a target that she would follow, and then built into doing that with my arm flung over her back.

Now we're working on fading in a light ask from her flanks, with both hand and short whip (since I'm fairly sure I'd rather not spend a lifetime riding her with a fishing pole dangling in front of her face!)

Anyway -- this is what is working right now for us. And at some point, we won't need it, I'm sure!


"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:49 am 
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I wrote a post in this thread but then moved it to our old Defining pressure thread.

This was because although it had to do with using a whip, it actually was more about the use of pressure - and then Donald's reply was entirely about the interaction and pressure part instead of whips, so I moved both the original post and the reply. I am just placing the link here, because not only yesterday's posts but the whole conversation could be relevant for this topic, too.

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