The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:06 am 
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Atreyu is an alpha mare but she always has a best buddy ! Years ago this was her friend Diana and now this is Evita. Diana and Atreyu stood together for over 10 years and when they were apart for a few months Diana got lame... and she cured the day Atreyu returned! Atreyu get's really posessive ... no other horse can approach her buddy horse! Even sometimes it even looks like she wants to chase me away, mostly when I have to do something wich Evita dislikes, like deworming or something. She get's really protective and starts to scream like she wants to warn Evita. This also happens with the ferrier , sometimes even when I'm washing Evita or when the dentist comes. And when Evita has to go somewhere its terrible... they don't want to be apart so an big panic! Evita does not want to leave and Atreyu wants to come with us.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:34 am 
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Yes, buddies do exist in the horseworld, it's not made up by Heart of Equus. ;)


It's also been subject of a lot of studies on horses and herd systems. It has actually turned out that horse almost always seem to model their 'buddy' to a horse they have known in their youth. FOr example, they pick horses with their own colour or the colour of their mother as 'best friend'. And they defend their relationships too against 'third parties' and get really jealous. That's the old wisdom of always introducing new horses in pairs to an established herd: if you get an uneven number due to a new one, trouble will follow because the horses will feel that the new one will snatch their friend away.

But I totally agree with the site that NH-trainers only look at one part of a herd: the dominance system, and place far too much attention on this. They indeed forget the 'just being pals' relationships that take up far more time in a herd, and also the huge role of 'play' trough all ranks (foals can actually challenge alpha mares and lead stallions when it's done as a game!). For me, that's were humans can enter and start making their horses lives really interesting - much more interesting than when you stick to the old 'I'm the boss and I will review everything that you do in the light of dominance'.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:00 pm 
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Alex wrote:
Thanks for this topic! I just found what FT means (from a message into Alternative_horses Yahoo group), and I was exploring the relationship betweeen FT, NHE and AND.

This discussion will save much of my time! :wink:

The problem is: are we discovering something new, or - as a friend of mine, Piciopacio, into his "personal forum" says - we are simply re-discovering again and again, with lots of unuseful enthusiasm, something written into Old Masters books?

How much "innovation" in horse training is really innovative?

This is my present problem... not a simple issue. In fact, horsemanship is a mixture of art and science; science usually goes forward stright, art wonders into strange, individual paths...


We are not re-discovering, we are discovering.
It does not matter how many people have learned, read or written something in the past since the very beginning...
Every person has to discover and learn everything of his own.
Time and time again. Every time a child gets born, a new road full of discoveries starts.

Concerning AND. No, it is not new.
Like Plant remedies or aroma therapy is not new.
In fact, it is all as old as the hills...

Whenever something is based on 'Natural' it comes from the core of our planet and therefore it can never be new.

AND is unussual, but probably (hopefully) not new.
Throughout the millenia I am sure there were always people and horses living and working a long the same lines.

But we people need definitions and places to interact.
And here is one for those who train and live AND wise :)

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:25 am 
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I have known many horse 'buddy' relationships. I have noticed that age, and color tend to play a part (albiet a small one) in how a horse chooses his buddy. But that is sometimes practical. Two young geldings are buddies because they both want to 'play stallion' and fight and chase. And two old mares are buddies because they are babysitting each others foals and going about life the same pace. Similiar interest, just like people.

Cody was absolute bottom man in a 15 horse herd. He made best buddies with Stormy, a 2 or 3 in herd hiarchy (a VIP of the herd). By default then Cody was allowed to eat the better hay, and have more grain, because Stormy (who was in charge) did. If Stormy was not around, he was immedietly exhialed back to the junk bales. These two horses where equals with each other, even though in herd life they were at opposite ends of the totem pole.

I also know of an older, frail horse, who is #1 in a 5 horse herd. Totally undisputed leader (by ability, not strength). When I turned my mare out with these 5 horses, everyone got along, as long as she did not approach the old guy. If she came up to him to even sniff, she was attacked by every other herd member. Once they had been together awhile and the others knew she wouldn't hurt the old boy, she was allowed to talk to him. But they guard him like gold anytime anything happens. He is old and frail, and if it wasn't for the other horses taking care of him, he could be easily hurt. And they give up the better hay and grain without him even asking. Even while they fight amognst themselves over every oat.

I think horse hierachy and herd dynamics are WAY above and beyond what anybody thinks of them. It's a lot more complicated then dominate/submissive relationships.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:43 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:13 am
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I'm reading the website of Mintzlaff... well, as I told you, I'm simply searching something shared from any good horsemanship... the core, the "MCD" (Massimo Comun Denominatore in Italian, perhaps MaximuM Common Denominator in English too? :? )

Really the "peer attachment" idea of Mintzlaff is interesting.... and I share with him a great appreciation for Andy Beck and his ethological work. Most interesting, what Mintzlaff says about the possibility of building such a "human/horse peer attachment" with specific tecniques and exercises... yes, I know that NHE and AND too, and many other trainers or riders, use a very similar approach... but I never read a so clear, ethologically based theorical premise for something that usually comes from empathy.

I've to read something more... and to ask some questions to any Mintzlaff pupil I meet (one, so far).

Thanks again for your comments.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:39 pm 
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I just got pointed to this thread by Romy; thanks Romy. :D

I am in the process of putting Karena through the Friendship Training protocol.

It is excellent and I am delighted!

She is changing and for the better ... this 20 year old mare who is deeply sensitive and bruised by the world. Bruised by me even though I have done my best through the traditional means that were at my disposal for the large part of owning her! (She was my Event horse and was never easy!!)

Its definitely not a short cut version of training but in so far as taking a horse who has deeply ingrained PTSD it is A1 OK!!!!!

By reading some of the above criticisms I think it IS fair to say that the Heart of Equus or FT website is too wordy and I also think that Chuck would, now, be one of the first to admit it! That aside, he has developed an excellent system for be-friending horses and for helping them to release their emotional baggage. I cannot recommend it enough for this purpose.

Alex above is correct that he has managed to systemise what otherwise might come from empathy without the words of background to describe it... aka known as peer attachment.

Chuck has his human foibles; as do we all!! But his work is very good, offers hope to hopeless horses and desperate owners in a way that might not be available ANYWHERE else in the world!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:59 am
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I’ve been studying Friendship Training (FT) - a system of teaching that allows you to truly bond with your horse. How does it work? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out ... but it does! And that’s what amazes and confounds me all at the same time ;-)

Essentially it’s all about positive reinforcement and engendering a peer bond between the horse owner and the horse. After an initial set-up period, some ‘shaping’ of behavior begins with food as the reward. What really gets me is what occurs after this.

With my first horse, my mare, it was immediately after her first exercises. I let her have the food that had been waiting in the bucket behind me and I walked away forty or fifty feet and stood around, NOT looking at her. That’s when the magic happened. She finished her food and walked straight over and gave me a nuzzle on the cheek! We call it a ‘kiss’ for lack of a better word. I’m told that it is a ‘thank you for sharing your food with me’ ... a turning point when the horse sees the food not as ‘theirs’ but ‘mine’ and I shared it her – as would a horse friend.

It’s most amazing. But even more is what happened today.

I started working with my second horse, the old gelding, just last week. He has had a tougher life, being bossed around a lot and mostly learning to ignore you unless you can ‘make’ him do something. It took him two days to come say ‘thank you’. Still I wasn’t convinced because my mare was standing next to me getting lots of scratches and lovin’.
But today ... I had a bad day. I got frustrated by his stubbornness and ended the session with less – correct, but less than hoped for. Then I went all the way out the opposite end of the ring and up the road to the woods and sat on a stump and felt sorry for losing my cool. I was angry at him for being so resistant and that is not a good emotion to have around horses.

Well ... he finished his meal and marched ALL the way through the ring and into the woods to find me and give me a big sweet kiss!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD! This is a horse that never moves a step more than he has to!

I am so hooked. This teaching requires no whips, no ropes, no round pens, no equipment of any kind. If you want to learn how to truly communicate with your horse and allow your horse to communicate with you, check out the website at http://friendshiptraining.org


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:46 pm 
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I think this belongs more in the research section :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Josepha wrote:
I think this belongs more in the research section :-)


When it's about someone's own personal experience of his emotional connection with his horses, I actually don't think that the Mental and Emotional Connection section is such a bad place for it. ;)

Anne Louise, we have talked about FT before (Friendship training), but the problem for several people (including me!) seems to be that it's a bit hard to get to the point of what Chuck Mintzlaff's method is actually about rather than what it's against. When it's working that well for you, then maybe you can give a little overview on how it works (preferably in the other thread, so it will be easier to find for others searching for it later)?

Would be great! :)

Oh, and congratualtions on your lovely experience with your horse! :f:


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:03 pm 
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okidoki :)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:09 pm 
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Beautiful story!
I would also love it to hear more about FT because it sounds very interesting. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:23 pm 

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I promise to add more when I can!


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 Post subject: Friendship Training
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:16 am 
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There was a post from Anne-Louise on another thread in regard to FT and someone asked to have more information about it.
http://friendshiptraining.org/

What is Friendship Training?
(paraphrased explanation from Chuck Mintzlaff:)
FT uses an entirely different inter-species communication mode so
that mutually understandable communication can be explored together.
This method seeks to develop a one on one inter-species relationship
based on cognizance(sp) of the equine social order and the human
care giver's role.

FT is for those people who are interested in exploring the deeper
emotional aspects of bonding with their horse. In its advanced
stages FT allows for development of the equine intellect in
conjunction with human language recognition so that the friendship
bonds include the horse's ability to express himself in ways we can
more readily understand and allows him to understand us in the wider
communication arrays of language, hand signals and body language.

FT teaches the human partner how to go about initiating a leadership
role with a horse, asking the horse to join with him as a respected
friend and to become a mentor to the horse. FT does this in a manner
that the horse understands [right from the initial exercise]. With
FT, at no time will pressure of the human acting as the herd alpha
be utilized as a motivator for compliance.

The horse's learn the meaning of praise and "No" for indications of
correct and incorrect behaviors. It is through ONLY positive
reinforcement that learning takes place. The negative reinforcement
methods of 'pressure/release' are not utilized at all.

Because the interaction model used is based on peer attachment,
safety for the caregiver is greatly enhanced. This is because in
peer attachment relationships, aggression, in any form, is virtually
non-existent.

Of course everyone always asks HOW is FT done??
Friendship Training is a specific, sequential format of interactions that duplicates how horses acknowledge and nurture a very intimate equine friendship. Unlike animal training formats that focus on submission, the sole purpose of the FT format is to establish and nurture a very intimate, trusting, codependent friendship. FT works within the horse's guidelines and expectations of his perception of Equine Friendship. Utilizing the biofeedback from the body to the central nervous system, the offering and acceptance of Equine Friendship is imprinted on an instinctive level.

Very simple cue/responses are requested in a specific situational environment at liberty. (A relatively open, freedom based area of interaction is required to eliminate any possible apprehension and the oppositional force caused by restriction.)

These interactions are referred to as Friendship Training Exercises (FTXs.) The FTXs are presented in a manner very similar to a teacher presenting a lesson plan to a very special pupil. They are presented in a manner that is easy for the horse to understand and comprehend. The horse incidentally learns all his basic ground and riding cue/responses he will need before he ever experiences haltering or the oppositional pressure of restriction.

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 Post subject: Re: Friendship Training
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:40 am 
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So, now that you have an idea of what FT is, the question of "so what?" usually comes up.

I have used FT with my horses for years now, and I know it's produced a miracle with my TB.
I started using FT with him over 5 years ago and very shortly it completely changed him, it totally changed our relationship. We had a good relationship, but he was always challenging everything I would ask of him, and with him you had to ask or you took your life in your hands, literally. He was labeled as a dangerous horse, and he was. Luckily he liked me well enough, but... anyway long story short, I found FT and it's what made the difference with him.

I had tried the usual "natural" horsemanship training formats and none of them worked with him. When I tried Parelli with him he flat refused to
"play the games". No, for us FT is what made the difference and the change in him was a complete 180, it shocked me, tbh. He is still my boy, still very much a "pocket pony", he is trusting of people and willing to do anything asked, well with one exception because physically it's hard for him, he will not move sideways. But he will do anything else I ask, or anyone asks of him. He is a sweet boy and loves affection. He is always the first to offer a kiss.

I also started using FT when I got my little mare, the difference it's made in her training in general is amazing to me. FT just makes other training much easier. When faced with new things, she asks me first and then tries, no matter what it is. She is still doing that. Though I haven't gotten brave enough (yet) to ride her without at least a neck rope for any length of time, I have tried just hopping on and she was very good. I am the one that lacks confidence there, not her. She took very good care of me for the few minutes I stayed on her. Without having the relationship we have I wouldn't dream of trying it. But yeah I am a chicken and I don't always trust my ability if she were to spook. And she will spook with me, haha, it's not that she doesn't try to take care of me, she does, BUT she also knows that whatever she does I go with her. Well bareback maybe not so much. ;)

The relationship makes the difference in anything we do with our horses. I do ride classical dressage, and I still use a saddle and bit and everything. I would love to get good enough to ride totally nekkid, that is the goal ultimately of course. Meanwhile I study and train to give her the best possible chance to be correct. Way back when I first got her and FT started cementing our relationship her learning "attitude" changed to really trying hard to do as asked and really taking care of me in the process. I recall one lesson where my trainer walked up behind her with the longe whip to gently encourage her a bit more forward so I could work on whatever it was I was to do with my body. Instead of rushing forward as usual, she turned and glared at him and continued on in the pace we'd been going. He laughed and shook his head muttering something about how I had worked "my magic on her already" and she would just take care of me, so no point in trying what he'd intended. haha Yet it worked in our favor, hers and mine that is, because as we both progressed and she gained strength and ability as I would ask her for something she'd never done she would try it happily. She is still that way and quite a talented little girl (if I do say so myself).

There is also a trickle effect of sorts, all horses respond differently to you once you have worked with FT.

I wouldn't trade what I have learned and gained from FT for anything in the world. are there other methods? sure. Do they work? probably. Do I want to use any other natural methodology? nope! FT works with every horse, any horse, every time. The only caution is that if it's not your horse you shouldn't use FT because the bond is so deep that the eventual separation can be devastating to the horse. So if you aren't planning on keeping the horse for life, don't use FT.

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 Post subject: Re: Friendship Training
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:53 am 
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Welcome Black Horse Rider, to the land of AND.

We'd love it if you would introduce yourself a little bit over in the "Take the Time to Introduce Yourself" section here: viewforum.php?f=3

Seems like we've had a variety of fan's of Chuck's work arrive recently, which is great. I know he was actually having trouble logging into the system at one point; I'm hoping that's fixed.

I appreciate your testimonials on behalf of Chuck's training approach -- I still, however, find myself wondering exactly what it is that you are doing with your horses?

I like a lot of what I'm understanding the philosophy to be of this technique but must say that I still am feeling fairly adrift as to what you're doing together. If you look around here, you'll find thousands and thousands of pages of very specific activities, approaches, games, etc. that people do with their horses -- no one is following anyone else's technique to the letter -- each person and horse is on their own journey.

When I read your paraphrased description of the philosophies behind Friendship Training, it sounds very similar to what many people are doing here -- with lots of variations. Have you read the philosophical descriptions of AND? As you're reading people's posts and diaries, are you seeing similar approaches/activities/exercises to what you're using?

Looking forward to learning more.

Thanks and best,
Leigh

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