First many thanks for the welcome (back), and I will go and put in my full intro... haha Also MANY huge thanks for fixing my image links. Being a software engineer one would think I could manage that stuff, huh?? *sigh*
Thanks for the compliment about my girl, I adore her, she is lovely, in ever respect not just her face, I think she is beautiful but am just a tad biased. haha Anyway on to the topic at hand.
Bear with.... This may get lengthy!!
Thank you very much! I merged your posts into the other thread so that we have everything in one place. Also fixed your picture links - lovely horse that you have there!
Like Leigh, I am also interested in hearing more about what you are actually doing in terms of actions with your horse (the philosophy behind the system I think I understand). I will summarize what I understood from what I read until now, maybe then it's easier to correct me where I am wrong. Forgive me if that description will sound a bit technical, I am trying to leave out most of the interpretations of the human's or horse's actions, just to get the specific steps clear. I added numbers where I have further questions, which I will ask below.First you offer food to the horse, which he eats and then he comes to you. After you got his interest and willingness to interact, you suggest a certain very simple exercise that he can do
Actually this is NOT what we do, not at all. It's not something that should be explained in depth here. Let me offer a bit of an explanation to what I mean.
I fully understand AND is a place to share and help people learn HOW to do things with the horse. (it's why I joined when I did in the first place) And it's not that I don't want to shout out what and how to do FT, it's just not my place to do so in any environment. Firstly I am not a certified teacher of FT, and secondly this is Chuck's livelihood. His sole income is in FT students. Don't get me wrong, you aren't paying him forever, it's a one time charge for the course, but he literally holds your hand daily through it, so he gives you loads of his time and expertise to be sure you are doing things the right way.
Everyone always wants to know the details of how to do FT, well if you really want to know, sign up!
Seriously you wouldn't ask this of Anderson, or Parelli, or Lyons, nor would they be able to give you all of their training program in a few lines or paragraphs. You BUY their program to really learn it or attend a clinic, or whatever. Now, granted they're on TV and have programs to help people with their horses. Chuck doesn't have that kind of reach or income, otherwise I am sure he'd be right there with them.
But most people that have horses won't "get" what's being taught through those all too short TV shows. And many of them unfortunately get into trouble. True enough those with enough experience do really "get it" and can go out and apply it, or do something very similar and achieve similar results.
What really irritates me though is that you would expect to have to pay for the course to "do" Parelli's PNH, or Lyons' whatever. But people want us FT'ers to just say "oh, do this this way and then this and then this...." and fully explain in great detail how to do FT. *sigh* We cannot do so, because we basically sign up to learn, we pay our money and promise NOT to share the intimate details except with each other. A secret society? No, not really. Now, he does have certified FT people, I am fervently trying to get there myself so that I can share it more. But no, there is a danger is sharing parts of FT and how we accomplish what we do. And it is because of the possible danger that we all agree NOT to give anyone the details. Parelli wants only certified PNH people to share their program, same with Anderson, Lyons, all of them. Chuck is no different in this. And you (the collective you) should not think less of him for wanting to have people learn it the RIGHT way, just like all the other big names do. I once asked Karl Milkolka why people are not allowed to take notes or video etc when auditing a clinic, his response was simply, "because they are not the one riding, they will take things out of context because they aren't the one I am working with, and then share it and people do things incorrectly and blame Karl Milkolka when things go wrong." Tooo true.
If this is summary is in any way correct (and please correct me where I am wrong!) I do see a lot of parallels to AND, but also some differences - although AND is a study group, so everyone is doing things differently anyhow, but I mean the basic philosophy. The main difference is that I understand you are working in really preplanned steps which are the same for each horse human combination, whereas AND is more meant to go with the horseâ€™s initiative. So thatâ€™s the point where my questions arise:
*1 Are these the same exercises for every horse or just the same more global steps? I am asking because when I am playing with horses, I usually find that they all have their own preferences and I mostly felt they had most fun when I went with that. If you indeed use only preplanned exercises, what is the reason for that?
Well they are preplanned exercises, but we do listen and work with the horse we have at the moment. But the exercises are always the same. Not so much unlike riding, well the way I have been taught anyway.... I do the exact same thing on every horse I ride, they ALL respond the exact same way. As we progress and I ride horses at varying levels of knowledge the way I do things changes a bit. But I can say that my foundation of riding is exactly the same no matter what horse I am on and I get exactly the same reactions/actions out of every horse. The key is in the listening to the horse and of course feeling. Do I modify based on that horse? yes eventually or somewhat, but the basics are always the same.
FT is kinda like that, it's the foundation if you will. It's a foundation for developing a relationship. Yes we use food as a reward but not as you would think. These planned exercises are designed to build the relationship in steps. They trigger a two way communication. The main difference in FT and other formats is the "bridge".
We use a "bridge" language so the horse has a means to tell US what he wants or doesn't want. For Owen, my TB this is what made the biggest difference. He had a way to say to me "can we stop now?" and I would allow him to have that say. He'd ask and I would say "ok, we're done." Complete difference in him. I think I shocked him the first time I agreed that we could stop. He rarely asks to stop, rarely, so when he does I usually always say "ok. no more." Same with Bella, even under saddle where she isn't able to use the bridge, I know what she is saying and yes if she asks to stop, we simply stop. This makes people crazy! haha Most of my horse friends cannot fathom allowing the horse to dictate what we do. I know that AND people will understand this much better. When we let the horse have a say they become much more willing to play.
Owen would rather be with me doing whatever I ask than be doing anything else, he leaves his food and his herd to be with me. Always. I have had more people comment on never having seen a horse so completely trusting and loving of a person before. He like gushes his love. (Not unlike Frederique Pignon's horses.) And now Bella is becoming the same way. How would you feel if you walked into a huge pasture and your horse(s) comes running to you, and gently kisses you and wants to just be with you?? How would you feel if (for those of us still using bridles and bits) your horse pushes his nose into the bridle opening his mouth and taking the bit before you even put your hand on it?? but I digress....
*2 If the horse does react to your question but his reaction is different from what you had in mind, do you go with his initiative or do you persist and try to get to the exercise you had in mind initially?
Typical horse answer there, HUh?? The goal is to perform the exercise, but we may have to go with the horse. So for instance if I were to ask Owen to move his forehand to the left and he instead moves backwards, I will just watch him. Then I need to think about HOW I asked, and try again. But if I ask him to move fully sideways and he pins ears and tries to attack me, then I will take a hard look at alot more than just how I was asking. Course with him, I know he doesn't want to move that way.
He should never feel he has to resort to even pinning ears though. So it depends. If the horse can do what is being asked, and I know I have asked correctly, depending on the "reaction" I get I may just decide to leave it alone that day and try again another day, or I may decide to try again. But yes ultimately we want to do the actual exercise. fwiw, I have found the only time my horses have given me an action that wasn't expected to the FT exercise was when they were not physically able to do as asked.
*3 When your initial steps were done in a very specific way and in a fixed order, is that also true for later steps in your partnership with your horse or is it more like learning the alphabet first so that later you can freely combine the letters to words and then to sentences, eventually? So that for later steps there are certain guidelines but more room for the horseâ€™s and humanâ€™s own ideas?
Thanks again for explaining!
YES, exactly!! Very much the learning the alphabet before learning to read, and like learning to walk before running.
These days we just do random exercises here and there to keep the FT edge. Some days I hardly ask for anything, others I ask for the while she-bang. The exercises are done at feeding time and only take a few minutes, yes only a few minutes!!! So you aren't working for an hour or more, if you find it taking longer than a few minutes then you're not doing FT, or you have a confused horse. hahaha
As in learning any approach to working with your horse, you change. You change in how you do things, and your horse may change in how he responds to you. Just like when I began to learn classical dressage, I changed in my overall riding approach. And with FT my overall approach to horses (any horse) has changed. For the better I hope.
(*1). If he does not do it, you don't put on pressure but simply ask again and then stop and continue later or repeat the former steps if there is still no reaction (*2). Once learned in the way you had planned before, those exercises become the building blocks for your future interaction (*3). With time you increase the variety of exercises and their difficulty. You use positive reinforcement (foodrewards) but in a very specific way: only the "right" answer from the horse gets rewarded, not any other offer.
*1) yes usually no pressure, again depends on what they do. Ask again, try to make sure you are asking correctly, etc.
*3) mostly. Yes we build and get more creative at times. Positive reinforcement is always used, but they also learn and understand "no". We can at this stage use a 'nooooo' and he horse will actually think. I have seen Owen stop and think a moment and then do just as I have asked, after giving him a 'nnooooo'. Have I mentioned he tends to be fairly goofy??
So I apologize for not giving full detail on HOW to do FT with your horse(s). I hope my explanation has helped though.
If you want a deeply intimate relationship with your horse, then I HIGHLY recommend FT. If you are not interested in that then fine please forget all about FT.
Now I need to add my usual tag line:
'Has your horse kissed YOU today?'