The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Length of training
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:19 am 
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Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 2:05 am
Posts: 444
Location: Perth, Western Australia
I've been wondering lately how long everybody spends playing/training/interacting with their horses?
For us there has always been a routine which limits things a little, they get fed morning and evening and we play with them before we feed them in the afternoon. This does mean it gets a bit tricky if we try to come up at another time of day. Ive always wondered how it would be different if we lived with the horses and could spend a few minutes with them whenever we felt like it.
Anyway I usually play with poppy or bear for about 20-30min consecutively and then I'll usually give them a break before doing something else or swap and do something with a different horse. Ive always found if I do things for longer than that they get a bit disinterested or not quite so enthusiastic. It may just be that my attention span is that short
Bj used stay interested in doing things for much longer, especially when he was painting which he would do for ages.
When we go on walks it usually means interacting for much longer, but I think there is much more down time while they are out. Especially when we take them to graze.

Any way I'm interested in what other experiences people have had.

 Post subject: Re: Length of training
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:00 am
Posts: 567
Location: Scotland
For me it is as long as they are interested , and as long as I can be there , It does not really matter what time I turn up , or for how long I am there . For example one night last year there was to be a huge firework display very close to where the horses live , I think it was over new year , so we went down at midnight to be with them . Mr was very sleepy when we got there but within a second he was completely focused on doing whatever we had been doing that afternoon , Levades I think , and he was doing this constantly though the whole display with me just sitting and telling him how amazing he is 8) .
Or like last summer I would spend all day with them , for awhile I was spending up to ten hours with them , everyday . We would spend most of this time playing , though through the day when one of us got tired , nearly always me , we would snooze together , or Mr would go eat some grass . :sun:
Never has there been a time when we have stopped because one of us has become uninterested in what we are doing , because it is so easy for us to influence what we are doing to something that interests us . Meaning , if Mr is disinterested in the thing we are doing , it is very simple for him to offer doing something else .
Me being uninterested is something that never happens , as what ever Mr decides to offer is interesting and perfect for me :green:
With going for walks , we do not go for long walks , per distance , but we spend hours outside with them going to the best grazing spots :sun:

 Post subject: Re: Length of training
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2014 3:19 am
Posts: 94
Location: America
Usually I can spend more time with Rose on weekends and during breaks than during the school week.On school days, I don't get home usually until around 6, then I have homework, 4-h, etc. I can still get about an hour in every (or every other) day. Up until a few weeks ago I had 4-h every week, and now that's done I can see her a bit more. In the summers, it varies, but I mostly go out to see her 1-2 hours. Rose doesn't tend to get bored, because we don't only work on one thing during our sessions. I might have one or two main things I'd like to do, but we mix it in with review of old stuff, working on body language, but mainly just playing. :bounce: We end when I start running out of treats, where we go back to her stall or field and do nothing together.

 Post subject: Re: Length of training
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6231
Location: Dresden, Germany
In the winter I don't have any fixed training time. I just do the work that needs to be done at the pasture, and if the horses come and want to play, we do that. Sometimes just for a few exercises before I get back to work, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes for longer. But I rarely do any real "training" in the pasture these days. Just a few exercises or body language things or other little games now and then, but if I really want to do something with the horses, we go for walks. I just cannot motivate myself to find pasture play interesting at the moment.

In the weekends we often spend the whole day at the pasture, but it's impossible for me to say how long we actually play, because the human and equine participants change all the time, with some dropping out or just taking short breaks and new ones joining in all the time. Sometimes it starts as a completely non-horsey activity (e.g. yesterday the children were building some huge "wood park" for the horses to play), then one horse comes to investigate and there are little episodes of interacting, and then the horse either leaves again and the children continue working, or they do more interaction than work, then the next horse comes, and so on. It's more like a constant flow instead of cleanly sliced pieces of play.

In the summer it is a bit different, because then I usually have about one hour of time, so the procedure is rather constant. I put the fence further so that they have fresh grass, and then I am available for play or walks for the rest of the time.

When we go for walks, the usual duration during the week is about 45 minutes, and about 1.5 hours in the weekends. However, we have walks of all kinds of durations, sometimes just 10 minutes and lasst Friday we walked seven hours. It just depends on what the horses and humans want to do.

 Post subject: Re: Length of training
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:15 pm
Posts: 234
Location: Western Australia
Anyway I usually play with poppy or bear for about 20-30min consecutively and then I'll usually give them a break before doing something else or swap and do something with a different horse. I've always found if I do things for longer than that they get a bit disinterested or not quite so enthusiastic. It may just be that my attention span is that short

What I find usually with our horses is that we have a little bit of an unintentional routine with them which isn't anything we've decided on but just the process that they like. I think it may be like this more because we are up everyday at a consistent time. So on a normal day they generally are waiting at the gate for us (especially bear) and the first thing they offer (because they like it the most I guess) is the more energetic, wild play we do. This includes riding and any play that's generally more exciting for them (the fast impressive stuff). Then like Marina said after this we generally switch with another horse when they start getting tired or losing interest (or with Bear focus sometimes). Now what I find is that when I go back to that horse I will do something different because they are normally a little tired by then (Bear does seem to have endless energy sometimes though but his focus does go). So I will move to do say more focused but less energy intensive work for example with Bear; recall games or our fetch/chase the tiger game. Given the time I would switch again when one of us loses interest and then do "standing still games" as I usually call them, activities that don't involve much energy but are fun because they are fun while learning and involve more complex but small movements. For example Bear is currently learning how to untie my shoelaces, something that once he learns, it will lose our interest as the activity itself doesn't have much use (as it's just a trick) but it teaches him control and delicacy when playing with objects. I find generally that its these lower energy games that you can play for ages with them without them losing interest or stopping from progressing, as they are so easy to change to make more interesting.

I did a lot more of these with BJ as he was often lame or just not feeling energetic and so our subtle interactions got so complex and therefore more interesting, like Marina said he could paint for a solid 40 minutes sometimes as he had so many complex moves and skills to try out and experiment with keeping him interested! :cheers: Sometimes with Bear we spend time doing something simple like him licking my hand just interacting with out any treats and he will do this for quite awhile before losing interest as I turn it into a bit of a game. Likewise BJ had this funny game where I would hold my hand out and he would press his teeth into it and follow me hand around while pushing into it that we would play for ages!

I find that because Marina and I share playing with the horses we naturally fall in to specific sort of roles with them as that is what they seem to find less confusing (as our training and interactions do differ quite a bit). So with Bear Marina does most of the wild play learning/training with him and I feel more as if I'm just playing with him. For awhile as well it was very much so that Marina did the groundwork play and I did the riding play but we seem to have merged the two a little more now, which is great. 8)

So Marina has more of an energetic/wild play focus and I have a more activity base maybe? I mean its not black and white but I find doing less energy intensive things generally will keep their interest for longer.

The horses don't always follow this routine but usually it's something in the environment that causes them to break it up (aka if something is making them excited or spooky). :sun:

*Zoe + BJ*

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