The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:42 pm 
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I have a huge problem... or maybe it's small, but I just don't get it...
I wanted to go and mimic Beau, no asking things... just being there.
But then I enter the pasture and he begins to do all sort of fancy stuff, a real jambette, holding his leg still and other things he normally doesn't do so beautiful. So he is doing great things and I reward, so he gives me more... and more and more... and then I start thinking, would he do this or that, so I ask him bow, and he does this fantastic bow (but not long) and he starts doing back crunch and I go jippie!!! everything I ask, he does, so I get excited, and he does. I point at a leg and it lifts, just everything works!
But we're not calm, we get overexcited. And when I stop he keeps offering. he runs out in front of me, stops and does 4 beautiful spanish walk steps. I'm hopeless, and reward. But he is definitely calling the shots at that moment.

I'm so confused. I also cannot ask him to do an exercise longer, the he just starts doing more things. And if it weren't great things, it would be ok, but he keeps amazing me, leaving me with my mouth open...

Where do I stop rewarding?
Should I ask 2 exercises, stop and do nothing for 5 minutes and ignore him? I tried it, and he went to the barrel and jumped it, just to get me to treat again.

HELP!!!

I copied this from my diary, I really do not know what I should do, I know it sounds stupid, he does to much, but it's really growing over my head!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:35 pm 
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Hi Barbara,
I am anxiously awaiting the answer to your question. I am having this problem too!

Barbara wrote:
I wanted to go and mimic Beau, no asking things... just being there.
But then I enter the pasture and he begins to do all sort of fancy stuff, a real jambette, holding his leg still and other things he normally doesn't do so beautiful. So he is doing great things and I reward, so he gives me more... and more and more... and then I start thinking, would he do this or that, so I ask him bow, and he does this fantastic bow (but not long) and he starts doing back crunch and I go jippie!!! everything I ask, he does, so I get excited, and he does. I point at a leg and it lifts, just everything works!


Yes this is what both Blade and Lacie do!

Quote:
But we're not calm, we get overexcited. And when I stop he keeps offering. he runs out in front of me, stops and does 4 beautiful spanish walk steps. I'm hopeless, and reward. But he is definitely calling the shots at that moment.


Yes, this is exactly how it is with Lacie.(with Blade it is like this except he is calm about it, so I just laugh and try to show him again that I either want him to stop, or that I am asking for more duration) But Lacie gets way too excited and offers so many things. I think it looks so beautiful, so I reward, but then she does more and more, even when I stop asking things she still offers her favorite exercises. She also does this when she gets impatient when standing still. :roll: Like you, I start to feel kind of helpless... :lol:

I have been trying not to reward when she offers exercises without me asking her to. Especially after she knows the exercise and cue very well. Although it is very hard for me, especially when she does them so beautifully! :lol:
I would like to hear other thoughts on this.

Good topic Barbara! :wink:

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Brittany

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:46 pm 
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First of all I want to say that this "problem" is a problem you could be happy about. It shows clearly thatBeau likes the exercises very much and that you did a gooed job.

Amiro does it sometimes. he has these days he is performing woderful things all the time, but he also has these days he is less enthusiastic. When he offers things I really do not want because of some reason I ignore them.

What to do with the problem?
I think it completely depend on what you want from Beau. Whatever you choose it won't harm him. If you actually like all things he performs rewarding is good. But if he offers them at the moment you really do not want them you can better ignore him. Say to him 'you can do whatever you want, but you only get a reward for it when I give the cue. If you do the exercises in you free time (which you are allowed to) yoy do not get rewarded.

It is quite easy. You can decide what you want and reward for the things you want and not reward for the things you dislike. I hope you can find your own way in this, but this is how I see it :wink:

If amiro is in such a mood i do not reward him anymore, but he can do the exercises if he likes to. When he is finished he gets my attention again. This works quite well. He may think with me and he may offer exercises, but when I do not say anything I don't reward him.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:57 pm 
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Godd explanation Els!

This is what I am trying to do with Lacie. It is hard, because when she offers things so beautifully, I want to reward her. But if I reward her just once when I didn't ask for something, she does it over and over again! :lol:
Even when I need her to stand still with me for a little bit, like for putting on her blanket, grooming, or picking out her feet. She tries to offer exercises. :roll: As you know, when you are trying do these types of things, it is helpful if the horse just stands still and does not do her favorite exercises! :wink:

I am sure that Beau will start to figure out that he shouldn't do exercises when you don't ask. Els' advice of just ignoring the jambette, etc. is good. :wink: It works for me on the days that I truly do what Els is saying... on other days, when I reward for something I didn't ask for, then she offers it over and over in our play session without any asking from me. :roll: :wink:

However, if it is something that I have newly taught to her, I will reward as many times that she offers it for the next few play sessions. Then I will start ignoring the exercise once I have put it on cue.

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Brittany



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:58 pm 
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Oh, sorry, I answered in your diary and not here... but as I think that we will continue the discussion here, I will just write it again:

First, I am very, very happy that my horses offer things by themselves and I would not want to counteract that in general. I don't want a horse that only does exercises on cue. This surely would have its benefits too, but it's not the interaction that I prefer. BUT with Summy it sometimes gets too much or too wild and he is becoming overexcited. I don't stop rewarding then, except for situations when I really don't want the exercises for some reasons, for example if they are too dangerous. In the other situations, I don't reward less, but I try to focus on rewarding OTHER things more. When I notice that he is getting too excited over a couple of days, I encourage calm things like taking down the head or other slow and relaxing exercises. In that way I needn't stop his offers (which I actually like so much), but just help him to put other more calm behaviours on his repertoire and increase their value so that he can offer THEM if he wants to impress me.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:05 pm 
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I was reading about this in Miriam's book, she said that I could try do exercises to calm him down like bow and other things that are more directed to the ground, those exact exercises did not work, but the lowering of the head could be ideal, I read about this in your diary Romy!
I sometimes try to ignore, but he really knows how to get his treats! He doesn't just do his favorite exercises, he does new special things too, everything to get me astonished.
So I guess I'll try the lowering of the head. I have already tried to do some easy things, but even them are really active, I will let you guys know what happens.

And more help or idea's are still very welcome!!!


@ Romy: I was just going to copy paste it from my diary to here, and then I saw that you had reacted here too. Thanks for all the effort!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:08 pm 
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Oh, you just made me laugh from this...

You are very lucky! It is wonderful you reward him - I have a dog who is exact the same. When she gets into taht moode I can only stop her by sitting down and scratch her, pet her, get her to relaxe....

I do also have a lightly "we don't train now" explanation - both for her and the ponies if they gets there. Then I calmly saies that and just pet them, try to relaxe them.

I do not know what is best - but this have been my way with it - good luck, they are just soooo sweat when they are like that..!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:09 pm 
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Romy,
It's indeed true what you write. I think most people here do not want a horse who does only things when you askfor it. But I think it is important that it is also possible for a horse to do his own things on a distance when he does them not with you. I have this especially with Amiro because he is not my own horse, I know he will get back to his owner sooner or later and it can be dangeroes if he does all beautiful movements with a stranger. Strangers will often see rearing like aggression and punish him for it. So it is for me very important that he does not do certain exercises all the time if I do not ask for it.

One more advice which might be handig: learn "doing nothing" as a new trick. Amiro knows the cue for "stay" and when I ask him to stay and he is very excited he stays on his place and he gets rewarded for that. But what works for Amiro may not work for other horses. And my wishes do not need to be your wishes, so it is only good to find your own way in this I think!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:10 pm 
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Very good reply Romy! I forgot to mention that the pasture is kind of my "offer whatever you want and get a reward" place. When I decided to hang out with them in the pasture, I love to reward them for what they offer! However, like I mentioned in my above post, I can't do this when I get Lacie out, because sometimes I need her to stand still for basic horse care. :lol:
However with Blade, I do not get concerned at all, because he is so calm and I reward a lot for unasked behaviors. It never gets too exciting and he usually stands still for me to do things. 8)

So when I am out of the pasture play free zone :wink: for Lacie I do ignore the exercise and do not reward if I did not ask her, but with Blade I usually just reward less and focus on other things more, just like you said. or, if I really don't want that exercise right now, I just explain to him that I need him to stop, or that I am asking for something else. I think he understands that sometimes I reward for unasked exercises and sometimes I don't. So he offers it and if I am in a situation where I do not want that, then he just stops offering it and tries again later. At that time I might like it, so I reward. :wink: With Lacie I TRY to do this, but sometimes it doesn't work and I just have to ignore it. :?

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Brittany



www.royalhorsecompany.com


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:23 pm 
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Kirsti wrote:

I do also have a lightly "we don't train now" explanation - both for her and the ponies if they gets there. Then I calmly saies that and just pet them, try to relaxe them.


This is what I was trying to explain about what I do with Blade. If I just pet him and explain that he should not do his exercises right now, he understands, but still is happy to offer them later without me asking.
I will have to try this with Lacie, Kirsti. That will be my "cue" for I'm not rewarding anything right now. Thanks! Even though I do this with Blade I did not think of applying it with Lacie! Since I have had Blade a year and a half it is just like I talk to him and he knows what I mean. So I didn't think about it actually being a type of a "cue" for we're not training now.

Great Advice Kirsti, and thanks again for starting this topic Barbara! It has helped me a lot!

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Brittany



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:24 pm 
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whahaha! I so can relate to that at this moment, Barbara!

But I guess you will see O and struggling next sunday :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:35 pm 
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Happy to be usable Brittany... :D


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:50 pm 
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To both of you I would say: convince your horse that duration is even better than just a series of short exercises.

For example the bow, or the ramener or anything else: first you ask one second of bow/ramener. Then you ask for more: two seconds in the same exercise, or two attempts to do the exercise after another. To make this even easier for you and your horse to do, start counting out loud in order to tell your horse to keep the pose, and for you to remember by which number to stop.

Another good thing to teach your horse, is lowering the head as a pause exercise: whenever he does that, you reward him, no matter when he offers it. First only one second, then two, three, four...

I had the same problem with Sjors, who would offer nothing but Spanish walks, digging holes and doing passage-attempts, lie down and sit up in order to get attention. The walking and standing with the head down really calmed him down. He still can be quite hot to handle and over-willing to please (today he developed his own bow with crossed frontlegs :roll: 8) ), but I can also ask him to be calm now.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:21 pm 
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Miriam, thanks for the advice on convincing the horse that duration is better and also for rewarding lowering the head. I will definitely put that advice to use! :wink:

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Brittany



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:43 am 
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Oh, what a timely discussion. It always happens that way...I have a question in my mind and there, suddenly are the answers right in front of me :roll:

I had this SAME problem last night. Last night Tam was SO wound up he was actually grabbing for a reward with his mouth wide open. It didn't occur to me to ask for duration, so instead of giving him treats for things I wasn't asking for, I would counter his over-enthusiasm with whispered praise and long, slow strokes on his neck. Then I would ask him to lower his head and give him a treat for that. BUT...at one point, I also asked for his Spanish Walk with me beside him. It is getting much more animated and high, and I know it takes a lot more effort for him to do it, so I thought it might tire him out. In a way, then, I did ask for duration, because I asked him for many more steps than I normally would. Then I would praise him quietly again, and if he calmed down to where he could take a treat politely, I would give him one.

He almost wore me out last night, and for some reason, he seemed not to get tired at all! But we got through it with smiles instead of frustration...so that was good!

Thank you very much for this discussion!


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