The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:37 pm 
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The games taught in this level are Run with me, Run to me, Run away from me (and only taught in that order!)


I was wondering if someone could elaborate on that.

Running WITH me is pretty straight forward, running TO and AWAY is a lot more subbtle.

What are some of the cues that you use to begin teaching these games?
I am guessing there might be a PNH background, which I am absolutely not familiar with because Sky HATES the pressure sytem...and so I never explored that method.

I'm not looking for the ABC's but rather a place to start...

Another silly question: Do you leave the cordeo on or off, when you transition from exercice to playtime?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:22 am 
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I take off the cordeo. But I also do something like "running game" with the cordeo.
I have no PNH "bacground", or any other NH to be honest ;) so I do it like this - running with me: when I walk quite close to my horse, and she's watching my legs. This is most precise.
Running to me - when she walks to me, I walk backwards, and I start to run backwards.
Running away - well, that's easy ;) but I try not to do it in a roundpen, because I don't want to look like doing the "join up" stuff :P


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:53 pm 
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Ania wrote:
Running away - well, that's easy ;) but I try not to do it in a roundpen, because I don't want to look like doing the "join up" stuff :P


Hi Ania

I thought that the idea was more to have a cue for the horse to run away, rather than "chase" him...but maybe I misunderstood. :roll:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 3:37 pm 
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My cue for Tamarack or Cisco to run off is to make a sharp turn away from them (180 degrees if I can) and run away from THEM. Whether they are already in motion or if they are standing still and just take off the cordeo. It works better with Tamarack than with Cisco because Tamarack has more energy.

To come back in, I bend forward slightly, drop my gaze and in this way, ask them to come back to me. If I keep this pose until they reach me, they then stop (and get a treat).

I teach this on a long line (on cordeo or in Tamarack's case, he's still on halter some of the time).

We start slow while they learn to come in with that slightly bent position, or I strighten up and send some energy to the horse, and they are rewarded for taking a step back.

Tamarack learned this SO FAST, that after only a week he was doing it really well at liberty. With Cisco, it took much, much longer. Partly because I wasn't as clear with my body language, but partly also because he really likes to be independent, and it took a very long time for him to decide he wished to play in this way. For a long time, if I took off running, Cisco would just stand there while I ran around him.

He's just not all that playful, but he does this very well in his slow motion way now...sometimes even running, but mostly his top speed is a relaxed trot!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:15 pm 
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Karen wrote:
Tamarack learned this SO FAST, that after only a week he was doing it really well at liberty.


Thats so COOL!! :lol: How neat that you get to compare techniques with horses that have completely different backgrounds.

Karen wrote:
For a long time, if I took off running, Cisco would just stand there while I ran around him.


I know just what you mean!! Cisco and Sky must be distant cousins!! :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:30 pm 
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Just for reference, In PNH if the horse goes away from you, you put on some pressure- usually looking at the horse with a not friendly face is enough. When the horse looks at you, you back up, lower your energy, or maybe kneel down. If the horse walks to be I run backwards. With some horses I would turn and run away and they will follow (if they have good play drive)

When it really gets good is when instead of looking for your horse to look at you, back up when they just point an ear in your direction.

When people in PNH start this it usually looks more Monty Robert's -ish, but as they get better and have tried it on more horses and realize why it works they start to use less pressure and more "draw".

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 4:15 am 
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danee wrote:
Just for reference, In PNH if the horse goes away from you, you put on some pressure- usually looking at the horse with a not friendly face is enough. When the horse looks at you, you back up, lower your energy, or maybe kneel down.


Hi Danee...I don't really like PNH, I own a stallion and turning the pressure on is asking for trouble!

He absolutely hates that sort of interaction and responds very negatively to the whole pressure phases. So I just don't go there... :lol:

The notion of "drawing" him is a lot more appealing...Well actually, just getting his attention is special!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Karen described it wonderfully already, there's not much to add! :D

But for the sake of clarity: running away and towards you have nothing to do with upping fases of pressure, sending the horse away or hunting him down in a round pen! It's just a refinement of running together - and you can train running away and towards only when your horse really feels at liberty to run with you and feels free to express himself when doing so.

Like Karen wrote: The running away you can teach from running together, and then make a sharp turn. As humans are more flexible, your horse will need more space to turn and enlarge the distance. Then to ask him to come back to you again, you stand still and bend forward, bowing for your horse and making yourself a bit smaller which invites him in. When he responds to that by coming towards you at walk, you can teach him to come to you in trot by walking backwards to invite him towards you, only to stand still when he speeds up to a trot to go to you. Your horse very quickly will learn that when he walks to you, he won't get any closer because you walk backwards away from him, but that when he trots, you will stand still and he can reach you again.

When that's really established, your horse feels free to move away and towards you, you can ask him to run further away from you by turning and running towards him sometimes before walking backwards to invite him in again.

But again; these games aren't taught with a whip, rope, or anything that can pressure the horse into moving. The only tool you're allowed to use is the relationship and trust you have built between you and your horse up to that point.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:11 am 
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Miriam thank you so much for putting down the Run to Me into such clear steps! As I was reading over it yesterday, and thinking it through, I was struck by how it is almost the opposite of NH come to me, turn and face, or Parelli catching game.
Ingrid.. think about this...
The reward in NH (such as in the catching game) is the cessation of the pressure - that is, you stop, perhaps turn away from the horse, back up a few steps, walk away etc.. The horse learns that when he stands still, or better yet walks to you, the pressure stops.
But using this method that Miriam and Karen describe, the reward is the polar opposite. You walk TOWARDS your horse to reward him. :lol: I'm laughing at the beautiful symmetry of this.

So, you're also starting from opposite perspectives. With the pressure/release system, you're starting with the premise that the horse feels your prescence as pressure.
With this way, you're starting with the belief that your horse actually prefers to be with you (and not because he's learnt that to NOT be with you means harder work or discomfort.)

I'm not sure where you're worries about pressure are coming from?


I do have two questions, after playing around with this with Sunrise this morning. (All the other horses I work with will trot with me .. but Sunrise is going through a "stage" that I haven't been able to solve yet, so I was excited to try this out very carefully with her.)

First, Miriam and Karen, do you use your click and treat when you are training the run to me, especially I'm curious about the early stages, of walk to me. Or are you just relying on your natural attractiveness. :wink:

Second, how would you handle it, if you have a horse that will consistently walk to you, so you go to the walking backwards.. and the horse still consistently walks towards you.

This is where I"m at with Sunrise. Would you keep walking backwards and encouraging, at risk of the horse loosing interest. Or do you stop after a moment of trying and go back to waiting for her to arrive. Or do you just give up for the day.. or go back a step.. or ... what??

This is the point I've been at with Sunrise ever since I stopped my old methods of liberty training, using subtle pressure. She'll walk to me, and it seems she does understand that I want her to trot, but she is very very resistant. Why should she trot when she can achieve what she wants in the end by walking?

Or should I just give up when she doesn't trot to me, and leave her?

Would love some advice/encouragement on this!
Thanks,
Sue


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:05 pm 

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Wow, this was exactly my question!! Walking with me goes fine...also trotting with me. But when it comes to trotting to me both of my horses just know that they will achieve the same result by walking and befor I get to the stage where they would be interested to offer a trot they'll stop and look at me like I'm the crazy one....

If I then put pressure they will come...but it's not what I want and not what they want as well...

So some tips would be great!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:29 pm 
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Well, what cured the lazyness in our pony's was actually quite simple (I guess it was also already described in the 'run to me-game'?.

The short version is that this annoyed me very much too. 8) Blacky and Sjors would casually amble towards me instead of doing this in a fierce trot or flashy canter. Well, if I'm to be honest I can't say that we have actually achieved that, but at least now we have trot and canter towards me. :wink:

I didn't want to up pressure, use a rope on a halter to tug them in (which was actually the advice on the Nevzorov forum) untill they went faster than walk, I didn't want to use a whip against the horse either (the method Honza Blaha and Silke Vallentin used) and just rewarding when they trotted towards me didn't work either because they didn't trot so there was nothing to reward.

Then I decided to just make it very plain to them: Blacky and I were in the paddock at liberty, I walked away from him and then asked him to come to me and touch my hand. Blacky slowly turned and walked towards me, and I started walking backwards away from him. Blacky knew that he was to touch my hand in order to get rewarded, but as long as he walked, I walked away from him in order to keep the distance. However, when he speeded up a bit in walk, I slowed down a bit so that the distance between us decreased. When he slowed down again, I went faster. It took about four to five minutes of walking like that when Blacky suddenly realised this (or got very annoyed) and jumped to a trot. Immediately I halted and actually walked fast towards him and rewarded him.

So I taught Blacky that he just couldn't bridge the gap in walk, and that the only way he could cover the distance was in trot or canter. And he realised that if he only started to trot, I would actually help him and shorten the distance. In the beginning almost 90%, now maybe one step.
Then he learned this very fast and has actually became much faster when lungeing and doing other stuff too, because now he knew that he could go faster on his own accord without getting slowed down, and that forwards movement was actually good.

With Sunrise:
Yes, I do use the rewardsignal (tongue-click in our case) and when we start doing this I click as soon as the pony start to trot - the same moment I start walking towards him.

If your horse doesn't understand and keeps walking, you can animate him into trot with your voice or movements (making yourself smaller sometimes does the trick), or by starting to run by yourself (not backwards though ;) ), actually widening the gap faster and showing your horse what he should do (running). I did the latter with Sjors, and that he understood really fast and as soon as he started to trot I would turn towards him, walk/ run to him and reward him big time.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:51 pm 

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thanks..I'll try that one and see what it gives!!

Is te walking towards your horse when he starts trotting not slowing him down??

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:01 pm 
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Yes. But most of all, doing it when he starts trotting is showing him that THIS was exactly what you wanted and in THIS way he can reduce the distance and you even help him with that. ;)

Later on when it is clear and normal for you that he runs to you and that you run together, you needn´t do it anymore...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:00 am 
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It's six months since I wrote about my troubles getting Sunrise to trot to me.. WOW! :shock:

She now trots to me, canters to me, and even RUNS to me bucking and head tossing and kicking. Last night I tried for the first time sending her away from me, then calling her back. She went off at a trot, trotted around me a circuit, then when I called "HERE" she became really excited, leaping and kicking on the spot, then running straight to me. It was really obvious that the "here" signal made her feel happy, excited, energised, expectant.

So, reading here again, I'm trying to figure out what changed, and how... When I wrote last, I was already following all the steps to the letter.. I just couldn't seem to motivate her to move any faster towards me, so that I could reward her. In fact, it seemed to be the opposite.. the more I tried to communicate that I wanted her to trot (without any pressure), the more she resisted. If I moved faster away from her, she would just wander off. She didn't want the reward, she prefered to exercise her choice. She understood what I was asking, but understanding my request made her want to not honour it. :twisted:

SHe's a really smart horse, and super independent, and she just seemed to want to exert her own will. "Now that I know that you're not going to MAKE me if I say no, Yippee.. I'm GOING TO SAY NO whenever you ask me something, and you can't talk me out of it."

So.. now I'm trying to figure out what changed..
Well, I stopped asking her to do it for a while. We just worked on other things that she liked doing, her favourite being pedestal on anything she could get her hoof on. And I kept on really scrupulously just letting her go when she resisted and wanted to leave... which was often.. whenever the treats weren't forthcoming quickly enough for her, whenever she had to work harder for a reward, whenever I asked her to try something new that she didn't understand, whenever she was bored with an activity, whenever something else seemed more interesting, or sometimes just to show me that she was in charge. Our training sessions consisted more of me picking up rocks and waiting for her to show some interest again than anything else.

I made up an adaption of Miriams run to me formula.. where if, after leaving, she just LOOKED at me picking up rocks, I'd stop, suddenly "notice" her, and walk to her to give her a scratch, saying, "Oh Sunrise.. how nice to see you here!" I made it almost impossible for her to lose, or win.. :lol:

Often I'd just turn her out, and go get another horse to play with. Then she'd watch us out of the corner of her eye. You could hear her mind ticking.

She really needed to explore her freedom to it's limits... it took her a long time to move on from the "naive" phase of understanding that she had freedom and choice and could earn a reward, but prefering to exercise her independence, (like a three year old child), to the "sophisticated entrepeneur" stage when she elected to come to work and follow my will.


At the same time, I also worked on her fitness, taking her jogging or cycling with me regularly, to overcome the "too fat and lazy to run and play" part of the problem. And encouraged and rewarded her for any spontaneous displays of more energy, speed, motivation, so that she knew that when she was ready, she could always get my attention (and praise and rewards) by upping the voltage a little.

After a while, she started spontaneously trotting up to me when I went out to the paddock... although if I asked her to.. she wouldn't. Hah! Very very contrary this horse. So I just rewarded and praised for that when ever she felt like giving it to me.

Then, quite suddenly, it was as if she had tested the limits enough, and was ready. She let me know, during training, that she was up for anything.. She wanted to figure out what I wanted, wanted to comply, wanted to learn new things. Her attitude completely changed. She stopped wandering off when she'd had enough, stopped refusing, began to try a variety of things if she didn't understand. Began to deliberately show off for praise, began to hang around the gate if I was working with another horse, then burst off into energetic displays to get my attention. Of course,it worked. :D

So.. then running to me was reintroduced, and of course, she knew what I wanted, and the steps that Miriam described worked just perfectly to encourage her.

So.. I think that how quickly this works depends a lot on the nature of the horse, and how well they have already adapted to positive reinforcement training. If the horse isn't ready to "volunteer" then no amount of coaxing and explaining and rewarding will work.. until they are really confident of their position, and have let go of any past negativity from the more pressure/no choice, style of training. It's difficult.. because when they resist, the temptation is always there to just provide a little pressure, and achieve the goal... but this upsets the proccess and sets everything back. My fault for a long time I think...

I guess this is why in NHE, running to you, and picking up a ball to pass to you, are the first two tasks to accomplish before you move on to anything else.. they're really the test of how well we have established the new relationship of free choice.

By contrast, Harlequin, who has had very little training, and is naturally a follower, not an independent leader like Sunnie, using this same technique, took just a couple of sessions to be CANTERING around after Ella,and coming at a run from the paddock when she calls him... and she doesn't even know what she's doing! HUH! :evil: :lol: He'll do ANYTHING to try to get a reward....even though he's not a foodie horse.. Whereas Sunrise... who is a real PIG.. will turn up her nose and say no thank you to carrots, if she decides that she has no interest in my requests.

Which tells me that it's not the food in itself that is really providing the motivation.. it is the food as a symbol of payment, acceptance, reward..

And Rosie, who didn't have such a closely bonded relationship with me as Sunnie, but who is very discliplined, and feels safe when she can understand and follow instructions, also very quickly understood the training sequence, and began trotting to me, not really caring about the reward at all. Just being able to understand that that was what i wanted was enough... although now, as her personality is opening up, she's beginning to enjoy rewards more and more.

Some horses are just easier than others..
Last night, I was watching four horses play in the paddock... Harlequin, Rosie, Bella and Sunrise. Rosie, the ex racehorse wreck who had to run with her neck stuck out.. Bella, ruined show pony who has a mortal fear of collection.. Harlequin, untrained baby who six months ago looked funny and gawky, neck upside down....all spontaneously collecting in their own ways, prancing, extended trot, collected canter..magnificent..They've all just developed this with six months of play encouragement, and a little bit of stationary collection training.
And Sunrise.... an unspoilt four year old, after all the work I've put in... still roaring around with her head in the air and her back hollow.. aRgh!!! I'm so jealous!!! :twisted:

PErseverance.. when you're already doing the right things.. sometimes you've just got to keep on doing the right things for longer....

SUe


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:24 am 
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windhorsesue wrote:
I guess this is why in NHE, running to you, and picking up a ball to pass to you, are the first two tasks to accomplish before you move on to anything else.. they're really the test of how well we have established the new relationship of free choice.


The strange thing though is that before the separation of the School someone with anunenthusiastic/slow horse (I think it was Georgui giving advice to Shagya) got the advice to teach them to move more by chasing them through a roundpen to move away at higher speeds than walk, and to use a halter and leadrope for adding pressure in order to get the horse to go to the trainer faster than walk.

I totally agree with you that the willingness of the horse to belong to you is the center of any kind of training at liberty, and that the running towards you is a very important sign of that. So I also understand why it was so important as first exercise in NHE - only I couldn't help but feeling 'cheated' when they used such obvious pressure to get the results they wanted. It was a bit of a contradiction for me, sounding a lot like fizing the symptoms with pressure, instead of curing the causes with patience.


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