The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:16 pm 
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Karen wrote:
She's not suggesting that you reward your horse for doing just anything


:funny: Actually I am. Even more so, I did specifically suggest to reward her for doing the "wrong" thing for a while. Not because I want a horse who always does the opposite of what I am asking, but because I think it can really help to show him that his own initiative is getting rewarded.

I am talking on the telephone right now, so I can neither concentrate nor type properly at the moment and that´s why I can´t fully explain my point now, but I will get back to it tomorrow if you want. :smile:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:45 pm 

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Romy, I would like that. Always love to hear reasonings and explanations. :)

Karen: other than the slight misunderstanding there, I do understand you. Although with 'obeying' I do mean the same as you, that is just a matter of word choice. I like the idea of changing the cue if she doesn't listen. Will play around with that as well. My timing for rewards thankfully is very good, even got compliments from my instructor on that.

Just had another idea, in line with the getting off. Because just ending the ride after one particularly succesful cue/reply isn't going to work for me. Especially because I have an endurance ride coming up, and I cannot afford to have her lose all her stamina. So for now I will need to keep that in mind. But I was thinking that whenever she gives a really good reply, I could get off, and just walk with her for a little bit, meanwhile practicing the turns with the cordeo (since that is very new for her as well). Or just let her stand still, give her a nice scratch..and then get back on again.

I am getting quite excited about tomorrow actually. I really, really hope that it will work. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:01 pm 
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Morgan wrote:
And above all if she does comply to any request really nicely and softly then GET OFF......the best reward of all! :D


How very true. UPR, ultimate pressure release.

Donald

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:16 pm 
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Donald Redux wrote:
Morgan wrote:
And above all if she does comply to any request really nicely and softly then GET OFF......the best reward of all! :D


How very true. UPR, ultimate pressure release.


Just for those who haven´t been here in 2007 when the UPR came up: Here is a thread with several posts about Madeleine experimenting with the UPR (starting at Dec 05, 2007) after Donald had introduced it in Beau´s diary: dismounting as a reward (see Donalds wonderful long post from Dec 04, 2007, 07:13 am).

Enjoy! :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:55 am 
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I'm sorry Romy! I misunderstood! :blush:

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:03 am 
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:D When I started to struggle with this same issue, Donald Redux told me something:

Assuming that the rider is technically perfect and the horse is adequately conditioned for the task in question, there are 2 important ways to "overcome" resistance and/or disobedience and those are 1. escalation or 2. persistence.

Escalation is what I think you are currently doing and most riders do it. If the horse does not respond then ask louder. :funny: As if a deaf person would understand us if we just shouted. However, as was clearly pointed out to me, it is not the "asking" which trains a horse, it is the "release" which trains a horse. This was VERY hard for me to learn. If I ask something, I need to ask it, stop asking, and WAIT for an answer. :yes: Difficult lesson for me to learn, but I'm starting to get it :funny: much to Freckle's obvious relief.

Persistence then grows out of learning this "release is more important than ask" idea. So now, if I ask and get no response or a different response than what I hoped for, I will tell Freckles "Thank you. That's very nice but it is not what I wanted. Can we try again?" and I will ask again in a slightly different way. And again. And again. When we reach a point where I am certain he understands my question, ALSO that he knows what response it is that I would like, only then might I consider an escalation if we are in a potentially dangerous situation. Oh yes, and if I get a small response in the direction I want? I reward. A lot. Often I will deliberately stop after the first small "in the correct direction" response and leave to sleep on it. He has usually made a lot of progress overnight. If I stop on an aprroximation of what I'm trying for? Often he will show me a vastly improved behaviour the next day. :D

So if I ask "turn right" and he says "No, turn left" I will tell him "that was a nice and balanced left turn but I wanted to go THAT way not this way so please can we go back to the top and try again?" I will not click and treat him for the "wrong" turn, but I will praise him for "doing something" because I do not want him to become "afraid to guess" or "afraid to say the rider is wrong" :D I will then take him back to the exact place where I asked for the "turn left" and I will ask again but this time I will try even harder to make my request absolutely clear. If he still turns the other way I will then take that turn and make it a small circle until we end up moving towards where I wanted to go. When we get there I will show him what I wanted to do over here. Then I will go back to the beginning and try again. I find that he does "obey" after he understands where and why.

I don't know if any of this is at all helpful, but just know that most of us have no trouble at all doing AND groundwork, and a LOT of trouble doing AND riding. :D You are not alone. The answers and solutions we have each found work for us and our horses. You will need an individual solution for yourself and your horse. You will find it. Just persevere, even when you think it will never improve. It will. It takes time and composure from you and your horse before things can start to become clear.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:25 am 

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I recently read a good essay that touches on escalation vs. persistence. It also talks about softness, maintaining an even pace, smoother transitions, and quite a lot of what has been discussed in this thread. It was written to capture some of the thoughts after a Mark Rashid clinic:

http://www.naturallyhorses.org.uk/Resources/EssaysMarkRashidClinicNo1.doc

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:08 pm 

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viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2417&p=50422#p50422

Posted the update there, seemed to make more sense than here. :D


I need to buy myself a proper cordeo, this improvised one is not working well. What do you like better, a hard core or a softer rope or leather one?

I feel like I am coming to a closer understanding of...THIS. Somehow. For the first time I truly understand how people can ride bridleless, and I now see it as being completely within my (our) reach. I know it may take (a lot of) time before I can really see this paying off, before Dafner will easily do a canter just by asking her, or even by her own initiative. And I know that it will take longer than I'd like it to, probably. That I will ask myself a thousand times whether I'm not the greatest idiot walking around for even attempting this. But it works on the ground. It can work on her back.

Shakespeare has this wonderful line in one of his plays..

"Your gentleness shall force
More than your force move us to gentleness."

Something to live by, perhaps. At least when working with horses. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:25 pm 
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are you mental? :ieks: :funny: :funny: :funny:

Read again your own diary and see what fast result you have already gotten in one ride!!
What would you expect to be fast then? See a bloke, marry him within the next 5 minutes and get pregnant while buying a house in the next 10? :green:
Things simply need time...

The key is to enjoy the road, and you will be at your destination before you know it...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:34 pm 

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:D You made me laugh with that.

I always want things to happen overnight. I'm that girl waiting for a guy on the street to come to me and say "I will marry you." And THEN fall in love. That kind of thing. :P

So I always want result now, now, now! But my patience has drastically improved over the years, so I can accept things sometimes take a little longer :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:02 pm 
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ha ha ha !! Well, for your sake I hope Dafner slows things down a tad.... ;)

You know, I strongly believe each horse comes to our path to teach us the lesson we need to learn to be more happy.

And I was that girls once too... now I enjoy the moment more, just like horses do :)
Much more happy camper I am now... lots of frustration gone... :alien:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:57 pm 
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Thanks all of you for your posts in this topic! I loved reading it and i have sure learnt a lot - even if my Belgarion is the oposite - he refuses to walk!
And as Dani wrote, if I let him do just the things we wants to - he should only be eating and he should probably die of his insulinresistans. But this post have given me more hope that I can make him move without loosing all good relations that I have built up with him during the last two years!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:15 pm 

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Ingela - I was amazed at the energy with which Dafner was walking. So there is hope :D ...although I won't try this for a while on a grass field, haha.

Just had a little question..WHY is it that horses speed up when you shorten the reins? Because she is capable of walking slower as well, when I asked/pressured her into doing it. So why speed up when going slow is possible? It could be more difficult, but then going faster costs more energy. I have read it before so I know it occurs and I know it is because of balance issues, because horses use their head as a balancing 'tool' - but that doesn't fully answer the question, I just realized.

Does anyone here have the FRA neckrope, btw? Do you like it?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:40 pm 
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They get the feeling they are running down a steep hill for one.
Second, horses simply flee from things that are harmfull for their bodies, which in fact is a logical and intelligent thing to do.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:05 pm 
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I think too, that often the tightened reins are associated with a "driving" seat or legs. Push the horse forward into the bridle (like into a wall) and it can easily give a horse a claustrophobic feeling. I used to do this to Cisco way back before he got fed up and threw me. When our hands are not giving enough in the contact (which varies wildly depending on the true development of the horse at the time) there is no place for the energy to go...it is blocked, it builds and the horse rushes or explodes. So even within a given moment, if you do not drive with your legs/seat, that association may be there and the horse would react as though you were squeezing them forward with seat and legs.

The best way to slow a horse down is with the seat and legs alone. Or asking for a little lateral movement...but again, it needs to be asked softly, rewarded for the slightest response instantly, and built gradually over time. Really, the reins should never be used to slow a horse down. If it's an emergency, and you must use the reins, do what Donald suggested and use one rein, and halt softly with a slight bend in the horse's body. Try not to use both reins equally. I'm still guilty of picking up the reins when I should not. :yes: So I know it's a tough habit to break.

What's "FRA"?

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