The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:42 am
Posts: 2147
Location: Vienna, Austria
Thanks for your ideas!

I have to admit that I didn´t even think about getting on him in the pasture or the forest :ieks:. I guess I´m still afraid he might bolt off with me. Which is quite contradictory to what I said earlier about his default being standing around ;). And also quite contradictory to the fact that I never used any restraint on him while riding.

I like the idea of following a path. If the weather permits I might try this before the snow comes. I can take Anna & Lily with me. Sounds like a lovely idea.

Chase the tiger is also a good idea, thank you Josepha! I will try that with Anna.


The horse owes us nothing.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 5:52 am
Posts: 1852
Location: Taiwan, via NZ
I've started all my horses with riding on a trail. That way the question of where to go is obvious, and I'm just a passenger.

However, even when they're going really well with this, and I"ve moved from being just a passenger to suggesting and rewarding things like turn down this path instead of that, and stop here, not there, and lets go now, they still get confounded by the "goingnowhereness" of the arena, when it comes time to polish up their skills in the arena environment.

In the past I've used the "tap on the butt" cue for forward movement, and R+ for steps in a straight line. Sometimes really hard to get!

This time with Miro, and to a lesser extent with H, I've made it even more R+ only, and used target stations instead to ease the transition. Targets set up in the four corners of the arena. Reward each time we get to one, regardless of the time it takes or the wonkiness of the path (best if taught from the ground first, then transferred to ridden). We stop at a target station and reward with somewhere between 1 and ten "touch the target" repetitions, before I quit the reinforcement, and cue to move on to the next station. Once they're confidently striding out in a beeline for the target I point them at, then I start missing the odd target, ie, ask them to continue without opportunity to touch it, on to the next station and reward for a while there. Then we can do whole circuits, and add in transitions etc, and when I think the time is right, stop at a station for some intensely rewarding stuff.

It's worked really well. :D

I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,
But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 4733
Location: Belgium
Come to think of it (thanks Sue!!_, many horses not taking their first step in the arena have that problem I have experienced. So I stick to my ball/chasing the tiger thingy as I am the arena mammal... :funny:


PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
I was riding (or actually...she was walking with me on her back...) Ronja today on an open area (pasture without fences...but with lots of interesting stuff to walk around and to and it is situated next to our little paddock/arena). At one point I suggested going into the paddock, but she calmly, but persuasively refused. We can easily play in the paddock and do all kinds of excercises, but when it comes to riding OR long-reining, Ronja just finds arena SOOOOOO boring and it is no point even trying to ride in there - no fun. She does not avoid it otherwise...she voluntarily goes in there, plays..everything...just long-reining and riding...I mean..she does move, but i can see that she is soo unenthusiastic and bored. And nothing seems to help.
I guess I can try again some day, but for now...probably not the best idea.


PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:55 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Sue, a couple of ways to train a horse to go in a straight line:

One, of course, and my favorite, is to mark the behavior - clicking works - and reward it. That is of course understood in your post.

Two, when they start to go off the path turn them in the direction they just wandered ... note this is the opposite of what we are taught to do ... that is we are taught to "correct them." Turn them to the new direction, let them get straight, leave them alone.

There is a third way related to that last bit - but if I use it (depends on the horse I'm working with) I wait until they are well off the path and take them back to it. Softly.

Heck, there is a fourth way too, but you know I won't recommend it: put them on the bit, use your legs to correct. Yeeks! And me, poor fellow, without a bit to my name. LOL

Love is Trust, trust is All
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.

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