Great if it helped you a little and I am looking forward to reading about your experiences with it.
Do you have any ideas how I can train this? Maybe do some exercises in front of a mirror?
Actually I do this sometimes, although not with a mirror but while I am walking in the street, sitting at my desk or other situations like that. But then the problem is that you don't get feedback if it works. This is why my personal favourite training tool is Pia.
She is totally clear in telling me if I am doing things right or not. In this she differs from both my other horses: Titum reacts rather precisely to meso and micro cues if he feels like it but ignores them if he has another exercise or move in mind. Summy reacts more reliably than Titum, but he takes into account what I might want to say with that cue, whereas Pia simply does what the cue says. Luckily she never really learned that her reaction could be the wrong response but only that I might have given the wrong cue.
Mucki also seems very sensitive, so I think you can learn all you need by directly interacting with him. If you have the chance to train with a dog, I can also highly recommend that. At least the dogs that I know are so incredible in reading micro cues, doing things like sitting down in response to a slightly raised body tension. However, I feel like with dogs I am also more likely to get false positives, with the dog reacting way better than my cue actually was.
Maybe I can work out some preparational "cue" that initiates a request, or something? Now that I think about it, I think I already do something like that at times...
The question is if there can be a generic sign for that, or like you also say maybe this should be a very low level version of the specific cue for the exercise...
Yes indeed, I think the preparational micro cues are at least part of the answer why horses who are highly sensitive to body language don't react to unintended moves more than usual.
Concerning the specific form of preparational cues, I think that for me it's both, because they build up over time: a preparational cue starts as an unspecific signal that predicts just any request and then changes into something specifically predicting the exercise, until it fluently changes into the cue for the exercise itself.
Let's take backing up, because I think it's just one of the easiest things to suggest with body language. First I look at the horse, which is an unspecific predictor of any request. Then I breath in and raise my body tension, which in the beginning is still rather unspecific, but the stronger it gets, the more it suggests that the request will have to do with moving away from me in some way, because for moving towards me, some of my body parts would have started moving away from the horse sooner. Only a tad later (if later at all) it begins suggesting that the movement won't be lateral, because if it was, my focus and body would have shifted to the left or right by then. When my movement doesn't go upwards, it most certainly won't be a cue for rearing, so as time goes by the predictor cue narrows the possibilities down more and more. When the hip movement finally comes, the horse is already anticipating this so strongly that only a tiny shift will be necessary to ask him for a reaction - just because most of the uncertainty has been taken away already.
For example when you walk away from Mucki and ask him to stay from 1:03-1:08, nothing in your body language suggests that he should stay.
Actually I do something, but IÂ´m not sure if it' appropriate. I try to disengage my focus or something like that, so I don't send any signal to Mucki. I found it hard to point with my hips in his direction, while moving backward
. But maybe disengaging my focus leaves Mucki alone too much?
Wouldn't this cue be more appropriate if your request was for him to do just whatever he likes now? Or is standing still the default behavior for him in the time when you are not interacting?
I can imagine that using the hips is hard while walking backwards.
But here using your body tension and straightness as a cue helps a lot. In the Imperia video
you can see me try this from 2:54 - 3:28, just as an illustration of what I mean.
Yes, I do use my hands a lot, maybe I should try doing everything I want without hands for a change and see how far I get? Will be interesting.
This may sound totally crazy, but when I should name the five best things in relation to horses that happened to me since I came to AND, one of them (maybe right after having found Pia) would be that I was hit by a tram in 2009. The great thing about this is that I broke my arm, and not being able to use it as a meaningful part of our training for weeks meant that I had to find something else to make myself understood. This was the actual beginning of my body language journey. I had used my body to some degree before and had also heard about using the hips, but really having to do this opened up a whole new world to me. Had I known this before, I guess I would have tied my arms to my body to learn communicating arm-less long ago.