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Accepting the Horse as an individual

This is a discussion on Accepting the Horse as an individual within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

     
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        05-22-2010, 09:12 PM
      #11
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares    
    There is no doubt in my mind that are mares look at us sometimes and think "Silly humans!"
    Oh, Hooves gives me that look all the time. Last week I tried to invite him to play with me a little. He looked at me jumping and bouncing around the yard like "what in the world is wrong with you?" Gun gives me that look when I bust out laughing at something stupid I've done, like trying to mount him using a collapsible bucket.

    I actually have the robot problem with Gunny, he's never been told or allowed to think for himself. I.E. No one has every taught him to be responsible where he puts his feet, so he steps on me...then is so surprised when I push him away. It's like he's not even noticed.

    There almost seems to need to be a balance between total control and letting your horse do what he wants. He needs to be given responsibly for some things, and trust you for others. With my boys I sort of think of it as taking suggestions. Some I take them, some I don't. But my boys have the right to offer them. Again, I.E., I asked Gun to go down the trail alone last week. He didn't like the valley, and looked at it like I asked him to. After a while, he suggested we go back, because he was uncomfortable. I took his suggestion, and we went back. I worked him in arena instead, and told him we'd try the trail again, with company this time. This comes with understanding your horse enough to read his moods and body language at least decently well, of course. Gunner is a very easy read, he's an open book on how he feels. Some of the other horses I work with are harder.
         
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        05-22-2010, 09:24 PM
      #12
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by HooverH    
    I asked Gun to go down the trail alone last week. He didn't like the valley, and looked at it like I asked him to. After a while, he suggested we go back, because he was uncomfortable. I took his suggestion, and we went back. I worked him in arena instead, and told him we'd try the trail again, with company this time. This comes with understanding your horse enough to read his moods and body language at least decently well, of course. Gunner is a very easy read, he's an open book on how he feels. Some of the other horses I work with are harder.
    Must say I respectfully disagree with this idea. If I ask a horse to do something, they are going to do it, no ifs, buts or whys. For me, the trick lies in asking the right question at the right time in order to achieve a positive response. For example, if I don't think a horse is ready to tackle something new like riding along trails alone, I will continue taking them out with other horses until they are ready. If however I think they are capable of going along a trail alone, by hook or by crook they will be going up that trail no matter what.

    I don't like the idea of entering into battles with horses so I do everything possible to avoid an outright battlescene with good timing and training which is directly related to being receptive to each individual horses progression and capabilities.
         
        05-22-2010, 09:37 PM
      #13
    Started
    It shouldn't be a matter of MAKING the horse do anything. I like to find the middle of the road with both situations....I personally wouldn't have gone back, unless the situation become dangerous (but good preparation would prevent that), but I wouldn't have said "You WILL go across this." MAKING a horse do something does not improve their confidence. What needs to happen is we need to help the horse gain confidence by approach and retreat. "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward the slightest try." So in this scenario my thought is I want to cross the ditch...as I approach my horse hesitates, starts to tense up, or refuses to go further....this is a sign of unconfidence so I'd stop and allow him to relax. Once he relaxes (head low, licks and chews, blinking eyes, no tension, etc) I ask him to go. If he only offers one step I take it and reward it. I wait for relaxation then ask again, or back him up a couple steps, depending on what he's telling me. Waiting for relaxation is what prevents explosions or fights.
         
        05-22-2010, 09:45 PM
      #14
    Showing
    A horse can be trained with virtually zero understanding of their herd dynamics or how they think as prey animals but it is so much easier if you can use their own instincts and reasoning as a prey animal against them. For most of us, the thought of physically overpowering a horse and forcing them to do something they don't want to do is unimaginable. We can't overpower them, we have to out-think them. Yes, every horse is an individual and will react to a set stimuli in a different way. That is why, as trainers, we have to be prepared to completely change our gameplan away from the norm if we notice that something isn't working. That is one of the problems that I have with many of the BNT's is that they say "Do this and your horse will react this way." But the problem is that no 2 horses will react the same way. If you tell them to go out in a circle, some horses will just stare at you like you are the dumbest thing to walk the earth, others will tear down the roundpen trying to get away, others will circle perfectly, and still others will go on the offensive and come after you with hooves flashing and teeth bared. All from the same amount of pressure and same signals sent by the handler. It can be done with zero understanding but the horse will usually end up confused and hateful and the rider will generally end up hurt. What really cracks me up is people who think that every horse in existance can be sorted into 1 of 4 personality profiles and set up a training method specifically geared toward that profile instead of the horse himself. That's like trying to do the same with people LOL.
         
        05-22-2010, 10:22 PM
      #15
    Started
    I know what you are referring to smrobs, and it DOES work ;) The horsenality profile is one of the most misunderstood ideas. I use the concept on every horse I work with to give me an advantage while working with them and it's very valuable.
         
        05-22-2010, 10:55 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    I do think that a lot of people get too set in their ways as far as training horses goes. They tend to figure "it worked for horse A so it's for sure going to work for horse B!" This is why my advice to most people who want my opinion is to arm yourself with every single method you can lay your hands on, because you can guarantee that at some point a horse is going to throw something at you that you were not expecting and for your sake it's a good idea to be prepared enough to correct it swiftly when they do.

    For example, I worked 3 horses the other day who all reacted to being asked to circle completely differently. Rowdy took off at a canter when I asked for a trot and proceeded to nearly collect the arena fence on the way round. He wanted to run, so I made him run faster than he wanted to and I made him negotiate his way between me and that fence every time around. When I stepped away from the fence and asked him back to the trot, he made a nice transition downwards and politely circled until I asked him to stop.

    Jaffa decided that he had no worries circling at a walk, but a trot was just too hard. So I got after him, ask, tell, demand. I demanded that he trot. That was enough for him, he just needed an initial reinforcement of exactly who was the leader in the situation. After that he'd break in to a trot with very little effort on my part and would slow down & stop with just an exhale from me.

    Fanta was a different situation entirely. She's young & still green and circling, we've noticed, doesn't seem to be something that was spent a lot of time on in her initial starting. So I would ask her out at a trot and she would take a few steps in the right direction, swing her butt around and aim both her back legs at my head, before taking off in to a nice trot around me. She was pulled back in and sent off in the other direction. When that butt came at me, I made myself as big and as scary as possible, complete with growling. I pulled her head back around to the circle I was asking her to move on and put the pressure on her to move. That was it. No more flying hooves, just nice, calm circles.

    In each situation, it was required to be handled a different way. It was important that my question was asked louder and louder each time I had to ask it, but it was more important that it was tailored to the answer's I was receiving from the horse.

    Anyway, I think I may have gone on a bit of a tangent there, but I guess I was just trying to say that I do agree that every horse is individual and it is important to try to be prepared to be a leader for each horse that crosses your path. It is never the right time to stop learning!
         
        05-23-2010, 01:39 AM
      #17
    Trained
    I think that all horses need to be trained differantly. Every horse has a differant manner of training that it needs to reach its full potential. Sure, a trainer can train every horse the same way over and over, but all they'd be doing is creating clones of the same horse over and over, and when a horse with a little personality comes along they don't know how to handle it.

    I am learning alongside my trainer Toni who knows that every horse is differant In fact, when she takes on horses she does the first week free so she can get to know the horse. She doesn't lose money because the people who deliver the feed and stuff park their trucks at her place and as a fee she gets the hay or bedding or whatever they happen to be hauling. Good thinking :)

    I have started one colt without any help, and I followed Toni's methods to the letter. I got to know him and built a relationship before I even put a halter on him. Now, he's a three year old and he's mine, not Mom's, Toni's, Dad's...Mine. He doesn't care for anyone else.

    I know horses who were totally insane for everyone except for one person. My friend had a horse named Stupid Boy who would only talk to her, and I remember being chased and attacked by that horse. I have a scar on my side from where he bit me, and that horse nearly snapped my leg when he kicked me. Luckily he didn't get that much momentum.
         
        05-23-2010, 01:59 AM
      #18
    Weanling
    Horses certainly have their individual personalities/perceptions, but I don't cater to them. Rather, I use the individuality to train better. I would never get harsh on my Morab mare, Cassie, as I would with my current mare, Dilly; Cassie was simply too docile and willing. Dilly is bold and smart and has a serious attitude problem that needs to be kept in check, so I cater my training styles around her. The results were/are the same for both mares, yet the methods are different.

    Good post 5cuetrain!
         
        05-23-2010, 08:28 AM
      #19
    Weanling
    To be honest, "method" is a word that I try to stay away from. When someone asks me what type of method I use to train, its almost like they are asking me what type of method I would use to raise a child or make a friend.

    Is every horse an individual? Yes, but that doesn't mean that I make exceptions out of what I expect out of any of them. Its crazy, but often when I am training a horse, I think back to my childhood. My family was very active and my dad was always pushing it, never accepting anything less because we were younger. Whenever I was afraid of something, he wouldn't leave until I had conquered my fear, over time, I grew a lot of faith in the fact that if Dad said it was ok, he would not let me get hurt.

    I find that when people work on methods, then the faith is in the methods and the success is in the methods, rarely in the relationship. They think that every time they hit a kink, there is a method to work it out. Strangely enough, I do not dream of special "bonds" with my horses any more than I do with my family and friends, because that is the same thing that my horses are.

    When people watch my horses load into a tight trailer in succession without me having to step inside, I am commonly asked what methods I use, but the truth is there is no method. Once a horse is at my barn and in my care, they will just start doing that after a matter of time. They don't find faith in the method, they find faith in the fact that even if they are afraid of what I'm asking them to do, that I wouldn't let them get hurt. I have had horses that are terrified of trailers willingly walk into that trailer after never working with any kind of method.

    If I push, I don't give up, I don't approach and retreat, but I never ask the horse for more than they are mentally or physically ready for, just more than they think they are. That builds their confidence.

    The horse is not a machine, or course it has baggage, confusion, personality tendencies. However, when training, I don't waste too much time worrying about where that horse is in life or where they have been, I spend my time thinking about where that horse can be and how much happier they will be when they get there. I deal with what I get when I get it, understanding where they are coming from, but never accepting anything less than what they are capable of.
         
        05-23-2010, 12:24 PM
      #20
    Weanling
    I should have been clearer. My boys can suggest and ask, but the final decision is mine. I chose that Gun and I should go back, not him. He asked if we could, but I decided. In the herd, he would be allowed to ask or suggest, and the alpha would say if it was good or not. Say he found a nice patch of clover, and he asks if he can eat there. All body language, of course. The alpha would either let him eat there, or chase him back to the herd.

    I should further explain, Gun has never, to my knowledge, been a trail horse. This was our first attempt at the trail, and I asked him to trust me to go alone. He told me he wasn't ready for that, so the next time we'll try it with a buddy. But we will do that trail, and he didn't get out of work by asking, he just had to work in the arena.

    I suppose I told this because it illustrates horses as individuals. I most likely would not have taken Hoover's suggestion to turn back, unless he was hurting. I would have questioned him hurting, as well, as he likes to fake it sometimes to make me worry. Bottom line, he's a butt. I love him, but he's got a mind of his own so I have to be more demanding of him. Gunner is very laid back and sweet, and does most anything I ask (I can pick his sheath and even check him for beans, no halter. He just stands there) so for him to make a suggestion, I'm more likely to take it at face value. I know he's capable of taking the trail, but if he wants to go slower, we can go at it slower.
         

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