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post #91 of 124 Old 09-12-2012, 11:19 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Durham, Arkansas
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Backwards Movement

To livelovelaughride.

I absolutely felt immersed in your situation while reading your post. Some years ago, I had the occasion to acquire an old grey mare (only actually 5 years old as it turned out) named 'Frankie' for reasons I later learned meant she injured herself constantly and was dubbed, "Frankenstein."

I knew she was anxious concerning several certain situations, and I decided I liked her enough to pasture her for a project horse shortly after I received her. The seven mile trip to my mothers mountain pasture included a 2.5 mile highway stretch with wide shoulders. I was, as a result, unprepared to react in the manner I would have liked (in retrospect) when we reached the little two-lane highway bridge at mile 1.5 of the highway stretch and she came 'unglued' at the sound of the passing and oncoming traffic crossing the bridge at 60 mph. My first instinct said, "come unglued bigger and put her in her place." Would've probably been somewhat effective, but is this where I NEEDED to direct my energy?

Human vanity...

This is where my epiphany struck. Out of necessity to reach the destination, I pondered the moment... "Every time I point her at the bridge, she starts crawdaddyin,' so, in the interest of keeping this ride as routine and uneventful (AND without turning around and spending the extra 45 minutes to go around the mountain) I'll just embrace the crayfishin' and we'll ride backwards".

The entire length of the bridge was traversed in reverse.

The reaction's timely manner, was key. She tired of backwards movement very soon after completion of the bridge obstacle.

However, while in the jaws of the sabre-toothed bridge, the white line that was three feet from the guardrail was never crossed. I mean, that horse rode as straight and perfect as if she was following her mom,...in reverse. She needed someone to "take the reins" and lead her convincingly. My success in this session (always training) hinged on my appropriate reaction to what I considered a foolish concern, though she didn't see it that way.

My lesson was learned that, in this particular instant, maybe keeping things in line with an air of practicality would benefit both the horse and the rider. I kept that horse for another year. I would have her still if I hadn't taken a job out of state.

I guess my point is; if you encounter a situation where you are unsure what to do about a particular hang-up, stop and think about whether there is a way that you can get your desired results, while letting the animal know, "I understand you're uncomfortable with this and I am willing to let you do it your way in the spirit of compromise, but, there will be no mistake about the fact that we are going down that driveway, one way or another." Your take on your situation may well have extenuating factors, unaddressed in my interpretation of your situation, but received with that in consideration, find not the instructions in the text, but the intention. There will of course be those particular instances when this interpretation is the absolute wrong thing to do.

Your call.

There will, undoubtedly, be someone who disagrees with some aspect of this technique, but then, in the spirit of the thread, take the good from each chunk of sage wisdom, and apply it to your personality, and your horses personality.

It may, or may not, be a method consistent with your take on what the horse needs. It is for 'you' to decide, and every trainer should encourage inquisition to and improvement on their method. We never know everything. It just gets harder to find improvements as we sharpen our skill. I'll never stop listening, though I haven't heard many sound, usable suggestions lately, like the training advice I was so absorbent of when I started.

In my opinion, each horse has a specific need, for a specific understanding of their concerns, with a positive conveyance of your leadership thrown in, to give them confidence in you and your ability to be clear, concise, proficient, calm, and charismatic enough to warrant their undying affection and loyalty. This is what builds lasting trust between the horse and rider.

This is where we (or at least I) finally understand the reasons for the broadness of the training techniques on the "market" today. Each one as I eluded to before, is not a scientific diagram, as much as it is a method of reacting to your horse, with sensitivity to that horses own "Horsenality." (of course, this particular term is Parelli derived, but was something I saw as worthy of incorporation into my own training style.)

Never is there a need to dismiss an idea, based solely on the fact that it was not your own. After all, it was your idea to 'allow' it into your playbook.

You are on the right track. Being versed in several methods of instruction and guidance makes us better grounded, and more prepared trainers.

Don't you think.

Even if you have no interest in the nuts and bolts of day to day training of your horse, and tend to leave this on the shoulders of your trainer, your understanding of what your trainer is doing or not doing will give you a better idea of what that trainer has programmed into your horses mind, what your horse thinks of it, and how you can best utilize it.

When it becomes time to move in a positive direction, you'll have the upper hand because you have considered the advice, and made an informed decision, confident in the fact that you've done some checking around. I hope this gives you a lift, and you are able to appreciate it and incorporate something from it into your own style.

Never underestimate the power of your own style. Good luck and keep me posted on whether this post was as helpful as it was originally intended.
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post #92 of 124 Old 09-13-2012, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: BC
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I like that your post was thoughtful and out of the box thinking. Thank you so much, its obvious you put some time into your post.

That walking backwards thing. He was so nervous when unloaded at the trainer's (who sold him to me) he walked backwards around the entire property. But I have seldom seen that behaviour unless he's stressed.

In some horses, and not to make excuses for my horse's behaviour, pushing/forcing the issue past a certain point in this horse's head makes him frazzled and he STOPS thinking about his personal safety and becomes "stupid". As my coach commented, "he will escalate to or over the amount of pressure/force you are willing to escalate to". Could this make him dangerous? Yes, I think so. I wish I knew more about his background. He is otherwise well mannered, calm, etc. Ground manners exceptional. Loving, affectionate. Et al.

I like that another well respected trainer in our area said it's better to push a horse out of their comfort zone, allow them to freak a little, then let them calm while under your control and presence, than to experience the same event in another setting that offers less of a safety envelope.

He does have 2 facial swirls on his forehead close together. I cringe when I read Linda Tellington Jones' comments that horses with 2 swirls close together tend to behave poorly in stressful situations!! He is my heart horse and I am
committed to working with him in any way suitable to overcome any holes in his training or background, and experiences.
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post #93 of 124 Old 09-13-2012, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Oklahoma
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I have found that there are several ways to 'teach' an easily upset horse that does not get them reactive.

Obviously 'forcing' them is not a option. Hitting, jerking, using a chain, and any other direct force only backfires. That does not mean you cannot teach them to think and to do the right thing. The key is to use a method that elicits the correct response, does NOT let them determine what they are going to do in a stressful situation and 'lets' them figure out the safe and correct response. It is simply a matter of 'opening the right door and closing the wrong ones'!

I consider any horse that responds to stress by balking or worse, by backing up, to be too unsafe to ride. All one has to do is have a hind foot 'hang up' on some little thing and the horse will roll over and up-side-down on the rider. One will back into traffic or a fence or ???? I saw one back off of the side of a bridge and land up-side-down in a muddy creek-bed on top of a rider -- about a 15 - 20 foot drop. Both could have been killed. Only the soft mud saved them.

On that same note, I consider backing one to get something done or to get one to go somewhere to be a very dangerous way to get something done. While it works when everything goes right, the results can be tragic when it does not work.

For me, 'forward impulsion every time it is asked for', is so important to safe horse riding and training that I refuse to go any further until I have figured out a way to get it. There ARE ways -- without letting the horse be in charge. Even mental lightweights with a 'hair-trigger' blow-up point and a low level of trainability CAN usually be taught to do the right thing.
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post #94 of 124 Old 09-13-2012, 09:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Great post! I just bought a horse that I knew about four years ago. She had her problems back then, but we sorted them out and she was wonderful. Well, when I got her back, she would trample and rear on the person leading her. Someone had let her get away with a lot of stuff and she was frightening. So my BO made us spend about the first week almost solely on groundwork. We couldn't even just let her calm down on her own because she had to be handled every day and that was dangerous behavior. I was a bit furious because this was my baby and I just got her back. I didn't want to be "mean" to her, and I wanted to ride! But, throughout the week she calmed down and learned and now she is back to being the great horse she was. But I still have to continue to work on her on something or other, even if it is just learning to play soccer with a ball in the arena. Personally, I think it's fun to train and have a horse that doesn't perfectly follow your every commands exactly. I like training and working on something new, or refreshing the old. It makes life interesting.

Its funny how some people mention how certain instructors teach you how to sit pretty and that's it. Mine was the opposite. I learned how to make a horse do what I wanted, and it wasn't always pretty, but it worked. Now I am just learning how to sit pretty and things like that. I've been riding on and off for almost 10 years.
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post #95 of 124 Old 09-14-2012, 10:39 PM
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Location: BC
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I'm going to have my trainer ride him off property and follow discreetly. SHe has far better read on him that I. Cherie, I totally agree with you. When I bought him his owner mentioned it as a quirk. Ya. I am aware of this "quirk" I still feel he's a good horse for me. BUT we haven't been together long enough or done enough to witness him running backwards in a blind panic. If that ever happens to me, well I would consider re homing him.
I would love to hear more about how to get a horse to think under pressure. I have recently read horses do not learn well while stressed. I try and introduce him to things I think might challenge him (in hand). I am always looking for things to show him and things to do to relate to him as a leader. There are ways and (safer) places to explore how much pressure can be tolerated before a horse has a meltdown, right?
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post #96 of 124 Old 09-16-2012, 12:34 AM
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Thank you Cherie. This helps me grow as a rider and as a teacher to my horse
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post #97 of 124 Old 09-16-2012, 01:50 PM
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Location: Durham, Arkansas
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Ahh, so many tidbits of advice could be better served as polite suggestions, rather than served up as "this is what the box looks like, this is how you open it, this is what is inside..." The idea that you have "the" answer to a problem without having witnessed all of the intricacies of the situation, in my opinion makes you a poor choice to take advice from.

This will no doubt give someone who resembles this in their posts, a poor attitude of me, but be advised, I had read the posts for several days before responding to them. I gave this some thought, and I am in agreement with much, if not all of the return addendum's to my post.

I have no designs on correcting any trainer's advice unless it is faulty and of the dangerous sort. Even then, I intend to give rebuttal in a polite and un-assuming manner. I do not consider myself a horse trainer, though, many people and horses have benefited from my polite suggestions. I am always aware of my tone and try to give advice on the "if this situation were of this particular sort, then...", with the disclaimer that my advice may not be applicable to your situation. There is NEVER a time when I feel that it is ok to down someone who is trying to give clear advice with a respectful tone.

In the future, please have the courtesy to read the entire post, including the disclaimers and "IF...THEN" comments. I would ask that consideration be given to context and intention.

My horse never had run backwards in a blind fury, but maybe someone's horse did. My horse was not a danger to back across the bridge, but how could you know that if you were not present. I have been aware of your response for several days and I realize that it may not be directed to me, but I think that many people will appreciate someone correcting your tone. I know that chances are, that you will attempt to disprove my advice with some chapter out of some book. Nice.

In the future, I will be cautious to advise when know-it-alls are in the room.

Have a pleasant day.
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post #98 of 124 Old 09-16-2012, 02:23 PM
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I must add, if not made clear previously, that I am in total agreement with "dangerous backing" advice.

I just followed the link to your website, and found that your opinions of horse training are absolutely sound. I expect that you have been so right for so long, that you have lost the ability to see anything besides your own correctness. I suppose that makes your view of everyone else to be a view of a faulted opinion. That is the problem with so many trainers, >and I am not in that category< that there is my way and the wrong way.

I attempted to address this in my original post but to no avail. I would ask that you re-read my entire post and, then, I would welcome your wisdom. Please give a thought to up-and-coming trainers and how your advice and the advice of other veteran trainers has the legs to run them off from the training community. I work with some students and teachers who have the gift of their opinions having merit, solely based on their feel of horses.

I expect that even you were a budding trainer once, who appreciated compassion and respect for your ideas from your mentors.

Thank your son for serving our country. I too served, 1/75 Ranger Medic '92-'95. Hooah.
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post #99 of 124 Old 09-17-2012, 09:08 PM
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Awesome Post!
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Horses are scared of two things. Things that move and things that don't
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post #100 of 124 Old 12-08-2012, 02:40 PM
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Wow! Thanks for posting! I agree! :)

.*. Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart. You will never regret it. .*.
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