The matter of protecting "space". - Page 2

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The matter of protecting "space".

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    09-16-2009, 10:31 AM
To me, the difference between asking and telling a horse to do depends upon the situation.

If all is going well and we're having a "normal" day...I ask for the horse for performance. When I'm asking, the horse always has the option to balk or tell me no. There is a learning curve here. I'm learning how to ask properly where the horse understands what I want and feels confident to do what is asked.

If a situation is going down hill, or safety is an issue, I TELL the horse what to do, when I'm telling a horse something, whether it is for my safety or his, NON-COMPLIANCE IS NOT AN OPTION. If I need my horse to back...and it's urgent, my tone reflects that and the horse (hopefully) has learned that when I use that (NOW ****it) tone that he must back! This applies to WHOA, NAAAH, and HEY as well. A better example might be feed time where they're being a little too spunky...Not one grain of feed will be given if my commands are not heeded. For my safety.

It's the same tone I use for my kids, its the I am NOT going to have a discussion, I know what's best right now, Do what I said COMMAND.

I rarely use this tone with the horses. I'd say 90% of the time I ask. Hopefully my examples made sense. I think there are times when telling is of utmost importance.
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    09-16-2009, 11:10 AM
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
The matter of “space”.
Again I read a post mentioning the concept of protecting space between the rider and the horse - both seemingly have their own “space“. For me, my horse DiDi has no private space - indeed she has no privacy - at all. When I groom her, I brush her all over sometimes in sensitive areas. I lift her tail. I wipe around her eyes. I pick up her feet and pick out the compacted earth. I brush her belly. I comb her hair. I stick my fingers in her ears. Then I tack her up. I gently lay the saddle on her back and I reach under her to do up the girth. I put my fingers in her mouth and insert the bit. I wash her. I oil her feet. I clean up after her ablutions. I wipe her down. I choose and mix her meals. I wash up after her.
How more familiar with her can I get?

When the farrier comes, I stand with her. When the dentist comes I stand with her in her stable - she standing free of any restraints. When the vet comes with a syringe in his hands then I tell her, forehead to forehead, “HeH Girlie, this will only be a little prick“.

I enter her stable, I walk around, I pick up the buckets. I walk between her and the walls. She lets me into her boudoir.

Whenever I am within touching distance, I will give her a stroke on her her butt, her head, her back, her chest, her neck. If she were a female human I would be prosecuted for gross indecency.

If I walk along with her in a head collar and I stop to talk with a neighbour, then before I know it, there is her head over my shoulder. She wants to hear what is being said. From time to time, she’ll lean against me. She’ll lick my hand. When she wants a biscuit, she’ll give me a little nudge ( OK a “horse” nudge).

Of course, when she treads on my foot, that’s a different deal - she is not allowed to do that - then there will be a quick sharp “Oi” - get off my foot.” Oh, and she is not allowed to nudge me in the back either.

But when she is in fear of something, then it is beholden upon me to calm her down. I have to get close to do that. I have to be able to stroke her neck - to touch her and say :”It is OK, don’t be frightened“- it is not the words that count - it is the tone of voice.
And if she slobbers all over my jacket - so what, that’s what I buy soap for.

I personally can’t see how respecting a horse’s space fits in with my philosophy.
If I invade her space, then to a limited extent she is allowed to invade mine.
But she must treat me exactly the same way as she would treat her foal.
She must protect me and look after me.
She is to carry me over uneven terrain - she is to look after me.
And she must come to feel that is her duty. That is the deal.

But of course my DiDi has a kind temperament
I don‘t oat her up; I don‘t feed her high protein mixtures; I watch her sugar intake.
When she is in season I keep just a little further away. I also keep her boyfriends away.
I am equally cautious when the wind is blowing or there is a storm.
I take care when she is on strange terrain. I don’t take her where I know it is dangerous for her.
Neither do I ask her to jump high painted fences nor do I ask her to compete for my glory.

She knows I am not a horse. I know she is not a person. We are buddies. We are a partnership of one biped with a quadruped. She eats grass & carrots; I eat meat. We both eat sugar lumps, crisps and biscuits, often we share.
I watch, hear, speak and touch; she sees, listens, sniggers and feels. Somehow we communicate.

But I don’t get too worried about her thinking she is the boss every now and again. I have learned to live with a similar concept with her indoors.


Barry G.

I very much like the sentiment of these words.
I believe that this shows your experience and also your RELATIONSHIP with your horse.
By establishing what you have with your horse,then the idea of SPACE changes and you and the horse really have much more freedom to move about.
YOU have been able to get this from your mare because you OFFERED it to her!

A lot of people don't because they are afraid and don't offer it to other people either.
Many people are closed and want to be separate in their lives.

Your reward is a partnership!
    09-16-2009, 12:56 PM
( I hope this multiple quote thingy works....LOL)

Are we seeking that our horse should do what it is asked to do.
Or should it do what it is told to do.
For me it completely depends on the situation. I'm currently working with a 2 year old pony. During his training periods he gets asked first, but if the desired result isn't coming the pressure gets increased until the task is accomplished then all pressure is released. That's how horses learn.

There have been times on a trail ride when I have "told" my horse what to do. It's for his safety and mine.

There are times when it's a non-vote situation.

Should all horses follow the same system of control - "either do it or pay the price for not doing it".
Or I ask you to do it, please do it.
Again, it completely depends on what is happening at the moment. If you aren't getting the desired results my first thought is are you asking the right question. However if a non-vote moment is happening then yes they better do it NOW.

The professional horse handler would seek universal compliance to a standardised system of horse control
This would assume that all horse's are identical. Training must be tailored to the individual. You would be pigeon holing them and I don't think that style of training is productive.

We have two rescue horse's, one that was locked in a barn for 6 months as a yearling with no food and water. He was terrified of absolutely everything. His training as progressed in very small step. When you have an animal that is afraid of a water bucket, walking through a gate, or any noise over a decibel you must proceed at a different pace.

The amateur pet owner seeks compliance to the master's command - however ineptly given.
This comment makes me many horse's have you trained? This might work with dogs, but I have found that horse's are very adept at telling us if we are inept.
    09-17-2009, 10:54 AM
Amateur v Professional
The discussion on this thread has drifted from “space” to issues of “control“. Interesting. For some reason I am drawn to the difference between the Professional who hopes to earn from handling horses and the Amateur who pays to play with horses. This Forum I see particularly as one where the Amateur’s predominate and it is only rarely do I sense that a Professional is submitting the post. After all, there is no payment for contributing to the Forum.

Myself I am definitely an Amateur. I write from my own experiences of playing with horses for 34 years. Sometimes I myself have cause to pay for advice. Other times I call an old friend, a lifelong stunt man, for old school professional advice. I notice when he reverts to being a Professional the nature of his advice changes. He then tells how to force the horse to obey and he does not bother to seek out why it is disobeying. He usually knows the cure for the symptom; he doesn’t need to worry about the cause. He shows impatience when he realizes that I know his answer before he repeats it to me loud and clear. Once, with compassion, I watched this big tough bruiser of a man working with his own life long favourite horse, which was famous in the British film industry. With that horse, he was just so gentle. When eventually the horse died of a heart attack whilst out on a hack, my friend was as close to crying as I have ever seen him. Perhaps it was the first time in his life that he, a professional horseman to his finger tips, felt an amateur rider’s empathy for a horse, this time his famous horse. The horse’s ashes were uniquely buried in an urn under a tree in the paddock in which the horse once lived, alongside the ashes of his mother and his best friend.

On this Forum, the thread with the highest number of viewings over my time of contributing, is one which charts the death of a horse suffering from laminitis. The young female owner has been given the diagnosis and inevitably the horse is put to sleep. Visitors read the evolving story with tears in their eyes.

What I am trying to say, in as few a words as possible, is that the horse Professionals, be they dealer,
Breeder, trainer, vet or even top class sportsmen view the horse world from a particular perspective. The horse is the tool of their trade. To the amateur owner, the horse is more than just a large load carrying quadruped, it is very often a companion in life. In some cases the horse is the focal point of a lifestyle. Too often from a posting, I envisage a lonely young woman facing a very definite problem with her horse. She seeks advice over the internet from fellow amateur owners who may or may not have experienced a similar problem. She is reaching out for help. The advice from a Professional would be no doubt cost effective but the solution suggested might come over either as being too brutal or too matter of fact. On the other hand, an Amateur sometimes decides to write a response in the hope that a few words of wisdom and encouragement will help see that fellow amateur through. It comes as a surprise to realize that one can hold hands with like minded folks over the Internet with carefully chosen words.

Barry G
    09-17-2009, 11:29 AM
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
Too often from a posting, I envisage a lonely young woman facing a very definite problem with her horse. She seeks advice over the internet from fellow amateur owners who may or may not have experienced a similar problem. She is reaching out for help. The advice from a Professional would be no doubt cost effective but the solution suggested might come over either as being too brutal or too matter of fact. On the other hand, an Amateur sometimes decides to write a response in the hope that a few words of wisdom and encouragement will help see that fellow amateur through. It comes as a surprise to realize that one can hold hands with like minded folks over the Internet with carefully chosen words.
It's no surprise... it's basic human nature. Humans are social creatures. We seek out and bond with others that we feel we have something in common with. When one person feels that another person REALLY understands what they are saying/feeling there is an instant connection. The internet has just made that ability much greater. It makes that "lonely" woman feel like she's not alone in what she's going through and just knowing that makes a world of a difference. It's compassion basically, something the world could use more of IMO. There is a very definite sense of relief that a person gets when they find another person in the very same boat (or saddle for that matter) that they are in. The more extensive a person's support system, the more successful they can be.

To me the difference between professionals and amateurs giving advice is like night and day. Professionals seem to have a "been there done that" type of attitude that can come across as very black and white whereas an amateur realizes there can be shades of grey because every horse and horse owner is different. Sometimes black and white is what's needed, other times exploring the grey areas helps us novices learn more effectively. All of the advice is greatly appreciated... learning how to use it is the really hard part!
    09-17-2009, 11:50 AM
The above quote which Milo chose nails me exactly (shocker!) What is ironic here is that I am both professional and amateur and the paradox is frustrating at best, infuriating at worst. I am completing my veterinary education and work with horses every day. This summer I did hundreds of breedings and a research project on wild, unbroke stallions. At work I have no problem handling horses, I can get them to do what I want. At home, I suspect because of my emotional attachment to my horse, I face a multitude of problems not the least of which is a mountain of self doubt. A recent illness and trip to the hospital with my horse really highlighted the issue- nothing like having collegues gape at you, asking why you can't control your animal when they have seen you handle one with ten times the issues yours has. Humbling to say the least.

It is so easy to pass judgement on others and how they approach situations, especially from hundreds to thousands of miles away on the internet. But we don't truly know what is behind the problems they face or where they are coming from. How can we grasp the emotional state of both owner and animal through cyber space let alone form a clear picture of what issues are truly at play? Bottom line: we cannot. My recent experience will hopefully help me keep a more open mind to the situations of others as well as advice and techniques they are willing to share.
    09-17-2009, 12:10 PM
Originally Posted by tealamutt    
At work I have no problem handling horses, I can get them to do what I want. At home, I suspect because of my emotional attachment to my horse, I face a multitude of problems not the least of which is a mountain of self doubt.
Digressing far from the original topic.... what you said right there fascinates me. I have 7 horses kept on the farm with Milo. I have absolutely no issues controlling or handling any of them EXCEPT for mine. I realize it is not Milo that is the issue, but me... the question is..but how! How does our emotional attachment to these animals mess up our ability to maintain self confidence and control of them? What does having the privilege of ownership do to us emotionally that a horse can read or smell? I have a feeling that deserves a new thread..LOL
    09-18-2009, 10:13 AM
There have been 16 posts and 191 viewers of this thread within 3 days - which is a lot by comparison with other threads which have been started. Obviously there is keen interest in this line of thinking.

I think the word "space" needs to be better understood especially when
Used in connection with horses. Neither the dictionary nor the Thesaurus gives an equestrian meaning

There is also some realisation that the Professional looks at the horse in a very different way from the Amateur - something that I personally had not been so aware of.

There is also the matter of emotion. It does colour the way we think of our horses. But in being such a strong influencing factor it cannot be ignored indeed it should be more clearly understood and made allowance for.

Barry G
    09-18-2009, 10:35 AM
Space is in the eye of the beholder. I do not mind if my horse uses me to scratch an itch from time to time. I do not mind if he crowds me to satisfy a curiosity he may have about what I am holding or wearing. I allow him to be familiar with me when the timing of it is desirable. The trick is teaching him to respect when the time is not desirable and to obey the cues I give... there is work and there is play. Again, I don't see "space" as a black and white issue... there are grey areas from the amateurs point of view.

I think we view the horse more as a family member whereas the professional regards them as tools of their trade. The plumber does not "love" his tools, he simply manipulates them to do a job. That's where the emotion comes into play. Balancing love and authority can be quite tricky.. just as in raising children. There are times when you have to punish but sometimes it's harder on the parent than the child to do that! Having a strong emotional attachment seems to be a weakness in this particular circumstance.

So... is having an emotional attachment a hinderance to learning how to be a good horseman (or woman)?
    09-18-2009, 03:14 PM
Originally Posted by Miloismyboy    

So... is having an emotional attachment a hinderance to learning how to be a good horseman (or woman)?
Good question........... we've really digressed here....LOL

This past spring I went to a 6 day clinic with my husbands horse. For the ground portion of the clinic we spent a lot of time working with the horse's getting them to understand that when we put them some place they are to stay there. That "place" becomes their "safe" place, they don't have to do anything while they are in that place, just hang out and relax.

That place could be between two cones or backed into a opening in three barrels.

The trainer took my horse and used him as an example of backing him into the shoot the 3 barrels made and have him stand there and relax. Kooter was less than happy to be asked to do this and put up quite the stink . As the training was working with him he's of course talking the whole time. At one point he said if it looked like it was going to be too much stress for the horse he could always abort the mission and go on to something else.

After about 5 minutes of Kooter trying to do everything he could think of EXCEPT back up I looked over the gate at my husband who was there watching us. I could tell by the look on his face that he thought this was too much for Kooter and the mission SHOULD be aborted.

After a couple more minutes all of a sudden Kooter took a deep breath and backed in like he'd done it a million times.

If I had told the trainer to stop when I saw how it was upsetting my husband would it of mattered? Would Kooter of been worse off or better off? I'm not sure, all I know is that by the time that clinic was over I was working with a completely different horse.

Now if this had been my horse George, I would of called it off. I wouldn't of been able to keep watching. So to answer your question, yes I think our attachment can stand in the way of training.

I'd also like to comment on something Barry said about his friend.

He may of been a fantastic horse trainer (professional) with knowledge up the wazoo, but rub is there is only a few professional that are teachers. To be able to teach what you know is a gift.

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