Mini rant and question

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Mini rant and question

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    01-19-2010, 06:28 PM
Mini rant and question

Today the ring was too muddy to ride. There was just a little area out back near the woods that had good footing, so I decided to longe him to get my horse some exercise as well as work on getting him more comfortable back there. He's only been at this barn for a few months, and has been a bit concerned about some of the local wildlife. I get back there and ask him to trot. He proceeds to explode, cantering around like a nut, very tense and rigid with his head in the air. He was snorting out so loud, he sounded like a steam train and I thought I could feel the ground shake. I spent the next 20 minutes working him through it and eventually got a relaxed, head low, body relaxed, licking and chewing horse both directions and called it a day. I walked him back to barn very pleased with the work we did. I then attempted to tell my BO about the great work we did and she just kicked me to the curb. Without seeing any of it, she asserted that my horse was just happy and getting his kicks out and I was wrong in my assumption that my tense rigid snorting beast was nervous. It just steams me. She so busy being right about everything and one-upping whatever I do, I'd rather tell a bunch of strangers on the internet about my success than a know-it-all. I really do feel like we did great today. Just wish I had someone to share it with.

Anyway, here's my question. I don't longe much. Only in situations where I need to get my boy to overcome a new situation or something scary. Years ago, it was customary to halt the horse on the path his is traveling. He stands without turning in and facing you. These days, I see a lot of the natural horse trainers looking for two eyes. They want the horse to turn in and face them. Is either one necessarily right or wrong? Does one accomplish more in terms of respect than the other?
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    01-19-2010, 06:59 PM
That's great. I'm always glad whenever I can take a session that starts out really bad and end on a great note. You should be proud. Kicked you to the curb? As in told you you couldn't board there anymore? Or did you mean that she just dismissed your story?

I've been told when you lunge, you should have the horse stop on the path he is traveling, and that turning toward you is an aggressive behavior, but I've also been told that at the end of round-penning, that you want to get the horse to turn and face you and then to come to you in the middle, or "join-up."

Does it make sense that the horse should be punished for coming in toward you in one situation but encouraged to in another? I don't know. I've only begun to question this. I guess the justification for this is that if you make your body language obvious enough, over time, the horse should learn which situation calls for which behavior.

For example, I watched a documentary where there was a dog that was owned by someone with a dissociative identity disorder. The man's main personality was a very tough, strict cop, but he also had a eight year old personality that was very fun-loving. The dog knew that it was supposed to stay out of the living room as a general rule, but whenever the child's personality took over, the man's body language would change so much that the dog would just come into the living room - without being called. I'm not sure how much that has to do with your question. I just thought it was a good example...and cool.
    01-19-2010, 07:17 PM
No she didn't kick me out or anything like that. She's just a serious know-it-all. If I tell her we had a great ride, she'll skip over that info and tell me great somebody else is doing with their horse. If I tell her about a new training technique I tried, she'll dismiss it and say I'm wrong. Just one of those folks, that's all. I'm still proud of our progress, so poopy on her!
    01-19-2010, 07:25 PM
That's awesome that you were able to turn that nervousness into a good, productive workout! I'd definitely call that a good day's work.

As for the lunging, it doesn't really matter too much to me whether or not the horse faces up, as long as I have his attention (which, if he's stopped well on cue, I probably have) and he doesn't come into the center before I invite him. Facing up, to me, just tells me for a fact that I do have the horse's attention. Some horses will face up, easily, some will stop on their path. Scout does face up, for the most part. My first horse, and my sis' QH stop on their paths much easier. Sis' horse will even make this "You really going to make me..." face if I try to yield his hindquarters and face him up. He's so expressive sometimes, especially when he's bored or grumpy.

For the most part, I see horses that do more "classical" (for lack of a better word) lunging, with side reins, surcingle, etc., stop in their path more often, and horses better versed in NH groundwork, circle driving, and NH lunging tend to face up. Maybe classical has them stopping in their path so that there's less chance for things to tangle up, versus the NH that uses just a halter and line.
    01-19-2010, 10:43 PM
Great job getting her relaxed and confident :) As for the lunging, I kind of employ both techniques....if I'm working on transitions and I want him to stop I don't want him facing me, because technically I'm still asking him to do something, but when I'm done and I want to tell him "Game over" I ask him to turn, face and come to me. It's not an aggressive or disrespectful thing at all, it's basically saying "Great job, now come over here because the game is over." I'm the resting place, not the circle. Plus it really helps you get better 'draw' with your horse.
    01-19-2010, 11:03 PM
Originally Posted by Spirithorse    
Great job getting her relaxed and confident :) As for the lunging, I kind of employ both techniques....if I'm working on transitions and I want him to stop I don't want him facing me, because technically I'm still asking him to do something, but when I'm done and I want to tell him "Game over" I ask him to turn, face and come to me. It's not an aggressive or disrespectful thing at all, it's basically saying "Great job, now come over here because the game is over." I'm the resting place, not the circle. Plus it really helps you get better 'draw' with your horse.
That makes sense. Thanks. Puck does turn in and look at me when he wants to stop, but he'll only actually walk toward me when I let him stop. Guess we're doing it right.
    01-20-2010, 08:32 PM
If a horse ever looks at me while out on the circle, especially if he is learning something new, and his ears are up and he has a "question" on his face I will allow the horse to come in. That look is them checking in with me and asking me a question and I ALWAYS want to encourage my horse to feel confident in that kind of communication. If the horse is unconfident and asks me a question I will turn away completely and walk away, bringing in the slack of the line as the horse follows me. This creates confidence in the horse. At some point the horse will try to look at you just so he can stop and that's when you simply redirect him gently and ask him to continue.
    01-21-2010, 09:25 AM
Your BO sounds like a real PITA! Too bad for you and your horse that you have someone that knows EVERYTHING...Hahaha!

Anyway, the two eyes theory relates to your horse paying attention to what you are telling him and acknowledging you as his leader. The horse not turning in toward you is what I find people do to just get the horse exercise and/or to get the "fire" out of them. Most people lunge a horse for that very reason; however, it can backfire, as it can increase their adrenaline level and if they don't have their focus on the handler/leader it doesn't work. Hope that helps.
    01-21-2010, 07:07 PM
Thanks, that makes sense about the two eyes. Apparently we made huge gains that day he was so fired up. I took him back out there again. Right from the start, he was attentive and listening. Not a single buck, spook or act of stupidity. He trotted, walked and cantered on cue like a champ. We did it in several different areas each time with the same result. I'm so proud my him. Tomorrow we're going to try it under saddle. I still didn't get to celebrate my success with anyone since the only there again today was the BO, so you all get to hear about it. She was busy complaining about the weather or something. I pretty much tune her out so I can enjoy my horsey and not get pulled down into her web.
    01-21-2010, 08:52 PM
Green Broke
Just wanted to pop in and say good job! Sounds like he connected with the first lesson and is a quick learner. Keep changing the area as he becomes very secure and soon he'll take where ever you work him in stride. Congrats!

(whisper) psst, don't you love it when things work the way they should?!

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