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Comfort/Discomfort in training

This is a discussion on Comfort/Discomfort in training within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        12-05-2012, 02:17 PM
      #11
    Foal
    Sorry about my lack of paragraph breaks, I'll try to do better.

    The snag with Filly is she will move over before I have touched her, and I can get her to move that way. However not all the staff at the yard have that feel and they do touch her at which point she sometimes takes severe offence and kicks out hard.

    What I am trying to achieve is that she emotionally accepts the request to move when a hand is placed on her body and doesn't feel the need to lash out at that point. In effect I am trying to train her to live in the real human world that she has to cope with.
    I would love to be on a yard where everybody is savvy enough to know how to deal with a very sensitive horse, but sadly that is not the case. Even if it was I would also like to take her to shows at times, or to meet friends, and cannot teach everyone to treat her softly.

    In the long term getting her to accept the request to move gently and quietly when touched will greatly improve her quality of life. Prior to my owning her, and having much control over how she was handled, she got treated roughly and learned to put in a pre-emptive strike prior to being touched. She therefore developed a very defensive attitude which must have been a source of continuous stress for her.

    This is the attitude I now need to overcome. She has to be shown that being touched with the intention to move her does not mean she is going to be hurt, or have her dignity hurt which is just as bad.

    I appreciate your thoughts on pressure, timing etc and have been playing with them all. The good news is that today we made great progress. I gave the sideways movements purpose by making her go sideways over a pole, a cone, and plastic jump wing. This gave her something to think about other than the applied pressure and much of the emotion was replaced with interest.
         
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        12-05-2012, 04:46 PM
      #12
    Weanling
    Discomfort/comfort ie pressure/release ie +punishment/-reinforcement is undeniably a hugely contributing factor in a horses behaviour.

    Also if you friendly game by rubbing the area where you'll be porcupine gaming, both immediately before and after the porcupine game (so rub 'till she's standing stil, press 'till she moves, then without taking your hand off the horse, rub 'till she's standing still again), you might find she improves.

    Starting with a friendly game will solve this
    Quote:
    The snag with Filly is she will move over before I have touched her
    and finishing with a friendly game will solve this
    Quote:
    So emotionally having the porcupine applied creates a lot of discomfort in her mind, and she reduces this discomfort by a) escaping the pressure with a big move and b) acting so as to discourage any attempts to porcupine her again. She thus falls back into the little comfort zone where there is no porcupine pressure being applied. However she still has the fear of porcupine and discomfort being applied again in the future
         
        12-05-2012, 04:58 PM
      #13
    Showing
    If she will move without you touching her then why touch her? And she does not worry that you will ask her later because she lives in the moment. Training is 50/50. Asking, getting the result then backing off. Next time you ask her to move her hip hold two fingers toward her hip and tap the air. As soon as she starts to move, take a step back. You want her to move laterally ie sideways and forward so that her leg closest to you steps under her belly (depending on amount of stride). After you stepped back, rub her forehead then ask again. Be satisfied with one step to start then go to the other side.
         
        12-05-2012, 05:21 PM
      #14
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    If she will move without you touching her then why touch her? And she does not worry that you will ask her later because she lives in the moment. Training is 50/50. Asking, getting the result then backing off. Next time you ask her to move her hip hold two fingers toward her hip and tap the air. As soon as she starts to move, take a step back. You want her to move laterally ie sideways and forward so that her leg closest to you steps under her belly (depending on amount of stride). After you stepped back, rub her forehead then ask again. Be satisfied with one step to start then go to the other side.
    in parelli land there's a fine line between porcupine and driving. I'm like you though, if the horse does what I want ultimately it doesnt matter if I 'drove' it or 'porcupined' it, in the end all that matters is that the horse was obedient. But I was trying to help OP's porcupine game.
         
        12-05-2012, 05:43 PM
      #15
    Super Moderator
    Why do we need all these words like porcupine?
    Sorry
    Its lovely when someone does make progress with a horse but when you're starting out new at an older age then its much easier to do it with a horse that knows the ropes and plays a nice game - then you learn and can then use that knowledge with a younger horse.
    This is the famous green on green thing
    The mare is defensive, she has serious trust issues and needs a lot of time and patience, each time someone gets it wrong with her she's going to take a step back.
    Is she like this when she's groomed or is it just in a situation when she's being asked to do something she maybe doesnt feel like doing?
    This is when understanding the horse does matter - is she nervous or is she just saying 'stuff you and you're games I'd rather be eating hay'
    You need a different approach for each
         
        12-05-2012, 06:04 PM
      #16
    Foal
    I do rub her with friendly game before and after the porcupine game, and in general she is fine being rubbed, or scratched, in the same spot as long as there in no intention in the pressure. Add intention and she gets dominant about being moved and resists it.

    The issue is not as big as everyone seems to think it is, I just used it as an illustration of the topic of the thread. I've only been working on the problem for a part of a few sessions and we are making good progress, but it does involve taking Filly to a place she doesn't like in order to show her that actually it's not as bad as she fears.

    This is not my first horse, I have been playing for a long while with my wife's horse and others. I did not back her myself, but took her to James Roberts for that. I then spent a week with him at the end as a handover and asked him directly if I was good enough to continue her training. His response was an emphatic "of course". I have heard him say otherwise to other owners so he was not just buttering me up either. James was always a very very straight talker.
         
        12-05-2012, 06:06 PM
      #17
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    The mare is defensive, she has serious trust issues and needs a lot of time and patience, each time someone gets it wrong with her she's going to take a step back.
    Amazing what you can deduce from a few written lines on a forum without seeing any video or the horse in person.
         
        12-05-2012, 07:31 PM
      #18
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pegasus1    
    Amazing what you can deduce from a few written lines on a forum without seeing any video or the horse in person.
    You have said that the mare lashes out when asked to move over which says to me she is defensive
    To me kicking in any situation is a serious vice that needs addressing
    If she's doing it because she's nervous or because she 'just doesnt want to comply still boils down to the same thing - I am defending myself because I'm afraid you're going to hit me or I'm defending myself because I don't want you to pressure me to do something I don't want to do or don't understand your instructions
         
        12-07-2012, 06:22 PM
      #19
    Showing
    The one thing I learned when working with a spooky horse is to push him just past him comfort level, ie add a little stress, then turn away from the horse and leave him alone for a minute. The next time, the horse realizes it wasn`t so bad. When horses are quite spooky this is a powerful survival tool. But when the stress is too great the horse will zone out. That`s when you see more explosive, out of the blue spooking. The horse scares itself.
         
        12-08-2012, 01:17 PM
      #20
    Weanling
    I think you've shown, through Filly, that the move-towards-comfort vs avoid-discomfort formula is too simplified.

    Among other things, the whole concept of discomfort/pain varies. (Some of us actually enjoy the "burn" of the workout!)

    Examples:
    Discomfort/pain can = physical pain, from a pulling rein to a beating
    Discomfort/Pain can = wakeup call, like a sudden slap
    Discomfort/pain can = hunger, loneliness, physical ailment
    Discomfort can come from loss of dominance, too

    Some of these I, or my horse, try to avoid; some might make my horse (one of them, the dominant mare) fight back. The quick, sharp slap of a crop, though, usually invokes simply: "Huh?"
         

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