07-04-2012, 12:56 AM
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:) This has been a very funny thread to read, and I am giggling over some of the images, especially of treating humans for impaction colic from biting hair off butts.
I discovered FT when I was looking for information to understand why my gelding was the way he was - often very resistant, responding to pressure with increased pressure. When I met him I was very new to horses and started out treating him as a friend, making sure he was happy to do as I asked, not insisting if he didn't want to do something, and no-one could believe how willing he was for me. We got along wonderfully and he went way better for me than anyone else, and I bought him because of that. Then the more experienced people told me I needed to be more of a leader for him, and that that was the way to get a horse's trust. It seemed to work for them with their horses, so I began doing that, and Jerry began to gradually become increasingly resistant and dominant with me. My instructor said he was one of the most strong-minded and determined horses he'd ever worked with. He had co-operative days and days when he would disagree strongly, and over time the disagreements were becoming bigger and more frequent. Things came to a head one day when he gave my instructor such a challenging time on a trail ride that he said he was dangerous, could never be trusted, was a time bomb, needed complete retraining with a much firmer hand, etc, etc. It was his tone of voice as much as his words that made me realise there was a big problem. I could also see my relationship with Jerry had been gradually disintegrating and was much different than when we first met. So I went searching the net to try and find out what had gone wrong, and found FT.
I was pretty sceptical about it and had the same reaction to the website and some of the materials as others here have. But I was desperate, and some of the things made sense and fitted with my experience of Jerry, especially the bits about not using dominance. So I took a gamble and applied to join, and it has really paid off for us. Jerry is calmer and willing to listen and nearly always does as I ask, and I am comfortable and confident around him. I didn't realise how nervous I'd been of him until it left me. He has also stopped threatening to bite, which he did quite a lot before. Looking back I think a lot of our problem had been that I was unconfident with him, but he was resistant and reacted badly to pressure from even experienced people, so I don't think the problem was just me.
I know several other people who are also doing FT and their experience is the same as mine, we are all delighted with the relationship it is developing with our horses and feel safer as a result of it. However I think it is probably not for everyone and it is slow. I also think people can develop perfectly nice, safe relationships/partnerships with horses without doing FT. In fact, if my first horse had been my other gelding Huff rather than Jerry, I probably wouldn't have explored FT because I wouldn't have felt the need for it.
:) The bit about letting the horse say no always amuses people. Jerry said 'no' quite a lot in the beginning, much to the amusement of my friends, but is now very rarely does. And instead of getting resistant when I ask him to do something he doesn't want to, he thinks it over and usually does it. I can read his body language much better now, and my asking is much softer and we are both more patient with and trusting of each other so I don't accidentally trigger his oppositional response. I agree the price sounds steep, but I had paid more than that $50 at a time to an experienced person to train Jerry, and we ended up worse off than when we started. On the other hand, progress since we started FT has sometimes been slow, but always in the right direction.
It's probably not for everyone, but it really does work.