Need opinions from people who use Clinton Anderson's methods for training!
I'm looking for opinions from those who train using Clinton Anderson's method. I love the method and have used it for quite some time, but do have a few questions. Please, no comments depicting the CA method. I have gotten a lot of results using it, but just need a few opinions!
Thanks in advance!
Quincy the Saddlebred is now in training with me. I was giving the owner lessons on him, but he is quite green and kept crow hopping and she kept falling off, so I told them that they either needed to put the horse in training or sell him. They opted for training. I have been working with the horse for about a week and half now. We have mainly been doing round penning. Today, I tacked him up and round penned him until he gave me the signs that he was ready to come in (licking & chewing, etc). We also do the flexing of the head and neck, turns on the FQ/HQ, backing exercises, etc. The horse is 6 years old and is broke, but previously was not ridden in 3 years. Today I went to get on and he bolted forward and I fell off. I round penned him again and then just went back to getting him to stand at the mounting block. It took a long time and a lot of encouragement, but I finally got him to stand at the mounting block while I was standing on it. Previously, when I got on him, I should have flexed his head and neck so that he could not run forward. I don't know why I didn't. My question for you is do you flex their head/neck when getting on and if so, in what direction? Away from you or towards you? I previously did it towards me, but that can be a bit difficult because the horse can still move away from you when you go to get on. I have considered turning the horse's head away from me, but then he can't see what I'm doing and he is in better position to turn his butt to kick at me if he decided to.
I would like to know your CA process of working up to and getting on a horse for the first time. Quincy is getting better, but he is a nervous type of horse. I am wondering if maybe I should just go back to square one and "back" him. He stands perfectly for tacking, doesn't really buck during lunging, etc. I have done CA a lot, but sometimes still have questions about it. I am going out to work Quincy again tomorrow morning, but am not sure if I should try to get on him or not. I am thinking I should hold off and just do more desensitizing to get him quieter. Things like stick & string/bag at the mounting block. Just tons of different things so get him quieter. Any advice you may have would be great!!
I do not flex my horses when I get on. But, what I do do if they are nervous, on the ground or under saddle is I work them. I do patterns with them, I side step, I back them.
Horses move to think. If they can't move, they can't think. And if they can't think, then they become reactive and hence, bolt, spook, rear, or whatever.
I would do a lot of ground work with him before even getting on, so that before I even think about it, they are calm and responsive to my cues and what I want them to do.
If I were on a horse that bolted, I'd spin them in a circle. I would start large, and then slowly shrink the circle. I would go one way, and then the other. I would THEN work on the flexing, and in turn, on their lightness in giving me their head. Eventually, they would give their head with just a pinky amount of pressure.
I don't do CA, but I think your questioning yourself sounds reasonable.
Make sure that when you desensitize him to things, that he will also accept these things over and around him WHILE MOVING. Some horses can stand all kinds of stuff as long as they kind of stuff it down and hold it in and stand still, but once they start moving their feet, which would be their natural reaction to dealing with stimulus that is uncomfortable, the dam bursts and they have to GO!
Deschutes: He is really great at flexing and giving to the pressure. He does it with complete lightness. Do you think that because he is running away when I try and get on (he's scared, obviously), is that his way of saying he's not ready and needs more desensitizing or that I should keep trying?
Also what are some exercises to make him not scared of the mounting block? Today I stood on it and just asked him to step forward so he was stand next to me. When he did I really praised him and made it a good experience for him. Plus he got to rest at the same time. I stomped around on the mounting block a little and he did get nervous and move at first, but then I just put him right back and eventually he did stand still and then I quit.
Well. I deal with a flighty horse who runs INTO me, due to her responsive nature, rather than her thinking nature. It's often when I let her move that she realizes: "Oh. This thing isn't coming after me, and I need to back up, and I need to side step and I need to do a bunch of things"
I'd probably start slow. I'd get on his back, and just sit there, and relax. Maybe even do some stretching, rotating excercises for my body while he's becoming comfortable with my weight. I would ensure that before anything, that -I- was relaxed. If he is relaxed, and I can feel it, then I would praise, pat, and ask for a walk on.
If he becomes dancy, I'd just let him do the dancing like he wasn't even doing it. To me, the dancing is better improvement than the bolting. : p
As for the mounting block... do you let your horses investigate things? Tana likes to act 'scared' around our mounting blocks when they're just sitting near the tack shed, but doesn't make a fuss when it's tapped, moved, wiggled in a 'scary' manner. He may just be moving because he knows you're hopping on, and doesn't want you to, so he thinks it's fine to move.
I would also not stop once he stands still. If you intend to get on while using the block, then get on. Follow through with your intentions.
Are you able to get on without a mounting block?
Also, you can kind of feel a horse relax and it shows when their head is brought down.
Des: When his owner first started taking lessons with me, I would hold the horse for her to get on and he was okay. Probably because I was constantly reassuring him. I do not have anyone hold him for me mainly because I don't have anyone that I trust to. The owners are far too inexperienced to hold a horse that might try and run. The problem is not with once a rider is on, but the getting on. Today I was almost on and he took off. I did not even have a chance to sit on him.
Also, I do not get on him from the ground because I ride dressage, however, an option may be to throw a western saddle on him so it's a bit safer. That way I could hop on the ground and test him to see what he's going to do.
Yay or nay?
What do you mean by investigating? Allow him to sniff it, check it out sort of thing? I have not done that, but I could. Would it help to just maybe sit on it and give him a treat or two?
I think that in desensitizing your goal is the the horse accept the object as not threatening and so should be able to either stand OR move , as you ask them , whether the stimulus is there or not.
So, while you are desensitizing, you would be looking for the horse's attitude to this thing. If he's standing still, but still seems worried, then he is stuffing down some anxiety, so best maybe to have him move a bit. Then work with him both moving and standing and watch to see how he "feels" about it. Once he can move forward , as you ask, even with the scary thing (like a balloon or a sweater) bumping on his hip and/or saddle, and even coming over his back into his off eye, then you might try asking him to stand with the stiumuls.
In desensitizing this way, you are teaching the horse not to run away from things that scare him. :)
I use a mounting block for every horse regardless of height. I bring the block to them before they are even tacked up and show it to them, let them sniff it, lick it, lip it whatever they want to familiarize themselves with it. At first there is no wrong answer, they just need to get used to the scarey plastic steps on both sides. I hold the lead rope and let them retreat to the end of the rope and then I get them to start approaching the block. If it's only 1 or 2 steps closer to the block, that's fine, they can stand there til they relax. Then another step or 2 toward the block. All the while I'm making noise by stomping on the block, picking it up and setting it down, slapping it, whatever. If it takes several sessions before they totally ignore the block as a been there done that think, that's fine. I also like to put a treat on the steps and let them walk up to the steps and take the treat. Seems to make them accept the block really quickly.
Once they'll stand next to the block with me coming up and down, stomping my feet, shoving it around on the ground next to them, pushing it under their belly to the other side and they'll totally not be bothered by it, then I bring it close to their side and lean over the saddle from it. I put weight on my arms and lean over until I can fully belly over and they don't get antsy or upset and don't walk off with me bellied over them. If they start to move, I just say whoa and slide down their side and pull them to a stop with either the lead rope or rein and take them back to the block. Again, just repetition, no wrong answers and I do everything from both sides. Then eventually I step my foot in the stirrup and put just a little weight in the stirrup and then step off. Back and forth, back and forth until it's no big deal and they don't move. If they move, I step off and bring them back to the block.
Since you say this horse has bolted off with you while mounting, I'd do everything in the round pen or in a corner or chute so he cannot bolt or move very far, just to begin with. Once they're calm about everything I still take them to a corner or wall to mount so they can't move off very far while they're learning. I also will pull their head around to me as I mount, so they only can move in a circle. The whole goal is to get them to accept me mounting them from a block, a tailgate, trailer running boards, rock, picnic table, whatever I can find, and not walk off til I ask them to.
My mare is well over 16 hh and I'm only 5'3" in my boots, and at 54 I'm not as flexible as I once was, so I HAVE to have them trained to stand next to something or down in a ditch for me to mount. I just keep working on it and even once I have them doing really well at letting me mount from strange things, I still look for things when we're out on trail and I practice at least once per ride so they never think it's ok to take off without me in the saddle and giving them the cue.
***I don't specifically use CA's methods or Parelli's or Lyon's but I use a little mix of all of them, whatever seems to work in that instant with that horse. Staying relaxed and communicating that things are no big deal with my body language is a major tool in the tool box.****
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