Clinton Anderson on Buddy Sourness - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 86 Old 03-02-2020, 08:30 PM
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^Oh.

Spose you saw the Azaria Chamberlain movie with Merryl Streep years ago? Apparently there was a coverup about tourist operators & rangers there hand feeding dingoes, and they'd been known to bite kids before... Anyway, sorry OP, we should keep this thread on track.
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post #22 of 86 Old 03-02-2020, 08:30 PM
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^Oh.

Spose you saw the Azaria Chamberlain movie with Merryl Streep(as an Aussie) years ago? Apparently there was a coverup about tourist operators & rangers there hand feeding dingoes, and they'd been known to bite kids before... Anyway, sorry OP, we should keep this thread on track.
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post #23 of 86 Old 03-02-2020, 09:46 PM
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I did not see it but yes agree, we went way off track.

I DON'T LEAD 'EM AND FEED 'EM, I RIDE 'EM AND SLIDE 'EM.
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post #24 of 86 Old 03-02-2020, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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LOL, it's no problem, I enjoy digressions.

This reminds me of a mare at my stable that, now that I think about it, was probably trained with CA methods. Ironically, her current owner is a middle aged woman, but certainly not the one who put the training on her to begin with. I know she was run through the auctions at some point.

I have ridden her probably half a dozen times. The owner is not 100% confident with her. Probably because she has a history of being "explosive" in previous homes. In the times I've handled and ridden her, she just feels very shut down. She does not particularly enjoy human company, but will tolerate it. If you go out to the pasture and approach her, she'll stand and pretend you aren't there, but nonchalantly turn away and leave if you go to pet her. The most I've seen her do is flick her ears forward when she suspects a treat. She rides like a robot in the arena. She will walk/trot/canter/turn whenever you ask her to. But each gait is automatically set to only one speed, and she will completely ignore absolutely everything that is not a transition or turn command. She will never reach down and stretch, will never raise her head.

When I take her out on the trails, she is robotic until she's not, and then suddenly she's cantering sideways through a corn field or into traffic and completely evades and ignores any aids. This is probably the closest I've ever seen her to "explosive" as she was described by previous trainers.

It's a shame because she really is a cute mare with good movement. I don't like horses that have learned to just shut down and selectively listen. She has just learned too much that humans don't care to hear what she has to say, so she keeps quiet and willingly obeys right up until she sees a way to escape.
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post #25 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 12:55 AM
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When I take her out on the trails, she is robotic until she's not, and then suddenly she's cantering sideways through a corn field or into traffic and completely evades and ignores any aids.
Poor baby. Yeah, sooo many 'well trained' horses I've met are like that, including a little brumby I have, tho my son who has become an excellent & respectFUL horseperson has largely got him out of his shell & he's no longer 'robotic' with him... and less so with me, though I haven't spent much time on him myself & he's still hesitant & a bit of a brick with me sometimes.

I don't look at it as 'evading' or 'ignoring', when they 'blow up' which implies conscious, purposeful thought, but it's just panicking and reacting on instinctive level & when they get like that they can't even 'hear' the 'aids'.

I love the analogy of stress being like drips from a leaky roof. You can put a bucket under it, contain it and minimise it to only a drip at a time, but if you don't empty the bucket, it will still eventually become too much for the bucket & overflow. Furthering that analogy, stress/reactivity to a 'shut down' horse is like those drips going into a... jerry can, where you can't see them. You don't know how full it's getting, until 'suddenly, out of the blue' it overflows. That's why they can 'explode without warning'. So short, easy 'sessions' are best.
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post #26 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 05:26 AM
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There are some things that CA does that I like very well and others.......not so much. The new mare that I just got is a victim of over using a chain. Instead of training her to be respectful on the ground, they have trained her to stand up at halter and then just shanked the living tar out of her for anything else. So every time we would use a tug on the lead rope, she threw her head up and her front feet would pop up off the ground, even a couple of full on rears for tugging (and I mean gentle tugs rather than yanks)on the lead rope. She started acting out and being difficult, so I had hubby and my assistant lead her around and let her play up in response to various cues and corrections while I watched what her reactions were. Now at the time we were using a soft, nylon web halter that was humongous on her, literally she could have thrown her head hard and slipped right out of it, no chain and just a regular cotton lead rope. No chain. But she was expecting pain, so was trying to avoid it by popping up. Yes, she was being pushy and bratty, but not to the extent where a chain was needed to stop that behavior.

So, we switched to a stiff rope halter and a 12 foot lead line, and started doing some ground work that was based on redirection rather than punishment. We started walking and if she wanted to bolt on past, we just turned around and walked the other direction so that she was following us no matter what she did. She found that in order to keep up and avoid constantly hitting the end of the line, which of course bumped her nose with the rope halter, then she had to pay attention and stay respectful and focus on us and what we were asking of her. She's a 'delicate little flower' and the stiff rope is a little too harsh, rubbed some fur off, so I'm buying her a soft rope halter and a web halter that fits her, so we can stop rubbing fur off.

In the week since we started the minor ground work her attitude has done a complete 180, she's been respectful, much more mindful of OUR personal space, and a lot less testing and pushy. She's getting the idea that we're not going to beat her or shank her for punishment, we're just going to redirect her thoughts and feet. She's also gone from not giving us 2 eyes and ears to looking at us and focusing on us with her ears. She's not afraid of the whip, so that wasn't used on her in her previous situation (thank God for small favors) and now is getting the idea that if she stays by my shoulder and doesn't try to take me dirt skiing, we're good. If she does, and it's more than an "I'm startled" response, then we switch directions and keep on walking. She's very smart, catches on to things super quickly, is a little reactive to things yet but has improved a HUGE amount and most of her reactivity has calmed down. Most of the reactive behavior was in response to trying to give us what she thought we wanted rather than waiting to be asked or directed, again a case of too harsh training. I can only imagine how this one would take to CA's training methods, she would blow like a powder magazine that a Molotov Cocktail had been tossed into. Gentle is definitely the way she will learn best.

She's a prime example of "no learning takes place when fear is in charge" and showing her that she's a part of the team and her opinions matter is key to setting her up for success. She's learned that being naughty on the lead line is going to get her worked, we can walk and switch directions as many times/long as it takes for her to connect the dots. She also connects the dots and they stay connected, for good or ill. I also use what I call "her currency" to reward her slightest try. I made it my business to find out where all her favorite scritchy spots are and when she gives me a try, she gets a reward using her currency, a good scritch on her neck. I've also spent time in her stall just walking around her and scratching her favorite spots and then walking out so that she's left wanting more. She loves attention and that has been a wonderful way to get her past the naughties. I also carry a soft rubber curry in my back pocket so I can give her a quick scrub with the curry, another of her favorite things.
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post #27 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 06:30 PM
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She's a prime example of "no learning takes place when fear is in charge" and showing her that she's a part of the team and her opinions matter is key to setting her up for success.
Can not be said enough!

Of the first bit, yes, think how even people get when they panic, just reacting, they *can't* think clearly in that state. To the second, yeah, focusing on *successes* and setting it up to make them most likely/easiest, rather than what so many do - focusing on what needs 'correcting' and just 'getting on with it' when things are good.
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post #28 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
LOL, it's no problem, I enjoy digressions.

This reminds me of a mare at my stable that, now that I think about it, was probably trained with CA methods. Ironically, her current owner is a middle aged woman, but certainly not the one who put the training on her to begin with. I know she was run through the auctions at some point.

I have ridden her probably half a dozen times. The owner is not 100% confident with her. Probably because she has a history of being "explosive" in previous homes. In the times I've handled and ridden her, she just feels very shut down. She does not particularly enjoy human company, but will tolerate it. If you go out to the pasture and approach her, she'll stand and pretend you aren't there, but nonchalantly turn away and leave if you go to pet her. The most I've seen her do is flick her ears forward when she suspects a treat. She rides like a robot in the arena. She will walk/trot/canter/turn whenever you ask her to. But each gait is automatically set to only one speed, and she will completely ignore absolutely everything that is not a transition or turn command. She will never reach down and stretch, will never raise her head.

When I take her out on the trails, she is robotic until she's not, and then suddenly she's cantering sideways through a corn field or into traffic and completely evades and ignores any aids. This is probably the closest I've ever seen her to "explosive" as she was described by previous trainers.

It's a shame because she really is a cute mare with good movement. I don't like horses that have learned to just shut down and selectively listen. She has just learned too much that humans don't care to hear what she has to say, so she keeps quiet and willingly obeys right up until she sees a way to escape.



oh, wow. This is an interesting post! I have a lot to say on this.




The concept of 'making the wrong thing difficult, and the right thing easy' is fundamental to horse training. The thing NOT shown in that posted video of CA's is that the horses did not CHOSE the wrong thing, and that is absolutely essential. All of this is about CHOICE. The horse has to make a choice that you consider the 'wrong' choice. After the horse has made that choice, you then make that choice feel not so comfortable. It should not be punishment so much as not what the horse was expecting. They though getting back to the barn would mean unsaddling, food, and rest. You just change that up to mean work, and more work. It doesn't have to be extra hard, or frantic. Just no rest.


I want to say here that because CA was filming a video to show how to make things 'difficult', he did not have a situation where his horse actually CHOOSE to go there. He just went straight to the making it difficult part. He sort of had to, in order to demonstrate the techneique, so don't blame him for that.


But, a person needs to know that there is a very important step in there that he is not talking about: CHOICE. again: CHOICE.


your horse chooses to look for security where he thinks it will be. You LET him choose. But, make that choice uncomfortable. And, you keep offering him the choice to leave that uncomfortable place.



Here's where things differ strictly from CA's stated method; You watch your horse, and keep that window open . . . "hey, how about we go over there?" and if your horse is ready, he will take that, for as long as he can emotionally handle it. You let him go, (do NOT MAKE HIM GO), and if he gets so worried he thinks he has to go back to that other horse, why you let him, but once he makes that choice, you make it uncomfortable. But, you keep looking for your horse's tentative thought of ' Maybe I should try going over there instead'.


It is this process of allowing him to choose, and choose , and choose again, finding for himself what works, that has him learning.




Part two of my response: Regarding becoming shut down emotionally/mentally. I read an article somewhat reacently about this . The writer said that MOST of all performance horses are pretty shut down. Most ranch horses, most reiners, dude ranch strings, etc. Their training has made them very responsive to cues and routine, and as long as the person continues to ride them in this way, and is fair to them, the horse finds a system for living that keeps him out of punishment, and he has 'peace' in his life. As long as he always responds in that 'correct' way, and quickly, he gets his job done, he gets to rest, is fed, and wakes up the next day to do a KNOWN job. He may not be very aware of things, emotionally outside of what is part of HIS job, but he is a great working 'machine'.



The writer said that it is actually unfair to such a horse to take them out of such a lifestyle and start expecting them to be 'awake and aware', and feeling/touchy, connected emotionally, etc. This puts them into a place of anxiety, where they are suddenly left to make decisions on their own. Horsemanship activities like liberty work become very stressful for such horses.


Additionally, if they do find themselves in a place where they are not being 'told' to do something, and something comes up, like a scary thing on the trail, they have no experience in making decisions on their own about how to react. They have been 'woken' by different handling methods, but now that they are 'awake' to what's around them, their true nature may come out, and it may be very powerful, and much more focussed on making their own decisions about self preservation. And, I think that describes what Swissmiss was talking about.
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post #29 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 09:39 PM
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Can you link the article you mentioned @tinyliny ?

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post #30 of 86 Old 03-03-2020, 09:40 PM
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Can you link the article you mentioned @tinyliny ?



I think it was in Eclectic Horseman . . an old issue. But I'm not sure. Will share if I can find.
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