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.