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post #11 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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@mmshiro FWIW, a stallion does not really herd his mares unless there's another stallion around, and then, yes, the mares do comply, depending on the strength and ability of the other stallion. The rest of the time they just follow a lead mare around which the stallion also follows.

RE: But yes, there is a coercive aspect to all training, the horse's as well as yours.

Comment: Are you referring to training as opposed to learning or consider both one and the same. Learning is one of my greatest joys and if handled properly it is also for kids. I am caring for one horse that is so investigative that I'm wondering if he enjoys learning.

But training a horse, as in learning the vocabulary of cues, there may be a little less joy there. But I just am very resistful of the notion that teaching that vocabulary has to requires any degree of coerciveness.

RE: Again, I need to stress the importance of release. The "ask" is a form of pressure.

Comment: Again, I am resistful that the ask need be a form of pressure. Xenophon speaks only of a horse responding to a signal to which I would think he means a vocabulary of cues. When the signal he speaks of becomes pressure to the horse, it would seem the horse is acting out of compulsion and the threat of increased pressure.

RE: I coerce her by applying pressure; yes, I make sure my demands are reasonable and weighed against her needs.

Comment: I may be wrong, but reading between the lines I don't see you as much of a coercer. I'm wondering if you are sometimes doing tinyliny's "invite" when you think you are coercing.

@Smilie RE: Next time, you again use the lightest cue, giving the horse ALWAYS a chance to respond to that lightest aid,, with the understanding that if he does not, you will up the anty.

Comment: That's the point of my thread. That understanding can mean that from the horse's point of view, the very lightest of cues can be viewed as a veiled or not so veiled threat. And a threat can cause apprehension and fear and block clear thinking.

@bsms RE: I disagree with the idea that what a horse does under compulsion, he does blindly.

Comment: My pay grade and background experience is not high enough to disagree out of hand with anything Xenophon says. Considering that he rode stallions (Arabians?) bareback into battle with sword, spear and shield depending upon his horse's training for his very life, Xenophon's definition of "blindly" may be a little more refined that what you have in mind. Just sayin'......

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
My statement was to illustrate that horses are well familiar with the concept of compliance, nothing more. If they weren't, their response to pressure would always be flight, making them untrainable to humans.
I'm gonna have to sleep on this one.


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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I like the words "invite, suggesst, convince" as a better approach.

you 'invite' the hrose first. you are asking, basically, "how about we trot?" or "how about we go left?".
if the horse ingores that, you suggest , more firmly, "I'd really like to go that way, "

and lastly, " going that way will be better than not going that way"


even at the so-called 'demand' level, you still allow the horse to choose his own way. you just make that choice less successful than what you had suggested.

really, because hroses are BORN to go along with someone, they are so trainable. so, they are born wanting to get 'with' something. it's being able to get that desire to be 'with' something , and working it to your advantage that makes the horse willing to go at the 'ask' , or as I say, "invite".

that isn't to say that I won't use a brisk application of a whip, a strap, a loud voice, a swat or a flick of the reins. those are all about waking the horse up. they are about breaking the horse out of his reverie, or his obsession, so that you have the place to use your 'invite' level again, and he might hear you.
I really liked your post except for the last paragraph. The day I use a whip or strap on Hondo is the day I will give up horses. Or a whip or strap on any horse really. With the exception of course of just a cue vocabulary. But when it involves punishment, there is no cue. Too often that is what happens and is why I will not carry one.

If I whip or strap is required, I think more one on one good time is needed.

Is there a Golden Rule about how to treat a horse? As in, Treat a horse as you would wish for the horse to treat you.
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post #12 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
I'm not sure if this is in response to my example, but I gave that primarily to refute the argument that a horse in pasture can always disengage, rather than comply, to avoid an escalation of pressure. My statement was to illustrate that horses are well familiar with the concept of compliance, nothing more. If they weren't, their response to pressure would always be flight, making them untrainable to humans.
Actually, we re condition a horse , far as his response to pressure. A horse's natural reaction is to resist/move into pressure, until we teach him to yield to it, move away from pressure.
This concept is used in teaching a horse to lead, to accept standing tied, versus pulling back and resisting, to give to a bit, or a hackmaore, versus resisting,by pulling, ect
Ask ahorse that does not understand to yield his hind quarters when you place a hand where your leg will be when riding, and his first reaction is to lean into that pressure
It is teaching a horse to move away from pressure, that makes him trainable. but it is his acceptance of you as leader, gaining his trust,plus, repetition that dampens his in born flight response, so he learns to spook in place, to ride where you ask him to,trusting in your leadership and judgement, and has nothing to do with yielding to pressure, unless you are also using some ingrained body control techniques, like taking the head away, ect
Again, using disengagement as the specific example of ask, ask louder and demand, is just one example in a specific situation, and not the total picture.
It can at times have zero to do with disengagement, but can actually involve engagement, as in a horse heavy on his front end, where you ask him to track up with light legs, then more leg pressure, until he gets off his front end and is moving correctly-engaged
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post #13 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 01:00 AM
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Hondo:
;omment: That's the point of my thread. That understanding can mean that from the horse's point of view, the very lightest of cues can be viewed as a veiled or not so veiled threat. And a threat can cause apprehension and fear and block clear thinking
Well, Hondo, I kinda think of it as non verbal communication, and I have never had ahorse become unsure, anxious , afraid, but rather remain relaxed, because they understand that cue, like clear and fair leadership- ie, everything is a okay in that horses world
On the other, wishy inconsistent leadership, causes a horse to feel in secure

I don't know about you, but while I have a very close connection with my horses, where they almost seem to read my mind, I realize it is actually their ability to tune into very slight body language,esp that of a familiar rider, that is at play, and not some mental telepathy, thus cues remain part of my communication with my horses.
None of my horses are smart enough to read a training manual!
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post #14 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
[email protected]bsms RE: I disagree with the idea that what a horse does under compulsion, he does blindly.

Comment: My pay grade and background experience is not high enough to disagree out of hand with anything Xenophon says...
I don't think Xenophon was really all that great. He had some decent points that my horses taught me without his help. But he had no problems with punishment or using bits that were obscene by modern standards. And his horses were...ponies.



But I can't endorse a number of his ideas, for example:

Quote:
...With a horse that has no experience what- ever in leaping, take him with the leading rein loose and leap across the ditch before him; then draw the rein tight to make him jump over. If he refuses, let somebody with a whip or stick lay it on pretty hard ; he will then jump over not merely the proper distance but a great deal more than is required. He will never need a blow after that, but will jump the minute he sees anybody coming up behind him...

...Going down a steep place, the rider should throw himself well back, and support the horse by the bit, so that rider and horse may not be carried headlong down the hill...

...In the first place you must own at least two bits. Let one of them be smooth, with the discs on it good-sized ; the other with the discs heavy, and not standing so high, but with the echini sharp, so that when he seizes it, he may drop it from dislike of its roughness. Then, when he shall have received the smooth bit in its turn, he will like its smoothness and do everything on the smooth bit which he has been trained to do on the rough. He may, however, come not to mind its smoothness and to bear hard upon it; and this is why we put the large discs on the smooth bit, to make him keep his jaws apart and drop the bit. You can make the rough bit anything you like by holding it lightly or drawing it tight...
He wasn't awful, but he isn't above anyone's pay grade. He really didn't go beyond 'Reward good behavior and punish bad'.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #15 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
Thanks for the response. Some comments have raised more questions in my ever inquiring mind.




I'm really not attempting to start a conflab with this post, but just an open and honest debate based on reality.

With that, I'd ask an opinion from you and or others on this quote from Xenophon, 400 BC.

Begin Quote: What a horse does under compulsion he does blindly....The performances of horse or man so treated are displays of clumsy gestures rather than of grace and beauty. What we need is that the horse should of his own accord exhibit his finest airs and paces at set signals.....Such are the horses on which gods and heroes ride. End Quote.
I love those quotes from Ancient Greece and elsewhere, without taking the entire picture into account, how horses were trained in those days, what 'demand/compulsion meant then, compared to now
Bits were used that had actual prongs that dug into a horse;s face. Do you really believe that horses rode into battle, hearing the screams of their fellow equines, slashed with swords, willingly?
Gods rode winged hroses, whose courage was as much a myth as their own reality.
How do you think those horse, performed their own paces at set signals, if they were not, like our horses, taught the response to those cues.
I think, a reality check needs to be done by those that just qoute some translated ancient books on horsemanship. A good place to start, is the History of BITs, and some actual translations of training techniques used back then
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post #16 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 01:22 AM
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Seems we have argued over that qoute before, so I will post my previous response:

'I have a book on the history of bits, that I admit to never having read that thoroughly.
Well, it is winter, and thus while looking for something to read, came across that book, which got me reflecting on Xenophon and other past horsemen, often held up as examples of 'enlightened' horsemanship, is just relative to the times,as bits used then could only be described as torture devises
In the time of Xenophon, the bits used had discs and spikes, with Xenophon talking of a smooth bit and a sharp or rough bit, but with that smooth bit really not being truly smooth-just less sharp
Those additions to the bit were discs and echini or hedgehogs. Xenophon stated that the horse was trained to mind, using the sharp bit, and then ridden in the more humane bit, but put back in the sharp bit,as needed, to make him mind

I guess it is a testimony to the extremely light hands Xenophon must have had, as be believed ahrose should accept a bit, and that is the only way any horse could have accepted a hedgehog bit!

This familiar quote, from Xenophon, with comment, putting it into context:

'“For what the horse does under compulsion… is done without understanding; and there is no beauty in it either, any more than if one should whip and spur a dancer. There would be a great deal more ungracefulness than beauty in either horse or a man that was so treated. No, he should show off all his finest and most brilliant performances willingly and at a mere sign.”

However these kind words might be balanced against a somewhat less than kind bit in the horses mouth. According to Anderson, “Xenophon divides his bits into two main classes, ‘smooth’ and ‘rough’. The latter have ‘hedgehogs’ (or ‘sea urchins’) which must be sharp spikes.'
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post #17 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 01:32 AM
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From Xenophon, on training. A little bit of a reality check, far as assuming no harsh methods were used, that th ehorse just gladly carried Xenophon and his contemporaries in battle with way kinder then enlightened horsemanship today. Totally false.Sometimes words are just words, that need to be taken in context!

'To begin with, you should possess two bits at least.2 One of these should be smooth and have the discs of a good size; the other should have the discs heavy and low, and the teeth sharp, so that when the horse seizes it he may drop it because he objects to its roughness, and when he is bitted with the smooth one instead, may welcome its smoothness and may do on the smooth bit what he has been trained to do with the aid of the rough one. [7] In case, however, he takes no account of it because of its smoothness, and keeps bearing against it, we put large discs on the smooth bit to stop this, so that they may force him to open his mouth and drop the bit. It is possible also to make the rough bit adaptable by wrapping3 it up and tightening the reins.4 [8] But whatever be the pattern of the bits, they must all be flexible. For wherever a horse seizes a stiff one, he holds the whole of it against his jaws, just as you lift the whole of a spit wherever you take hold of it. [9] But the other kind of bit acts like a chain: for only the part that you hold remains unbent, while the rest of it hangs loose. As the horse continually tries to seize the part that eludes him in his mouth, he lets the bit drop from his jaws. This is why little rings5 are hung in the middle on the axles, in order that the horse may feel after them with his tongue and teeth and not think of taking the bit up against the jaws. [10]
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post #18 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
I really liked your post except for the last paragraph. The day I use a whip or strap on Hondo is the day I will give up horses. Or a whip or strap on any horse really. With the exception of course of just a cue vocabulary. But when it involves punishment, there is no cue. Too often that is what happens and is why I will not carry one.

If I whip or strap is required, I think more one on one good time is needed.

Is there a Golden Rule about how to treat a horse? As in, Treat a horse as you would wish for the horse to treat you.

here are times when one uses a whip or strap: say the horse is about to run you over, is charging you, is swinging his hind to line up and nail you , is trying to bite your neck etc.
that gets a good hard whap.
A whip or strap can be used to make NOISE, too, if needed to wake a horse up. it doesn't always have to actually hit the hrose.
or, if it does, it can be mostly , as I said, to make some noise to get his attention.

I'm not out there to punish a horse for my jollies, but I have no qualms about striking a horse if he is about to endanger me, or, if he will not give me any of his attention, so that I many ask/invite softly.
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post #19 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 07:47 AM
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Holy smoke - you guys have been up all night, it seems!

FWIW, a stallion does not really herd his mares unless there's another stallion around, and then, yes, the mares do comply,

I have seen a video where a stallion prevented a mare from staying with her foal which got trapped behind a fence. (The original video is down. I know that the commentator is contentious.)



Comment: Are you referring to training as opposed to learning or consider both one and the same. Learning is one of my greatest joys and if handled properly it is also for kids.

I can go as far as to say, both. We all have things we like to learn and others we don't, but are made to learn, or else. You may have learned how to fill out an income tax form, or else you'll need money to have someone do it for you, or else you'll go to jail. You hire instructors to guide your day-to-day learning process, because not all aspects of learning something thoroughly are "fun", so the instructor serves to issue the appropriate series of "asks" to guide your progress. If you join a military academy or make that your career, the "asks" are most definitely followed by "tells" and "demands". In fact, any job, any contract even, has a coercive element. But you enter into the contract freely because you get something out of it as well.

Horses don't understand a "contract", but they understand "trust" (She made me do things, and each time it ended well!), and they understand "patterns", and that's probably the foundation on which you make them do things that they see no point in doing, like carrying a hairless monkey on their back.

Comment: Again, I am resistful that the ask need be a form of pressure. Xenophon speaks only of a horse responding to a signal to which I would think he means a vocabulary of cues. When the signal he speaks of becomes pressure to the horse, it would seem the horse is acting out of compulsion and the threat of increased pressure.

Those cues, are they not a form of pressure? A cluck is pressure. Your approaching the horse on pasture is pressure. Your looking at it intently (predator-like, not with soft eyes) is a form of pressure.

I would state that in the learning phase, there is compulsion, but that it later turns into a habitual action. It's like a parent yelling at you when you try to cross the street without looking, or a driving instructor yelling at you for not doing a shoulder check before lane merging. Do you still fear your parents' wrath every time you cross the road and check for traffic?

In fact, you may have internalized behavior that you were coerced into (like to clean up your room, or else) to an extend that you couldn't not do it by now. Much of your personal hygiene regime is probably a taught response to some pressure from your parents, unless you loved to explore brushing your teeth by yourself.

I would assert that we, too, create a habitual response in the horse to our cues which does not create a fear of punishment whenever it is asked to do it.

Comment: I may be wrong, but reading between the lines I don't see you as much of a coercer. I'm wondering if you are sometimes doing tinyliny's "invite" when you think you are coercing.

I take that as a compliment, because I do, indeed, hate to put on significant pressure, but, if I lead her and she starts running her shoulder into me, and tapping her doesn't get her to back off, she will get a sharp whack with my elbow whenever she gets too close. If she plants her feet somewhere on the trail and refuses to go forward, I need to dislodge her. She needs to learn that when I ask her forward, I will never do so while putting her into a dangerous situation, and that sometimes means making her do something that she, at that moment, finds scary - like venturing into tall grass, past a parked tractor, or through the acid puddle of death.

I'll keep going, even though the below are not responses to me anymore.

Comment: That's the point of my thread. That understanding can mean that from the horse's point of view, the very lightest of cues can be viewed as a veiled or not so veiled threat. And a threat can cause apprehension and fear and block clear thinking.

I would tend to agree that fear will do that, but creating discomfort to the horse doesn't imply creating fear. It simply puts a stimulus out there it likes less than complying. For example, when you teach the horse to pick up his feet, you create discomfort, the response to which is his lifting up his foot. You work up to that by first applying the cue you would like to you use, like gently rubbing his lower leg. But do you really think that whenever you rub the horse's leg he starts thinking, "Oh no, if I don't pick up my foot now, she'll pinch my chestnuts!" And do you think the horse gets traumatized by initially getting his chestnuts pinched to make him pick up his foot?

I don't think the horse has the capacity for these kind of "What if?" scenarios in his mind, and ultimately offers a habitual response vs. a fear-based one.


Is there a Golden Rule about how to treat a horse? As in, Treat a horse as you would wish for the horse to treat you.

If I can continue to tack up my horse in her stall, without cross ties, while her head is down, she blinks, and she cocks her foot, I know that this cue for "I'm about to ride you!" does not cause apprehension, and that I'm doing good by her overall. In addition, I'd like to think that, when I lollygag with her when I say Hi!, and she starts pawing the ground gently, she tells me to get on with it already.

My Golden Rule is that my presence with a horse with which I work regularly should visibly result in calmness and comfort in the horse.
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post #20 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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@Smilie & @bsms

The only book I have of Xenophon is "The Art of Horsemanship". I just made a cursory flight through it and everything I read is the opposite of bsms's quotes.

So is there another book by him that I'm unaware of? Does anyone have page numbers for those quotes? The only reference I saw to using sticks to strike the horse was in reference to methods used by others which he disapproved.

@mmshiro

Lots of good comments and good points. And others I will of course lightly challenge. Such fun!

RE: My statement was to illustrate that horses are well familiar with the concept of compliance, nothing more. If they weren't, their response to pressure would always be flight, making them untrainable to humans.

Comment: Many, perhaps even all, herd or pack animals understand compliance to coercive pressure for certain. And I'm not at this point ready to refute the notion that it helps that a horse understands compliance to coercive pressure.

But I am unconvinced the horse would be untrainable without the experiences of coercive compliance. My notion is that the trainability of horses is mostly due to their psychological make up of being a highly sociable animal. @tinyliny detailed in one of her posts what I believe is the singularly important characteristics that renders the horse to be trainable and willingly compliant to our wishes.

RE: Compulsions in all of our lives and wrath of our parents when crossing streets.

Comment: Agreed, our lives are literally strewn with compulsions. Living in the social setting we live in it could be no other way, based on the make up of us humans. And as far as our parents being wrathful about us not looking when we cross the street, I would like to think they are more fearful than wrathful, and that we remember their fear and the source of that reasonable fear when whe cross the street at a later date.

All that aside, I reject that our lives and interactions consist only of coercive compulsions. When walking down the street with a friend and someone wants to stop and look in a store window at something the other is not interested in, a struggle does not necessarily esue. Normally the other will happily stop just because the other wants to. If there is some urgency in the other for some reason they may urge that they need to get going. Things like that. Just cooperation with no fear of retribution.

Since learning about the horse's continual secretion of digestive acids I have become very cooperative with agreement to Hondo's munching along the way on a trail ride. And sometimes I say, "C'mon, let's go". And sometimes he says, "Wait a minute, just a few more bites". Sometimes he will just make a small gesture toward some forage and I will direct him towards it, or if not, he will just continue on. Sometimes when there is something really delectable he will almost make a dive for it. Unless I have a good reason to argue about it, I just slack the reins. But if I really do need to keep going for some reason, he will default to my request. But if it is really really good forage he may ask, "Are you really really certain we can't stay a bit longer?"

RE: Those cues, are they not a form of pressure? A cluck is pressure. Your approaching the horse on pasture is pressure. Your looking at it intently (predator-like, not with soft eyes) is a form of pressure.

Comment: They certainly can be but I do not believe they have to be. When I approach Hondo in the pasture he generally begins to approach me. Sometimes if he is really intent on grazing he may continue but never moves away from me. Same with three other horses in my care. Same with the horses in the herd of about 17 or so.

I have pledged to myself to never cause fear or pain in my horse and generally extend that to other horses except in extreme circumstances. After three years, I think Hondo has figured this out. And to some degree I think the other horses have also. They just don't fear me.

There are several highly experienced and respected trainers that do not believe coercion is necessary in training a horse, which I like to think of as simply teaching a horse.

RE: I would state that in the learning phase, there is compulsion, but that it later turns into a habitual action.

Comment: I think this is often true but am not convinced it has to be. Learning to me, just does not have to have compulsion proceed it. Many examples of both situations could be given.

RE: I would assert that we, too, create a habitual response in the horse to our cues which does not create a fear of punishment whenever it is asked to do it.

Comment: I find nothing to disagree with here. Horses do habituate.

But let me get back for a second to the point I was thinking about when posting this thread.

There is a lot of talk about being soft with a horse, which I think is good. But if that softness is backed up with a threat of escalation into pain, the softness "may" be regarded by some horses as a fear or threat to which they comply, but in a stiffer way than they might otherwise.

The Godfather could speak very very softly yet the recipient knew clearly if they did not comply they might wind up in the morgue.

My thoughts on the thread were to put a caveat on what different horses may view softness.
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