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post #31 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
Allow me to add: Three horses living on a small 2 acre dry lot do not display normal herd interactions and social life and no conclusions should be drawn or suggested from observations under those conditions.

Depending on the setup and and also whether they have free choice food can alter their behavior considerably. Those that are stalled develop what is called "stall vices" which are nothing less than symtoms of various types psychological breakdowns.

The four horses in my care have 60 acres to roam in and have both grass hay and natural forage free choice 24/7. The rest of the herd roams at around 600 acres although they have 28,000 they could access if they wanted.

I have not witnessed the behavior as you describe and i am with the horses much of the time.
Even then, Hondo, your horses are not in true natural conditions. Do several stallions run with them, where those horses don't have fences that define their herd boarders, but rather the outcome of battles for territory
Are young mature stallion driven out of the herd, when they reach breeding maturity, forming bachelor groups?
Except for escaped individuals, how many geldings do you suppose live in a true herd setting? Zero! Are foals not by that stallion, killed by him, if he obtains that mare?nope, we intervene in our domestic horses.
How much natural selection occurs, through predators, winter kill off, in your domestic herds?
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post #32 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
No, to your last question. If a horse has been trained in a fair manner, that he understands, that horse never fears alight cue.
You need to re-read my question. I did not ask about horses that had been trained in what you consider a fair manner. I asked if there were any circumstances under which....etc.

Let me ask you this Smilie. Are you hardened into the notion that it is just not possible to train a horse to be willingly compliant without coercion and or punishment?
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post #33 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
Even then, Hondo, your horses are not in true natural conditions.
Oh I agree 100%. But closer than a 2 acre dry lot and close enough to not develop many of the non-herd tendencies.

I spent the better part of 5 summers camping, hiking, and riding (a dirtbike) in the Nevada Pinenut Mountains where there were a few sure fire feral herds. I spent a lot of time sitting watching them. The stallion of one large harem would finally allow me to get within 100 yards or so of him. A beautiful horse if ever there was one.

One day about 1/3 of his herd seemed to be missing. Later I saw another young stallion with them. About two weeks later I saw my friend hobbling along on three legs. I felt so bad but there was nothing I could do but let nature do it's thing.

Later on I saw the young stallion with the entire herd.

So yup, I know the difference between feral herd and the domesticated herd that I'm around now.

But still, that's a far cry from three horses in a small dry lot from which to draw conclusions.
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post #34 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
@bsms Did you like Mia when upon your own volition you chose from the smorgasbord of recommendations to smack her with double harness leather? Did that make her think you liked her?

Do you kick Bandit in the gut because you like him? Does that make him think you like him?.....

RE: I almost think the opposite.

Comment: Well, good for you. But with that, my comment is that you are mostly alone in the world on that one.

RE: Horses live with aversion training every day of their lives. Or they do if they live with other horses.

Comment: I would not call a horse's experience in the herd aversion training, but even if one chooses to call some of the herd experiences aversion training, that offers no support for the monkey on their back to resort to it...
Yes, early on, very early on, I followed advice concerning Mia and tried the "Get a Bigger Whip!" school. The harder I whipped her, the faster she went backwards, and she taught me an excellent lesson that day.

But no, she did NOT hold it against me or show any resentment towards me over it. Maybe that was because SHE would have no problem double-barreling a horse who questioned HER authority.

Quote:
"Do you kick Bandit in the gut because you like him?"
We were running out of time to get home. Bandit was incapable of understanding something like my wife's work schedule. I wanted to take a short cut. Asked. He said no. I gave a squeeze, upping my request to a higher priority. Tell. He said, "No way in Hades!" But it WAS important, even if he was incapable of understanding, so I popped him hard in the gut and made it clear THIS TIME was no time for argument. Demand.

Why? Because I do know more about a lot of things than my horse does, and he doesn't always get to make the decisions. Like a kid, sometimes he has to be content with "Just because I say so." Not everything in life can be explained. Just as I will not accept bolting, bucking, biting or spinning and running away, I also sometimes reserve the right to DEMAND.

I didn't kick him in the gut because I liked him, but because it was needed at that time. It was IMPORTANT to me, and that needed to outweigh any of his feelings.

And no, it did NOT make Bandit resent me, hate me, reject me personally or as a species. He is a horse. He understands. He accepts. We remain friends. At my harshest, I've never made a mark on him. Right now, he has multiple bite marks on him. Hint: They didn't come from me!

I don't value "soft" because I want my horse to feel free to talk back to me. He is free to express opinions, and we often act on them. But sometimes...sometimes I need to take charge. Done fairly, I've never seen a horse respond with fear or resentment. A trained horse, who understands the requests being made, will not get too upset at ask / tell / demand. They live it.

Quote:
"my comment is that you are mostly alone in the world on that one."
I know. Almost no one seems to argue that humans can offer horses something they crave, something that has nothing to do with punishment or treats. Almost no one discusses the power of forming a team with a horse, or how being a valued teammate can motivate a horse.

Pity, because I am certain I am right. "...it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp, which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal..."

Quote:
Allow me to add: Three horses living on a small 2 acre dry lot do not display normal herd interactions and social life and no conclusions should be drawn or suggested from observations under those conditions.
You can draw any conclusion you wish. Or not. Like a huge number of other riders, I see a LOT of harsh treatment of horses BY horses. I see no sign it is limited to horses in my particular living conditions.

Quote:
Are you hardened into the notion that it is just not possible to train a horse to be willingly compliant without coercion and or punishment?
You asked @Smilie , but I'll offer you my opinion: I do not believe you can train or interact with a horse and get willing compliance without EVER using coercion or punishment. Nor do I see any reason one would try.

But do and ride any way you want.

Me? Each month, I'm coming to value Bandit more and more as a solid horse. He acts VERY content to be with me. He is learning judgment and learning to also trust mine. He's nine now. I expect to have many years of fun riding with him.
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Last edited by bsms; 06-18-2017 at 06:01 PM.
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post #35 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 06:28 PM
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In my training experience, having to "demand" usually meant the horse did not understand the question. If I asked in a different way, they usually complied.
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post #36 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 10:22 PM
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I hereby officially surrender. Can't wade through the heavy molasses of this discussion.
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post #37 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by greentree View Post
In my training experience, having to "demand" usually meant the horse did not understand the question. If I asked in a different way, they usually complied.
!!!THAT!!!

@bsms

Your horses are displaying abnormal horse behavior in your corral. I have no idea what the reason is but I completely believe there is a reason. I could give suggestions but I'll refrain.

So you fooled around in the desert and got late even though you knew about your wife's schedule which of course Bandit had no way of knowing and would not have understood if he did.

So because of your dalliance, Bandit got booted in the gut. As I recall, you expressed distress when Bandit came back from a ranch loan out with bloody spur gashes in his side.

So speaking in terms of The Horse's Mind, I wonder what was going through Bandit's when you were booting? Oboy, here we go again. Well, that wasn't too bad but he will kick like the other guy did. Maybe he'll have spurs the next time. I'd better be good or I'll be "asking" for it.

A horse that is nervous about the monkey on his back is more nervous about everything than he normally would be.

If it was that important to be back for your wife you should have made allowances rather than pile it on top of the poor horse.

FWIW, that's my take of the situation.

RE: But do and ride any way you want.

Comment: May I ask why you made that statement when you know ahead of time that is exactly what I will do? My take, which could be wrong but I doubt it, is that when I do what I want you will have told me to do so leaving you in control. Hallmarks of a control freak. Not saying you are, just that the way the statement was presented is a hallmark.

Glad to hear you've finally committed to never selling bandit. To me, that's at least a small step in the correct direction.

RE: Almost no one discusses the power of forming a team with a horse, or how being a valued teammate can motivate a horse.

Comment: This position seems almost if not contradictory to your position that a horse cannot be trained without coercion. Maybe I'm missing something but to use coercion to form a team with a horse just sounds strange to me. Sort of like, you better be my friend or I'll hit you.

Working cattle, cutting cattle, and many other ranch chores are a form of team work with a horse and one that many thoroughly enjoy. I know Hondo does. If I'm on a trail ride and he sees a bunch of cows in the distance it's like, "Hey, we gonna go get those? Let's do!" He looks and clearly asks to go there.

There's a lot of stuff that consists of teamwork with a horse that have reports of the horse enjoying them. It just seems that forming a team without an objective is the thing that is not discussed. I'm not sure it would have any meaning to the horse.
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post #38 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I hereby officially surrender. Can't wade through the heavy molasses of this discussion.
I'm getting there myself. I was just intrigued by the possibility that if a horse knew harse cues would follow a mistake or non-compliance of a soft cue if the horse even regarded a soft cue as soft.

This is starting to sound more and more like my old thread about willing compliance or aversive reflex.
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post #39 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 10:49 PM
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Lots of good comments and good points. And others I will of course lightly challenge. Such fun!

Yes, this helps me crystallize my own views on the matter.

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.

And yet, horses are prone to testing their boundary, testing their place in the hierarchy with you, or just plain don't see the point. You don't have the benefit of a common language, other than body language, and they don't have the gift of reasoning and planning ("This is why I need you to move your butt now...!" when crossing a roadway).

I truly love it when I bushwack with my horse and we go around the trees finding the safest path as though we were of one mind. (I need to think where her feet and my head and knees will go. She needs to nimbly respond to my leg pressure.)

I have also been in a roundpen with a young stallion who basically initiated his little stallion ritual of sorting out our relationship. Let the record indicate that, even though I put lots of pressure on him, I did not touch him, and we left that session as friends. I achieved my goal of having him relax and wanting to be with me. That one was particularly interesting because you don't pick a fight with a stallion, because a stallion will fight back.

When my horse wants to itch her sweaty face after a ride, I put my knuckles or the palms of my hands on her face and let her have at it, basically reciprocating whatever pressure she puts against my hands. Sometimes she actually creates heat from the friction, so this is not a gentle touch she creates for her own comfort. I think sometimes people confuse the sensitivity of a horse to touch with sensitivity to pain. You may well overestimate the traumatic effect your training cues have on the horse. I think it's much easier to make the horse apprehensive with an unstable, aggressive emotional state than with simple physical stimuli that go away upon "finding the right answer".

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.

That example is a bit off because the relationship with the horse is hierarchical, not peer-to-peer. If you won't lead, the horse will.

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?"

Well - my horse is the same way about cantering. I'll let her whenever I can, but sometimes the rocks and the mud and the low-hanging branches just don't allow me to say yes all the time. Usually she can muster some patience after I give a few half halts and sit heavy in the saddle, sometimes I need to be more persuasive (especially after she's jacked up after a short gallop that was way too short to satisfy her).

Just today, I came home after a trail ride which didn't nearly give her enough time to run off her energy, but there is a hill in front of the farm that is perfect for those times. When we passed it, she made it very clear that she was salivating over that hill, and of course we went up! So yes, I did coerce her into going at a slow pace on muddy, rocky forest trails that are hard to assess far ahead, but during all that time I knew she'd get in the run she craves at the end. So how would you tell the horse in the middle of the ride, when she's ready to break her neck and yours at the drop of the rein, "Not yet, but we'll run before we go home, I promise?"

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.

Are we working with the same definition of what constitutes "pressure"? It has nothing to do with causing fear or pain! A twisted strap on your backpack is "pressure". It causes discomfort, and you start to figure out ways to release that pressure. Being a logical human being, you straighten that strap. Being a horse, you would probably have more trial and error involved in that problem. If you need to escalate pressure to a point that you are alluding to, you made the problem too big for the horse to solve. Also, see my point above about the apparent differences in the pain threshold between humans and horses: what my horse finds comforting relief from itch would probably cause you quite some pain.


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,

Yeah, it seems as though we have found our middle ground here. I accept that I should not escalate into "pain" territory, but I'm quite ready to escalate into "discomfort" territory. I know that horses are comfort-seeking animals, so yes, they will seek to find a solution to the "I'm not comfortable right now" problem, but there is usually no reason for pain in the training. I will readily go to "pain" - fast, decisive, and ultra-short term - when my own safety is at stake. And fear precludes training and learning from happening anyway.
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post #40 of 197 Old 06-18-2017, 11:10 PM
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I just skimmed through the other replies because they were so long...

I do think it's possible. But I would say that 90% of the time, a horse will not develop fear being conditioned on this method.

I will ask gently, usually without applying any "pressure" the first time, apply pressure the second time, and then finally the horse will get disciplined for not listening. And yes, it only reaches that point when they KNOW what I want and stick their tongue out at me and say "no." I would never discipline a horse for not knowing how to respond. I'm also slow to discipline in case the horse is trying to tell me something, like that they are hurt or afraid. I discipline/demand when/if the horse says "nope, screw you." The discipline can range from making them move their feet to a whack on the butt. I would never intend to hurt a horse. Just make the wrong thing difficult.
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