Does licking and chewing mean the horse is "digesting a thought"? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
The Science Behind 'Licking and Chewing' in Horses | TheHorse.com

Why would I want to cause the horse "Pain, fear or confusion" strong enough to invoke the "flight or flight" response? And the licking and chewing is an automatic response to lowered stress, not an indicator the horse has connected any dots. It only signifies the horse has entered a lower stress state. Not understanding.

I think it is probably a more consistent indicator of poor training than good.
I am not talking about causing the horse PAIN. and if you cause the horse confusion, then it's your fault.

If I am round penning a hrose and he tries repeatedly to change directions without my asking, and I turn him back immediately, he may get stressed, or feel a moment of fear. But, he will learn that if stays going that one direction, that doesn't happen. and when he stays going that direction for a bit, I quit and let him soak on that. he licks and chews, releasing the tension he has held. When take back up the 'go this way' lesson, he won't try to take over. that's learning. / training.

We teach the horse that he can go through stressful things and come out the other side , ok. and by doing it with respect and care to release the pressure when the horse is trying, we build his confidence that he can get himself out of scary situations.

When you raise your children, if you never allow them to experience risk, tension, and even failure and survival, they won't have the knowledge that it's all ok, that they can handle it.
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post #12 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 02:30 PM
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^ Yep. You make a spooky horse worse by sneaking around him. Go about your business and if he spooks, he spooks. Keep doing that same thing until he relaxes or you've taught him to spook.

This morning I was putting some fly spray on my new horse. I'm a klutz and dropped the brush on the concrete and he spooked straight up in the air at the clatter. Guess what? I spent the next 20 minutes dropping that brush over and over and over and over and over... not until he merely stood still, but until he stood still, licked and chewed, relaxed his ears, cocked a leg, and really relaxed.

Did it make him a little more apprehensive for a few minutes? Yep. Did he learn from it? You bet. He wasn't hurt, he wasn't unsafe, and he realized that jumping around like an idiot didn't do him any good at all.

If your horse is buddy-sour, tie him up in a safe place and don't untie him until he's relaxed, standing with no pressure on the rope, and nearly asleep even if it takes all day. If you release him when he's dancing around, you taught him to do that. If he's changing directions on his own in the round pen, then get after him and keep him moving the way you want-- let him make the mistake, then correct it. It works far better than trying to prevent the mistake in the first place. Stress is not a bad thing-- especially when the horse learns that HE controls the stress. Stress does not equal fear or panic, but if you never stress the horse, you end up with one that falls apart at small things because he has no confidence in himself or you.
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post #13 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
...Your stance is sounding a lot like all the arguments against using Ask Tell and demand, by examples of using it incorrectly, thus throwing the entire baby out with the bathtub
@Smilie, I agree with you that modest round pen work with a new horse can be helpful. I am also certain it is often sold as a replacement for earning trust bit by bit in the arena (first) and then outside.

These are examples that make me squeamish. And while round pen work is NOT the only place where people talk about the value of licking and chewing, it certainly is ONE place where they talk about it a lot:



I don't think I'm throwing the baby out with the bath water. Licking and chewing does NOT demonstrate learning, and join up does not indicate trust.
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post #14 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I am not talking about causing the horse PAIN. and if you cause the horse confusion, then it's your fault.

If I am round penning a hrose and he tries repeatedly to change directions without my asking, and I turn him back immediately, he may get stressed, or feel a moment of fear. But, he will learn that if stays going that one direction, that doesn't happen. and when he stays going that direction for a bit, I quit and let him soak on that. he licks and chews, releasing the tension he has held...

We teach the horse that he can go through stressful things and come out the other side , ok. and by doing it with respect and care to release the pressure when the horse is trying, we build his confidence that he can get himself out of scary situations.

When you raise your children, if you never allow them to experience risk, tension, and even failure and survival, they won't have the knowledge that it's all ok, that they can handle it.
I disagree. First...why do I want to teach the horse to do circles in a round pen? In what sense is "circles in a round pen" useful or helpful to a horse, or something they would find helpful in the real world? If you, the human, are the creator of tension, and you do it specifically to cause tension, then why would the horse learn trust, or anything other than appeasement?

I have taught my kids and now my grandkids how to handle things without ever chasing them in circles. Or creating artificial tension - Move or I will whip you - and then learning that acting submissive will result in my allowing them to rest. We do not teach the horse trust by making OURSELVES the scary object.

We can teach submission that way, and that is how I believe much of round pen work is done - to teach submission. And SOME submission is needed. But I have never seen any sign we build trust by first making ourselves scary, and then letting the horse's submissiveness buy him peace.

And meanwhile, licking and chewing remains almost irrelevant to learning, since it only signals a release of tension - not WHY the tension is released.

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post #15 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:04 PM
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It's not 'chasing them in circles' or 'move and I'll whip you.' It's about moving the horse's feet and not moving his feet. If you control the horse's feet, you control his mind. If you can make him move his feet when you want to, and stop those feet when you want to, then you are working in a safe, respectful partnership with the horse. If I'm working a horse in a round pen and he ducks in and decides he's going the other way, I'm not going to whip him, but I'm going to get in front of him, block him, and send him back the other direction until he realizes that when I want him to go that way, he needs to go that way. If I ask him to stop and stand and he won't, then I'll keep him moving until he wants to stop, then try again. When he stops and stands and relaxes, I'll reward him. He's learning that I can make him move and make him stop, but that nobody is hurting him and he controls whether he's under pressure or not. It's not fear-inducing in any way, but it makes a huge difference in whether that horse is safe to be around and ready to go on to the next part of his training, and also serves as a huge attitude adjustment for a problem horse who has learned how to bully people into doing or not doing what he wants, and that's a safety issue.

You can certainly do those things without a round pen, but the pen makes it easier. If someone's 'training' consists of chasing the horse around in circles, or whipping the horse if he doesn't move, that's doing it wrong. Do you sometimes need to pop a disrespectful horse on the hip with the end of the rope or stick? Yeah, if he's really belligerant, but that's well after the horse was given other opportunities to do what was asked and ignored them. At that point 'he ran into the stick I was moving' because he didn't care enough to follow the cue. Next time, he'll move before I get to that point, and that's it-- no fight, no stress, lesson learned. I don't want a submissive horse-- I want a confident, thinking, alert, happy horse who is respectful and safe.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 07-07-2017 at 03:15 PM.
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post #16 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:14 PM
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I believe licking and chewing is a sign of releasing tension and learning a new skill and that the two, no matter how diligent we are at trying to make a soft horse, go hand in hand.

Learning a new skill is stressful for horse and human. That doesn't mean the horse is scared out of its mind, but the learning of something new is stressful.

Think of the first time you got behind the wheel of a car. It was exciting yet stressful. Your first professional job out of college. Hell, the first week was mind numbingly stressful. A horse being introduced to the saddle the first time is stressful. But if you take it slow the horse does realize it is not going to hurt or kill them, they will relax by licking and chewing. So they released the tension AND learn.

When teaching my Arab horse to back under saddle, the first try was a rock back. All I wanted was to feel him shift his weight back. When I felt that slight little try, I released the reins and legs and let him stand there. I got a yawn while I was all scartching and loving on him for a minute to let the thought sink in. I tried again and got a step back. Released immediately, I got the lip smacking and a mumble to boot. Was he tense? He didn't feel rigid, and when the Arab gets tense it like sitting on a stiff wood fence. Did he learn? Yes he did. What then caused the smacking, licking, chewing mumbling? Learning? Stress? Or the combination?

As for round penning, it is a good place for the human to learn how to handle their body to get the horse to move without the whip. An open minded individual will experiment a wee bit with their body position to see how the horse responds. When the two partners are in sync, it can be a sweet dance.
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post #17 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
It's not 'chasing them in circles' or 'move and I'll whip you.' It's about moving the horse's feet and not moving his feet. If you control the horse's feet, you control his mind. If you can make him move his feet when you want to, and stop those feet when you want to, then you are working in a safe, respectful partnership with the horse...
I've watched people control the horse's feet...but without creating anything like a respectful partnership with the horse.

And if the goal is control of the mind, then it isn't a partnership at all. It is simple submission. And yes, I fully agree SOME submission is needed for safety and for the productive use of the horse.

But submission and trust are two very different things. Anyone can get Cowboy to follow meekly and lick and chew - IF they can trick him into going into a round pen. He is terrified of round pens, and has obviously learned total submission is the only way to protect himself. In a round pen, he is totally submissive. Open the gate, and he'll explode through it, and be very wary of you for weeks to come.

"I believe licking and chewing is a sign of releasing tension and learning a new skill..."- @sarahfromsc

To the first, behaviorists agree with you. It is the "learning a new skill" part where they disagree. They CAN take place together. But it is very easy to get "lick & chew" with nothing useful learned.

Quote:
We're not trying to argue that the lick / chew response doesn't sometimes equate to, "Aha! I think I've got it!" When setting up horse puzzles we often see a horse curiously engaged in a log maze or some other challenge, he figures it out and then licks and chews. However when one listens to the total conversation (looks at the total horse) one tends to notice that the "puzzle solver" holds himself more erect (and proud?) when licking and chewing when the harried horse displays more of a "beaten down," relieved posture.

Horse Training Mythbusters, P.2
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post #18 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
Nobody said Stacy was a bad trainer.... I'm confused.
She does use that lick and chew, in the right time, thus my point is, all trainers that use it,reading a horse are not bad trainers that take short cuts, as per one post in this thread suggested.
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post #19 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:52 PM
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"To the first, behaviorists agree with you. It is the "learning a new skill" part where they disagree. They CAN take place together. But it is very easy to get "lick & chew" with nothing useful learned." @bsms

True. Mine lick and chew after a 'stressful' night on pasture while waiting at the gate for breakfast and a nap in their stalls. They learned nothing new, nor were they stressed.

However, a behavior I noticed while working on an Arab breeding from 100 years ago was when foals was corrected hard by any one of the mommas, he would run away and lick and chew. He learned, don't be a **** ant to your elders.. Was he stressed? Probably by the swift kick or bite he received, but he learned. So the licking chewing, I believe was due to both. And the foal never messed with the mommas again ......
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post #20 of 62 Old 07-07-2017, 03:53 PM
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@Smilie, I agree with you that modest round pen work with a new horse can be helpful. I am also certain it is often sold as a replacement for earning trust bit by bit in the arena (first) and then outside.

These are examples that make me squeamish. And while round pen work is NOT the only place where people talk about the value of licking and chewing, it certainly is ONE place where they talk about it a lot:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kptJjmpqDs8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYtTz9GtAT4

I don't think I'm throwing the baby out with the bath water. Licking and chewing does NOT demonstrate learning, and join up does not indicate trust.
Well, you picked two trainers that I have no use for, so tell me what you find offensive in Stacy;s video, when she uses that lick and chew to read ahorse, so we have some common ground to discuss
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