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post #11 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
You cannot force a horse's head down by working the reins side to side. If the horse has been taught this as a cue to lower the head (and many have as it's widely used to train a headset) then it may work; but only if the horse is able to unfocus on whatever is worrying him and back on the rider. You can achieve the same effect (or lack therof) with bending, flexing, trotting circles, etc. If the horse is truly terrified or upset, it's ineffective.
Agree with this
A lot of horses that are first learning how to respond to that type of rein pressure used as means to lower the head can actually go from being calm to being very reactive and stressed because it makes them feel too restricted. These type of things are a learning curve for horses and they don't all learn at the same pace


I'm afraid that there's way too much overthinking goes into these sort of ideas plus too much of a cookie cutter approach because the thinking is very much confined between two imaginary parallel walls where the minds of more compliant horses live and not enough time spent outside of them which is where the minds of horse with the most problems usually spend most of their time
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post #12 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
and then after a few minutes stop giving off predator cues and instead invite them in with your posture and have them become perfectly calm.
I'm not sure I'm understanding this. What kind/types of predator cues do you give?
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
You cannot force a horse's head down by working the reins side to side. If the horse has been taught this as a cue to lower the head (and many have as it's widely used to train a headset) then it may work; but only if the horse is able to unfocus on whatever is worrying him and back on the rider. You can achieve the same effect (or lack therof) with bending, flexing, trotting circles, etc. If the horse is truly terrified or upset, it's ineffective.

Strange. A little bit ago I hand walked Dragon into the yard pen alone for the first time since the fly sheet fiasco to see how he'd act alone.

I had some alfalfa in front of him which he'd normally be very interested in. And he did eat some, and drink a little, but was mostly standing with head high and looking in the direction where the other horses were that we left in the field.

Standing there I thought about this thread and thought, "I wonder....". So with about four inches from the snap ring I gently tugged his head this way and that while trying to be careful not to tug downward. Each time I tried this after 5-10 seconds it was like, "Huh? What? Oh hey, I have hay", and began eating. Happened about three times. He has had very little training and not that for certain.

So, I dunno. Still an open question to me.
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
I'm not sure I'm understanding this. What kind/types of predator cues do you give?
Sometimes I want my horse to run around when I put her in an arena. I might want to see how the footing is before riding on it, or see how the horse is moving, or I just want to do a little leg stretching without putting a lunge line on. But the horse might want to just wander around sniffing or picking at stuff on the ground. So I'll walk toward the horse's hind end with arms raised, lift a lunge whip or stare at their legs, those are predator-like cues that make the horse move out. If I stop the driving body language, the horse will stop moving away.

Perhaps more accurately you could just say "driving cues." I've been in the horse world too long and sometimes use a popular term without thinking about it.
With Arabs you often just have to make a sound or slap your leg to get them moving along. Or just say "trot."

The cue I was taught to help the horse relax was not wiggling the line or pulling down on the lead, but massaging around the withers and base of the neck until the horse lowered the head and appeared to relax. Soon it becomes a cue. I've seen other people who taught a cue by using a carrot and having the horse move the head in different directions with fingers waggling in front of the face. It doesn't matter what the cue is, it's just a popular concept that I believe is misleading.

@Hondo , you could have used any number of techniques if you wanted to distract Dragon away from a thought he was focusing on. Amore is very food oriented, so if I want to do that I can just wave some grass or hay in front of her face, and that will break her off from thinking about nearly anything - unless she's actually in fight or flight mode, in which case there isn't any magical cue.

Quote:
I'm afraid that there's way too much overthinking goes into these sort of ideas plus too much of a cookie cutter approach because the thinking is very much confined between two imaginary parallel walls where the minds of more compliant horses live and not enough time spent outside of them which is where the minds of horse with the most problems usually spend most of their time. ~Jaydee
Excellent!!

Again, recently I saw how the impressive demonstrations from the pro trainers don't always work for every horse. A natural horsemanship trainer came to our barn, he's known for his gentle methods and redirecting the horse's thought. Except the horse with the separation anxiety that was all upset and running into the handler was not going to be redirected, and ended up having a lot of yanking and harsher methods used with hair missing off his nose from the "gentle" trainer because he just wouldn't calm down. So of course he was labeled a special case, and people have ruined him, etc, but really I've seen this type of thing so many times, and he just needs a long, slow process with positive experiences to acclimate to going away from his herd.
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post #15 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 08:34 PM
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Dragon also had virtually no fear, nor any reason to resist. You can get the same result by applying light pressure down, pausing, and waiting for the horse to choose to yield. Use two fingers.

Fear isn't an on/off thing, and neither is worry, or perhaps "concern". Many of the traditional tools, such as a head's down cue, or softening the jaw, etc work fine as long as the resistance by the horse is minor. And if my horse is getting a little concerned, and too focused on something, I'll wiggle the slightly slack reins held in one hand, and he'll be reminded that he isn't alone. If my posture and the overall demeanor convinces him that I'm not concerned, his concern will lessen. Maybe not go away entirely, and more reassurance may be needed 30 seconds later, but it is often enough, by itself, to 'solve the problem'.

It all depends on the size of the problem, and the horse makes that judgment.

"Kollman nowhere indicates that the body position of the horse affects the mind of the horse and to think so is mis-reading/misinterpreting what she has said."

" I introduce a side-to-side movement that unlocks a rigid spine right from the poll to the tail. That creates a situation in which he wants to drop his head...

...
The first step is to override that head-high/hollow-back posture that turns him into the reactive horse..."

Not "that characterizes a reactive horse" or "reveals his concern", but "posture that turns him into the reactive horse".

The posture doesn't create nervousness. It reveals it. And if the horse is only mildly concerned, then unlocking the jaw, and then head, and then neck, and working your way back, is like a slow massage - which DOES help one relax, but only when the threat is gone. Chamberlin and the US Cavalry called them "vibrations". Baucher called them, IIRC, flexions. It is a good technique to have in one's bag of tricks.

But if you have a cautious horse - not even nervous, or hot, but merely cautious - and some idiot has hauled a bright orange traffic control sign a half mile in from the nearest paved road, you might need more in the bag of tricks than vibrations.

Or not. Lots of horses are not very cautious, or nervous, or hot. There is a reason Trooper was named Trooper, and he got that name from his first ride. But even Trooper locked up hard, for 20 minutes, refusing to move a single hoof a single inch, when the neighborhood kids played on their trampoline. Because of a fence, all he could hear was squealing kids, and all he could see was the bodies of kids being thrown high into the air! And "Get Along" Trooper - "Just a Little Trooper" - didn't notice when I dismounted, and didn't move an inch until HE decided it was safe. 20 minutes - I timed it - and he literally didn't move a single hoof even one inch. But that is the only time in 9 years Trooper locked up.
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post #16 of 21 Old 07-01-2017, 11:33 PM
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I don't think this person was saying to use a waggle technique on a horse that is in utter terror, such as Hondo's horses were when fleeing the fly sheet monster.

I am guessing, and I mean guessing, she meant when you are working with a hrose, on the ground, and said horse just wont' release the tension held in the neck and back.

I think my comments about releasing the poll helping to release the rest of the spine is not meant to be taken literally, like a key in a machine that will literally cause the next ball to drop and on down the row. I meant it more as . . well . . let's say you are tense, and you suddenly NOTICE that by being tense, you are clenching your jaw and holding your breath. by intentionally releasing your jaw, you begin to realize that your shoulder are pinched upward, and your back tight and . . . on and on. by releasing one, in particular the jaw, it seems easier to release the rest.

but, strangely enough, going the other way doesn't work as well . could not say why.

I don't have the muscleatrue and skeleton all worked out in my head @bsms , but I can tell you that a horse WILL release a little bit of tension if you can get it to release it's jaw, and to ease it's head to one side or the other, at the poll.
It really works. that is one reason why many of the old texts in dressage talk about "mobilizing the jaw', meaning allowing the jaw to move loosely.
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post #17 of 21 Old 07-02-2017, 12:16 AM
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Where do I start to reshape the horse's response system? With his body, of course. Think about the last time you saw your horse spook. What was the postural expression of that behavior? Head up. Ears *****ed. Eyes intent. Back dropped and rigid. The sense that he's on his tiptoes. An overall appearance of his body bracing for danger...

...So, what I want to teach the horse to do when he's working with a person is, with a little help from his handler or rider, to chose the second posture. Why? First, for safety so he can modulate his reflexive flight response when he gets spooked by something that isn't really going to eat him - a bicyclist, a trash can, a flapping plastic bag...

...The first step is to override that head-high/hollow-back posture that turns him into the reactive horse, replacing it with a more relaxed stance that signals the reasoning or thinking horse is present and ready to learn.
All of that is fine from a round pen / arena / groundwork scenario. But I reject the idea that posture drives the horse's emotions, or that you prepare a scared horse to listen to you by doing groundwork & round pen work. I watched a good pro try it, and it didn't work for squat. In my years with Mia, I had to come to accept that while she viewed me as a deity when I was standing on the ground, she forgot about me when scared. And while a professional taught her head down cues, they didn't mean anything in the real world.

If she was calm enough to listen to a head's down cue, she was calm enough to listen to other cues - go right, or turn around and walk away, etc.

The two most effective things I did with her, long after the round pen failed and ground training failed, were:

1 - Teach her The Two Rein Stop using a curb bit.

2 - Learning to deal with scary things with a slack rein.

When a horse is getting ready to explode, it is really hard to give them slack and merely suggest going right, or suggest turning around. But once I accepted I could not control her mind thru her body, and that I needed to train her mind by giving her an opportunity to think and work with me, not for me, we began to make progress.

I suspect Stacey Kollman and I could get along well if we went for a ride together. But I also think she is stuck in some of the old thought of body control. She seems to be moving toward training the mind, but wants to hold on to using posture to affect the mind. But minds respond to experience and learning, not posture. We should think in terms of root causes, not symptoms.

Mia was a very hard horse to learn to ride on, and I made a ton of mistakes. But so much of what highly experienced people said just didn't work with her. On 16 May 2015, I wrote:

Quote:
Mia's last day with bsms I've had Mia since 2008. I was told she was the perfect horse for a beginner when I got her. She wasn't...and she was. She was largely unbroken, as it turned out, and had a very intense personality. We did a lot of spooks together...only parting company once, in Jan 2009. I was a total newbie and she was no better - bright green with bright green.

But if we were a terrible match in some ways, we were a good one in others. She was and is the sort of horse who will not be dominated, but who will give you her best if you break things down and teach them to her in bites small enough for her to figure out. And while many horses CAN be dominated, I think they all do best when you try to teach them instead...

...One never knows what the future will hold if you sell a horse (or trade one away)...but I can honestly say I tried to do right by her, and I think she reciprocated. We were never "right" for each other, but for 7 years we were always honest with each other. Now if I could just get those darn specks of dirt out of my eyes...

https://www.horseforum.com/horse-ridi...3/#post7464529
If more people had met a horse like her, there would be a lot less emphasis on control. And a lot more emphasis on treating each horse as an individual, and on the horse's mind.

PS - The last comment is NOT directed at tinyliny. Generically, I think there is too much emphasis on the body and not enough on the mind.
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Last edited by bsms; 07-02-2017 at 12:25 AM.
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post #18 of 21 Old 07-02-2017, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Dragon also had virtually no fear, nor any reason to resist.
I am afraid you are commenting on a situation where you do not have adequate information to comment.

The yard/pen has been a favored hangout for some time now. Since the fly sheet fiasco Star has been unwilling to even enter the pen. Dragon has only been willing to enter if Hondo is already in.

When I took Dragon into the pen which was out of sight of the other horses he was very frightened although he stayed with me. And he had a reason to be frightened. He has barbed wire lacerations all over resulting from what to him was a life threatening event in the pen just recently.

Coincidentally, I was thumbing around in John Lyon's Communicating With Cues this morning and stumbled upon a section titled Calming Down on page 140. He printed it in bold.

In context, he appears to take exception to your claims.

John Lyons: "When a horse gets excited, his head comes up and his neck muscles stiffen. Well, we have a signal to get the neck muscles to relax and the jawbone to move to the side, so we'll use that same system to tell his head to go down."

Thanks to Smilie for recommending this book to me.


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post #19 of 21 Old 07-02-2017, 01:47 PM
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...When I took Dragon into the pen which was out of sight of the other horses he was very frightened although he stayed with me. And he had a reason to be frightened. He has barbed wire lacerations all over resulting from what to him was a life threatening event in the pen just recently.

Coincidentally, I was thumbing around in John Lyon's Communicating With Cues this morning and stumbled upon a section titled Calming Down on page 140. He printed it in bold.

In context, he appears to take exception to your claims.

John Lyons: "When a horse gets excited, his head comes up and his neck muscles stiffen. Well, we have a signal to get the neck muscles to relax and the jawbone to move to the side, so we'll use that same system to tell his head to go down."
He was standing next to you. He was tense. But there was nothing actively concerning to him. He "was mostly standing with head high and looking in the direction where the other horses were that we left in the field."He was NOT looking at something scary.

I own John Lyons book. It was one of the first I read. It was worthless with Mia.

Like a massage, it helps to relieve tension in the absence of anything scary. It doesn't do much when something scary is present.

It is a useful tool to have in some circumstances. It is also widely known & taught, and not much use when riding, IMHO. It is just a CUE. If the horse is willing to listen to THAT cue, they are willing to listen to others. And the others are ones that can get them BELIEVING they are safe, releasing tension because they no longer have a reason to be tense.

Posture does not control emotion. Obviously, the writer of the website you quote believes otherwise. Maybe John Lyons does as well. It is pretty common for me to be at odds with a number of authorities. That is because so many of the authorities were wrong about Mia. And about what I see riding Bandit.

At least 95% of what I've read, watched or seen posted online is based on compliant horses who are a bit concerned at most. It was a LONG time before I found a single paragraph admitting some horses are nervous, and a horse with a nervous personality needs to be treated differently. I've been told you must train a mule the way you ought to train all horses. I've also been told you must train an Arabian the way you ought to train all horses. I'm inclined to believe both sayings.

When Bandit is like this:



You won't get his head down with anything less than a sledgehammer. Head down cues - which he knows - will just annoy him and make him think you are stupid. He can stand like that for an hour or more.

SHOW him it isn't scary, and his whole body will relax in seconds.

That is WHY I disagree with the web article and John Lyons. Obviously, John Lyons is a much more respected name than I am! Oh well.
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post #20 of 21 Old 07-02-2017, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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But there was nothing actively concerning to him.
IMO, you are just often way way too quick on the draw with your opinion/statements.

There WAS something actively concerning him, and that was, "Where is the horse eating monster that I thought had eaten Hondo?". And he had no one to help him watch for it except some silly human at his side, which I'm sure he is aware does not have the gift of acute senses that he and his buddies do.

If a rabbit or squirrel (and there's a growing number) darts out from somewhere he totally freaks out. And of course Hondo not knowing, follows. Star standing outside the gate says, "See? I tried to tell you!"

You likely don't have the option where you live, but if any of the horses remain intent with raised head for too long, I will take halter and lead and go with them to investigate in the direction they are looking.

Sometimes I'll pick up a deer or a javelina but very often nothing. But I'm sure there is ALWAYS something. And I try to convince myself that they appreciate and acknowledge my efforts.

Last edited by Hondo; 07-02-2017 at 02:09 PM.
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