"Try" and re-teaching a horse heart - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 54 Old 10-23-2014, 12:08 AM
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I've never tried cutting cattle, so take this FWIW:

I read a book about cutting. The guy said it was important to start the horse on a cow the horse could 'beat'. He said you could then train it up and get a horse who would give you his best. But if you put him on too tough a cow too quick, the horse would give up and never be worth a darn cutting. Part of good training was to pick challenges that set the horse up for success, and then build on those successes.

That makes sense to me. I do know a study was done where horses who made the wrong choice had an air horn go off to punish them. It was a fast way to train them, but the horses would become more focused on not making the wrong choice, and eventually would refuse to make a choice at all.

In that sense, I don't think horses are all that different from humans. In the military, some commanders were "no mistakes allowed" in their approach. In those squadrons, folks worked hard to avoid responsibility and refused to take initiative because it would only buy them trouble in the long run. I also had some bosses who would understand a reasonable mistake and cover your butt, and those squadrons tended to be outstanding.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #22 of 54 Old 10-27-2014, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I've never tried cutting cattle, so take this FWIW:

I read a book about cutting. The guy said it was important to start the horse on a cow the horse could 'beat'. He said you could then train it up and get a horse who would give you his best. But if you put him on too tough a cow too quick, the horse would give up and never be worth a darn cutting. Part of good training was to pick challenges that set the horse up for success, and then build on those successes.
SOOO true, and not exclusive to cutting training!
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post #23 of 54 Old 10-27-2014, 11:03 AM
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A wonderful aspect of working with a horse at liberty is he can walk away if what you are asking is too much. By allowing this to happen with no consequence the horse comes to realize it wasn't so bad and will do better the next time. eg the ground tarp was too much so the horse left. He didn't go far. I waited. He returned of his own volition and crossed the tarp full of confidence.

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post #24 of 54 Old 10-27-2014, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by greenhaven View Post
SOOO true, and not exclusive to cutting training!
& I've never been into bronc riding either, but to prove it's not about cutting or bronc riding... a lot of broncs come from ponyclubbers who have inadvertently taught them this is the 'winning way'!
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post #25 of 54 Old 10-28-2014, 11:00 AM
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I was working with a very green percheron gelding this weekend, which reminded me of this thread. His owner is a wonderful person and a decent rider, but not super experienced and prone to nervousness and anxiety. The horse was not really touched out on the range until 2, when he was brought in as a stud, at which point he was halter broke and gelded.

since then he has been worked with a lot, on and off over the last 4 years. He is very sensitive, 16.2hh, 2000lb, top of the herd, and tends to be reactive and nervous. He has gotten to the point where he is excellent at all his ground work, super respectful, but panics. He was taught to drive, and had panicking issues with something behind him. he has been started under saddle and thrown people at least 3 times in his handful of rides. I started working with him to figure out what was going on, he was great for me, reactive and sensitive, but super willing and attentive. We rode all over the country side, often leading a group, and I had not one significant issue. After the first 5 minutes of anxiety he quieted down.

it finally dawned on me what had happened to this horse. He had been set up to fail. On the ground he was taught that his handler was the leader, but in the saddle it was a different story. His rider would get on, he was green and unsure, and then they would become nervous, which would scare him, and then them, until he was in a panic. He would be asked to do things, like trot, but his rider would immediately tense, so he would tense, so they would panic, and he would follow suit. Despite the best intentions, his riders set him up to fail, and doing what people asked of him resulted in fear and tension. He was so afraid of picking the wrong answer that he didn't want to pick any at all.
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post #26 of 54 Old 11-07-2014, 12:12 AM
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A really good original post and many excellent comments from people that obviously know their "stuff".
I'll just throw my 2 cents in and say that a sensitive horse needs to be able to make mistakes without repercussion. Most of my experience has been with Arabs and I have found that they are not a good match for trainers that aren't patient and don't take the time to gain their trust.

I have an 11 year old Quarab mare that I believe the previous owners gave up on because they though she couldn't handle pressure. All she needed was time away from spurs and less use of the end of the reins.
Her head is now back in the game (a year later) and she is calm and has a controlled energy, and she deals with things unfamiliar to her like a bomb proof old draft horse.
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post #27 of 54 Old 11-07-2014, 01:03 PM
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Good on you for sticking with him, taking the time to figure him out, and giving your boy a chance!
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post #28 of 54 Old 11-14-2014, 10:50 PM
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great post, I think anyone who has ever rescued and re-educated a horse can't help but agree with you - small simple victories breed confidence. congrats- you two sound like a good match
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post #29 of 54 Old 12-25-2014, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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I was reading this thread by reiningcatsanddogs https://www.horseforum.com/horse-trai...eption-523273/ that referenced this article from 2005 about current research and findings about equine thinking abilities http://www.equineresearch.org/suppor...nkinghorse.pdf While I was reading it, about halfway through, there was the following phrase: "This horse displayed the ability of “learning to learn” by using a general solution (one pattern in each pair was always rewarded) to more easily solve subsequent tests and was able to retain 77.5% of the [correct answers] after 6 mo."

I was So Very Excited when I read this, because this is exactly it. It is exactly what happened with my boy that changed him from a fearful-to-act horse into a determined-to-get-it-right horse. He "learned to learn". He learned there always was a right answer and how to go about figuring out what it is. And then, once he'd figured it out, he'd not only remember that answer, but use it to figure out the answer to the questions or challenges I'd face him with next.

I especially thought the idea of teaching horses enough so they have broad categories to toss novel objects into rather than having to figure out every band new thing as an individual potential monster is dead on. To start with, every cue and every object is a separate cue or object on its own that takes its own time and worry to deal with. Once a horse has seen enough "stuff" most of them, including mine, seem to start to begin "lumping" a new thing into a category they have in their head of old things so that they just treat it like they treat the other things in that group.

For example, my guy seems to understand that "bridges" are a thing and sometimes there are noises. Rattly chains, echoing foot falls, etc. But no matter how visually different or different they sound (overpass, railroad tie construct, graveled culverts, stone, etc) I now imagine him thinking, "Oh. This is one of THOSE things" as he sighs and moves over ones he has never seen the likes of before.

This article also validates my personal pet theory which is that we should act crazy around our horses (from their point of view) sometimes to teach them that the proper response to erratic or crazy human behavior is to ignore us. That way when my horse sees someone ignorant of horses 'act crazy' while we're out it the world, my horse can go, "Oh. We've done this one before. Standing quietly is the right answer. Can do" rather than freaking out. So often people look at me as though I've lost my mind. "You'll scare the horse!" Yes. That is the point, and done in a planned, careful manner, it is so that they're NOT scared when this happens under saddle and my health and life are at risk.
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post #30 of 54 Old 12-25-2014, 11:27 AM
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I am going to add one thing to this discussion....horses are very good at associative learning where one punishment or reward becomes linked mentally with an object, person or action.

We hear it all the time, pressure, release.

It is quite possible in the mind of the horse, through associative learning, for the simple presence a particular person to become the pressure itself. Your simple presence becomes the pressure.

That is the downside of an aggressive use of negative reinforcement training methods. Because of the transfer of pressure = person, a release is never obtained in that person's presence (horses are good at categorization as well) and it inhibits learning. Prolonged use can lead to a generalization; all people = pressure.

That is why I believe so strongly in the importance of spending "down time" with your horse where you are asking absolutely nothing from them and their choices are theirs, you are simply "present".

For me, I enjoy just plopping a chair out in the middle of the pasture (just our horses and our own pasture) and sitting there watching them. I don't ask or expect them to come to me, but if they choose to I let them.

I don't use liberty training but I believe this is part of the learning theory behind it.

Please don't read into this and think it refers to acceptance/ignorance of dangerous behaviors. It simply gives them an opportunity to experience true release around you and tempers the formation of that person is pressure association and aids learning in the long run.
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“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

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