Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 174 - The Horse Forum
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post #1731 of 2003 Old 12-02-2018, 08:30 PM
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I donít know the answer to that... Bones doesnít get lippy like heís going to bite me. He just always is mouthy. It feels different. If he ever came at me like he was going to bite I would make him think I was going to kill him. Heís super kindhearted though. He wonít even kick a cat climbing his tail. Oh he threatens and gives dirty looks, but he lacks any meanness. He would hurt a cow, but that is the only thing heíd consider actually hurting.
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post #1732 of 2003 Old 12-02-2018, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I think humans should have a no tolerance approach to certain behaviors.
I quite agree - including with humans!

A classroom parallel. The high school discipline systems that worked best, in my experience, were the ones that said, "Here is a list of things for which there is zero tolerance in a class: Fighting, taking other people's things without permission, yelling, swearing, being rude to others, disrupting the class. Do that, and you're out immediately. (Out meant a much older / younger class and behaviour reflection paperwork to do that the teacher had to be happy with, before being allowed back in.) In this class people have the right to be treated with respect (students and teachers alike), and the responsibility to treat others with respect, and to get on with classwork."

No "three strikes and you're out" which wastes everyone's time and basically says it's OK to do something antisocial twice before there can be a consequence. Note this "out" policy was for the serious things listed, only. More minor things could be dealt with by time-owed, etc.

It's also really important that the main emphasis of this behaviour policy was actually getting on with positive things, behaving towards each other in a positive way (and teachers were, rightly, expected to model this to a T), having positive experiences, and generally giving time and energy to what was positive - instead of having it drained by what was negative. It was really excellent - a handful of schools I worked for had this - and those were the ones I worked for again and again, with pleasure. It was fair and constructive for everyone, and resulted in really good learning environments where people were happy and comfortable, and wonderful work and thinking could get done.

Now if only we could apply the same behaviour policy to the Australian parliament!

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post #1733 of 2003 Old 12-02-2018, 10:48 PM
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...I think different people have different ideas about how touchy-feely they want to get with their horses. I personally encourage a lot of physical interacting with my horses - I scratch them, they nuzzle me, my sleeve is gently grabbed and then held while the horse (Sunsmart's specialty) looks sideways at me with this, "Ha ha, got you!" expression. I play with them. And I don't get hurt, because they know they need to be careful - grab the sleeve, not the skin - don't be rough etc. Both sides sort of ask permission to touch - they do, I do. When a horse comes in for a bear hug (Romeo and Chasseur, and actually also the donkeys like this), I just let them sit their heads against my chest while I put my arms up over their neck. It's fine if they want to rub their heads gently - if it's too much, I just step sideways, and the horse learns to adjust next time. I've never really had to slap anyone over this (although I will slap rumps etc with an open hand to make a point sometimes) - sometimes an "oy" or an elbow. And that's despite the fact that both Sunsmart and Julian were classed as aggressive biters when I took them over. Go figure.

With Sunsmart, as I related once, I used to shove a brush in his mouth playfully if he turned around with a "gaaah" at me when I was grooming him, when we were first getting to know each other, and now I've got a horse that picks things up as a game. I wrote about that here:

When one horse is being mean to another, I've been known to "oy" them with my "teacher voice" and to throw a soft-plastic feed bucket at their rump - doesn't hurt, but a heck of a shock to the horse, and it thinks twice next time. I can walk between the lot of them when they're freely interacting, and they don't do anything silly. I can step between two horses getting grumpy with each other, and it stops. Their lead mare, whom they lost a year ago, used to do the same. She was very affectionate with them, and also very good at stopping the others from bickering.

Julian, when new, got swiped with a fly veil I happened to have in my hand when he turned his hindquarters at me and lifted a leg - again, short, dramatic voice-and-swipe, the horse jumped a mile, then came back with a, "Sorry, can we make it up" expression, and we did. I think a speedy, clear "no" response is far more effective than a harsh one - backed up with positive interactions. Always ending on a good note etc.

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post #1734 of 2003 Old 12-03-2018, 04:20 AM
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My rule is that if it bothers me, I try to stop the behavior. If I don't mind it, then I don't. Amore likes to rub her head on a person after her bridle comes off. I always allowed that for her. She's a small horse, does not smash you with her head although she presses against you firmly, and it was never a problem.

I don't let Hero rub his head on me but he's a bigger horse, and he's still learning how to be still and patient when getting untacked. Often he is moving his head around when I am trying to undo his throatlatch or curb chain. Today I bopped him on the end of the nose each time he wouldn't hold his head still, and told him how good he was each time he held still for a few seconds as I worked. I think the main thing with horses is to be consistent. If you decide to let them rub their head or nuzzle you, then you can't punish them for doing it when you are in a different mood. Otherwise it doesn't seem fair.
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post #1735 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Posted this on another thread:

Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I just got a book yesterday: Know Better to Do Better: Mistakes I Made with Horses (So You Don't Have To) by Denny Emerson. I haven't had time to read it all. Skimmed thru parts and read a few chapters.

A consistent theme I'm seeing is to take smaller steps, and stay at those levels longer. That was one of my biggest mistakes with Mia, my spooky Arabian mare. I figured once she did A, she was ready to start work on B. Shortly before I swapped her for Bandit, I concluded I needed to go back a few levels and spend a lot more time getting her rock solid at each level. Even if it meant years.

Denny Emerson talks about this on a variety of issues. On conditioning, he believes you start at a walk. Literally. And he discusses walking at a confident pace for miles - just walking - as the foundation for endurance training. He talks about giving cues, and how he believes most of us get too aggressive too fast with our cues, which creates tension in the horse. He argues what I discovered in Mia & Bandit - that a horse can be both very obedient AND very tense inside. Same with a horse facing a new environment. Or a rider who has had a bad fall - and he has had two broken hips and a broken back. He says you come back from a serious injury like that by starting over on a horse who doesn't scare you, and taking as much time as you need to become COMFORTABLE at A before moving on to B.

And, he says, if D is as far as you get, then that is OK. A big theme seems to be to stop measuring ourselves or our horses against others, and work with who we are and who they are.

With both Mia and Bandit, I've too often tried to move forward on a foundation of sand. If I'm understanding the book correctly, he thinks I need to let my horse get really good - and comfortable - with A. Then look at trying 1/2 of B. Slow but steady.

Need to read more, but it ties in with this thread and I'm finding myself going, "Yes! Yes! That is what I did and it didn't work for me either! Yes, that makes sense!" It is the best $14 book I've read on horses, riding and teaching the horse. Oh - and he has a section on "Teaching vs Training".

I'm a nobody rider, BTW. Denny Emerson has the experience and achievements to be worth listening to.

"He is the only equestrian to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance. In 1972, Emerson was named United States Eventing Association's Rider of the Year. He was a member of the United States Three Day Eventing Team that won the gold medal at the 1974 Eventing World Championships....

...In 2011 Emerson completed his 50th consecutive season as an entry in the Preliminary or Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) CCI* level. That same year, however, Emerson broke his C1 vertebrae after falling during the cross country phase of an event at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School Horse Trials in late July. Emerson made a full recovery and, as of 2015, continues to regularly school horses and compete in both jumper and dressage shows.
To expand...much of what I've read so far would sound VERY familiar to folks like @SueC , @gottatrot , @Hondo , @Knave , @knightrider and many others reading journal threads.

Hondo had a thread a few years back on "Ask, Tell, Demand". Smilie supported the concept. Hondo disagreed, and I tried to be in the middle. If I'm reading right, Danny Emerson has concluded much the same as Hondo. Although he doesn't phrase it the same way, he argues the "Obey me" approach creates tension in the horse, and that tension creates resistance, and the resistance made Denny as a rider more tense, so he would take firmer control, and the result was a downward spiral. At 77, he believes far more patience is needed, that we need to teach our horses to feel utterly safe with us. And if that means we never jump as big a jump, or race as far, or ride at some level in a be it!

When he discusses working with a horse's fears, it reminded me of a video @phantomhorse13 posted showing her working with her horse. Encouraging, supporting, but not dominating. And in discussing breeds, he gives due to the warmbloods, thoroughbreds, Arabians, etc that he has ridden - but admits his first love was and is Morgans!

I guess I see it as vindication. I've often heard that I haven't had enough experience to challenge the conventional wisdom on training. Haven't owned enough horses, ridden enough or won the competitions to argue for taking more time. Yet while neither Hondo nor I would likely agree with everything in the book, a lot of what he says reminds me of Hondo's writings. And my own. Along with the many journalists here who aren't comfortable with the "Body Control" or "Man Is God to Horse" approach.

After 70 years of riding, Denny Emerson is saying some of the things that Mia taught me. And Hondo taught Hondo. And that so many of you have discussed learning from your horses. It seems after a lifetime at a very high level of competitive achievement, he is echoing what many of us with 1,2, or 3 horses have learned, not from riding instructors, but from our horses!

I hope @Hondo isn't offended by this. I mention him because he reminds me of me in some ways, although perhaps more sensitive to his horse and more open to learning than I am. A quicker study than me. I'm pretty dull, as my horses could tell you. Thank God they are more patient with me than I am with them!

I also haven't read the book from cover to cover, yet. But the key ideas seem to be "Smaller bites. More patience. Don't rush. Accept what your horse is offering. Let him feel good with where you are at before trying to do more. The horse isn't wrong, just misunderstood."
Here's how the two words, "He ought" and the three words, "He knows better" run counter to Jack Le Goff's advice on how to train horses:

Le Goff said, "Boldness comes from confidence. Confidence comes from success. So it is the mission of the trainer to create lots of situations that as much as possible guarantee success."...

...someone takes a horse out trail riding alone. The horse would be calmer and steadier if he had company, especially quiet company, but the rider says, "He ought to be able to handle this on his own." Or the horse moves around at the mounting block, and the rider says as she yanks him around, "He knows better." Or loading into a trailer. Or being quiet for the farrier. Or accepting being clipped.

A horse does not "fake" being anxious in order to "get out of work" or because "he is being bad."...

...Jack Le Goff's advice is to start by creating little successes, rather than to get into battles to "make him settle down". The only way you can make a horse be calm is by drugging him. You can longe or gallop to exhaustion, and he will be quiet, perhaps, but underneath the tiredness will still be nervous.

So what is so wrong with trail riding with a buddy at first, or doing tons of quiet transitions with a mild bit rather than by cranking him into a harsh bit, if it makes him calmer?...

...But generally, "teaching him a lesson" should not be the normal "go-to" method if the goal is to build lasting confidence.

Or maybe Le Goff is the one who didn't "get" how to train horses? Maybe we are smarter horse people than Jack Le Goff? Sure. Dream on..."
[Note: "Jack Louis Joseph Marie Le Goff (April 8, 1931 in AlenÁon, Orne, France Ė July 24, 2009 in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France) was a French equestrian, best known as the coach of the American three-day eventing team from 1970 to 1984. He coached the team to multiple international championships, winning 18 international medals, including several in the Olympics. Le Goff is known for having a large impact on the American eventing world, and the era in which he coached has been called the golden era for American equestrianism." - Wiki]

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 12-12-2018 at 11:05 AM.
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post #1736 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 01:00 PM
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We can have a virtual bookclub meeting @bsms - it's on my bedside table right now, I'm a couple of chapters in. Can't beat beautiful Morgans in Vermont!
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post #1737 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 02:09 PM
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That book is actually on my list for Santa.. it's the first book in as long as I can remember from a BNT that I was interested in. I look forward to hearing everyone's experience with it and hope I will be joining the book club.
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post #1738 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 02:36 PM
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Hear, hear! I couldn't agree more! And I also believe this applies to children. It used to break my heart when a teacher would say to a child, "You did it today, so I know you can do it." How many times have we been able to sing something, paint something, write something, carve something, do some acrobatic, and then the next time, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get it again. Just because a horse or a child gets it once, doesn't mean they've "got it."
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post #1739 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Finally rode Bandit again. Briefly. A while back, I sprained my shoulder enough that I didn't trust using it if anything happened on horseback, I tried one ride and mounting up, pulling with my left hand on the mane...OWW! Then I hurt my back, caught what may have been flu, and in general had an unpleasant couple of weeks. My back is better, I'm mostly over the respiratory thing...but I re-injured my left shoulder again yesterday. Oh well. It is nice outside and I figured 30 minutes in the arena would be good for both of us.

And it was, but rougher than I expected. Someone at our neighbor's house decided, just as I got on Bandit, to rev up a dirt bike a bunch of times, then zoom past our little arena while popping wheelies. I say someone because the neighbor's wife grew up around horses. Doesn't ride any more, but she's talked to her kids about horses and the kids always seem very respectful around horses. They seem to understand that Bandit can be genuinely frightened, and what kind of weirdo would want to frighten a horse for no reason? So maybe it was a visitor.

Anyways, Bandit did some nice sideways moving. Actually turned away for a moment, but got him turned back ASAP. Turning away is generally a harmful reaction in the desert so I want to keep him focused on facing threats. The last couple of rides, whenever they were, I was trying to transition to the Momma Bear setting for stirrups. Worked well today, I'll say! Good to know he can zip sideways while using Momma Bear stirrups and have everything feel very solid!

Worked on posting after the dirt bike left. And eating. Me posting. Bandit eating. Each of us got some of what we wanted. Near the end, Bandit got very antsy again. I couldn't figure out why. I had taken one foot out of the stirrup in prep to dismount when he got agitated, so rode that with one stirrup. Got him briefly calm, then did a high speed dismount. About 30 seconds later, the dirt bike reappeared from between some houses, and zipped up and down the street gunning the engine and popping wheelies. Bandit was SOOO unhappy about a dirt bike rearing and screaming and trying to throw off a giant horsefly - which is what a lot of dirt bikers dress like! Couldn't blame Bandit, but it was probably just as well I wasn't armed. Not sure Mr Dirt Bike even knew we were there.

When Mr Dirt Bike went in to the house, I took Bandit back to the corral and fed the horses.

Not at all how I would like my first ride in a few weeks to go, for me or for Bandit. The only anger I felt was toward Mr Dirt Bike. Couldn't see a face, but it would be VERY unusual for one of the neighbor kids to act that way. Bandit was behaving well under the circumstances. From a horse's perspective, he bent over backwards trying to make things go well. If my shoulder is throbbing now...well, that isn't Bandit's fault. As far as I'm concerned, he behaved like a champ.

[Edit to add]: FWIW, at the Momma Bear setting, my security in the saddle really does seem to be rooted in my lower leg, not my "seat". Guess VS Littauer managed to teach me SOMETHING, even after his death! Maybe Santini's "perching" in the saddle works. Although I'm not supposed to be able to learn anything from reading a mere book......but when a horse scoots sideways, having your security in your lower leg instead of your rump REALLY seems to work well!

Another quote:
What I failed to realize back then was that by ramping up the intensity of my leg pressure, for example, while I did get the result of him moving away from it, I had obtained the result I wanted with a substantially negative byproduct. Yes, he moved off my kicking leg, but the sharpness of my kicks had made him more nervous and anxious. Now I had to deal with a more reactive horse, which meant very often I would feel the need for stronger rein contact to control the nervousness that I had actually created. As I used stronger rein contact, the horse got even more nervous, and the downward training spiral had begun. What I was doing was forcing the move away response rather than teaching the move away response...
In addition to "Ask, Tell, DEMAND", I can't count how often I've been told to sharpen the aids by then using "Ask, DEMAND BLAST IT". Maybe Mr Emerson is more accustomed to Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Morgans...but he seems to believe jumping from ask to insist is a good way to start a fight. I'll add another Tom Roberts story here. It remains one of my favorites, although I don't know if I have the patience:
This horse was a confirmed jibber. He would not move when ridden alone. He just stood.

We were all eyes - and ears! How would the Captain fare with THIS horse?

[The next day] Promptly at 9 am, the Captain mounted and began to talk, as was usual. He was a most interesting lecturer, and he went on, and on. He made no attempt to move the horse, which was what we students were all waiting to see.

He talked and he talked. It was not until about 11:30 am again, that he suddenly seemed to realize the time. Again, the Captain drew his watch from his fob pocket and appeared to be most surprised to find it was so late.

"I'm sorry Gentlemen", he said , "I had no idea I had been speaking so long. Now what was the matter with this horse?"

"Try and get him to move", yelled several voices simultaneously.

To our utter astonishment and confusion, the horse cantered straight off down the School.

After a few minutes work, the Captain returned smiling..."Gentlemen, I have deceived you...Yesterday, when I mounted this horse, I immediately recognized I had to deal with a jibber [horse who would not go out alone]. I could feel he was determined not to move. The hour was late, and I knew I would need time. ALWAYS ALLOW YOURSELF TIME. Never fail to allow yourself plenty of time when about to start on a difficult horse - whatever the difficulties he presents.

"This morning at 9 o'clock, I mounted this horse with several hours ahead of me. The horse was determined not to be ridden forward. But I, too, was determined not to move.

At half-past 9, we were both still determined not to move. 10 o'clock came, and he was still determined not to move. So was I.

At 10:30, I could feel he was starting to become a little restive - but I was still determined not to move.

Now, at 11;30, we are BOTH ready to move."

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 12-12-2018 at 03:57 PM.
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post #1740 of 2003 Old 12-12-2018, 08:19 PM
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So I was thinking about something that relates to what you are saying. First let me say 100% I agree with what your book said. It was something else you said I was thinking about though. You talked about the experience necessary to challenge the general practices.

So, I have been playing with a cart with three of the horses. I have zero experience, well, that is not completely true, but for practical purposes let us say zero experience with work horses. By work I mean the kind of work that takes a harness and some sort of attachment. Lol.

I had started to look up some of the conventional training methods of cart horses. Then I was a bit discouraged and lay awake at night with ideas of how I would teach it. I tried something of my own thoughts and saw some success. I was telling my friend about this and she said ďWhat fun you can have being creative and seeing what works for each different personality you are working with.Ē Then it kind of struck me how right what she said was. My horses donít have to pull (unless it is on a rope lol). I donít really care who I impress or donít impress. So yes, I have a chance to be creative and do something just for fun. I had been ruining that by thinking things needed to be just so.

Tradition works, and those tricks are there to help us. However, they do not have to stifle. A girl I know is an excellent trainer. She has been a professional trainer from the time she was a small child. She is trying something new now, learning about working-cow-horses.

I wish I could somehow make her understand that her own knowledge is what she needs to rely on. She knows horses. She has her own style and she is good. Her lack of confidence in her own ability is what is holding her back. Trying to listen to everyone except for herself is frustrating her and causing mistakes.

So, yes, try your own methods. Use tradition and tricks as you see fit, but trust in yourself too.

ETA: For fun today the poor future milk cow got to participate as well!
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