Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 47 - The Horse Forum
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post #461 of 2024 Old 09-23-2016, 03:47 PM
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My husband and I are learning to dance. Now, I have actually had a lot of prior training with ball-room dance and know what it is supposed to feel like.

He, however has no idea how to lead, how to signal me when to turn, when to spin, when to dip.

I told him he better start leading or I will. Threats didn’t work either, so I closed my eyes.

He said “what are you doing?”
I said “trusting you not to slam me into another couple or drop me.”

Suddenly once given total responsibility, he started leading for the first time and I could move entirely off of that feel. I imagine that being a horse with a rider on your back is a lot like ballroom dancing with your eyes closed. It takes trust, it takes feel and it takes a mutual understanding of what the other person is communicating through that feel.
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post #462 of 2024 Old 09-23-2016, 10:04 PM
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I should have done that. but, when hubby and I did a ballroom dancing class, it was pre-horse days. I just expressed my frustration at the lack of leadership, and he expressed his frustration at the lack of patience. we never took another class.
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post #463 of 2024 Old 09-23-2016, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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I just don't dance. Two left feet wouldn't begin to describe it. My horses are more forgiving than my wife...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #464 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 09:46 AM
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I think the ballroom dancing example is brilliant! I have tried to imagine what it must be like to have a monkey on my back with strings going to my face or mouth and trying to go or do as the monkey directs. Pretty amazing that the horse can do what it does.

As a beginner, I started taking Hondo on daily walks leading him. Invariably we came upon a dish of pellets somewhere along the trail. He was always led back to the herd before being turned loose rather than letting him go whinnying to find them.

This went on for about three months. I think that's a good place for beginners to start.

Prior to that I had volunteered, requested actually, to pen and feed 23 horses night and morning when they came in during the cold month of January just to learn their names and who they were. I was constantly asking questions about their backgrounds. That was my introduction to, "All Horses Are Different", among other things.

And as I've mentioned, reading Powell and Rashid got me started, I think, off on the right foot with a better "attitude" toward the horse than I might have gotten elsewhere.

I'm still learning of course and it doesn't appear that it will end any time soon.

Yesterday brought home again the degree to which a horse will pick up on internal confusion and distress of the rider, arising outside events, and become as nervous and unpredictable as the rider. It is easy to forget how much in tune and in sync to us they are and how closely they actually watch us and monitor everything about us. If we want them to be calm, our internal selves must be calmed, I think.
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I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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post #465 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 10:24 AM
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A lot of my experiences growing up helped me to see the perspective of the horse. Having gone through something that touched you deeply, builds empathy for others (even animals) going through a similar situation.

I have had partners (I did competitive ice dancing also, which is why I took the ball-room classes years ago), who didn’t just lead they manhandled me. There was no attempt to communicate or allowance for me to respond. Instead of just cuing a move, they tried to control every aspect of my response. One-sided partnership; not a partnership at all. Leader-minion was more the feel of it.

I have had partners where every mistake was always mine even after I pointed out that they cued me wrong or were not where they were supposed to be to give me the needed support (Cue; dip. Hey! Where is the knee that is supposed to be there? Heck if I’m dipping!). I couldn’t trust them.

In the case of them cuing wrong, the momentary confusion it caused for me was enough to literally miss a beat, your timing was off and then partner gets mad at you! To say that it is frustrating and eventually downright enraging is an understatement. You feel like your perception does not matter and there is no communication, no plan.

Given a choice, you don’t stay with a partner where you are always at fault very long (there is a shortage of men in dancing). You just try to make the best of it, but there comes a point where no partner is better than suffering through that kind of partner. You stop enjoying it, suck it up and just go through the motions, without feeling, without heart....or you fight.

I have also had partners who were klutzes. They just didn’t have good balance or body awareness (this was especially noticeable in ice dancing) and because they outweighed me sometimes by 100 lbs and at times you are moving across the ice at 10 or 20 mph their lack of balance easily pulled me off balance. To me it felt less like dancing and more like a constant battle to hold my own.

IMO, feel, timing and balance is one of the building blocks of trust.
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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



Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 09-24-2016 at 10:32 AM.
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post #466 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
Yesterday brought home again the degree to which a horse will pick up on internal confusion and distress of the rider, arising outside events, and become as nervous and unpredictable as the rider. It is easy to forget how much in tune and in sync to us they are and how closely they actually watch us and monitor everything about us. If we want them to be calm, our internal selves must be calmed, I think.
^^^ very true. I have a good example of this from yesterday. As I have written in my journal, Macarena has had a couple of frights over dirtbikes - both coincidently in the same place. About a month ago she panicked over an atv that approached us from behind in the exact same place on the road as the other two incidents. The atv slowed right down and did nothing wrong, but I got totally stressed when I saw the thing approaching, remembering her previous panics. My fear of Macarena's possible reaction evidently made her scared and provoked a third panic reaction.

I suspected at the time that most of her fright reaction, at least on that last occasion, was my fault, and yesterday proved that to be the case. I was riding with my DH and we met the same atv coming towards us, nice and slow. His horse Duna is fine about such things. Macarena was leading and I told myself she would be fine, we weren't in her panic place, the atv wasn't making a filthy noise, no reason for her to get scared, and I kept myself calm. She barely looked at it. A slight edging to one side as it passed but no more.
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post #467 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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"If we want them to be calm, our internal selves must be calmed, I think." - @Hondo

One of the bad bits of advice I got with Mia was to pretend I was calm. "Just act calm - sing or do something - and when you pretend to be calm, she will be calm." But there were two problems with this advice.

1 - My calmness didn't always remove her fears, and in fact her worst episodes tended to come when I was genuinely feeling very calm...maybe because I was so calm that I didn't recognize the tension in her.

2 - I'm no good at lying to my horse. I might get away with it once in a while, but they get pretty good at seeing thru me.

Instead of pretending, I needed to create a new reality - based on what was real. So if I had legitimate concerns about falling off, then I needed lessons, or to get more experience on a different horse, or a change in tack or position or SOMETHING that would give me genuine reason to have less fear.

And then I needed to ignore the advice so many gave - push through, ignore your fears, don't let her look, never back off and dismount, etc - and simply:

Take smaller bites, and chew thoroughly.

"You stop enjoying it, suck it up and just go through the motions, without feeling, without heart....or you fight." - @Reiningcatsanddogs

That was me at times. And it was Mia at others. Because what I'm learning with Bandit is that trust and confidence is MUTUAL. We ride as teams, even when we refuse to admit it. Your discussion of ice skating is spot on! And a TEAM cannot move with confidence and timing and balance and feel unless BOTH are working together and trusting EACH OTHER. Mutual trust.

When Reiningcatsanddogs's partner treated her like a sack of potatoes, it prevented trust. When I would try to push Mia on regardless of her tension, it created fear. When I tried to push on in spite of MY fears, it reinforced those fears!

I needed to honor Mia's fears, but I also needed to honor mine. She could not relax and be confident with a scared, tense partner. And neither could I. So we needed to take smaller bites, and chew thoroughly. Stay mostly within our capabilities - our capacity as a team - and slowly build on the time we spent working together at a level where our trust in each other was genuine. It is important to expand the envelope by taking small excursions past each of our comfort levels, but pushing past our comfort level should have been done in smaller steps, and only after building a solid foundation of trust.

There were times I was afraid and my horse was not. OK, back off. Mia would not have objected. She, like most horses, was not very goal oriented! There were times she was afraid and I was not. OK, back off. A little discomfort, for a short time, is a teaching experience. Pushing past our fears, OTOH, merely reinforces those fears - for both members of the team!

People get upset that I often reject the common wisdom of riding instructors. I think that common wisdom is built on having a lot of experience with compliant lesson horses and young riders who can break an arm and be ready to ride the next day. I think a lot of riding instructors have almost no experience teaching an older rider to ride a nervous horse. Heck, many of them (IMHO) focus so intently on what worked for them while showing that they forget to teach a rider how to ride defensively - how to keep the horse between you and the ground when things aren't level, smooth, and the horse is green or scared.

But so much of the advice I got with Mia was flat out WRONG. It not only did not work, it made things worse. It helped me dig a much deeper hole, and then made it much harder for me to fill it in!

And the root of the bad advice was a refusal to admit the horse has a mind. And a heart. And feelings. And a refusal to view the horse and rider as a team. I was supposed to make Mia fearless by dominating her, and by lying to her about my own fears and weaknesses. But Mia wasn't the sort to accept dominance, and I wasn't able to lie to her, and I should never have been encouraged to do either one!

I reject a lot of "proper riding" because I tried it and it FAILED. Yet much of that advice came from people with 40+ years (or so they claim) of riding. Either they had forgotten what it is like to be a newbie, or they learned bad habits on compliant horses and never got beyond the "CA with a problem horse" stage of training.

If I had spent the last year riding Bandit using what I was told to do with Mia (and did, or tried to do for the first few years), Bandit would be getting worse instead of better. I took a nervous but very willing Arabian mare and made her worse, and didn't start crawling out of the hole until I did two things I was told not to do - switch her to a curb bit, and follow Tom Robert's advice about slack reins and giving my horse some real choices...

And yes, I feel awful about what I did wrong with Mia, and I have some anger for the many experienced riders who encouraged me to treat her like a machine...and to sometimes treat myself like one.

I'll add this: About a month ago, Bandit and I were out riding. He didn't put a foot wrong. He never stopped going forward. But I felt he was very tense. Heading back, I finally decided to dismount and lead him. He walked beside me for about 5 minutes, then blew hard a few times, and then rubbed his head against my shoulder. I swear he looked apologetic! By the time we got home, he was relaxed. Truly relaxed.

Did I teach him to dominate me by pretending to be tense? Or did I teach him to trust me because I would put aside my goals and respond to the tension inside him?

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

Last edited by bsms; 09-24-2016 at 11:31 AM.
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post #468 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 12:09 PM
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Do keep in mind however that when people are giving advice/suggestions over the internet, through a book or even in a DVD, it is general. Those same people given an opportunity to know you, the horse and actually watch, might give a totally different response. It is one of the flaws of this type of communication.

There is so much that a good horseperson will see in a hands on situation, sometimes without really realizing it, that it is often difficult to give an accurate opinion. There is no substitute for getting it straight from the horse's mouth without the filter of an owner who may see only part of the picture. Someone else sees another part, a third person sees yet another part and while no piece can solve the puzzle alone, putting all those pieces together gives the complete picture.

So much of understanding what is going on inside a horse has to do with seeing the whole horse before deciding how to approach.

I was already walking rapidly for three or four seconds towards my trainer and Oliver before he dumped him. I knew what was about to happen. The teens that witnessed the whole crack up asked me how I knew. (I had uttered a rather loud expletive before heading across the arena. Apologies to their parents). Oliver's whole existence told me what he was going to do long before he did it. I can't tell you exactly what I saw in total that told me he wasn't just annoyed but, was about to explode. I just absolutely knew it when I saw it.

That is a very important missing component when seeking advice for a behavior issue and, as you found out with the differences in horses between Mia and Bandit, it can make all of the difference in the outcome.
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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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post #469 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Got the saddles out, just about ready for my wife & I to go riding Bandit and Cowboy...then put my cowboy boots on. Had my big toenail removed Thursday afternoon & still have a thick bandage around it. Does fine in sneakers, but my boots squeezed it down on top, at the nail bed. Tried another pair of cowboy boots, same thing. Hurts just to sit in a chair like that!

Soooooo...begged off, and my wife AND DAUGHTER and I will take the three horses out of a walk, on lead ropes. I can walk fine in sneakers. But while I don't mind skipping a helmet, I refuse to ride in western stirrups in sneakers. Even if the sheepherders I was with in June did it...

Need to get some toe cages for my Australian saddle. Of course, by the time I got them, my toe should be better. And it is a gorgeous day in southern Arizona today - currently 72 degrees, partly cloudy, slight breeze...PERFECT riding weather. Figures, doesn't it!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #470 of 2024 Old 09-24-2016, 12:28 PM
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Jealous. High of ninety here today and I put laundry out on the line last night, just checked it again and it is still damp. Humid as heck out!

“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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