Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 58 - The Horse Forum
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post #571 of 1971 Old 11-01-2016, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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I also find that people LIKE helping the horse. Sometimes an ATVer will come over and touch a horse for the first time in their life. And it helps to have neighbors who like horses and who want to help them feel better!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #572 of 1971 Old 11-01-2016, 02:34 PM
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Since Lance Armstrong started living near here biking has become big thing. We have a tongue in cheek phrase "Militant Zombie Bikers".

MZB's are often ill tempered and think that both the roads and the trails belong to them and seem to get ticked off when they have yield to a horse (or a truck/car). Many don't and are downright dangerous about it. It has set up an adversarial situation between the mountain bikers and the equestrians (far too many car v bike accidents here too but that is a different topic).

Maybe we need to set up an organization that educates biking clubs as to how to share the trails with horses.

“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 #573 of 1971 Old 11-01-2016, 02:48 PM
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BSMS we had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. My mare was having an off day - and we met a rider who had dismounted and was squatting near the trail by her horse. Simply Hair Rising! About 1/4 mile up the trail we spotted a GeoCacher hiding in the brush - well worth the energy to spin 180 degrees and try to knock my daughters horse down. And further down the trail we met 2 hikers with walking sticks. - simply too much for a black mare having a bad day! Had to ask the hikers to PLEASE just stop and talk to my bug eyed mare so that she understood that they were just people. Once she figured that out she quickly frisked them for treats and upon finding none made her way down the trail.
After the hikers the model airplanes flying over head just simply became a sport for her to shy at anything she thought was making that terrible buzzing noise.

My inner thighs were screaming the next day!

Last edited by carshon; 11-01-2016 at 02:49 PM. Reason: spelling error
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post #574 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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This is a response to a post ( https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...5/#post9532666 ) on tinyliny's journal. As it got longer, and possibly more controversial, I decided to post it here. I didn't want to disrupt her thread, and it was turning into a rant:

I've argued the founding principle of horsemanship is simply:

The horse is alive!

That means it has thoughts, feelings, needs, desires. And they think and feel in a way quite different than what is too often taught. That is why I found that old quote from a cavalryman in the 1860s so helpful. So many people, including many life long riders on HF, told me what a very experienced rider on HF wrote a couple of weeks ago - that the only thing horses care about is eating. VS Littauer, in 1935, after years in the Russian Cavalry and becoming a jumping instructor, wrote the same thing - that no horse enjoys being ridden, and that all any horse wants to do is be lazy, eating food in the company of other horses. It wasn't until 20 years later, in the 50s, that he mentioned going out on a relaxing morning ride with his horse, both of them enjoying being out.

It is reflected in the often taught idea that if a horse is scared, you should not dismount. Why? Because by dismounting, you "reward the horse". It is reflected in the often made statement, "That horse has your number!" It is a bit contradictory, actually. All horses care about is food, yet they also spend their nights plotting ways to dominate their riders and take control of the world the next day!

But the cavalryman affirmed what I was starting to suspect:
.
"...Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored; they like amusement, variety, and society: give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals."
.
"they like amusement, variety, and society" - They are alive!

I'm not picking on dressage. This comes from the USDF, but a similar approach to riding can be found in many show disciplines, and is often found in basic riding instruction:
.
In a correctly executed turn or circle the horse’s inside hind leg carries more weight than the outside one. Before every turn or circle the rider should prepare the horse with a half halt and transfer his weight a little to the inside seat bone, in the direction of the movement.

The horse should then be flexed in the same direction. The inside rein should guide the horse into the turn, the rider’s inside leg, close to the girth, causing the horse’s inside hind leg to reach further forward. The outside rein should yield just enough to allow the horse to flex to the inside, while at the same time it restrains the horse from falling out over the outside shoulder. The outside leg should control the quarters.

When the horse’s forehand is guided from the straight line into the direction of the turn, the influence of the inside rein is decreased again. The rider should ‘straighten’ the horse with the outside rein, keep the horse exactly on the line of the circle. (‘Straight’ on the circle means making sure that the hind feet follow in the tracks of the forefeet, and that the horse is bent from head to tail according to the curvature of the line.)

The correct distribution of the rider’s weight is most important. In transferring his weight to the inside seat bone he should push the inside hip forward with a deep knee. This will also prevent him from collapsing his inside hip and slipping the seat to the outside. At the same time he should make sure not to leave the outside shoulder behind.

http://www.usdf.org/edudocs/training/basicexercises.pdf
.

Notice the RIDER is performing a turn on a horse. The RIDER. But no rider ever performs a turn! The horse turns. Sometimes because we ask him to, and sometimes because he wants to, and sometimes the two meet and we decide to turn together.

You never turn the horse. You can tell the horse "Turn or else!" - as I did on Bandit the other day, when his attention suddenly leaped a few hundred yards ahead and focused on my wife and our white German Shepherd - in a place where Bandit could not imagine them existing. Once in a while, "...or else!" is needed for safety.

But with a few rare exceptions, we ask or command a horse to turn. Maybe to turn in a certain way. Having been bred for many years for docility, many horses will do so without resentment. Most of the time.

When one studies the horse's motion, be it the back, or the footfalls used in a turn or even in a trot or canter, it becomes obvious we don't even know HOW the horse moves and turns! It took the invention of high speed cameras to show a horse can trot with a moment of suspension. There are still people who teach the horse's back rounds up, forming an arch, when collected - although there is now very good data showing that never happens. We see a horse moving his hind legs deep underneath him, and think he is transferring weight to his rear - not understanding that ALL he is doing is moving his feet further forward than makes sense in order to make his rider leave him alone.

In riding lessons and shows, it is ultimately all about the rider. Even when the horse is supposedly being judged, the horse is being judged on moving in a way that pleases humans - to include rollkur, or the WP peanut rolling! Or a 2 or 3 year old horse is pushed to spin repeatedly, fast, with a heavy weight on his back, without regard to how that affects his body. I've yet to see a horse, on his own, spin around again and again. I've seen a horse on its own slide while stopping, but I'm pretty sure it was accidental.

Jean Luc Cornille argues that false practices tend to dominate shows, that the standards to which a horse is expected to perform ignore the root meaning of what the dressage masters were trying to do. It arguably takes a genius to feel with a precision that allows horses to correctly execute - biomechanically correctly execute - training maneuvers meant to build up the horse's body, but that done incorrectly tear it down.

Somewhere on his website ( Gestures verses Energy ), he argues that a horse faced with this lack of genius in his rider responds in a way that increases effort, pain and likelyhood of injury, effectively pretending to do X. And the buffoon on his back, and the buffoon in the judge's stand - my description, not his - is happy, because they are trying to do the very difficult without the understanding and feel required to do it right!

That is why I reject the idea of a rider performing a turn on the horse. I think true horsemanship, at least for those of use who are not geniuses, consist of presenting the horse with graduated challenges, and letting the horse figure out how to perform them.

How do I turn a horse? I ask him. Sometimes with a look, and sometimes with moving the reins sideways a little further up his neck than where they normally rest. And my horse then takes care of the turn. That will never win him an award in reining, or WP, or dressage. But it recognizes that the horse is alive!

A quote from Ray Hunt then applies:

"There's a purpose and a meaning behind each thing you ask the horse to do."

A horse will do a lot just to please his rider. I often ride Bandit in our little arena. But ideally, I want the context to teach the horse. A horse turning back and forth between cactus (or trees, or shrubs, or rocks, or following a path that does so) understands what we ask because it makes sense to him. Like a word we don't know can have its meaning deduced from the surrounding context, the horse learns that we ask him to do things that make sense because they DO make sense! And then the horse learns that the monkey on his back is smart, and worth listening to!

And when the horse does stuff because it makes sense to him, he also figures out how to do so most efficiently. Maybe not TRULY the MOST efficiently. Jean Luc Cornille argues a horse who has learned how to do X adequately will stay at that level by habit - just as humans do.

But since I do not understand my horse's motion, because I am NOT a genius and refuse to pretend otherwise, I think the best way to improve the horse's motion is then to offer increasing levels of difficulty, until the horse needs to break his habit pattern in order to achieve the goal. And at some point, when a horse does what you would like him to do adequately, safely and cheerfully - just how much "improvement" do we need?

Long rant, which is why I moved it here. Some people would tell me that if I don't rebalance my horse with a half-halt regularly, even constantly, that means I suck at riding. I honestly feel the opposite. If someone is trying to micromanage their horse so intently, and gives the horse so little freedom to explore that the horse NEEDS to be rebalanced by a human before a turn - then THAT rider sucks!

Caveat: Given how fast a horse can move, and how fast they can turn, a rider can get a turn that would flip the horse. We do sometimes need to give the horse some warning. But if we have taught the horse correctly, the horse will still get the job done safely. I've watched Mia, without a rider, fall at high speed when scared and running mindlessly. But I think we would all agree running mindlessly is not the goal of a good rider - but it is something we sometimes need to handle!

Because here is a truth Mia taught me, drilled into me, early on - a horse who wants to turn can turn far faster than I want to experience, and do so with maybe 1/10th of a second of self-induced rebalancing! Mia and Bandit both can turn with a speed and violence that darn near rips me out of the saddle, and do so starting from a relaxed, extended, uncollected walk.

Applying a sequence of cues to control the horse's motion may be good riding, but teaching the horse to control himself and respond to your wishes because it makes sense to do so is, IMHO, good horsemanship! Because:

The horse is alive!

< / rant >


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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #575 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
Maybe we need to set up an organization that educates biking clubs as to how to share the trails with horses.
Already done for motorcycle and likely bicycle also. Pull off the trail, stop, turn off engine, pull off helmet.

Problem is too many yahoos get full of adrenaline and just don't care.
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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 #576 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 02:50 PM
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I don't know about all that, bsms. It's a lot of info to digest

I used to show dressage, on a very low level, and I know that there's a lot of 'pushing and shoving' going on, and the horse trying it's best to fill in, and a huge dependence on equipment. but it's not horrible. most of those horses lead a pretty good life.


my experience listening to Charlie Snell talk about wanting the horse 'to take us somewhere' was an eye openner. I don't know how to describe how this differs from someone 'making' a horse go over there'. there's just something that is more acceptable to the horse. I think that when you MAKE a horse go somewhere, and you definitely can do this, you make his body move somewhere, but his mind is somewhere else. that 'shcism' feels bad to the horse. jsut as they feel bad when a human is emotionally split from their actions, is, in effect, faking it.

but, back to the hrose . . . . when you ask the mind to go somewhere, and you then ask the feet to go there, too, it's very easy and the horse feels better about the going there, since HE has , in effect , committted to it and it becomes his decision.

it's not all like jsut saying , 'pretty please, go that way'. you still control the horse and use your body to 'make' him do things. but it's more like you make your intention clear to him, until he joins his intention with yours, and he takes you somewhere.

the slight difference, is that in as much as possible, you don't force him to go somewhere until his mind IS ready and wanting to go there.

obviously, in high speed situations you cannot do this. but, while building a connection with the horse, you do have time to work slow and 'tease' him into having his intention line up with your own.

yesterday, out riding, X was particularly baulky. Five or six times when coming to a fork in the trail, he refused my request to take the one that added time to our ride. he knows the way home. he wanted to go home. I did not allow him to turn for home, but I did not get harsh, nor swat him. I continued to keep using the rein, my hand, my arm pointing, offering a door that way, to keep channeling my intention down the fork I wanted us to go. I looked for his mind to consider the possibility of going that way, and when I saw his eye and ear go that way, I added a bit of leg to energize HIS legs to take that door and go there , with me. I did not try to move his legs while his mind was still locked in going the other direction.
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post #577 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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In your post, @tinyliny , you wrote:
.
"...my trainer, her mentor. and folks that have worked together and descending from Ray Hunt, and then Harry Whitney, have a viewpoint that is simply not commonly seen out there.

they are extremely careful not to try and quantify this teaching, and in any way organize, or systematize, in such a way that it no longer can offer the perspective that is simply absent from the vast majority of online trainer or horsemanship gurus.

this idea is that the horse has a mind, . . he /she has feelings, and any training that does not take that in to account will be missing in a fundamental element of true horsemanship, through feel. " - boldface mine
.
That boggles my mind, yet I do think it is an uncommon approach. But take another look, and think about what you wrote:

"this idea is that the horse has a mind, . . he /she has feelings, and any training that does not take that in to account will be missing in a fundamental element of true horsemanship"

What in the world do we do that results in it being unusual, "not commonly seen" and "absent from the vast majority of online trainer[s]", "this idea is that the horse has a mind, . . he /she has feelings..."?

How much more fundamental can you get, to good riding and good horsemanship, than the seemingly novel idea that the horse has a mind and feelings, and that mind and those feelings need to be taken into account when riding him/her?

My wife and I were planning on going for a ride. When I was getting Bandit ready, I found a cut bleeding about 1/4" from the corner of his lips. I didn't have a sidepull with me, and couldn't justify putting a bit on top of the cut, so my wife suggested we take them for a walk instead. Which we did.

We ran into a neighbor who had horses prior to a bad back injury about 5-6 years ago. She wanted to see our horses, and we ended up talking while Cowboy and Bandit chowed down on weeds. Mustangs are not real particular!

She mentioned she had done most of her trail riding bareback with a hackamore. She also MAY go ride with us sometime. Her back is feeling better and she wants to get on a horse again! She admitted you don't provoke a fight with the horse bareback and miles from home...you work with him. You are in no position, bareback, to do more than "ask, explain, convince" - which is a very different approach to "ask, tell, demand".

It seems to me that "Ask, Explain, Convince" is a way of restating "it's not all like just saying , 'pretty please, go that way'. you still control the horse and use your body to 'make' him do things. but it's more like you make your intention clear to him, until he joins his intention with yours, and he takes you somewhere."

I find I need to limit options I cannot accept (turn and run, for example). Then work out something the horse and I can do together.

But why is that an unusual approach? Another poster, on the same thread and at the same time as the post about horses just wanting to eat, described what she did with horses as "It's his JOB. He can please himself on his own time." (paraphrased). I find that incredibly sad, and I don't care if the person is riding dressage, reining, doing pony express racing, etc. I DO understand it on a ranch, and in an odd way, I think horses understand it on a ranch too. But to ride for pleasure, and say the only pleasure that matters is mine...that takes my breath away. But it seems very common.

I told my daughters that if they would settle for sex, they wouldn't find love. A movie director who will settle for action isn't likely to build suspense. And a rider who doesn't care what a horse thinks cannot then complain about a horse who doesn't think - or care, or try his best.

When Bandit accepts responsibility for accomplishing X - which is how I phrase what I think you are describing - it is heavenly. Then WE do it TOGETHER, and he is bolder and I feel safer and we both take pleasure in having done it together. We don't hit that goal a huge percentage of time. But I cannot now imagine riding toward a different goal...
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post #578 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 04:01 PM
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well, I guess it's not common in training because even without getting the horse's mind on to what you'd like him to think about, even without having his mind and his feet going the same direction, you can still get a horse to do a lot. sometimes, the mind comes along, and there's plenty of times you DO have to get super firm.
but, what these trainers I am talking about do when they get firm, and say, snap a flag noisily, or hit their chaps, or give a firm snap on the line, it isn't so much to force the hrose to do what they said, or to make his choice difficult, but to interrupt the horse's thought so that they have another chance to get the horse's intention to align with theirs. kind of a shake up so you have an open place to try to gently move the horse's thought toward your intention.

maybe they are the same action, but if the person sees the firm / big/ harsh action as the thing that "makes' the horse do the desired action, they loose sight of the small 'ask' that they are shooting for. because they get really firm until the horse , just to run away from this harsh action, does the required thing, thus it appears that the harsh action is needed and affective.

but, if you think of getting firm as a way to interrupt a horse who is geting hard and distant in their thought long enough to access their mind with a soft suggestion, then you keep the goal of the 'ask' paramount in your mind, rather than going straight to the 'demand' because it works so well in getting action from the horse.
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post #579 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 04:49 PM
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I really like the ask, explain, convince! I'll be using that phrase. Plus a bunch of other stuff in both posts.

About the ranch horse though, if there is cattle work to be done, my experience is that there is a less need for directing. The horse knows whats going on and what needs to be done. He likes it and goes for it. I just hang on.
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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 #580 of 1971 Old 11-05-2016, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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I sometimes used a whip with Mia. I never, ever, hit her with it. That would probably have been spectacular, but not in a way I'd like. I used it on my own leg, then she'd snap to...but since I used it about twice a year, I gave it up entirely.

"to interrupt the horse's thought so that they have another chance to get the horse's intention to align with theirs" - @tinyliny

I thought about taking the whip with me, and again try hitting my own leg when Bandit...well, it is as though he gets focused on something and then becomes stuck in that train of thought, with his mind going further away - or, at least, not coming back to me. It would be interesting to see if that "snap" of a whip against my leg would pull his attention away from his fixation, and allow me a second chance to communicate with him. When his attention focuses hard on something, he stops listening at almost all levels.

Not sure how he's been treated in the past, so it also might get a reaction I wouldn't like. If I do, though, it will be more like shouting, "Hey! I'm here! Now let's work together rather than you taking total control..."

"...if you think of getting firm as a way to interrupt a horse who is getting hard and distant in their thought long enough to access their mind with a soft suggestion, then you keep the goal of the 'ask' paramount in your mind..." - @tinyliny

That is a good description of Bandit at times, like when he stood in his corral, staring and not moving 12 inches for over 30 minutes. When he gets stuck, it is like he is in a trance. Getting him unstuck can be a challenge. But the goal is to get him unstuck so we can work together, not to make him, or "demand", anything. "Ask, explain, convince" translates "Ask, Tell, Demand" from a language of obedience into a language of cooperation. You tell and demand a subordinate, if you aren't good at leading. But it is an approaches that destroys friendship and a spirit of cooperation, one that recognizes the horse "has a mind, . . he /she has feelings, and any training that does not take that in to account will be missing in a fundamental element of true horsemanship..."

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