If a horse wants to look at something it's scared of, do you let him? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 10:24 AM
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It's interesting to see a lot of different answers to this!

I'm kind of against the whole "never look at what's scaring them" thing. I guess it would depend on the horse (and the person) but if my mare starts really staring at something, I'll take a glance, and then look away and continue on my business like usual. I've played around with it with my mare and tried a lot of different things, and what works best with her is for me is to acknowledge that she might be a little iffy about something, and then continue on my way, which seems to reassure her that, okay, not a big deal, let's move on. I feel personally that a solid leader would pay attention to the others fears, and by looking themselves and dismissing it, they're also dismissing the need to be afraid.

She doesn't spook heavily very often, but when she does I move her feet until she's calmed down, and then she usually wants to investigate on her own anyway, which I let her do within reason. If she were a panicky bolting mess I'd probably do things differently, but that's what works for my mare and there's not much she's afraid of. (She likes to chase loud moving machinery. Go figure.)
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post #32 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
...It means dis engaging those hips, as per video

When a horse stops, head up, staring, he is focused on that object, not on you. Some horses might not escalate beyond stopping, but many others, it is the first step in taking an 'executive decision, because that is an inborn instinct to a horse , as a prey animal...

...Thus, first step that I use, is to ask them to give me their face and lower their head-this is a ;calm down cue, versus head up and staring, which is flight mode...
It depends on the horse. Good luck getting either Mia or Trooper (our Steady Eddie horse) to lower their heads if they are concerned about something. And good luck disengaging the hip, too.

You cannot make the horse do anything. You can influence the mind of the horse, which in turn CONTROLS the feet...but you do not control the feet.

How do you influence the mind? Again, it depends on the mind. Another horse going on might give one confidence, but will have no effect on a different horse. One horse can be urged forward. Rider confidence can help, or not - I've had Mia whip into a 180 without warning, when I was completely calm & relaxed & enjoying the ride.

Part of the key is to understand that no one method works with all horses, and that they are the ones with feet on the ground. A horse can ignore a curb bit, like many say. Yet many of those who assume the horse WILL ignore a curb bit then assume the horse will obey leg or balance. Me? If my horse isn't ready to listen to a bit, she sure as heck isn't going to be impressed by my balance or leg nudges! If she is past listening to a bit, then she isn't going to lower her head in response to a bit cue.

One needs to get inside their minds, to update James Fillis' terminology. You need to accept the horse as an individual, and learn what makes THAT HORSE tick.

If Mia gets worried, keeping her facing down track and waiting will eventually result in her taking a step. Then another. After 1-5 minutes, she'll be walking again. Once she has walked past something a few times, without pressure, she accepts it. And each time she accepts something, she makes a tiny step toward assuming her rider knows what he is doing.

But apply any pressure, and she remembers it as a terrifying event - one that was truly bolt worthy!

Trooper would be better off if you turn him away, go back 50-100 feet, then turn him forward again. Keep him busy, and he will relax. Keeping him facing the right direction will lead to him locking up - rigid. So what works very well with Mia doesn't work at all well with Trooper.

The theme of James Fillis's training was summed up in the word "Forward"...but he accepted that different horses needed to learn forward in a different way. There is no more one right way to train a horse than there is one right way to raise a kid. You have to work with the individual.
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post #33 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 11:11 AM
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YES. Curiosity replaces Fear.

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post #34 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
I'm very interested in the above quote and would like to hear/learn more about it, examples history and so on. I'm interested enough that I almost used it as the title to a new thread for a full discussion of it.

I decided to leave it here since it's very much on topic.
First, I guess I better clarify my interpretation at looking at something.
First, of course I let a horse look at stuff, riding along, but this is different than a horse stopping, without being asked to , staring at something-head up and tense

In the wild, horse survived using their keen senses and an instinct to react first, if they were not sure of something that looked suspicious, get some distance away, and then look back to try and understand if that object was a threat or not
The horse that delayed to long, without fleeing, often became 'dinner'
Thus, a horse that balks on the trail, stopping on his own, head up to stare at something, is programed for his next natural step, to leave
If you allow that horse to stop and stare, then why should that horse look to you for that next step? He is set up to follow his instincts and leave!

Getting into a horse's head, is certainly not convincing him that you have 'bit power' Getting into that horse;s head, means he learn sto come back to you, trust your judgement as leader, and thus over ride his natural inborn reactions, or at least dampen them, tot he point he pauses, then continues on when you convey it is safe, or learns to spook in place, or even has a good genuine spook, but doe snot try to spook and bolt
In other words, the horse learns that you as leader, are watching out 'for those lions', so he does not have to. That is getting into the mind of a horse. When you get this un conditional trust, it is quite wonderful

I will give another example of this. I was riding my gelding home, in the fall, along a road that leads up from the river. We came upon a bull moose standing on the other side of the fence, being stupid as a bull moose can be,while in rut. My gelding looked like a possible mate to him!
Einstein stopped, then looked back at me, as if to say 'now what?'
I knew trying to run by him might be a mistake, thus I decided to bluff him
I had a coat tied on the back of my saddle, took it off, and waved it wildly while yelling, asking Einstein to charge that moose. Without questioning me, my horse did as asked and Mr bull moose fell for my bluff and left

I also know my horse has a better sense than I do, thus it he stops and looks at something ahead, that I am not aware of, that is way different that a horse stopping and staring at what I know is a rock, refusing to move forward
I ride in grizzly bear country, and have come across grizzlies, that fortunately, were as happy to see the last of me, as I was of them
Riidng a long once, where it had been logged, and trees were growing back that were a few feet high, my horse suddenly stopped, and I saw a big brown back, that I thought at first was an elk. Head came up, and I saw it was a grizzly. My horse did not try to bolt, bear left, and we continued on without any hesitation.
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post #35 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 11:41 AM
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Far as controlling the feet, and mind, that bits don't control horses, and that going to a'bigger bit', is the wrong approach, this article explains it very well

This statement from the above article:

Bits Do Not Control Horses

We control the body by controlling the feet….and we control the feet by controlling the mind and emotions.
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post #36 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 11:45 AM
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In case nobody wants to read that entire article, I think this part explains very well well the natural self preservation that is the foundation of that horse balking and staring, and then how respect and trust, not a bit, over rides that instinctive reaction;

Trust – Respect - Communication

Notice that I put Self Preservation above all else and in bold block letters. That is because nature put it above all else in the horse's DNA. There is nothing that we can do to change that fact. When a horse becomes confused, frightened, excited, threatened, etc., he automatically switches from being left brained to right brained and Self Preservation kicks in. The need for fight or flight comes from his right brain. Logic goes right out the window when the switching of brain sides occurs. This is who he is as a prey animal and his very existence relies on Self Preservation being the number one thing in his life.

The first responsibility that falls on the human is Trust . It is the essential building block that all horse/human relationships, and partnerships, are built upon. Before anything else, a horse must first have to trust you to truly give of himself and ignore his instinctual Self Preservation .
The second responsibility that a human has to shoulder is earning Respect. Now there are a lot of similarities between Trust and Respect when dealing with a horse. The two almost have to go hand in hand. If you stop and think about it, you really can't have Trust without having Respect . They each are byproducts of one another. First a horse has to learn to Trust you. You earn the Trust by teaching him that, as his leader, you will not lead him into harm nor abuse him. His best care is in your hands. With this, he learns to Respect you. The more he Respects you, the more he will Trust you…and the more he Trusts you, the more he will Respect you. It takes TIME (training principle #1) to earn and create a relationship built on Trust and Respect…however...it literally only takes about 2 seconds to completely destroy the Trust and Respect and thereby destroying the relationship.

The last responsibility that humans must shoulder is Communication . I find that in most cases, problems occur when there is a break down in Communication between horse and human. I will tell you in plain English right now that when it comes to miscommunication it is always the human's fault. We tend to be rather ego-centric and almost demand that every being understand our spoken language, intent, body language, thoughts, emotions, etc. Somehow we expect all to conform to human way of understanding. But horses don't think like we do. It is we humans who need to change our thought processes in order to better Communicate with horses.

Self Preservation

Truly, if horses never lie,
then this is proof that...
BitsDO NOT control horses !!!
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Last edited by Smilie; 03-16-2015 at 11:51 AM.
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post #37 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 11:55 AM
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So much depends on the situation and where you are
A horse that stops is more likely to spin and bolt away so keeping them moving forwards is usually the best way to deal with the scary stuff
Unless you were in an arena or wide open space there's be little room to start riding circles etc
I don't mind the horse looking at the monster as we go past and I don't mind them giving it some space - minimizing reaction is the way to go
If we were on a busy road then I'd rather have the horse pointing towards the scary thing and going sideways but forwards than towards the traffic and bolting into it
I don't like rushing a horse past a scary thing because that can also encourage bolting in the other direction - either way its running away from it
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post #38 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 12:08 PM
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Ok, here's the deal with Hondo. He does stop occasionally to look. I will often look to where he's looking and see some deer or cattle. Sometimes not. In either case I'll say, "It's ok buddy, lets go". He accepts and goes on. He doesn't really balk.

But here's the problem. A few times, unexpectedly and out of the blue, he has done an instantaneous 180 degree turn and bolted into a full out run. All of the times were when walking along except once when he was drinking from a stream.

I always got him stopped within 50-100 feet and never fell off except once when bareback. He stopped that time and hid behind a large bush and was peeking out from behind it at me. He allowed me to walk right up.

So when I read about a connection between balking/stopping and bolting my ears went up. I am an inexperienced rider and his flights of terror are potentially dangerous to m. I have never known what caused them except once when two horses in front of me braced when three dogs jumped into the middle of a bunch of geese. Rather than brace Hondo said I'm outta here. Stopped him, turned him, hey buddy it's just birds, and we were on our way.

Comments on Hondo's flights?

What would Xenophon say?
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post #39 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 01:07 PM
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any time a horse gets "stuck" in his body or feet, there's trouble coming. pressure builds up behind that dam, and it's going to burst someway, somehow. that's one reason why trainers, working a horse on a line or a round pen, focus so much on having the horse move his feet; because they don't want a horse to freeze and get stuck, because he'll "break out" big.
a horse that does this freeze, build up pressure, then explode is dangerous, and the approach would be to get the horse to always be releasing that pressure, by moving his feet , but where the human wants them moved.

So, maybe you can approach Hondo's freezing up by getting him started moving his feet as soon as you feel him getting worried and starting to mentally leave you. the movement might not be huge, but having him move some may help him let off enough anxiety to keep from bolting. if you can't push him forward, move him sideways, back and forth. he gets some relief from the pressure, but he is not allowed to turn fully away and flee.

I used to ride a horse that would regularly do the 180 degree turn, instantaneously.he didn't usual bolt, but he did the whirl. eventually, I was no longer confident enough on him to push him forward with enough leadership for him to look to me when worried.
the problem was that he would do this without giving me any warning that he WAS worried. so, I had no chance to step in and up my leadership demands, and get him moving his feet. he'd jsut be trotting along, then BAM! facing the opposite direction, with me on the ground at his feet.

it's a catch 22, becuase he needed more confident leadership, but his sudden spins , unseating me 5 times, were cutting my ability to provide that leadership.

part of the issue with a spinner/bolter, as per my trainer's thought, is that the horse is very stiff in the body. there is a rigid, board-like way of moving, so that the DO freeze up, and when they DO move, it's a whole body movement, without much bend in the body, they swing 180 like a gate on hinge.

so, having the horse soft in the body is really important.
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post #40 of 82 Old 03-16-2015, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by beau159 View Post
Regarding the statement in question: "A balky horse has the ability to turn into a bolter in a blink of an eye"

I think there is a big difference between a horse who likes to look at things, versus one who freezes up and let's the "flight" response take over.

I would agree that a horse that balks or freezes due to a scary stimuli, can very easily turn into a bolter. But again, there is a difference in a horse that likes to stop and simply look at something, then one that has "frozen". One still has the thinking side of their brain working, while the other has gone into predator-prey mode.
I don't think the OP can be answered simply by "Yes" or "No", because every horse and every situation is different. I do a lot of trail riding so I tend to think more of situations that can happen on the trail rather than in a ring. The horses that I ride encounter wildlife and things like plastic bags or a brightly colored handkerchief on the trail that gets their attention.
My mare was broke as a two year old then neglected for six years so she is very green. She sees everything out of the ordinary on the trail but remains focused on me. Things on the ground she gets to check out ONCE and will step right over the next time. With things a distance away, she will process and keep moving if I ask her to
I have ridden the other type to. The ones that freeze up (their next step is to spin around or bolt). These horses are not even thinking about checking the scary thing out. They are in instant flight mode.
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