Some hope for those newbie owners with nervous horses - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 05:08 PM
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I think you have done a fine job with your horse! No one size, fits all training. It took me awhile to figure out what works for my OTTB. The old forceful, cowboy way doesn't work with her. She has come a long way from the fearful, nervous horse I got. I'm so proud of her as I know you are of your horse. Keep up the good work!!
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post #12 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 06:06 PM
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"I stopped listening to people and started listening to her and my gut feeling."

That has been perhaps the biggest lesson of my owning horses. Being new, I didn't always understand what she was saying, and my gut instinct wasn't always right, but both seem to have a better track record than theories that are supposed to apply to all horses.

I have often advised others to "Ride the training, not the relationship", but the relationship is a huge part of why I saddle my horse. Our training needs to enable our relationship, not crush it.
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post #13 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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I just want to give you all a big HUG right now!

I completely agree with those of you who mentioned your horse gets even more anxious when certain forms of training are used. My girl is the same way. I tried several forms of training (as recommended here and elsewhere) and stuck with the ones that worked and also the things I kind of found out by listening to her.

It's amazing how much your horse will tell you about herself if you bother to listen. I'm firm but fair, and I correct without holding a grudge. When she acts up, I try to figure out why and then we deal with that 'why'. Sometimes it's a legit issue like the sound of rain banging down on a tin roof she's never heard before that's making her nervous. Sometimes she's just cranky and needs to be reminded that her moods are not an excuse for acting up. I've gotten to the point that I can tell the difference between these things.

I'm proud of myself because I am new to horses and starting late in life. I'm a very good student and want to learn; and then when I do learn and apply my knowledge in a positive way, it makes me feel like a million bucks. I envy those of you who've been doing this for a long time. I wish I could have started sooner! If my experiences can help another newbie, then that's awesome. Having a great relationship with a horse is like nothing else in the world.

Thanks again for the support, y'all. Organdy and I are very grateful. :)
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“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #14 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 06:50 PM
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Sorry bsms, but I have to disagree. I would much rather ride the relationship.

I've had my horse for five years, and used traditional training the whole time. My horse is a fighter, for sure. We made progress, but it was slow and a constant "two steps back, one step forward". Countless trainers and experienced people rode my horse. Some she went better for, others not as much. But every person she has fought tooth and nail. She HATED being confined, being forced, accepting the rider as "supreme God and ruler". I'm sure many of us have encountered horses like this. Common labels are "ornery, stubborn, pig-headed, obstinate, and aggressive".

I started doing Liberty training a while ago, after being inspired by Frederic Pignon and Carolyn Resnick. No one can deny the success they have had, but they don't "force" or "control" the horse. My horse has blossomed since I put down the ropes and took the element of force away. She isn't angry anymore. She is willing, spirited, free, OBEDIENT. Why? Because I have proven, and am still proving that I am a leader to be trusted. That it is much better to look to me, her leader, for guidance than to trust her own judgement. It could be argued that the way of training I follow is to train the horse to follow me as the leader. If this is so, then yes, I ride the training. But in simplest terms, I am really riding the relationship.

Traditional training does work because it is based on routine. Horses like routine, they like what is familiar, and traditional training teaches them how to act with all that is familiar. But when presented with an unfamiliar situation, the horse has no training to fall back on and therefore their own instincts take over. This is why it is much better to teach the horse to trust and follow you as a leader, of their own free will.

I have read a lot on this, and I do have things to reference. However, unfortunately I cannot find the articles at this time, but I can tell you that I am just repeating much of what Carolyn Resnick and Frederic Pignon have said.

Here is a clinic that Frederic Pignon did, really the only video of a clinic I can find:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThRdC4iOOCs

If I can find the article that I was thinking of by Carolyn Resnick, I will post it back here.

Anyway, my point, I prefer to ride the relationship.
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post #15 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 07:32 PM
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I'm so happy for you!

It just takes the time it takes.
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post #16 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecasey View Post
I just want to give you all a big HUG right now!

I completely agree with those of you who mentioned your horse gets even more anxious when certain forms of training are used. My girl is the same way. I tried several forms of training (as recommended here and elsewhere) and stuck with the ones that worked and also the things I kind of found out by listening to her.

It's amazing how much your horse will tell you about herself if you bother to listen. I'm firm but fair, and I correct without holding a grudge. When she acts up, I try to figure out why and then we deal with that 'why'. Sometimes it's a legit issue like the sound of rain banging down on a tin roof she's never heard before that's making her nervous. Sometimes she's just cranky and needs to be reminded that her moods are not an excuse for acting up. I've gotten to the point that I can tell the difference between these things.

I'm proud of myself because I am new to horses and starting late in life. I'm a very good student and want to learn; and then when I do learn and apply my knowledge in a positive way, it makes me feel like a million bucks. I envy those of you who've been doing this for a long time. I wish I could have started sooner! If my experiences can help another newbie, then that's awesome. Having a great relationship with a horse is like nothing else in the world.

Thanks again for the support, y'all. Organdy and I are very grateful. :)
yay ecasey! So glad you have discovered the art of listening to your horse. Really, "horse whispering" is more about listening than it is about whispering. God Bless you as you continue training!
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post #17 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horseluvr2524 View Post
Sorry bsms, but I have to disagree. I would much rather ride the relationship...

...My horse has blossomed since I put down the ropes and took the element of force away. She isn't angry anymore. She is willing, spirited, free, OBEDIENT. Why? Because I have proven, and am still proving that I am a leader to be trusted....

...But when presented with an unfamiliar situation, the horse has no training to fall back on and therefore their own instincts take over...

....Anyway, my point, I prefer to ride the relationship.
Hmmmm...Mia likes me, she trusts me...and she can forget I'm even on her back at times. OTOH, Trooper doesn't like me much, thinks I'm a jerk...but he'll go where I tell him to go.

A well-trained horse will go where he is told to go with a rider he hasn't met before, while a poorly trained one may not go with one he (or she) has known for years and likes. That doesn't mean I beat the tar out of Mia, but it does mean I'm working on training her to go where she is told to go and stop when she is told to stop. A curb bit has helped enormously with the latter, and being able to stop her when she is scared has helped a ton in getting her over her fears.

I cannot whip her hard enough to make her go forward if she is genuinely afraid, but that doesn't mean she gets to call it quits any time she feels like it. I need to read her, and push her beyond her comfort zone but not so far that she melts down with fear. In the end, I want her to obey for ANY rider, including my daughter and my wife. When presented with an unfamiliar situation, the horse needs to know that doing what the HUMAN - not my best friend, but the generic human on my back - wants is what will keep him safe and sound.

A pro trainer with more experience would get to that point much faster than I can. I can't read a horse well enough and I don't have the confidence, physical ability and facilities to push her hard enough and regularly enough to make fast progress. But I wouldn't give two hoots in Hades for a horse who needs a 'relationship' with a rider in order to go, stop, turn and be ridden safely.

I define training as repeated obedience to a cue until that obedience is so habitual it will happen regardless of fear, mood or rider. If it doesn't, the horse is not trained. For safety, ride the training, not the relationship. But it is possible to conduct the training without destroying relationships in the process.
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post #18 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 09:15 PM
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Good for you Ecasey. Doesn't it feel good when we excel and make improvements with our horses no matter how small it may seem.

I too have a spooky, reactive horse, Vegas (my appy). He use to spook at everything. He was also buddy sour. It was hard getting him very far from his friends. Now I can saddle him up, drape my reins across his saddle and say follow me. I don't have to lead him with a rope, but I still do most of the time. I can take him out in a lush green field of grass and he won't eat unless I say it's OK. Now if he see me coming he meets me at the gate. I don't consider myself his leader, but his partner. When we're out on trails sometimes I let him cruise and take me where he wants to go. I talk to him while riding and he acts like he's listening. He don't do this for everyone though. He still have his moments where he spooks but I work him through it.

Then there's Casey, my draft. I couldn't get him to stand at the mounting block for mounting. Working him away from it and letting him rest near it wasn't working. When I was about ready to give up and go get help with this, I decided to stand on the mounting block lunge him around it. He stopped and rested right in front of it. I leaned on his back, got on and off several times. It worked after only 1 time of me doing this.

What works for 1 horse may not work for another. All are not the same and sometimes we have to try different things until we finds what works. I am very very much a beginner and is not a trainer. I do my research and try to learn as much as I can. I have trainers available if I need help.

Ecasey, be proud of yourself and Organdy. No matter how small it may seem to someone else, progressing 1 step forward is more rewarding than taking 2 steps backwards.
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post #19 of 32 Old 07-04-2014, 09:20 PM
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Ecasey, that's wonderful news. So glad you're getting along better with your girl and she's finally got that drafty temperament going on . Continue to take things at your own pace. It doesn't matter how long it takes, so long as she keeps getting a little (or a lot) better every time you handle her, then you're on the right path.
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post #20 of 32 Old 07-05-2014, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Hmmmm...Mia likes me, she trusts me...and she can forget I'm even on her back at times. OTOH, Trooper doesn't like me much, thinks I'm a jerk...but he'll go where I tell him to go.

A well-trained horse will go where he is told to go with a rider he hasn't met before, while a poorly trained one may not go with one he (or she) has known for years and likes. That doesn't mean I beat the tar out of Mia, but it does mean I'm working on training her to go where she is told to go and stop when she is told to stop. A curb bit has helped enormously with the latter, and being able to stop her when she is scared has helped a ton in getting her over her fears.

I cannot whip her hard enough to make her go forward if she is genuinely afraid, but that doesn't mean she gets to call it quits any time she feels like it. I need to read her, and push her beyond her comfort zone but not so far that she melts down with fear. In the end, I want her to obey for ANY rider, including my daughter and my wife. When presented with an unfamiliar situation, the horse needs to know that doing what the HUMAN - not my best friend, but the generic human on my back - wants is what will keep him safe and sound.

A pro trainer with more experience would get to that point much faster than I can. I can't read a horse well enough and I don't have the confidence, physical ability and facilities to push her hard enough and regularly enough to make fast progress. But I wouldn't give two hoots in Hades for a horse who needs a 'relationship' with a rider in order to go, stop, turn and be ridden safely.

I define training as repeated obedience to a cue until that obedience is so habitual it will happen regardless of fear, mood or rider. If it doesn't, the horse is not trained. For safety, ride the training, not the relationship. But it is possible to conduct the training without destroying relationships in the process.
Haha, I knew you would disagree with me but that's ok just stating different views! I mean we also disagree on trail riding in the desert: I hate it, you love it

Do you need to have a close relationship with a liberty trained horse to safely ride it? no. The point is that through liberty training, we are teaching the horse to trust and follow humans. However, just as in the herd, there is a pecking order, and you must be able to place yourself as the leader. A liberty trained horse is taught, or rather us humans are taught, as he himself willingly follows the person as an established and trusted leader. It is the humans job to know how to become that leader. I think we all can agree that no matter how well trained a horse is, he will test a rider who doesn't know as much as the more experienced person. This is because the experienced rider has a strong countenance about them, the "air of a leader", which the beginner has not yet gained. Leaders lead with CONFIDENCE. So your other horse may not like you, but you probably have a leader's countenance when you ride him, so he respects you and listens to you. Possibly, you may not have this when riding Mia as fear takes over from previous bad experiences. Now remember, I said POSSIBLY, which means I don't really know because I've never seen the two of you work together, so don't go getting mad at me ok?

The problem I have with your definition of training bsms is that when the horse does not have a leader aboard, when he has not learned to trust and follow this leader, instincts take over in an unfamiliar situation. It is impossible to expose a horse to every situation they will ever encounter and get an established conditioned reaction in every one. So the horse must know that he can turn to his leader's direction, who can calm him with a touch of his hand and voice and say "It's ok, I'm the leader, it's not going to hurt you, we're moving on." This is the end goal of liberty training-for you to understand your horse and your horse to understand you. Clear communication, and a horse that is willing to work with you. That wants to be with you. A horse like this will go through hell and back for you. I've seen it myself-and not just through liberty trained horses. It's those riders who know how to be a confident, calm, effective leader, and they don't have to beat their horses to get that. Their horses will go anywhere, and do anything for them.

The whole point of liberty training, well one of the points, is to get the horse to trust humans, period. But for the horse to trust you, you have to know how to lead. You have to know what you are doing. Let me give an example:

You go to the Grand Canyon and are going to hike. You have a choice between two guides. The first guide says "well, I think we take this trail, but I'm not really familiar with the area. I'm not quite sure how to get there. But I think this is the way we go." The second guide says "I KNOW this is the way we go. This trail will take us up there, and then around there, and then to point B. I'm not all that familiar with the trails, but I've looked at the map and hiked a lot of places, so I can be a good leader." The lesser of two evils, who would you choose?

So I have to ask: has Trooper ever spooked? who does he behave better for? does he behave the same way, every time, in a robotic programmed manner, for every person? When we were looking at horses for my mom, we went to see a highly trained (HIGHLY, this horse could do just about everything, drove, dressage, western, english, trails, etc.) older andalusian gelding. He gave my beginner mother trouble, she didn't know what she was doing. He did not give me an inch of trouble, and I didn't have to beat him to get that respect. He recognized me as a leader by the way I rode, the confidence I had in my cues and the calm collected manner I kept my energy and emotions. Horses are emotional animals. Working with them is an emotional experience. As much as we would like to, we cannot completely rule out emotion. So we must know how to control our emotions, in order to help the horse understand us. If we want to gallop, we need to get our adrenaline going, get hyped up, "let's go, let's go!" All of a sudden, your horse will want to gallop. If we want our horse to calm down, we need to calm ourselves. Liberty factors in all of this, and then additionally strives to connect with the horse on a deeper level.

I have made more progress in a few weeks of liberty training than I have five years of traditional. This is because I am learning how to be a leader for my horse, she is recognizing me as a leader, and I am learning how to understand her. I have recognized her as another animal, another being, capable of thoughts, feeling, and emotion. I no longer expect her to act in a robotic conditioned manner, not that she ever did. I expect her to act like the emotional, intelligent animal she is and show her feelings. And then I lead by letting her express these emotions, keeping my energy and emotions in check (are my emotions saying what I want them to) and keeping a leader's confidence.

All of it sounds very mushy and feely touchy, I know. That's what I thought too. At first I said "what's all this energy crap?" and then I discovered how directly our energy and emotions influences the horse. If I didn't want to be out, she didn't want to work. If I was playful, she was playful. If I was calm, she was calm. If I was tense, she was tense.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. BTW I do agree with you that training should further, not hinder the relationship.
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