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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so, the story is, we can't afford to take on any more horses long term ATM, but I believe Darcy has been up to the challenge of training his own horse for a while now & desperately wants to. So I had a bright idea, that perhaps it would be helping out a brumby sanctuary I know of, to take on an unhandled(or very little handled) beast, train it, then give it back, saddle trained, for them to rehome(knowing she's very caring about who her horses go to).

So we went to see her last week and she said she had some brumbies that were 'run'(as in, chased, roped, caught aggressively, so rather more worried about being 'pushed' & about people in general than passively trapped or in total ignorance of people) and that these guys, after some 'hard work' in the round pen, could be haltered & petted, but every time she went out to them, they behaved the same as the first time she met them - she'd have to 'convince' them to be caught. Every single time. We drove one of these from their paddock into the round yard and Darcy went in to make friends.

While I've had little chance to use an actual round pen, I do use a sort of non-threatening, low key form of 'Join Up' type affair, which Darcy has learned from me. I know that more 'forthright' methods work to get a horse caught, and have used them in the past. I just want a better *attitude & emotional response* than you tend to get with 'confrontational' methods. I think it depends on the 'stage' the horse is at & how they are emotionally, as to how much 'pressure' you put on them, and at the very beginning, (esp with a horse who's already quite nervous of people & being chased) I think it's best to use very little.

So, at first, it was just a lot just directing a tiny bit of pressure at the horse whenever he wasn't facing Darcy, then a lot of standing around, being non-threatening when the horse was 'facing up'. That went well & it didn't take long at all for the horse to learn to just stand & focus on Darcy.

Then he started approaching & retreating, little bits at a time. To start with, when he could walk 1' towards the horse & horse didn't start to leave, he'd retreat, before repeating. And he put a small amount more pressure on horse when he did leave, making that the more uncomfortable option, but not enough to cause him to do more than a slow trot, and rewarding the horse by quitting any pressure whenever the horse looked/stopped. Darcy also picked grass from outside the roundpen and dropped some on the ground just before 'retreating', which the horse was impressed about! It took nearly 20 mins before Darcy was about 1' away from the horse & he was standing wary but not wanting to leave, and took the first bit of grass from his hand, before Darcy 'retreated'.

The owner had been standing watching, saying nothing, except for to me, 'he's given him grass! - they have to EARN it to get any from me!' But by this time, obviously patience had left the building. She started saying 'you need to be more forceful & stop walking away from him.' And 'push him! Right now! Harder! No, don't stop now!' and 'No more grass! He's got to let you get that halter on before you give him a reward.' Things started going to pot then, as the horse got confused & upset about Darcy's suddenly confusing behaviour, and Darcy started being unsure of himself too.

Then she said she would come in & show Darcy how it's done. As soon as the woman went in, the horse began to prance. She got 'big' & he cantered around, before 'asking' if he could face her. At which point she said 'he is not allowed to call the shots' & pushed him harder for it. Well, you probably know the story, it didn't take her too long to have the horse standing quivering, allowing her to walk up & touch his nose. Then she walked out & told Darcy that's how he should do it. And he did try, but between not agreeing with when/how hard to 'push' and with not being at all practiced at that approach, he didn't do well, and the horse wouldn't let Darcy approach closer than 1' from the middle without moving off after that. The woman said he couldn't quit until the horse 'Joined Up' properly & Darcy could catch him. But after another half hour, with both Darcy & the horse quite agitated, I told them we had to leave.

So... standing on the sidelines, I was mostly biting my tongue, but I did say to her that we tend to have a lower key way of doing stuff, so Darcy's not experienced or comfortable with more force, and told her that the way I'd go about it was probably somewhere half way between her method & what she saw Darcy do. She said that's not using force, and you have to 'demand respect' before you can try to be friends & get their trust. She did say though, she was happy for us to come for a weekend(she wants everyone considering a brumby to spend a weekend meeting & playing with them before she will consider anyone taking one), that she was fine about people having different ways of doing stuff...

But I dunno now... Give me your thoughts please??
 

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“That woman” (and I mean it in “THAT” context) subscribes to “the beatings will continue until the morale improves”. “Beatings” are not always physical.

Her methods sound to go against everything you stand for and have taught your son. I would walk - and - not - look - back, but pray for the horses.

It will not help your son to have to go there and either succumb to her training demands or try to sneak the training methods you taught him into working with the horse.

I was taught to meet the horse half way, when training. If the horse “asks”, our answers should be yes.

The exception to that is when I am brushing or working on them somehow, they decide they’ve had enough and start to walk off. That is when I say “you don’t get to tell me what to do”. Most of the time, I don’t tie my horses for anything - they stand still because a trust has been developed over the years.

THAT woman with the Bumbies is not building trust - she is building fear and creating ulcers from fear of making a mistake. Horses are not “things mechanical” where there is often no +/- room for error - there should be a lot of give and take. I actually want to slap her until her face looks like five fingers worth of sunburn:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Walkin, yeah, my thoughts to a large degree, tho she is in line with most common ideas on 'horsemanship' such as lunging for Respect' and 'make them move their feet' as punishment. I don't think she is cruel per se, and in fact she deeply cares for the horses. Just that she is... a 'normal' horseperson.

And no, I let it go & mostly bit my tongue that first visit, seeing how it panned out, but I have no intention - and I know Darcy has no desire - to do things her way, and I wouldn't be going behind her back, but I believe in telling it like it is - 'we do it this way & if you'd like us to train any of your horses, this is the way we will go about it.' While she said she's happy about 'different strokes', I just wonder how much she means that &... well, it's nearly 3 hours away & don't know if it's worth our time to try.
 

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I would just tell her that you would like to train one and give it back. Although, it would be hard to give it back. Better yet, have her have adopter come to your place to retrieve the animal. I don't think that the stipulation should be that you train exactly like her. Besides,
this is helping her out, not the other way around. Gp get one and bring three months worth of hay with you for the horse.

I honestly think that pen work can be a good thing for horses and it doesn't have to be round. Pushing them away for disrespectful behavior like another horse would, not chasing them around like a predator. There is a difference. I also think that when you are working with a wild animal, trust in humans has to come first before anything else. I can push my horses away for disrespectful behavior and/or get their attention, but they know who I am and what I'm about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah Lori, because she cares, she won't just give her horses to someone without checking them out first. So I highly doubt she'd let the horse be adopted from here either, but that's worth a suggestion. And yes, I'm not against 'pen work' per se, or 'pushing them away', but as you said, I believe, with a wild/frightened animal, trust must come first, and respect must be EARNED. It's not something you can force.
 

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Yeah Lori, because she cares, she won't just give her horses to someone without checking them out first. So I highly doubt she'd let the horse be adopted from here either, but that's worth a suggestion. And yes, I'm not against 'pen work' per se, or 'pushing them away', but as you said, I believe, with a wild/frightened animal, trust must come first, and respect must be EARNED. It's not something you can force.
You can send pics and videos of progress as you live three hours away. That should ease her mind. Plus, they would keep fabulous feet I'm sure.
 

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If it comes down to her way or the highway I agree with Walkin. Take the highway and pray for the horses. You can try explaining that you'd like to try a different way and if she is open to it then you would be welcome to out and work again with one but the condition would be that she would need to allow for the entirety of the exercise without interference. I don't know though that I would be able to trust her not to interfere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks guys. Thanks Caroline for the 'words of support' for Darcy. Yes, we had much discussion on the way home and I ensured he knew that I fully supported his way & felt it was her approach that caused him to 'fail'.

And absolutely, if it's 'her way or the highway', just not going there. But... it's a long highway - devoting a whole weekend & nearly 6 hours driving, just to 'see'... And Lori, she won't let a horse go without us spending the weekend there. Can't blame her for that - I'm a control freak, cos I care, about my horses too!
 

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Is there perhaps another rescue group around that you can look to for potential training horses? Or something equivalent to our SPCA or Humane Society? Unless Darcy has his heart set on a brumby specifically, I can't imagine a rescue not falling over the chance for free training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
^Yeah, there are bound to be other places. For eg. there is another Brumby mob even, just that this place sells it's horses to any old, and I don't support that... That's where 2 of mine came from, after they unloaded unbroken youngsters on a novice client of mine! This is what we had thought would be the best option... until my 'second thoughts' after last week. But we are probably going to give it another chance. Darcy can also work with another horse who's already friendly at least, so he can show the woman what he CAN do, and I might have to just have a play with that other horse myself - show her my way...
 

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I can see both sides.,

When you only have one horse to work on you can spend the time needed for the softly softly approach. When you are trying to work with many then you have to do what is the quickest so you can get to them all.

I worked with many, might not have been feral horses but many were badly handled and very nervous. With a bad one I would often work with them, short sessions, many times a day even if it meant me getting up at 3a.m. to fit them in.
 

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I have always said you will learn something from every trainer you watch or work with, even if what you learn is techniques or methods that you should never use!

A horse can get so anxious that it freezes & will not move. It sounds like that is what you witnessed, and that is not joining up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
^Yes and yes, to both of the above.

I actually told her that, Fox, that I appreciated she didn't have the time to sit around & take as long as it takes, but with a horse like that, I'd personally be inclined to start the session with a chair & a good book! Obviously when I used to train other people's horses, I didn't have that liberty either. Not that I had a round pen anyway. Not that I started many from complete scratch - as in not even friendly, there were 5 from memory, not counting a handful of my own - either...

And yes, Hack, I don't agree with forceful 'round penning', but I have seen... 'assertive' round penning done well(not sure if I could honestly say, when I was doing it years ago it was that wonderful...), but yeah, the horse was only hanging around because he thought it was the lesser of 2 frightening options, IMO. Not 'join up'. She explained that wasn't what she was looking for either, that she'd get that later, after she got the horse 'respecting' her, which had to come first.

At any rate, not meaning to really 'dump on' what she does, was describing it to point out the (big) diff. in our approaches, mindset, principles. Just that 'choosing the better or 2 evils' is not what I want to teach the horse. I think what she did & said was a quite 'normal' kind of approach & attitude(just, with an already more than normally worried/reactive horse). Esp with people like CA being a 'guru' to so many...
 

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In my honest opinion, there is so much more to it than what this lady seems to be preaching... The horse AND person need to have more than just respect for each other, but also trust. Her methods do not suggest that either is being built.
 

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Join up, as shown by a lot of trainers, involves pressure and release apparantly. But, a whole lot more pressure. Even the 'draw' of bring the horse to you is fraught with pressure. Here's what I mean . . .



When I watched a great horseman working with a horse in the round pen, he did some of the 'asking the horse to move', but only when the horse became fixated outside of the pen, mentally. He never ran the horse until it was tired, or was 'begging' to come in. He didint' bend over and 'push' on the horse's hind end to make it face up to him. He asked for movement, until the horse let go of the outward thought, and stopped looking outward for a connection.



Ok, at this point, another trainer would have taken that and backed away, drawing the horse toward him. I've seen it, I've done it. But he didn't do that. He WAITED. He stood still, passive, nuetral. If the horse just stood there, he did not hurry things up by backing away to pull the horse.


I asked why? why not back away and draw the horse toward him. He said becasue when you do that, the horse sort of can't help itself. It is pulled into the vacuum of space you create by backing away. IT isn't fully choosing , willingly , to come to you. IT is responding to an instinctive pull. It is, in effect, responding to a different kind of 'pressure' to act a certain way.


when the horse chooses to come, without the physical draw, the decision make a more profound and lasting effect on the horses likelyhood of choosing to look for the human the next time it is troubled.


takes a lot longer. People almost never have as much patience as horses do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So... update on this, the brumby woman didn't reply to my messages to come up to her anyway, so... dunno if she was having second thoughts too, or...

So I looked up some rescue mobs(within a couple of hours, so closer too) and while a few replied & said they didn't do that, while one said 'sign up for $180 a year & we will then think about it'(!), one got back to me & said she'd love to take me up on it. We went to meet her. Turns out she is a switched on, sensible(unlike many 'rescue people' I've met) woman & I was impressed in her. She has a number of horses who would be good candidates. She talked to Darcy in depth, told him to go into the paddocks & meet some of them(they were in paddocks of 3-4 horses). Then, after telling him the horses in these paddocks all had learned manners around people but she hoped it went without saying to be very careful anyway with food & horses, she handed Darcy a bucket of feed to go share it between a few horses in a paddock. She watched the way Darcy fed it out, established his personal space, etc. She did this a few times. After this, she asked 'well, which horse took your fancy the most?' I said 'oh, I thought you'd want to check out fully how he deals with horses before agreeing. She said she'd seen enough and was very impressed. :loveshower: I am pretty darn impressed with Darcy's way with horses myself, but still get all warm & fuzzy hearing it from others!

So... as Darcy, like me, is a sucker for colours, he chose an 8yo paint gelding, who has been taught to lead, is relatively friendly, but nothing else, since he was rounded up a couple of months ago - funny how some are called brumbies, but some, like this fella, who came from a huge property in SA, are just 'station horses'. We will likely go pick him up next week. I'm so happy for Darcy that I'm able to give him this opportunity!
 
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