Tag Archives: do what needs to be done

Eyes wide open…. Doesn’t mean you are committed, or does it?

Recently I attended an Intro to Clicker Training clinic at my own facilty.  I opened the door to a different picture to expand my  knowledge of it for knowledge sake and for others to  learn and  make choices on their own.  We had a nice group of  ladies and horses/ mini’s in attendance.

I will speak from my perspective only .

First, I want to Thank Sharon Zecchinelli for  enlightening the group with great basics.

From my perspective as a teacher I try to remain open minded to ideas and concepts. When  the topic came up about clicker training on the FB group Vermont Horse Community ,  the conversation lead me to think I should take this opportunity to learn about it, at least for basic knowledge of the concept. The seed was planted and Sharon and I began to set the ball in motion.

Last weekend we had a nice day to gather and learn.

Like everything in building a foundation, timing is everything.

We were each  given a period of some one on one time with Sharon to teach the  target , click, treat  flow. Not as easy as it looks. Timing is everythng! LOL

As we progressed we were asked what we  were here to try and correct. When I was asked I had no asnwer. Turely I was  there to  experience it and learn what I could and IF it pertained to my ideals I would honor it and incorporate  it as it fit per horse/ situation.

I had my doubts as to its uses and certiain issues but, durring the  day I saw some behaviors change and fair enough, if the human stayed true to the concept , as with anything else results would come. Clearly this is a wonderful style of training. I appreciate its finest forms and applaud its advocates.

We all branched off and tested the technique on our own with tasks. I saw some application for liberty work. So off I went On-line first , then  tossed the line  over  Pop’s neck and  tested things at liberty. Pop is a tough nut to crack and it was getting a bit redundant for him. I knew I needed to step it up. Liberty over a barrel – single barrel!

Sure we have done this on-line and  tested/ played with it  at liberty but not in this way. Ill be danged, we got it! It was a great baby step approach to completing this task. My task , should I choose to  go there, will be  to gain distance and flow.

For viirtual visual clarity, I was in a leading position, with my fist as the “Target” . we approached and off he walked and hopped over. No, not the first time, we had a few times on-line with adjustments and corrections to position but in the end  there it was! Fair enough!

I can see  how it might  be of great use in Horse Agility work. Online too but liberty it could play an even bigger  part. In my opinion  a lot depends on  how you choose to reward/release and develop your horse, as well as how far along you are in you foundation development to begin with. Pop and I have quite a history so some of what we already have played  part.

Lots of variables but I truely enjoyed the experience.

What can I say:

This….

I am Committed to learning with eyes wide open, unless you do somethng to make me shut them! 

I am Committed to doing what I feel is right for each horse/human individually  no matter what the “Tide” says.

I am Committed to never pigeon hole myself or any horse I work with. Every one /thing learns differently. I feel as a leader /teacher it is my resposibitly to  know which arrow to pull out for which situation. In order to do that I must have many different arrows!

This clinic gave me good  taste of what  can work, a different arrow . No I cant say ill be a clicker devote, but appreciate what I saw first hand as another  tool to  higher learning.

Bottom line: Never stop learning

A picture speaks a thousand words! And teaching moments!

a split second in time but shows a lot.

Jennifer Kirkman with her wonderful partner Orion.  Jennifer has done a great job with her boy. He  had a few  fear issue , so we chose to play at GMHA casually to explore  what he was about. Water was one thing she said needed work, and  he walked through it , trotted through it, and as you can see in the picture, jumped into it. His willingness was wonderful. What I did note durring the course of our play was  his sensativity and introvertedness. Though big and  ploddy he is very aware of her energy and it doenst take much to get hi to respond. A huge respsosibility  going foreward to not blow him out of the water. Sorry no pun intended. LOL

He gets it just needs more time to process. Dont rush him and  he will be wonderful .

Jen mentioned he is good with things like water when she leads him but going on his own , if she is riding is a different story.

Great teaching point!!!

I see this a lot the confidence is on the ground but not when human is mounted. One way to  develop this from the ground to the saddle  is to begin to have them meet things first and  put yourself in followers position rather than the leaders. This is  including leaving the barn area. Another topic all together!

Lets break the horse into sections  A nose and forward, B neck/ shoulders, C mid section ( saddle area), D hind end, and E everything tail backwards.

What we want to do is begin to guide our horse from section A, normal area, to E.  It is not needed by all to do this especially  from the  rear sections but  if you so desire it to be, then  it is a progression. Nothing wrong with confidence  in all sections.  Driving horses  do this  as thier job. Some horses, non driving , need it to be addressed others  are very tollerant and its never an issue. All depend on  personality and  how they have or have not  been developed.

For Orion and his water:

For Jen to be able to x water aboard him she will need to begin to ask him to step up his part of the bargain and grow in his confidence  step by step.  The water  at GMHA was a  great intro. We crossed   large  streams and stood to play and drink. He ended up taking the lead and  looking for  Jen to come along. This is super.  In the end we  came to the water obstacle seen in photo.

In the picture we can see a split second in time.  Some mixed messages it looks like but being there I can say it was a split second in time. Still a teaching moment taken, Thank you Jen!  To allow  Orion to  do his thing  the  guiding hand( with line) must say and denote the freedom to go.  We see a bit of  a holding  tension in photo. “The door is open this is your route forward” is  a way to think of it.  I beleive the  taughtness was a bit of  negotiating  direction on Jen’s part but still  it is his jump and we need to allow him to make the manuver on his own.  We can move our feet if need be, or let slack out in rope.  we must be flexible when  teaching. Every horse is differnet and  needs  different support styles. Micromanaging will only  get in the way of progress in anything especially  his confidence. Orion, made a wonderful jump down into the water. He  sized it up  all on his own, and when he found his sweet spot  he went. The secret is to give him, them , the time they need  to  think it through and  do it on  thier time.  Rest the encouraging arm and allow with the guiding  one.

Big day for Orion and Jen.  Well Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proud to see them moving on!

Lots of time and thought and emotion has gone into a few select horses who have crossed my path over the last yr. Im happy to say that the last two are readying to move on in their lives with their owners or a new owner.

Support, wisdom and insight can be given only so long and then  everyone needs to step up and out and find how to make it their own. So much potential for  these horses but as not mine I have to also let go and say thank you to them  for lessons learned: Life lessons, horsemanship lessons, and managing humans lessons! the toughest of all.  The horses are the easy part! 

Everyone is on their own journey and  I can see so much more that these humans can gain from these partners they have. Bottom line is, it is not the right time, the students aren’t ready.  This is such a frusteration for me but again a lesson , acknowledging what I know and accepting what is. Tough!

I am very happy to say well done to the horses and best of luck going forward. Never stop teaching  your humans, whomever they may be, especially the hard lessons they really need !

 

 

 

 

Winning friends and influencing horses.

Welcome to an excerpt from my up coming E book !

…..And so began my real journey, Unwrapping “D”

Layer by layer, “My Onion” , as I call her, began to reveal herself to me. How privileged I was. In my opinion she was just passed on owner to owner due to her very pretty head and finer features, but not really seen for who she really was. Im thinking the issues I found, were  what others came across  as well and passed her on rather than venture to help her find her real self. Take the time it took.

I made a promise to her she would never be passed on again. She needed to be grounded and trust, to feel like she belonged. We have a special bond. Not always perfect, sometimes like oil and water, but to me it is special and good. Why? You ask, if its not “Perfect”. You see D is so sensative she can feel you coming a mile away. Read your mind  before you even know your thoughts. I had to do in myself what I knew she needed to do. This is a part of Horsemanship not many promote. It should be!  Im blessed to have linked up with the perfect program to go forward for both of us.

The first witner I had her it took all of a couple months to just get her to relax with me ,or anyone else, for that matter in her personal space. A very big personal bubble. Treats, time and quiet all came together along with my little voice tellng me I needed to find a different way to be with her.

As fate would have it when we moved here we got satalite TV. Now I had horses on TV, how awesome! I began to watch the shows even more so when I knew I needed help, to see who made more sense to me. I had many years, since age 7, of ridng experience. Fox Hunting both as a lay member and as professional staff, hunter paces, eventing , showing , collegiate team riding etc , but something was missing. Innately I knew D needed to trust, so I was on track with taking that first winter to allow her to chill.  Imagine what the “Real” world was saying? Peer pressure, Phooey!

My Missions: How to be with her and have her feel the same trust while riden, and to not be so bracy. Is it Physical? Is it emotional?  Is it Me? ( This is a whole other topic but you do know “most often” it is us.)  These are all questions we should ask when things don’t go right. Follow the journey your horse is laying out for you. I did!  Grow and get uncomfortable. This was not simply a door opening, it was a gate way to a powerful journey,

“Making” her didn’t compute, aside from the fact I wasnt 16 any more. 4 kids and a few growing yrs with kids off from real intence horse time changed my perspecitve. Age begins to enter the picture. Any way, enter my decision to follow the world of “Natural Horsemanship” and what an amazing addition that was to my already well established foundation.

NH filled in so many pieces and allowed me to acknowledge my feelings, good bad or indifferent as well what I felt the horse was relaying. Imagine that taking the horses perspective into consideration. Wow!  This was like the best thing. Now I could acknowledge what I had instinctively done but never spoke of it.

To date I still refer to D as “My Onion” I also call her my monitor. When I’m good with her I’m great with everyone else. I am still peeling back layers on both of us. Even as rescently as the last 6 months or so we have reached a new level of communication and understanding. So cool.

Biggest lesson, you cannot make anything happen, and expect to win friends and infuence horses.

***** Look for more excerpts from the E Book, slated to  launch early summer.

 

Re-naturalizing….

And so it begins, naturally!

Meet and greet

Recently on a FB question asked  about herd dynamics, I got to thinking about some of the answers given. While doing stalls a few days ago I got chatting to

Myself , a usual occurrence, I may add. The topic came up of this question and  I began to answer it  myself,  taking in all perspectives and came up with ,

“Hmm? Can you re-naturalize a horse?”  In turn I posted that question to the FB community and was asked to give my version of what Re-naturalize meant.

So here it goes as it pertains to mainly the Herd Dynamic thought.

Sable View , has been termed by many a sanctuary! Horses and riders come to me, Sable View , misunderstood,  missing puzzle pieces to the  ”Fun” part of being with horses and riding, and horses forgetting how to be a horse.  Honestly I can not tell you what it is but with out a doubt horses here change  regardless of weather they are assigned to work with me or not. There is a great energy here, calm , quiet, and safe.  I try as much as possible to keep  the horses here as natural as possible , integrate the herds, full turn out 24/7 unless bad bad weather.  All this makes a difference right off the bat. The quiet  nature of  what I do and how I do it  permiates and  as much as they can with hands off so to speak, they settle. Some horses by request of owners are mutually worked with. By this I mean owner/ horse  time is spent with me. This is more for the relationship and safety  parts of the puzzle, but still can relate to the herd dynamic as well. Acknowledging, and reading  body language with respect.

I have had horses come in very boldened to humans and so clueless to equine signals its mind boggling.  All I can do is refer back to the Movie “Buck” . No, my experiences were not as extreme, Thank God, but the basic  premise of human error , or lack of  herd socialization as a youngster  jumps to the fore front as reasons.

Why?? Money, production, the prize,  OR maybe a mare dies, or rejected the foal, lots of reason why humans step in but I beleive the error is we  raise them as our “Babies” and not as  a by nature a wild herd animal. Those instincts are still there . All of a sudden  the baby is big and has no manners. Bad news!

I hear all the time, ” I don’t want to hurt him/her”. Or “I don’t want him/ her to not like me”, OMG people, REALLY! Think, in a herd  if they don’t get it by the third signal they get a swift  double barrel , a snaking charge,  and or a chunk taken from them.

Think do we take lip from our kids? I will answer for me, NO! I can tell you , I’m a tough mom, and my kids and I still laugh and  kid around  together all the time. They still love me!  There is a respect that is understood. Boundaries! In herd or house gotta have them!

So, in horse body language and communication, how would the mare correct her foal?   You all can think  through this  and Im sure can see in  your imagination at least the answers , as there are many. And , for as many as there are there are degrees of severity too.

When I have a horse come in with an owner who is fearful, It’s usually the “Oh my Baby ” thing. Fixable once owner gains ground in confidence  as the alpha of  their herd of 2. When it stems to the herd, and not being able to  mingle and find a place without  endangering others , whether it be dominance or submission or shear confusion, (I have seen it to where it would be banishment in the wild, my alpha knows its not  quite right and  will not allow it in ,  entering horse just doesn’t get the idea to keep his place. and ask permission to enter closer, sound familiar!). I begin to think something is missing from its “Natural” development,  social skills.

Enter “Re – Naturalizing” as  I put it. To try to get a horse to be accepted into herd and be aware of  the natural cues after missing the memo is not an easy task. I  am very fortunate to have  for the most part two herds with inter-changable members. So if full integration is not a doable thing, a herd is still an option with less pressure . 2 herds , 2 different energies. With inter-chageable members  I can  slowly  allow my more dominant  members, mare or gelding, to meet and greet, supervised  of course. This is a slow process.

For sure over the fence happens first, and  one on  one time in a private paddock area. I learn a lot from the over the fence time  I carefully watch, as to  how far I can  take the next step and who I can make it with.

In the one on one time I personally am hands off  as  I see the behaviors are not  ”Bullying” but clear and consistent with “Natural selection of a pecking order”.

I will and do make my presence known in the intro process. I feel it is important to let my place in the order of things be very clear.  In the end , the buck stops with me. Among themselves ,  they have their own order, enter human, owner, me , whomever,  a shift should be made to give  acknowledgement and respect with a feeling of comfort and ease.

In a nut shell this is my interpretation of what i call Re-Naturalizing” a horse. It can be taken deeper  in many aspect , but for this post my point was to just give an overview. I look forward to  more posts on this topic. Its unfortunate  they are needed.

 

 

 

 

 

….even if you stand on your head!

What???

Yup , that’s what I tell my students if it gets their horse in a working mode while ridden.

I recall back when I was studying in England for my AI certification I learned so much about riding.  You had to be a part of the barn life , chores etc , have lessons , burst through  comfort bubbles right and left and do this 6 days a week. And on the odd saturday we had schooling shows.

OMG barn work and show in a day, half day actually!… so warm up, NOT!

I had this one horse Biggles, a grey gelding, that I was to show. He was not my charge horse but  we all knew his rep.  Cold backed! Yeah!

Well this day I proved a lot to myself… not how I would do  it now but then I was young,  in college, and dong what I was told. It was a grade and a certificate on the line. Had  a lot riding on my outcome.

No pressure!

So my AM chores were done and I was needing to get to my dressage test time and so  had groomed Biggles early , had to tack up after a quick brush off and yup hop on and yup hang on! HOLY….!!!  well Im still here so it all worked out. Honestly I dont recall if he got me off or not. I know  I had a time with him but  dont think I came off.

I went in and did my test and it was ok.  I dont even remeber my score. I didnt care I just knew I needed to do what I had to do to get him to chill through it.

Muriel Harris was out head master in charge of the program and  she was having a ball with the American style of equitation. I was not  a show rider so it didnt bother me to not look perfect, like  a china doll. She liked me as I was more of a ride by the seat of my pants rider , who hunted and rode a variety of horses in uncontrolled situations,  so I had good instincts , what I call servival instincts! Literally!

Anyway the whole experience of that one Saturday of my time(6 weeks) there was so telling, Obviously as I can still recall the events.  As Muriel told me before I went into my test and durring a lesson after the show…yeah I had to ride him again… and again, and again… she said, ” losen up!!!! I dont care what you look like nor does he , he just  need to be ridden how he needs to be ridden, now get on with it!” She was a no non sense person!

Biggles was a huge  influence on me…. I know why Muriel had me on him  often. She knew I had it in me and she was right . By the time I was done I had him pegged and others as well.

So, comes my attitude of justice. I dont care if you ride on your head if it gets your horse to travel in a fluid forward frame.

I thought of this whole expereince today as I was on route  to teach lessons .  One lady very much uptight to be perfect and had some fear issues etc etc, so I knew I needed to recall on my own past to pull her forward.

I also thought of my own Sarah especially and Popeye who I have  been bringing on as they developed not on my schedule but theirs. I have been serching for a real connection for Sarah and her riding and have made huge progress but deep down know I need to think for myself an acknowledge my little voices.  I have great instruction with my horses, yes i get lessons too! but ultimaltey as I tell my own students it’s your horse and when they, we, are not there it up to you to make it work so make it your own. We cannot be a mirrow image of our instructors, we are not them. We surely can learn from all, lick and chew and use our own minds to make it work and find the puzzle pieces that are missing.

I thought on this and made a dicision as I drove and recorded a reminder on my phone to write this blog about my thought pattern.

**to go with my recurring thought re sarah, its recurring  for a reason. I pride myself in being well educated horseperson , up to date, a good thinker, and listener (especially with my eyes). I instill confidence with ease.

**Im the best judge of my horses and know how to balance things. I needed to remind myself to trust my own expertise, (The Hybrid Method), and just do it! Even instructors are human! We should NEVER forget that…

**Follow their feel and feel my way through.

**Allow a “2 way conversation” to take place.  Allow questions to be asked and anwers to be acknowledged, never ignored.

** Never forget where you came from.

10/24/11 addition!

Got thinking about this and wanted to clarify a bit. I don’t want to promote  not listening to or trying to mimic your, our instructors.  Its how we all have to start and then we develop our own styles. What I do want to promote is this:

My head is saying try something different.  Push a little bit to let her see what it is you are looking for. Dont blow her away by doing too much but go to where she can explore the new frame desired  not only in walk but in trot.

Open hands , closed hands?  Hands to the side and high , or low? soft outside rein to allow the bend , or maybe a more steady feel? Or maybe one way its one way and another its another. Seat position??? How does it effect her if  I move this way? No thats not good, shoulder dives in, how can I correct it? Leg, one or both? don’t stiffen, push sideways, open a hand/ rein(direct), raise a hand? Let the contact go and not play the game of holding her stiffness.

You see this is what I mean. Eventually we are all in our own little world and need to be able to work things out on our own in  our own way., in full conversation with our horses.

Remember to be just in your responses and reward tries.

In the typical english riding world a relaxed back is not advocated, but if it gives the feel to the horse of release and they do  then DO IT!

Who cares?  Your horse! The only one who should really matter!!

I hope this makes sense. It took me a long time to get so I saw and accepted the “holes” in the most vested of my foundations methods and sought to fill those holes with other methods in order to find harmony and the best communication per horse, not to mention body awareness.

Now with each of the three main methods I encompass in my work with horses, I can confidently say I have the bases covered. What ever might be missing , needs a tweak, Ill stand on my head! 

So go ahead and “Stand on your head!” if it gets the message across and you have a horse under you who is free, fluid and happy.