Healing and Horses

Ask yourself in your relationship with your horse, “who is healing who?”

You may find that the larger amount of healing is being done by the horse for your benefit, than there is being done by you for your horses benefit.

Of course it would be perfect for the relationship to be reciprocal, so that both of you can benefit and there is no taker and no giver in the relationship, but a healthy balance between the two.

Are you a taker or a giver? Are you feeding a horse so that the horse can feed your ego?

Who is healing who with you and your horse?

Teaching Fish to Swim. All about my Fox

When you train a typical Iberian horse, there is no need to teach that kind of horse how to be round and collected because they are born knowing how to do this and they are biomechanically set up for this kind of movement. These kinds of horses usually need to learn how to stretch out, relax and let go of the neck and withers and take longer lower steps.

When you are training a typical Thoroughbred, Warmblood, or Draught horse type, there is no need to train these horses how to push powerfully forwards with their hind legs, they are born knowing how to do this and are biomechanically set up to make this easy for them. They need to learn to become more round, and bring their hind legs underneath them more to help lift them off their forehands.

Teaching horses to do what does not come naturally is far more difficult, but it is essential in order for that horse to reduce the harmful effect of whatever nature gave the horse to do easily.

Put simply, if we dont try to correct the horses by either lengthening them out or rounding them up more, we risk allowing them to damage themselves by their own natural biomechanics of movement.

 

Here are some photos of my horse Fox, showing the changes he has made to his body, from a 3 year old bay snowflake spot to the near white powerful war horse he is today.

 

Fox, just turned 3 years old

 

Fox aged 3 1/2  years old

 

Fox aged 5 years old

 

Fox aged 7 years old

 

Fox aged 10 years old

 

Fox aged 12 years old

 

Fox aged 14 years old

 

Fox aged 15 years old

 

 

Fox aged 16 years old

 

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Anxiety and Stress Poops

If your pony poops in your house, then it is a sign that he is not confident and is anxious about being in your house. If you want to bring your pony into your house, then train for confidence and calmness, so his stress poops dont mess up the carpets.

The same applies for working your pony in the arena, but the stress poops are a bit easier to clean up.  What is stressing your pony?

 

Contact me if you want to learn more about confidence training for horses. If your horse learns to become more confident then you will be more confident with your horse too – and you will be especially more confident about your carpets staying clean!

Affiliative Behaviour

How many times does your horse show affiliative (friendly) behaviour towards his or her horse friends? How many times does he or she show affilliative behaviour towards you? More times than you have noticed probably! It is often slight and subtle, so its easily missed –  and when directed at a human, it is also very often misinterpreted and punished, or ignored.

 

Storm and Rosie; Then and Now.

The pictures can do the talking.

Rosie was afraid of Storm at first when she was only 15 and he was 12.

Storm was afraid of Rosie at first when he was only 12 and she was 15.

 

They said, “you wont be able to change that bulging upside down neck!”

They said, “hasnt he got a huge head!”

They said, “these hocks show the worst arthritis we have ever seen on Xray!”

But look at Storm and Rosie now! Never give up

Not Perfect

Noticing when a horse is making a failure is very important. Knowing when a movement is a failure or a success is the first essential visual skill to acquire. If a movement is made badly this can mean the entire benefit for that movement is lost completely – and it may even become damaging to the horse – and this applies no matter which method is used to train the movement in the first place.

It is never a good idea to expect perfection. If you expect perfection, you will be very likely to be dissapointed, but you must still know exactly what perfection looks like (and feels like) – and what it does not look like (or feel like)  in order to work towards it.

 

Emotion based training and upsensitizing humans.

It is relatively easy to train a horse for a given behavioural response,  but it is not always so easy to train for a good attitude coupled with that requested behavioural response – as attitude is emotion based.

Our mammalian brains are all deeply hard wired to experience emotions. It is good to try to empathise, but anthropomorphism can be risky as the outward signs, priorities and needs vary a bit in each mammalian species, so learning as much as possible about equine behaviour in both domestication and wild feral herds is absolutely essential to be able to interpret the emotional signs given by equines,  but behavioural neuroscience researchers have shown there are  7 Primal Emotions defined in all mammals which are: RAGE (Pissed off), FEAR (Anxiety) and PANIC (Separation/loneliness and sadness) must be avoided in training sessions,  instead seeking to trigger only the PLAY (joyousness)  SEEKING (enthusiastic problem solving) and possibly some of the CARE (tender and loving) emotions, – with the 7th – LUST (being horny) – irreleveant to a training sessions!

Even if your cues or aids seem finely given, reasonable, fair and well timed in your opinion, it may be that if your horse shows RAGE – (pissed off) or FEAR (anxiety) or PANIC (separation/loneliness and sadness) while training with you, or in response to your aids, instead of working on desensitizing your horse, you may need to “upsensitize” yourself – as no matter how good you think you have been in your aiding or cueing,  the only opinion that matters on how good you are as a horseman and trainer is your horses opinion.

Always ignoring the horses emotional responses to your cues or aids is either going to lead to a shut down horse who may seem robotically obedient, but who is dull eyed and depressed and in a learned helplessness state of mind, or it will lead to an angry horse who is then labelled as dominant, aggressive, difficult, fiery, crazy, viscious or over sensitive.

If your horse understands and calmly resonds to aids or cues (even if he doesnt get the responses perfect each time) and seems bright and happy to engage in work with you,  eagerly looks for solutions to problems you set in the training sessions, is not usually anxious or pissed off  – and if things stray into anxiety or anger the horse can be brought out of these emotional states, and if  your horse does not usually seem angry, fearful, panicky, sad, sour or depressed,  then your training is probably going in the right emotional direction.

Back to the Future

Sometimes it is a good idea to look back at where you have travelled to be able to see better where you are now.

If you can see your progression by looking at your past, then all is well for the future.

 

This was Uralitas first efforts in learning to accept me a a rider in 2013. She arrived from Spain, unhandled and terrified of humans in 2011 with a foal inside her. She was bought and imported after only 2 weeks of handling and took 5 hours to load. After arriving, she refused to allow herself to be caught – or even touched by her new owner in UK for 5 months. As she was in foal her new owner was very worried it would not be possible to help her with a Vet if things went wrong during the foaling. I tricked her to catch her, by trapping her in a field shelter and then walked her to my home from her field to avoid terrifying her more with loading her into a trailer or lorry again and took her in here at my home to be trained for him. She became less afraid of people using only +R and absolutely no force. I began training her from the ground using Straightness Training but taking care to be very gentle with this method and once her foal was born I began to start her ridden work. This is one of her first few times being ridden. Her owner gave a half share of her to me in return for the work I did to help her overcoming her fear. I used a “Gooood” as my bridging sound then, but I think she would have learned even faster if I had used a clicker instead as it is so much more clear and definite in its sound, marking the “moment” better. She is the horse who is pictured in my  Facebook profile picture – which was taken in May this year – oh, and I bought out her original owners’ half share ownership of her and she is now all my own beautiful wonderful horse who I now train using Academic Art of Riding Bent Branderup training methods, combined with Clicker Training and the Enlightened Equitation (Heather Moffet) riding style.