Neck Rope Replaces Halter
Well, she didn’t come up to me today. I did a lot of leading from behind in the pasture as we weren’t very connected. She kept an eye on me but that was about it. I was going to halter her and bring her to the indoor, but then I thought, what am I doing. If my goal is to have a totally bridleless/halterless horse, I might as well start making it normal now, especially as I am very confident doing most things with just a rope around her neck. So I just looped the rope around her neck, and off we went. She was very chipper and seemed to love not having her head restrained, yet was very connected and even when wanting to trot down the hills she stayed right with me. And there was no problem leading her, other than coming back at the end of the session when I gave a few short jerks to divert her attention from the extremely excited stallion. ;) Someday I’d like to find how to do that through release – perhaps I could’ve slapped her barrel with the rope belly instead.
I’ve done a lot of thinking the past day or two about the most effective way to train functional, happy bridleless/liberty horses, and those thoughts should be coming soon in a few articles. Meanwhile, I changed my approach slightly. I had her jambette onto a low barrel to give her purpose, and she instantly caught on; I didn’t even have to retrain the other side, she transferred the cue. She would throw her leg up on there (incredibly flexible) happily. Later I had her back away from it then SW to it, ending with her foot on the barrel. It gave her more understanding to the SW.
“Desensitizing” Her Sides
She was somewhat nervous, as normal, in the indoor, so I just walked with her, mirroring her as she walked around and around. I was near her, and soon put my hand on her, then my whole arm over her back. She walked around and around, and I just stayed with her. When she stopped at the treat bucket, I’d open it and give her a treat, then we’d go back to walking. After some time, she started to think, and stopped every circuit at the treat bucket.
She got much more nervous, however, when my side bumped hers when walking. This isn’t good for a bridleless horse, especially her, whom I’m training to understand that legs do NOT mean go. After a few bumps she’d jump into a trot and leave. After a few repetitions of that, something had to change. I didn’t want to desensitize her, I just needed her to breathe… calm down… So, totally at liberty, at the halt, I’d put my arm over her back and then press my side against hers. Many times she tried to walk off, but I kept asking her to stop, again and again, stroking her and breathing slowly, scratching what itchy spots of hers I could reach. She was remarkably level headed through her nerves and after some time, started relaxing with me. I could press myself all over her side. Then I did the same on the other side.
Then it was time to transfer it to riding. I stood on the barrel, she swung over to let me on, and I mounted. She was all ready to charge off, but I kept stopping her by leaning down and touching her chest (no tack), and breathing, and stroking, and saying, “gooood, gooood,” over and over. Then, I started stroking my legs on her side. Of course she wanted to jump off, but I stopped her again and again and stroked and stroked and rubbed and rubbed with my legs. It was incredible – soon she was relaxing, and she even put her head down – level with her back, unusual for her! – and then very intentionally kept it here, as if she were trying to calm herself down. I kept on stroking for the longest time, as long as her head was down, and then as she seemed to be starting to come out of her reverie, I slowly slipped off and went back to the ground stroking at her side for a minute, when she put her head down again. Lovely!!!
It was good to not have treats. In her nervousness, they don’t always help, she gets snatchy, and sometimes I think they prevent her from learning, when she is nervous, as nerves+treats seem to cause her to stop thinking and not fully understand what I’m doing.
Release Into the Pasture
She seemed excited to be returning to the pasture, so to prevent a blast away from me once I undid the rope, I walked with her a little ways toward the her, undid the rope, then walked with her about halfway to them. I eventually stopped, stepped/looked away, and hung there for a minute or two. Maia eventually stopped, too, for a minute, before she had gotten to the herd, like she considered me part of them and my stopping was sufficient to halt her.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 5:58 AM |
bridleless , desensitize , legs , Maia#039;s Training Diary , Maia's Training Diary , mimicking , neck rope , purpose , spanish walk
May 22 - "desensitizing" to legs
bridleless|desensitize|legs|Maia#039;s Training Diary|Maia's Training Diary|mimicking|neck rope|purpose|spanish walk|
Try These Out!
- Art of Natural Dressage Forum (people interested in dressage at liberty)
- Beyond Imagination (The blog of my sister, who is in Papua New Guinea!)
- Dance in Freedom (a resource for alternative horsemanship)
- Horsemanship Through Feel (Leslie Desmond's site)
- Ivy's Horse Training Blog (tricks and dressage at liberty)
- Karen Musson Horsemanship (one of my mentors)
- Prayers of Light (my personal, non-horsemanship blog)
- Reflections of Truth (my acting/modeling website)