Bonding with my horse AND getting her to focus???

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Willow's Meadow, Nov 28, 2010.

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  1. Willow's Meadow

    Willow's Meadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2010
    So I think the two things are connected....bonding with my new horse and getting her attention/focus on me. She is 5 yrs. old and very, very green. She was recently just broke and I just got her last month. When I am grooming her, leading her, when she's in the cross ties and exspeccially when I'm riding her she is just not paying attention she is just like "ohhhh look at that or ohhh a butterfly!!! Or hiiii little kid." or she'll just zone out and not even focus or pay attention. How can I get her to focus and pay attention? Like sometimes I bring her in the arena and let her loose and I play with her and I'll be sitting there and I'll be talking to her and she'll just start knocking over the other chairs or trying to drink coffee out of someone's leftover coffee. Is it just something she'll eventually grow out of or is there something I can do to get her attention?
     
  2. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    The usual idea of bonding, is not how you get your horse's attention while training.

    The best thing you can do is get frequent riding lessons from a very good instructor. Hopefully the instructor will teach you about how horses think, how to read their behavior, and what to expect and how to handle and ride your horse. The questions you are asking, and the statements made, worry me as it does not sound like you should have a green horse at this point. But if you get some good help, it can work out well.

    There really is no substitute for getting good help. Without it, most people don't do too well. It's really impossible to tell someone how to do anything with their horse on the internet.

    That's because horses vary in how they have been trained, so react differently, and they vary in how sensitive they are. What barely gets a reaction in one horse, might startle a more sensitive horse.

    Too, it is pretty hard to explain timing and reading your horse, in words. It's best to get good help. Picking the instructor isn't always easy. Some are unnecessarily rough, some are not effective or can't explain things, some are too fussy and complicated. Getting some references for an instructor helps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  3. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

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    I would do lots of in-hand type things, leading horses past barrels, over tarps, encourage them to sniff giant rubber balls, over cavalettis.

    It will transfer when you start doing this stuff under saddle. It will give the mare something to do, look and and she can begin building trust in you.

    Beyond that, seek an instructor or trainer.
     
  4. Celtic Hill

    Celtic Hill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2010
    Scotland CT
    I *Hate* the term "Natural Hosemanship" but i will use it.

    look up some Natural horsemanship training, its great for basic stuff. Grooming is great way to bond with your horse, but there is no substitute for ground work, no matter the age of any horse.
     
  5. Willow's Meadow

    Willow's Meadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2010
    Quote:try explaining it......just TRY!!!!!
     
  6. Willow's Meadow

    Willow's Meadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2010
    Quote:why????
     
  7. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    ??? (re natural horsemanship). I will leave that explanation to people who like Natural Horsemanship. I don't.

    Re: try and explain it, try!

    I am afraid you are asking an internet thread to take the place of a trainer or instructor. An internet post simply cannot take the place of moment to moment observing by a skilled trainer who can communicate with you and teach you how to handle your horse.

    On the other hand, I'm waiting for The Wizard of Oz to start over.

    I don't believe in 'bonding'. Not in the sense that most people do - that it is a substitute for training, or even, that it smooths or lessens or streamlines it. Spending some quiet time, just grooming, leading the horse to grass, or simply sitting watching him loose in the pasture - absolutely necessary, but no substitute for work.

    I don't believe that ground handling really translates so much to work in the saddle, or saves time/streamlines riding training to the degree many claim. Physics is physics. If the rider leans forward or to one side, eventually he will fall off. If he can't control or sense the motions of his arms, legs and seat, he can't ride, no matter how much work he does on the ground. If he isn't fit, if he doesn't practice, if he doesn't learn to use his body and sense how he's sitting, ground handling won't prevent the laws of nature from taking effect.

    I think training needs to happen, every day. I think we are training the horse whenever we handle it or are around the horse. For better or for worse, they take in that training and remember it.

    I think that if we do things one way one day, and another way the next day, the horse has no idea what's going on. He hasn't read the book or watched the DVD. Horses learn from repetition and consistency. If he's allowed to nip one day, and not the next, he gets stressed. The more consistent his handling is, the better for him.

    I think training a horse is a lot of discipline and work - but much more so for the owner, than the horse. People don't like a consistent routine and get bored and make excuses for not doing the work - horses on the other hand do well with routine.

    People put all sorts of personal interpretation in, decide what horses like or don't like (based on their personal human values)...people make training complicated, horses don't. Horses are simple. They have a simple, very basic brain, they think simple things, even if people don't think they do. Horses don't plot, they aren't envious, they don't reason the same way people do. They don't need to. Their phenomenal memory worked just fine to keep them safe for millions of years.

    I think horses do not connect up things that happen more than a second or so apart. I don't think storming into the barn at midnight and yelling at the horse will be connected up to that naughty thing he did at lunch time. I don't think it will be connected up if it happens more than a SECOND after. To train a horse, one has to react very swiftly, and that means observing keenly, reacting very quickly either with a correction OR a reward.

    I think most people make horse training very, very complex, and artificial, and very, very distant from how horses actually think and learn and move. They put their meaning onto the horse's behavior. I prefer something different, to try and see it as it really is, just as it is. Rainer M. Rilke calls it 'inseeing' - seeing an animal as they are, not as we would find easier to understand.

    Reading a horse means learning to sense how he is each day and what he's doing or going to do every moment.

    Reading a horse also means learning to anticipate his reactions, so the handler is not only never surprised, he can also stop behavior just a split second before it actually completely starts. Reading means watching the horse shift his weight and tighten up his muscles before he actually moves, realizing he looks with his eyes where he's going to go before he goes. Reading him means feeling him shift his weight while holding his foot up, or feeling the contact through the reins, to the horse's mouth change as he flexes or stretches muscles in his neck.

    Reading a horse also means understanding how it feels even when you can't have a hand on him. That comes from learning the horse's body language, and the handler working into that. Walking toward the hind quarters might drive a horse forward, toward the shoulders or head might drive him back, and walking straight at the shoulder, a kind of neutral point, might cause the horse to stand still and allow himself to be approached.

    Over time, our errors of training, have an effect. Not because horses are sneaky, or think like a human, or are devious, but because that is how training always works. The rider who leaves the reins hanging down when he mounts up, will eventually have a horse that walks off while he's trying to get on. The rider who doesn't use his reins properly, will have a 'pretzel horse' when he tries to steer. The rider who nags with his heels, rather than giving one signal and then going to his whip, will have a horse he has to kick over and over to keep moving. The rider who lets his attention wander will not be 'working' his horse and his horse's attention will then also wander.

    The horse is just a reflection of how the person rides or handles him. He's an 'open book', and a very simple one.

    I have to go - Auntie Em is counting chicks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  8. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    I don't believe horses "attach" themselves to people all that readily. The process takes months--longer the more hands the horse has passed through. So many people try to interact with their horses from their own perspective, but as obvious as it is, they don't seem to grasp that horses are a whole different species from them. They do not think, feel, or react in the same way to the same things that people do. Nor are they dogs. Despite all the Disney movies to the contrary, they are not tuned-in to people. And since they aren't tuned to us, we have to learn to be tuned-in to them. It is up to us to figure out what they are thinking, where they are looking, what they are reacting to. They cannot think like us, so we have to learn to think like them.

    I do believe that IN TIME they can form a bond, but that bond generally takes a good bit of work to make happen; it does not automatically occur and does not have anything to do with HUMAN emotions (or feeding treats). They are horses and think, feel, and react like HORSES. In my own case, I really feel the bond comes because I am the one feeding, brushing, handling, trimming, working. There are not half a dozen people involved in their care, so when they see me, they know it's time to eat or work or do something together. They pay attention when they see me if only to figure out what is going to happen. They trust me. Months of working with me have shown them that I am trustworthy and they can depend on what I tell them. If I tell them it's okay, months of working with me have taught them that it really IS okay.

    As for focus, that comes from daily work--interesting work, not mindless circles. Horses require an intense amount of self-discipline from their handler. Because the handler is self-disciplined, the horse slowly learns to follow his lead. It's kinda like raising kids: parents who are consistently firm instill better behavior than parents who allow every request to turn into a negotiation. It doesn't take harshness, just a clear understanding of what your rules are and consistency in applying those rules without debate.

    Horses don't like surprises--they respond very well to routine and that requires rules and for their owners to be disciplined about applying those rules. And when you don't have clear-cut rules that you enforce each and every time, the horse looses respect for you and you drop in herd rank to someplace below them. That's when the troubles start. You HAVE to be alpha. You HAVE to be the one in charge. You cannot allow yourself to be bullied by your horses any more than you can allow your kids to bully you.

    I also firmly believe that they know when you genuinely care about them and this knowledge helps them build trust in you. I think they also sense when you trust them and that sense of being trusted appeals to the best part of them and helps them be better and happier and content to let you be alpha. There really IS something mystical about that kind of a relationship, but it doesn't happen overnight or with every horse. Not even with most horses.


    JMO


    Rusty
     
  9. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    "I agree 100%, except..." LOL.

    I think many horses aren't very demonstrative or cuddly, but are very attached to their person, their routine, the things they know.

    I probably will be called insensitive or told I've never had a real relationship with a horse (I have, though). But I don't think the relationship between horse and rider is ever at all mystical, mystical being inexplicable, supernatural. I think though, that it sure can LOOK like that to someone observing. My friend is constantly amazed by how my horses interact with me, and I try to explain it, but it's hard to explain.

    I try to tell him, it's like a rather fast paced conversation that goes on constantly. The horse is constantly telling you things, and you telling him. Horses have body language. The angle of their hind quarters to you, the way they move their head, neck, ears. And you know things they more sense or feel. For example, if I keep my pony in the barn, my old horses is going to be more sensitive, and more nervous, the entire day. A correction he would barely listen to otherwise, he would practically be hysterical over on one of those days. To me it's so obvious that he's having a bad day, he says it in every single step and motion of his body.

    That could be what she means by 'mystical', but to me, it's as plain and simple as two people talking to each other and telling each other everything. To me it's so obvious what the horse is 'saying'. I think that just comes with experience, work and time - and the more experienced people I feel are better at it than me, as if we're all standing on a ladder, and some people have climbed further up.

    I think it's made up of very simple do-able building blocks - made up of training and activity and time and work on both the part of the horse and rider. Not hanging around staring at each other, but riding, working, that I think is what makes the relationship to the horse the deepest. I feel completely different about horses I'm not working, or haven't worked. I think that the relationship is more intense, more close, with a horse one has worked with and tried to accomplish something.

    Some people just never get very good at working with animals. I think they have principles, ideas, emotions that hold them back. So they don't open up to what is happening between...maybe that's what she means by mystical, LOL! But to me, it's more like learning and making the effort.

    I had one friend who could never, ever time anything right around the horse. The pony would start to paw, the guy would be - I don't know what he was doing, looking at something else, I guess. The pony would paw for some time and I'd say, 'don't let him do that, say no and jerk the lead shank', and he'd be jerking away at the lead shank STARTING AFTER the pony had already stopped pawing!! He was getting punished for standing there doing nothing!!! I just COULD...NOT...get it in this guy's head, this simple principle of correction and reward. See, react to the wrong behavior, reward the right behavior. His timing was completely off.

    I later found out he was drunk most of the time. So I DO think timing is within the ken of most sober people!!!!!

    But the thing is, the pony just did not react to this guy, he could yank on that pony all he wanted, as hard as a big man can, the pony would do NOTHING for him. SOMEHOW...that pony seemed to know that the guy was not going to be a reliable leader. Because what the guy is telling him to do, is so disconnected and is not timed properly. I think that is also very non-mystical. A herd leader proves himself to be a herd leader by his actions. Same thing, I ride a horse, turn him over to my sister, and no matter what she does up there, the horse does exactly what he wants. The horse knows the person can't 'back up what they say'. They KNOW when a person is not effective.

    That is really what training is about, that type of timing. Correct the undesirable behavior right when it is happening, get it to stop. Reward the right behavior.

    Mystical...? It's as if you compare the 'water cooler friendship' of someone you constantly have breakfast or lunch with at work, and talk about the weather, vs your spouse, having children together, nursing them through sickness, weathering financial storms, working things out when things go wrong. Working together creates that relationship. The horse knows it, so does the person, I think it's the same from the horse's point of view.

    I think some horses get a bad start with poor training, or have a suspicious, untrusting temperament from birth, or the most common - are simply 'spoiled' (have gotten in the habit of not obeying unless absolutely forced to with escalating punishments). Skilled trainers seem to get them to be much more reliable, but they may 'regress' if with an unskilled ('weak') person.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  10. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

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    Quote:My mare and I have the "almost mystical" relationship. I say almost since she doesn't like breakfast interrupted! [​IMG]

    BUT ... that was a result of YEARS where she was the center of my life. I began riding her as a 17 yr old who was going through some drama. I spent every afternoon with her, even began living with a guy near the stable she was at just so I could be closer to her! When I finally had enough money to buy her, every spare moment I spent with her and I rode her just about every day. And we rode for HOURS, all over Michigan. We began doing distance riding and quite literally spent hundreds of miles together going over all kinds of terrain. She popped a splint (during a week off of all things), so I nursed her through her injury. We've camped together, we've worked cattle together, wherever I go, she goes with me (as far as job location. DH stayed up north, SHE came downstate with me when I worked there).

    We've learned to ride TOGETHER, she knows my shifts in weight and tightening of muscles, I know her moods and movement. When I rode a 2 yr old TWH last October on a long trail ride weekend, it was a great learning experience for me to ride a horse that I actually had to THINK about since I'm so used to her.

    Now the bay mare I used to have, I never developed the same bond since I didn't devote every waking minute to her the way I did Izzie. Mainly because job, college, boyfriend and later husband and then daughter all got in the way.

    However, like Rusty Hills, a lot of horse books and movies irritate me. For one thing, horses don't neigh that much. For another thing, MOST horses can be ridden by more than one person (Joanna Campbell of the Thoroughbred series I'm looking at you) but I say MOST because my mare will not tolerate other adults. She has actually turned around and bitten people on her back. She will tolerate children though.
     
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