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Acceptable pressure?

Acceptable pressure?

Postby nicxf » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:13 pm

So, a short but interesting ride on little Coral pony this evening. She got 'stuck' at one point: didn't seem especially worried about anything, was happy to just stand there and look at some horses in the next field. I was on her back. Tried waiting her out for a bit; tried making myself annoying to get her to move (being noisy and flappy and 'wip-wopping' the end of the reins against my legs); tried getting her to turn to at least put a foot sideways, but nope - she wasn't moving. Ok, so fine; tried getting someone to lead her. Nope, also not happening and neither was Ali's tickling her on the side with the end of the dressage whip, whilst giving a sideways cue on the rein.

Given that I'm disabled so jumping on and off isn't really an option, in the end I resorted to the ol' Pony Club Kick to snap her out of it and just get her moving - first in the direction she wanted to go then turning her and kicking again every time she thought about slowing.

My kicks aren't especially strong - more a case of lifting my legs then letting the weight of the boots drop against her. It was enough to surprise her into moving anyway.

I was also careful to stay relaxed, keep a soft contact on the rein and immediately leave her alone when she responded.

Now, I have been to a Mark Rashid demo, and some Steve Halfpenny ones as well, and neither of them seems particularly averse to "getting after" a horse who has just zoned out. I had to do something to snap her out of it and the soft options we gave her just weren't working.

She was pretty relaxed, just not especially interested in co-operating. My main concern really was that I didn't want to cause an explosion - I'm not keen on sitting acrobatics any more. And I feel the short, sharp, shock approach of the pony club kick can risk that. Fortunately this time it didn't but....

So my question is this - is there another option we could have tried? Other than not getting into that situation in the first place; obviously - but let's face it, sometimes it happens. :?
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby Chevalblanc » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:06 pm

She is very good at zoning out her rider/handler. With the groundwork I've been doing sometimes I've had to do the raising my energy/slapping my leg thing to get her attention if she ignores the more subtle type of cues we give ours. Did a bit with the clicker this morning and that seemed to get her attention though, could be the way to go for the ridden stuff too?
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby nicxf » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:29 am

Yeah, I think using the clicker could be useful.
Or, judging by this morning's ride, more hacking out as she seems really keen on that! :lol:
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby Trudi » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:11 pm

I would always use +ve R in the form of clicker because a light escalation of pressure didn't really work. Bearing in mind how they can feel the tiniest fly landing I think any force will just be asking the same question louder; the solution being to work out why she stopped and that's hard without seeing it (can even be hard when seeing it!). She's so new to the yard that it could be all sorts of things- some coming from previous experiences', some innate and often stacked so that we miss the very first fiddling behaviour (forgotten what that lady calls them was it calming signals?) and ultimately they get to the freeze state when we can't miss it.

This has triggered the fact that I forgot to send Ali the clicker notes I promised Helen- will do this now- apologies.
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby nicxf » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:31 am

Thanks Trudi. ☺
In light of yesterday's ride I think it is to some extent a worry thing. I had mixed success getting her moving in the indoor school...a few times holding my hand out to the side as though there was a treat in it got her feet moving (how mean is that? :lol: ), then a few times getting noisy and annoying and slapping the reins on my legs worked. I was using the technique of making it annoying for her to be where she wanted to be (by the gate) and quiet with added treats and scratches where she didn't want to be (the far end of the school). It did work to some extent but I also felt I'd managed to wind her up, which wasn't really ideal. :oops:
So definitely keen to see if I can do something with the clicker (or a clicking noise).
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby Trudi » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:30 pm

I prefer to try to ignore the unwanted behaviour and praise (reinforce) the good stuff- which is basically how clicker works. I think I prefer this method because it's how I like to learn as a human. Yes I do get to a point of understanding what is required when someone 'gets after' me but I much prefer positive feedback on the times I get it right. An annoying noise might seem trivial to us but when they are already compromised in terms of confidence then it may seem much worse- a bit like when you're lost in the car, late for an important meeting and the idiot blathering on the radio has to be silenced because it is one annoyance too much...or is that just me :-D ...hence your great observation that it just ended up winding her up.

If the gate is where she wants to be does she have a buddy close by? Compromised horses will often feel happier if their pair bond is on hand to support them as often there is the stress of separation for them to deal with as well as the fear of being in a strange place...see how before you've even asked her to leave the gate the stacking of stress ha already started. Over time you can build up to her being alone- the sooner she feels comfortable in the arena with company (close by) the sooner you can start to build up her confidence to leave her mate and be alone.
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby littlewhitehorse » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:11 am

Trudi wrote:If the gate is where she wants to be does she have a buddy close by? Compromised horses will often feel happier if their pair bond is on hand to support them as often there is the stress of separation for them to deal with as well as the fear of being in a strange place...see how before you've even asked her to leave the gate the stacking of stress ha already started. Over time you can build up to her being alone- the sooner she feels comfortable in the arena with company (close by) the sooner you can start to build up her confidence to leave her mate and be alone.


Surely the thing to do is develop the pair bond with her human? Whether on the ground, if possible, and in the saddle. If she has made this trust connection, she will move when you move, and you are the safe place and comfort where she will want to be and there should be no stress from separation or situation. It might take more time than you think but to gain her confidence you may need to get into her time scale before she feels she can follow yours.
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby Trudi » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:05 am

Of course that's the idea Sheila but if you are starting from a position of her being stressed at leaving her buddy then you will be starting with an uphill battle for calmness and trust- why not start with her being comfortable in her skin and build the relationship from there? The chemicals that are released in stressful situations create long term brain 'pathways' so avoiding the first stressor is imo important, later you can build in small steps towards the human being the trusted partner.
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby nicxf » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:48 pm

Interesting - yes, she was by herself on that occasion and so yes, I think she did start the session with a heightened level of stress.

However today we were riding in the field with all the others around and she was still doing it. Some of the time it was definitely because she was unsure - she was doing it in-hand too initially, as I was leading her down the archery track to get her used to it, but she came unstuck nicely after a few walks down it so I thought it was time to get on board. But nope, stuck again. It didn't help that Gandalf wandered over to the start of the track and stood there glaring at her (we decided he wanted to join in!) - she was clearly more worried about him than anything as once I got her past every time she carried on fairly easily. Bit it's still taking that one kick to get her going when it happens. As you say, it'd be great to find a way to get her to work WITH me, rather than MAKING her work FOR me. And I do need to do it from the saddle if I can, as on the ground I'm so limited in how I can move and react... because of the mobility scooter. It doesn't half mess up your timing as there's a delay on the controls - not to mention the fact that I have to take a turning circle into account.

ETA and pondering on the "kick vs rein flap" idea, from my observation I'd say the rein flap works to scare her into moving, as she always tucks her bum and kind of scuttles forwards away from it. Whereas a single kick gets a kind of grudging "oh, all right. If we MUST" response. So I don't think either is a great choice, but short of stopping ridden work and doing it all from the ground first, I don't know what my alternative is.

Fingers crossed Ellen will be able to give me some pointers in my lesson next week as she has a level of skill at this I can only dream of achieving. I do know I want to improve, I just don't know how yet.
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Re: Acceptable pressure?

Postby nicxf » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:57 pm

Helen's going to have a go with the clicker, be interesting to see if Coral takes to that as a more positive way of interacting. :thumbup:
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