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Flight animals?

Re: Flight animals?

Postby FlorayG » Thu May 26, 2016 2:10 pm

By 'letting a horse go' I didn't mean letting it gallop off, I meant leaving it to carry itself. If you 'let the horse go' all the time then it's unlikely to ever feel the need to bolt
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby Tess and Organza » Thu May 26, 2016 5:26 pm

I understand what you mean, as in not hanging onto their mouth, or holding in all the time in other ways, but I think that to suggest 'bolting' is a need in response to being held in, is a bit sketchy. i guess it might be in some cases but I did ride Ganz with pretty loose reins, allowing space to move and carry herself as natural to her, she still bolted sometimes, I think there are many reasons why a horse might bolt.It's a tricky one to undo once it gets to be a habit.
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby FlorayG » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:32 am

There are always horses that like to run ( I am assuming you mean runs away with you, not actually bolting=total uncontrolled panic mode? You surely wouldn't ride a horse that was constantly in that state of mind?), Kitty's mother was one such and I guess yours is too. But the label 'flight animals' confuses many people who think that at any moment their horse is going to take off with them in panic and they need to hold on to it constantly. Most riders are scared of going fast.
My favourite question that Leslie Desmond asks riders having problems with stopping their horses; "Can you ride as fast as he can run?". Think about that question...it's a deep one.
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby littlewhitehorse » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:41 am

Re; the bolting and whether this is a default reaction that we should just accept, or the idea of whether a flight reaction doesn't exist. I wondered whether to question the word "bolt". Once when I was a teenager and was given a young green totally unsuitable horse, she bolted with me out alone on a hack. A terrifying flat-out gallop on and off roads with me hanging on and praying after I ran out of strength trying to pull her up, for over a mile before she was stopped by the cool-headedness of two other riders who directed us into a large hedge. That was a bolting horse! The reaction of certain horse to move their feet first and ask questions later is a basic instinct, call it what you will, but that is where training can help, teaching the horse to relax, not fight against pressure and run, that is why in Parelli we spend a lot of time teaching our horses not to act as a prey animal, to trust us and stay with us in scary situations, on the ground or ridden. So if nowadays I bang on about the groundwork first, and building in relax and control reflexes, and you don't see me jumping on just any horse, it is because I now know that we do have the possibility to change the triggers and reactions of our horses to certain situations. :)
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby FlorayG » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:35 pm

littlewhitehorse wrote: ...that is why in Parelli we spend a lot of time teaching our horses not to act as a prey animal... :)


That's an interesting comment. I certainly wouldn't want to teach my horse that. Or do you mean teach the horse not to treat YOU specifically as a predator?
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby littlewhitehorse » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:18 pm

FlorayG wrote:
littlewhitehorse wrote: ...that is why in Parelli we spend a lot of time teaching our horses not to act as a prey animal... :)


That's an interesting comment. I certainly wouldn't want to teach my horse that. Or do you mean teach the horse not to treat YOU specifically as a predator?


Yes, that is what I mean. How interesting and thanks for picking up on my use of this phrase, it is another example of how we use phrases without thinking which have meaning to some and not to others, depending on your training or horsemanship background or the method or discipline you follow. Probably I would have to ask for clarification of a dressage term, like rollkur or travers or shoulder in, where someone in that field would know exactly what the word or phrase means. Whether the term or phrase is an accurate interpretation of what it means to convey is debatable. I used a phrase which is perhaps overused but nevertheless within the method I follow we know what we mean by it and is a short way of reminding ourselves. A dressage instructor may say "hands!" or "legs", you don't need each time to give the full explanation. It is always interesting to find that we have different interpretations and always good to think about what how others understand or perceive. Clear communication is essential in horse training, humans do tend to complicate things.

My understanding of the use of the term prey animal is that it is, or was, hunted or eaten or preyed upon by another, the predator, in this case horse and human. Characteristically when hunted or threatened a prey animal might run and so is alert to signs of danger such as changes in environment, noises, sound, smell. We as humans and of a predatory nature are often less consciously aware of reproducing environments where the horse may feel a sense of danger and the need to flee to escape the situation it perceives as potentially life threatening (whether that makes sense or not to describe them as flight animals being the theme of the article) can be one of their reactions. Wherever we are in our horse human relationship we try to reduce their reactions in whatever way we have been taught or believe is best for us or for them, we don't surely want them to bolt but I think you were suggesting we may be able to let them run as a means of getting the fear out of them rather than trying to hold it in? I don't disagree with that. What I meant in saying that we try to encourage horses to behave less like a prey animal is that by having them see us as leaders and to be trusted to help them in situations of danger is desirable if we want calm, thinking horses that respond and don't just react. We can test responses within our training, in a safe controlled situation like a roundpen, paddock or school, so that we can help them deal with their emotions and bring them more quickly to calm. I, by nature, am quick to react in word and deed, so in myself I work on controlling my reactions and bringing up my energy when necessary. Maybe I would have been a good hunter, but if I want calm and trust from my horse I need to be aware of my body language and appear less threatening, less predatory and controlling. Some horse people prefer the controlling approach and it could be argued that it works.

To return to my use of the idea of preferring the horse not to behave like a prey animal in a training context. I try to behave less like a predator, not grab for the horse, be polite and clear, firm but fair, ask not make, which is being less controlling, be assertive not aggressive, prove to them they are safe in an environment with me and develop trust and respect, and opens communication, because I think all here would agree with the idea that a horse can't learn if it doesn't feel safe. The idea is that if I behave less like a predator, the horse will behave less like a prey animal. I hope this makes sense!

I think we all want our horses to be calm, connected and responsive although we may go about achieving this in different ways. It helps me to visualise a horse as an animal that is sensitive to its environment and to try to help it be less likely to snort, jump, spook or leave.
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby Trudi » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:01 am

Some excellent discussion ladies.

This hit me from Sheila..

we do have the possibility to change the triggers and reactions of our horses to certain situations. :)


I think amongst our group it would be hard to find a dissenter regarding this but externally what I see is many people not realising how long this can take with some horses and in some situations. I completely support your final thought...

It helps me to visualise a horse as an animal that is sensitive to its environment and to try to help it be less likely to snort, jump, spook or leave.


The 'less likely' being such an important element to consider. Nicely put.
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby FlorayG » Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:13 am

littlewhitehorse wrote: we don't surely want them to bolt but I think you were suggesting we may be able to let them run as a means of getting the fear out of them rather than trying to hold it in? I don't disagree with that. What I meant in saying that we try to encourage horses to behave less like a prey animal is that by having them see us as leaders and to be trusted to help them in situations of danger is desirable if we want calm, thinking horses that respond and don't just react..


Yes - a horse that is allowed to react naturally is more likely to simply spook and run a few yards, not take off in panic, if it trusts the rider. If a horse believes it can run if it needs to, it's less likely to panic in the first place. But I have to disagree with you on 'teaching a horse to behave less like a prey animal'. In my work it's much more 'teaching myself to behave more like a prey animal', thus giving the horse even more reason to trust my judgement. After all we are the 'intelligent' ones, we should be working their way not expecting them to work our, more difficult for them, way.

Also I think I want my horse to react - it's a horse, after all, I'm there to do the thinking. Which brings us nicely back to my original comment on this thread - many riders are scared to let their horse react so hang on to it for dear life all the time 'just in case it does'.
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Re: Flight animals?

Postby fabikat » Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:10 pm

Just to say I have enjoyed reading this thread but too tired and braindead to add anything useful atm. Hope to come back to it later.
My initial thought is that I like my horses to have the ability to think for themselves about what they perceive or not as imminent danger and act appropriately. We can help them with this in the use of gw.

Not sure what the initial post relates to exactly as have not seen the video but my first thought after reading the thread
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