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sarah1214

Over Anticipating

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Ive been working my mustang on the ground, teaching him to move away from pressure, flexing, sending him over and through obstacles, picking up and trimming feet, ropes over his back, the works. I have one problem. He over anticipates what I ask for. I taught him ONCE to move his hips over when I asked for it, without touching him, and now, every time I step towards his hips he swings them away, and I have to walk a couple circles before he gets that I want him to stand still. But, as soon as I walk away and turn back, there go those hips again. This only happens when we are working on the ground. If I have him tied I can walk up to either hip and he's fine.

How do I get through to him to NOT move til I ask? Do I just keep circling with him til he gets it, or do I need to correct it somehow? Any suggestions? Cherry? History Rider? :)

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Well I'm not Cherish or William but I will tell you how we fix that problem when training for showmanship.

Stand at his throat latch, with a dressage whip in your right hand, when he prematurely swings his hip, Chase the hip in the opposite direction, usually only takes a few sessions if they are smart.

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You got him 'punchy' before you had all of the foundation there.

You need to do 2 things.

First, teach him what "Whoa!" means. If a horse has a good solid "Whoa!", they will stand still as you brush, rub, push, whatever and not move away from you. Get him to the point where he stands still when you beat a whip on the ground, swing a lead-rope over and all around him, wave your hands in front of him, whatever.

Then, when you teach him to yield to pressure, use a 'smooch' or 'cluck' every time you want him to move his feet. Every single time you ask for a hind quarter or shoulder to yield over or ask for him to back up, say an audible smooch and 'make' him move when you ask. Then follow that by making him stand still while YOU make the same moves with a "Whoa!" instead of a "smooch'.

If you are 100% consistent, it will not take very long for the horse to learn exactly what you want.

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yup, and the same thing applies once riding

If you have ever shown in trail, the importance of having a horse listen to every step, pausing when you ask, instead of anstisipating, becomes very evident, otherwise, you have a horse rushing a backup, trashing a sidepass, loosing the gate-well, you get the picture

Antispation becomes the Achilles heel of a seasoned show horse, and good trainers spend a lot of time on training methods that over come this problem

Even when I first start a horse on the ground, doing a turn on the forehand-it is step, stop , step stop, and so on. Eventually, you can blend it into one smooth move, with no real pause ever evident, but also without the horse taking over with the 'I know what to do ' attitude

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So, stupid question here lol how do I teach him whoa means whoa??? If he moves, what is my cue to correct him? I've pulled his head around until he stops, but it just doesn't seem to work very well, or maybe I just need to give it more time. I've never worked with a horse this sensitive. Usually they are lazy and don't move if they don't have to. This boy is ALL about moving his feet.

Should I push him HARD when he moves his feet? I am so cautious to start something new with him until I know what my game plan is. If I screw it up, I spend days fixing it. Had a friend picking his feet, he yanked his back foot away, she corrected him a bit harshly and I have spent the last 3 days making him understand that when that foot hits the ground, it does NOT mean spin away hard.

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Well, here is one of the big differences I see between NH training and traditional

NH training seems to always focus on moving those feet, thus gaining respect

I believe however that there is a balance-there is a time to move feet and there is also a time to stand completely still, with the word 'whoa' being absolute, thus teach both

Thus when I work with horses, and since I used to show young horses in hand, and still show some of my all around horses at halter, standing still and squared up in part of the equation

Later on, this respect of 'whoa' helps me when mounting. I had bad knees for years, thus required a mounting block to get on and off, be it an actual mounting block, ground advantage, fence, wheel wheel of my trailer, etc. After knee replacements last year, my right knee is still not completely healed, so am still dependant on a mounting block, and vulnerable should my horse decide to take off before I'm completely mounted, so perhaps that is why the 'whoa' to me is so important

So, I start teaching the whoa while grooming. I use a stud shank run under the chin, and first teach a horse to understand one while leading, giving to slight pressure and getting instance release as a reward when the horse is being light, to the point the shank hardly ever comes into play.

sO, I ground tie them, say whoa and then groom them. If they move, I give a slight tug on the shank, put them back where they were, and repeat 'whoa' From there I then start squaring up the legs

I will then lead them to various locations, and ask them to stand still and square up, no matter as to what is going on around them, like they must in a show ring

A horse can be sensitive, but not just by over reacting and moving, but also by complete respect of that lead shank-when to move and when to stand.

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Thanks for the advice, guys. I'll start with that, and keep at it til he gets it.

He's still a little leary of the brushes yet, so this will be good practice for him. He was doing really good with his feet, but after she corrected him (he pulled his foot away, she scolded and smacked his butt - he freaked and about spun right into her), he decided that every time he had that foot picked up that he was going to get smacked. I used to be able to pick up every foot while he was loose, but Sunday I spent about 45 minutes just working on picking up that one foot without him spinning off. He eventually did get it, it just took a while, and for about 5 minutes he acted like he'd never had that foot touched before. But, before that I was already having problems with him moving his hips before I asked....

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Hmmm... Okay, so now I'm getting a different feel for when you were wanting the whoa. I'd definitely avoid the stud chain on Zon; too sensitive for that. When he was here, and in a small pen (20x20), he learned that when the flag touched his back, stopping was in order. He could move when it was no longer there. If he began to move off before I said it was okay, he got a smack in the butt and I made him move hard and fast away from the pressure. Made it much more pleasant to stand and be touched than to work tight circles. Hard to do when you're in a larger space, but it helped him transition from not wanting to be touched, to standing still while I touched him.

This should transition to grooming...touching means stand still. I'd be getting stuff on his body at every opportunity. If he moves, drive him away. If he stands, that's his reward (standing, not being pushed away.) And of course, always reinforced with the verbal command as his feet come to a stand still.

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Well, we all use different methods, but a stud shank used correctly has absolutely nothing to do with how sensitive a horse is

When I touch a horse with something on his rear, it is the same as an lead horse driving that horse-ie

A touch with the whip, or just a motion of the whip toward the rear, means move.

While driving a horse away that does not wish to stand still works in the initial join up, once i'm working with a horse, whoa means whoa. If I'm going to get on one, and he moves away, I'm not about to drive him away from the mounting block

Ditto for grooming, esp in a tight space, like at a show with lots of horses tied in the isle. Whoa means exactly that-feet do not move.

Moving a horse's feet is not always the answer, and doing so will soon have a horse over antisipating, jumping away from you

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Good topic and a great discussion so far.

I think you might be missing some desensitizing work in between your "feet moving" or sensitizing exercises Sarah. We don't want our horses afraid of us, our tools (even brushes), or anything we might move around them. The reason we try and teach them our body language is so any horse we train can tell the difference between our active and our passive expressions. Active of course means "move" and passive invites them to stand stall and RELAX. Passive does not mean idol where nothing about the handler moves but rather it's a don't worry about this movement suggestion. What I think you should do is use more tools, specifically a training stick with some reach to it. This is only an extension of your arm, nothing more but it will give you remarkable reach while you keep yourself in a much safer and more convenient position. Before you do anything active, just move your new tool in the air around your horse with rhythm. Keep doing it until they stand still and relax. Classic approach and retreat here. Then rub your new "tools" over their top line and ultimately everywhere on their body. Now, use the tool to help exaggerate that active body language BUT don't forget to go back to rubbing with rhythm between requests, especially when you get a horse that anticipates the request as yours is. Rubbing always means relax so be sure you are doing it with that consistent PASSIVE body language. Do not TIP TOE here. Move with authority, rhythm and confidence around your horse. When you sneak or fear a bad reaction around a horse you make yourself very suspicious. This too is body language they can read so have purpose and authority in your motion. A leader is confident when active or passive remember. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders and point your focus away, bend a knee a bit or a hip and look down, relax and exhale, all these are expressions of passive body language. Now when you want to make a request, turn on the active. Focus, crouch forward, thrust your head and neck toward the targeted body part, raise your arms or a tool and tap the air (or just a finger) but keep raising this pressure until the horse is uncomfortable enough to take you seriously. In order to get your horse to respond to a glance at their hind end for example, you need them to believe that more will come if they don't pay attention and snap to it. What you have done however is to fail to properly distinguish between a request to move and an invitation to stand still by not offering enough desensitizing exercises that positively demonstrate "passive" while also displaying motion. Practice tossing a rope around and over your horse, flick that stick and string, beat the ground, whirl it in the air over their heads all while keeping your focus off the horse and expressing RELAX. Keep doing whatever it is until they stand still and relax themselves. You might have to follow them but keep the pressure steady and wait for them to figure it out. This works best with a halter and long lead rope to bump their nose back towards you if they try and quit you and turn away.

Another easy way to work with this is with your fingertips. Steady and driving pressure, meaning putting a finger on your horse that pushes them lightly means move over. Driving pressure with a tool or another hand is a warning and suggestion to GET OFF of that soft steady pressure. Now rubbing is the opposite. If the steady pressure changes to rubbing, that is a cue to relax and stand still now. So, once you teach this to your horse and practice, moving your horse around in his or her stall or while grooming or doing trail maintenance is as easy at pushing a puck on an air hockey table. Touch, give a moment but then tap the air or the horse while keeping the soft touch with the first hand, then rub the moment they respond. This is a very useful skill for any horse and further conditions them to pay attention for the difference in our active and passive body language. Do not underestimate how the most subtle expressions we make whether intentional or not are perceived by our horses. They are masters of body language but what we have to do is practice showing them ours enough that they learn it. It is productive and more than okay to exaggerate this when we teach. So a long stick is still just an extension of your arm. By using your softest cue and body language to initiate each request or offer to stand still, soon the stick is completely unnecessary and just your bare finger will serve to remind occasionally.

See if this doesn't help you as well as the suggestions from the others.

William (historyrider)

Edited by historyrider

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I also think your body language needs to be taken into account...

If I 'drive' (stare at) a body part of my horse.. That is what he will move.. If I'm passive (looking at my watch, the stars or the grass that needs mowed), then I don't want you to move..

So if you are looking down and move to his rear and he might be nervous of you being back behind him.. You need to make sure he is 100% comfortable with you all over him before you start driving him away..

He needs to know that being with/next to/focused on YOU is home base and the SAFEST place in the world..

I practice Clinton Anderson's methods and he's not directed me wrong yet ;)

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