Random Acts of Scritchy-Scratch

There’s a mantra in the field of sales that says, People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. DaVinci, my post traumatic stress gelding, has caused me to tweak that saying to fit his point of view — DaVinci doesn’t want to interact with me until he knows that I care. Which leads me to a question. How do you show a horse that you care? Continue reading

The Gift of “Good Becoming Normal”

‘Tis the season of giving and I found a few gifts online in the form of awesome websites. The first is a dog training website chock full of phenomenal training information. It’s called Dogmantics. If I could snap my fingers and fast forward into the future I would love to provide a resource like this for horses. Continue reading

For Every Action there is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Here’s a video showing exactly why I’m in favor of force-free, pressure-free, joyful, attraction-based interaction that feels good for both horse and human.

Note the angry face on human. Note the angry response from the horse. I think it’s safe to assume most horses don’t like pushing, jabbing, shoving, smacking gestures as means of communication. And here we have a horse that took the bull by the horns, or the human by the hair and said, enough.

I lump this video into the category of “Don’t Give Your Horse a Reason for Bad Behavior.”

It’s my sincere hope that there were no injuries and this young force-full horse handler may experience the beauty and simplicity of attraction-based work with horses. I have a sneaking feeling she’ll be a fan of helmets.

-cw

The Force of the Treat Pouch

Here’s a comment I received from Ulrika in Sweden in regards to attraction-based training.

“Thank you! GOOD name for a NEW way of using the force of the treatbag…ie without force.”

It got me thinking about a very important relationship that I’ve taken for granted until now. And that is the one I share with my treat pouch. I swear, if an alien landed in my pasture and saw me working with my horse, no doubt they’d probably think I was of the marsupial family. Continue reading

Bad Becoming Normal

‘Bad becoming normal’ is simply the concept that when something bad happens within an environment, gradually but prolifically, it becomes perceived as “normal.” Unless you approach the situation from a clean perspective, you don’t notice it. The conditions worsen slowly over time and no one notices the change.
Shanyn Silinski with Dr. Temple Grandin & Dr. Bill Muir

After I read about this concept of bad becoming normal my thoughts immediately began pondering the current state of whack’em, smack’em horsemanship. It’s not only become normal to whack, slap, stomp, shush, wave horses into obedience it’s what’s expected. Continue reading

Hmmm… I Wonder

I was explaining to a new acquaintance of mine a little bit about my training methods. As I spoke, her eyebrows furrowed and she became very quiet. I wasn’t sure if she was interested, confused or ready to debate me. After I finished my passionate diatribe, she began to tell me of her work with autistic children in the school system. Continue reading

Clyde-O-Scope

I’m a Paso Fino sized gal. I fit best in saddles sized for youth. If I’m riding in an arena and I’m wearing a jacket and helmet I’m often mistaken for a child. For the longest time I thought I’d get a nose bleed when I rode a horse over 15 hands. And now I own a Clydesdale. And I’m having the time of my life!

Raleigh, my bay roan Clyde, recently turned three. Continue reading

Dialogue with Dante: Wow is Right!

Barb and Dante are seriously dialoguing! Here’s her latest email.

Tonight Dante put both feet on the tire – 3 times.  He also stood on both sides of the stepping stone and also stood while I walked down his side.  And he came back to me in the pasture when the other horses went into the barn.  Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Barb

This thrills me. The last time I was there I introduced Dante to the notion of stepping up on the tire pedestal, but I felt he wasn’t ready. I saw that he got a little confused as he preferred to walk around the tire instead of stepping on it. I felt that he needed just a little more experience with targeting his feet to an object.

We worked reinforcing the verbal cue of ‘step up’ and the physical cue of tapping my foot on the object. Continue reading

Dialogue with Dante: Practical Play

After our fifth lesson with Dante, Barb sent me a quick email update:

Hi Cheryl,
Just wanted to give you a quick update about Dante.  He is such a sweetie.  I’ve been working with a target stick over head and head down when Larry started the big scary diesel tractor with the bush hog going right in front of him.  He was scared but he touched the target anyway!  Yea!!!!

But today was so neat.  I followed your suggestion and put a sock soaked in molasses on his ball.  Continue reading

Dialogue with Dante: Something Wonderful

Falling in Love Again
I really do fall in love way too easily, especially with horses. Dante has stolen my heart and, thankfully, stolen the heart of his owner even more. The contrast between where he was when we started and where he is after four short sessions makes me smile. Dante sees the world through different eyes. When I first met him his eyes were wide, his head was held high and there was no question that he was very alert. Continue reading

Dialogue with Dante: Introduction

Up until last week most of my attraction based training has taken place with the horses I own. Each time I hear of a difficult horse for sale, I literally enlist the help of my friends to remind me that I do not need another horse. It’s the difficult horses that are my biggest weakness.

For me, their troublesome baggage carried out by bolting, spooking, kicking, just to name a few, is like an archaeological dig or a great mystery novel. Continue reading

Free to Decide

I just read a post on a forum about how a woman said she cured a small dog of its aggression. She only had to alpha roll it twice! She bragged about how it was licking her face afterward. I’m curious to see what happens next. Does the dog have to see a chiropractor from being thrown on its back?

I shudder thinking of all the horses that were tripped and thrown onto their backs to break them.

So is all this animal tossing really necessary? Continue reading

The Beauty of Interaction

After I wrote about the bilingual nature of horses and their ability to speak and respond to both pressure and attraction, I realized another facet. It appears that pressure-based communications are reactive and attraction-based communications are interactive.

When a trainer uses pressure-release techniques, they are counting on the fact that the horse will have a reaction. Continue reading