my biggest concern during this session was that billy would leave me and run off biting and kicking the other horses. he left me twice, but really had no interest in the other horses, just needed to leave my energy and give himself a little space. david said that when billy leaves i must not bring him back with cookies and petting because this just enforces the leaving. horses are smart and figure out quickly that if they leave they get to come back to cookies. duh. this makes so much sense! instead when he leaves, join his dance, get him back and then go back to the thing that caused him to leave, but hold onto the rope this time...
in this session we were playing with getting and KEEPING two eyes. keeping the horses concentration/attention on us. causing the horse to believe that we are the sweet spot. the horse HAS to be with us and the horse GETS to be with us.
to do this we start with the horses head at our belly button, “the sweet spot”. then we ask our horse to circle at liberty by sending them and tapping their shoulder with our stick if they need help moving their feet. BUT they must keep two eyes on us at first. the horse will kind of go sideways in order to accomplish this. if the horse starts to leave, back up, or takes two eyes off us, then we really flick their hind quarters, phase 4, to correct. the flick must be quick, kind of like a snake striking, and must be done on the horse, not on the ground. it’s just like hide the hiney! when you get both eyes again, repeat the ask and allow the movement as long as they keep their eyes on you.
[caption id="attachment_404" align="aligncenter" width="640"] left: hiding that hiney middle: he left! right: bringing him back to the sweet spot[/caption]
it’s hard to get the timing and the feel for this one. it seems so simple, but the horse is so close to you that it’s difficult to keep things gathered up. my stick felt too long, my rope kept getting tangled around my feet. when i put the rope around his neck he left me twice. sigh. i was a mess!
david said my communication was too mushy. i must be clear and concise with my movements to get the desired result from billy, otherwise he’ll just leave!
send, drop my hand when he moves, tap his shoulder if he needs help. if he gets too far away, backs up or takes his eyes off me, swat that hiney and bring him back into the sweet spot. draw, draw, draw! i must be sure that if i have to swat him that i give him pets and cookies to balance the reinforcement. i feel like too often i have to phase 4 him and then i don’t balance that with friendly. this has resulted in my draw not being as good as it once was. balance is key!
here is a little video that i made last night of our progress...