Friday, 7 August 2009

Relinquish - How much can we really ask for?

WARNING!!!! Some musings of my mind hahahah!!!!!

I have noticed that Antsje never really seems to have a wet mouth after riding. She has always been very tense / resistant in her poll – even on the ground! She is quite reluctant to give me her head willingly. Even though we have worked with clicker, she will put her head down on cue for a click and treat but it’s a learned behaviour not really a willing ‘I will give you my head’ action – does that make sense?
So I have been trying to work on some ‘poll release’ to try and see if I can remove some of the tension there and get her to trust me with her head! I have always known this is her ‘holding point’ both mentally and physically but I still haven’t found a way in yet. I can get it by ‘tricks’ like clicker, and also if I stick my finger in her mouth and make her ‘chew’ it automatically releases the poll area and I can bring her head down – but none of this is a mentally giving thing from her!
So Wednesday I spent a long time ‘playing’ with relaxing her poll, head and neck and we did start to get some softness and release. And she did start chewing of her own accord and sighing. She wasn’t 100% there – she wasn’t even 80% there, but I think it’s the best genuine, non contrived response Ive had from her. The best exercise I found was standing in front of her head, with each hand placed on each side of her poll and just moving her head from side to side in a way that it made her crest ‘flip over’ each time she flexed to each side. Normally when I moved her head from side to side, she is still very fixed in this area and although the neck moves that little flexion in the poll doesn’t happen.

So this morning, before I bridled up, I did this same exercise and she was definitely softer and more willing to let me move her head gently from side to side, flexing the poll. There is still resistance there, but it was less – I have to wonder if this had a bearing on her being altogether softer when I rode today? We will see!!! Iwill continue with this work – my gut feeling is this is an important key to unlock.

I have to have a rueful smile to myself – me and Antsje are so alike! And Im asking her to do something that I struggle and resist to do myself – and that is give herself over to me completely. She does trust me, that I know for sure, but there is still that bit of self preservation there, that little bit that she just cannot let go of! Maybe I have no right to ask that of her! Maybe ‘IM’ just not ready to receive it yet, maybe she feels I still am not worthy of it – and she perhaps has a point! I still get far too frustrated at times! I don’t think personally I have ever given that last 10 % either, to anyone! – I don’t know if I can either! I understand how she feels ;-)
Maybe I should be content with what we have lol! After all its not a bad place to be :-D


Anonymous said...

Interesting musings - I like how you think about things - and you're right - it's that giving on the "inside" that's important, not just compliance on the outside.

HorseOfCourse said...

Interesting comment.
Mares (maybe like us girls?) can sometimes as you say need some more convincing before they buy what you are selling. Hm.

Some musings back.
Have you used clicker when riding her too?
I have used it when training my mare, and have found it a useful tool. I use verbal praise instead of clicker sound.
It makes it easier for my horse to understand what I want. And it helps on the motivation too…
Can I tell you what happened a while ago?
I had a problem when doing canter extensions on the diagonal as Fame, my horse, took off completely. She turned deaf when I tried to collect her at the end - lalala, nobody home…
So we did a very concentrated session with halts and treats at the end of the diagonal. In the end she was much better – it was not perfect, but a clear improvement.
So next day I started to warm up, posting trot as usual. And she kept offering canter instead. Hm. I scratched my head. No stiffnesses? No, she felt fine…
And then it dawned on me, stupid! She had gotten treats while cantering the day before, LOL!
So don’t tell me our horses are stupid!
And we did get some very nice canter extensions – with an eager horse nice and softly collecting at the end! Huh.
I guess what I wanted to say that with mares the “what’s in it for me”-factor sometimes can be higher than with geldings. Some sweets goes a long way...

Jane said...

Its a good point. I know Magic is the same. He'll do as he's told, he knows he should, but he's never 100% focussed on me... he has to keep at least a bit of an eye out for them lions....

Personally, I would feel I am restricting his PERSONALITY and who he is it I tried to force it... and lets face it, often that's what people want us to do... have 100% control 100% of the time!

Well, I've decided I don't and I can't, and actually he's working with me soooo much better the last few days since I've decided... he's also loads more relaxed.

So maybe it is a key to the picture somewhere?

Glad to hear you are having good rides. Nout wrong with lots of hacking!! That's all I got!


epona said...

nice comments guys :-)
Jane I know EXACTLY how you feel about restricting the personality! I dont want an Automaton! I love her BECASUSE of the exact reasons that drive me up the wall lol!

HoC - I do use the clicker when I ride, it def does help :-) but sometimes it can build tension as she gets in a pickle as to what she should be producing to get a click! she is a complex madam lol!