Finally, a coherent collection of alternatives to LDR by Linda Tellington-Jones, entitled Rollkur, Hyperflexion, LDR (Low, Deep & Round).
Let me know what you think.
Finally, a coherent collection of alternatives to LDR by Linda Tellington-Jones, entitled Rollkur, Hyperflexion, LDR (Low, Deep & Round).
Let me know what you think.
What horse person isn’t into dogs and cats? Just in case you’re interested and happen to have the radio on, listen to this:
You clip the lunge line to his face and send him away. A flick of the whip or the rope and off he goes. Short time, long time, whatever, he walks, trots or canters in a circle. Your purpose for this exercise is clear in your mind: exercise, smooth transitions, an attempt at calming, lameness detection, etc. His understanding of the point of lungeing? ZERO.
Mounted or on the ground, you tug gently on the lead rope in the direction of his withers to ask for flexion to the left and then to the right. You practice this each and every time before you ride. Sometimes it’s a part of all the groundwork you do each day. A routine. It’s good horsemanship. You have a clear intention of what you want to achieve: a quick and soft yield of the head. Your horse’s attention. You have his attention al lright. But do you know what is in his mind? I wonder if it’s this:
I learned what you want in this flexion thing in a few tries. I don’t understand why I have to do it over and over. It’s boring. If we don’t do something new pretty soon, I’m going to find something else on my own. Oh hey, look what I can do…!
Backing up on the ground.
20 meter circles at the walk and trot.
Trotting over cavaletti.
Sliding stops and spins.
Most of what we ask our horses to do on a daily basis is not as inherently harmful as dressage practice with rollkur. Yielding the head and trotting in 20 meter circles can’t physically hurt a horse unless he has health problems or injuries.
It can be harmful in other ways, however, as Frédéric Pignon says,
What people do not appreciate is that every time a horse submits to pressure, whether subtle or overt, he is diminished. Probably the great majority of people who achieve their own ends by making their horse submit are not even aware of what they have done. It is a sad fact that a horse can be made to do many things by breaking his will. If he can be persuaded to give his assent freely and pleasurably rather than give into man’s pressure or clever techniques, he is not diminished.
In Do We Really Know What We Do?, I posted the quote above also. I don’t believe we can contemplate what Frédéric was telling us enough. Horses who cannot find meaning in what they do are sour. They “misbehave.” They go lame. What we often do not realize is that it’s our fault.
Each and every time we as ordinary riders, just like the stars of the horse world, ask our horses to repeat an action they have already learned, or to do something contrary to their nature as horses, we are asking for a kind of submission, “making” him do things that make no sense to him. Most of horseback riding is not natural to horses, to be sure.
Horseback riding and training require a certain amount of repetition. This is irrefutable. But how much is enough? How can we be sure that our horses’ activities have clear and valid meaning for them?
One way is to change the way in which they are rewarded for producing the desired behavior. The pleasure of spending time with us is a reward for social animals like horses. We don’t always have time, but making time within our riding and training schedules to add a few extra moments of just being together with no goal in mind, and using this as a reward/positive reinforcement adds meaning to the tasks we ask horses to do.
Another way is to increase the amount of physical contact we have with our horses. Not the kind with the whip or with the leg. The kind where you both are on the ground and your hands are on the horse. Touch is a miracle communicator because horses are sensory creatures. Like us, touch in equine life is an important part of the establishment of social hierarchies and family interaction. The reward of human touch is powerful for such tactile animals. You’ve seen a horse with a metaphorical sign reading, “will work for food,” but most of them also will work for touch.
Do what comes naturally to your horse. An Icelandic Horse is bred for moving out across country. Their minds are not suited to riding in circles in arenas. If you are going to ask them to work in confined spaces at tasks they don’t inherently understand, make sure they get to do what they do understand, on a daily basis. Ride out, at speed!
Likewise, a Percheron is not built for, nor does he have the mindset for, the rapid changes in tempo and rhythm of dressage. Don’t even try it! I’m not suggesting that owners of Percherons take up hauling logs instead of riding. But perhaps long rides in the country are a better option for the health and sanity of the horse.
The much-abused Thoroughbred also comes to mind. OTTBs just aren’t constitutionally suited to a great many of the jobs we give them. Sure, they are in plentiful supply. They are inexpensive and easily replaceable. But consider suitability for your desired activity first. And if it’s just impossible to match breed to discipline, make sure you keep in mind my suggestions above for keeping your horse sane: avoid mindless repetition of meaningless tasks, give plenty of downtime in your company, and make sure to touch touch touch! I have one further suggestion for helping your horse find meaning in his working life.
The best way to ensure that horses find meaning in what they do is to change things up. On a routine basis. Yes, we will have to put considerable thought into this.
Non-habitual movements, like those described by Moshe Feldenkrais, capture the horse’s attention in a way that habitual actions do not. When practiced in a relaxed atmosphere without provoking typical fear responses, any new activity involving all four feet, the head or tail, or the back or belly engages the horse’s mind in a new way. Expanding the horse’s body image through new and different (non-habitual) movement sequences brings attention to parts of his body he might not be fully aware of (we all know those horses who forget they have hind feet and leave them parked out, for example). Asking a horse to do new things allows you to become more aware of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities as well because you are seeing them in a new way. You can then expand his options for new ways of moving and living his life more fully and comfortably, not to mention with greater ease of performance.
The Tellington TTouch Method™ has a variety of ground work and ridden exercises called the Playground for Higher Learning . Through brainwave studies, it has been shown that working on the activities in the Playground activates both hemispheres of the equine brain and calms the sympathetic nervous system, the part that excites the flight reaction so common in horses when they don’t understand what is being asked of them. The opportunities for learning are increased greatly. It is interesting to note that when navigating corners in the labyrinth, a horse’s BETA brainwaves are activated. They are actually thinking logically while working in the Playground for higher learning.
Why get excited about a horse thinking? When lungeing or repeating the activities we might need endless practice at, horses turn off their brains. They get sour and sometimes they get angry. A sour, angry horse who is merely becoming fitter as a result of all this mindless exercise is not the horse we want. This does them a profound disservice and does not further our goals.
Guiding a horse deliberately and gently through non-habitual paths while in close physical contact is the very essence of mindful horsemanship. The bonus is that it’s fun!
It’s easy to make any of the items in the Playground for Higher Learning. You can use the stuff you have lying around the barn or purchase it cheaply. It’s not heavy and can be set up and then moved out of the way to ride by one person in minutes. Here are some examples of what you might want to include.
These tools are not your typical obstacle course. They are not intended to be negotiated at speed, or as objects for desensitization. Rather the object is to practice focus and self-control, and to increase flexibility, body awareness, balance, coordination, and confidence. Increased patience is a wonderful side effect of working in the Playground. You can immediately see the benefits of working youngsters here.
It is beyond the scope of this post to describe how to use each of these obstacles. I suggest that you visit the Tellington TTouch website to read about them in more detail or get a book or video. Better yet, take a training so that you can practice with a horse before trying yourself. The TTouch methods of leading a horse through these obstacles is an integral part of the exercises. Last week in Bodega Bay, California, horses worked in these obstacles, and on a plywood platform raised 6 inches off the ground, in addition to walking through a gradually-built path of straw bales with people standing on them, eventually holding bright pool noodles in an arch over the horse. I saw striking changes in these horses in a short time–just four days of work two hours a day. These horses ranged from a youngster aged three (not yet mounted) to an elder aged 23 (unrideable due to past neglect and possible abuse), to a Grand Prix dressage horse with impeccable training and manners.
Horses’ capacity for learning and engagement with their human handlers never ends. It is our responsibility to meet them more than halfway by providing the opportunity to do so.
I’m not suggesting that we all drop our favorite equestrian disciplines in favor of turning our horses out into a field and visiting them daily with a carrot, a massage and a turn in the Playground. Though that would be excellent. We have horses so we can do things with them. Balance is absolutely necessary. It takes skillful means to strike and hold that balance. It isn’t easy, and it takes more time than grabbing the horse from the stall or field, scraping off the dirt, slapping on tack and circling the arena 50 times.
Rather than seeking yields (submission), we might instead seek cooperation, fun and learning with these tools, which will allow us to pursue our personal horseback riding and training goals without completely eradicating the soul of the horse. In this, we can all learn from Frédéric Pignon and Linda Tellington-Jones, whose mutual goal is to uphold the sanctity of the horse.
Join Linda Tellington-Jones on Sunday, May 24, 2009 online at 6:00 p.m. CST as a special guest on The Pet Playground – hosted by Sage Lewis, The Creature Teacher and Tellington TTouch Practitioner Level 3.
This entertaining and educational call-in show is for pets and the people who love them. Find out why your pets act the way they do and how to help them (and you) create a happier, healthier, more balanced life together.
Call in with your pet questions: 952-946-6205
Not in Minnesota or just want to hear the discussion? Listen live online at: KTNK.com. (Use 55117 as the zip code.)
Learn more about The Pet Playground
Learn more about Sage: Dancing Porcupine
© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch
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If you’re looking for adventure in the last week of April, you might consider attending the 2009 ABMA Annual Conference. To be held april 26-May 1, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, this conference will bring together trainers, handlers, and keepers of all kinds of animals.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Bridging the Gap” is about sharing information and addressing topics to develop a comprehensive behavior management programs. This conference will address four major components of behavior management: 1) relationship building, 2) training, 3) enrichment, and 4) evaluation and documentation. The conference shcedule is packed full of interactive workshops and discussion groups as well as opportunities to experience hands-on training, enrichment and documentation activities.
WHAT IS THE ABMA?
Adapted from their website:
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance, (ABMA) is a not-for-profit corporation with a membership comprised of animal care professionals and other individuals interested in enhancing animal care through training and enrichment. The ABMA is intended to be nurturing and informative, and was created to serve trainers, handlers, and keepers of animals, irrespective of Species, with information and assistance in the behavior management of their charges.
The mission of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) is to advance animal behavior management in order to enhance the Husbandry and welfare of animals.
It is the vision of this organization to become nationally and internationally recognized as the leading authority on the behavior management of animals in human care. The ABMA, through its board of directors, committees, and individual members- utilizing publications, conferences, and other venues of Communication-seeks to provide the latest behavior management information and technology in order to encourage optimal behavior management paradigms for both captive and wild animals.
Learning is always occurring; therefore, pro-active behavior management is an essential component of responsible animal care.
All behavior is modifiable.
Learning should be conducted in a nurturing and non-threatening environment for both animals and people.
Responsible behavior management creates a continuous flow of innovative options for successful animal care.
Animal behavior management will be advanced by the sharing of knowledge and new ideas.
Safety is at the core of a responsible animal behavior management program.
Animal behavior management is a necessary component of conservation.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Linda Tellington-Jones, speaking about how to relate to the animals in your care like you never have before. Linda, a world renowned author and an internationally acclaimed authority on animal behavior, training and healing, will teach you about the Tellington Method. The Tellington Method utilizes a variety of techniques of touch, movement and body language to affect behavior, performance, and health, and increasing an animal’s willingness and ability to learn in a painless and anxiety-free environment.
Also featured this year will be Training 101 presented by Margaret Whittaker, behavioral consultant, of Active Environments, Inc. Active Environments is an animal behavior consulting firm that works with zoos, biomedical and research facilities, and sanctuaries to enhance the care and welfare of captive animals.
Advanced Training, understanding and application of behavioral consequences, will be presented by Terry Ryan of Legacy Canine Behavior & Training, Inc. Legacy, founded in 1975 by Terry and Bill Ryan, promotes humane dog training. Terry will lead ‘Chicken Camp’ where the chicken becomes the student and the teacher. A chicken as a training partner is a stretch and a boost to your mechanical skills, as timing, coordination and clear communication is paramount.
Robert Young, author of Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals will discuss the history of animal keeping, legal issues and ethics, and a detailed exploration of whether environmental enrichment actually works, the methods involved, as well as how to design and manage enrichment programs. <a
Questions? Contact: Email Penny Krebs
May 6-10, 2009 in Middleburg, VA at Brook Hill Farm. This will be a five-day TTEAM® Training for Horses taught by Linda Tellington-Jones, PhD (Hon).
Nestled in spring-green, rolling hills of Piedmont, Virginia and lavishly dotted with dogwood blossoms, the stone barns at Brook Hill Farm provide a snug haven for horses arriving by trailer from around the country. Tellington TTouch Practitioner Pam Wooley’s capable staff see to it that visiting horse owners can return to their hotels at night secure in the knowledge that their horses are safe and well cared for. Training participants without horses get lots of hands-on time with these horses.
At this training you can learn about the TTEAM training approach, which encourages optimal performance and health while presenting solutions to common behavioral and physical problems. TTEAM horses demonstrate marked improvement in athletic skills and increased willingness and ability to perform. Not only does the horse benefit, but also a deeper rapport grows between horse and rider because of increased understanding and more effective communication.
TTEAM covers three phases: learning exercises done in-hand, the Tellington TTouch and riding techniques.
Some of the topics covered will include:
• How to improve performance
• Ground exercises to help improve balance, self control and focus
• How to apply TTEAM first aid techniques while waiting for the veterinarian
• How to use the TTEAM equipment like the Balance Rein, Neck Ring and Bodywrap
• Ways to speed healing and recovery from injury or illness
• Why issues such as nervousness, laziness, trailering problems, attitude difficulties and stiffness occur and how to solve them in a safe, positive way
If you have a commitment to bringing your relationship with your horse to the next level, Tellington TTouch Training for Horses will take you there. Regardless of your discipline, preferred breed or level of experience, you will learn the tools and techniques that foster the magical partnership between you and your horse that most people strive for a lifetime to achieve.
Combining the pioneering Tellington TTouch with special ground exercises and under-saddle work, this training method offers an approach based on cooperation rather than domination and understanding rather than control. Working with interesting and diverse horses, this training introduces the basic body work and its applications, as well as exploring the role and purpose of the special ground exercises and Tellington tack under saddle. You will learn to chunk down the training process into incremental steps that are scientifically proven to reduce fearfulness in horses, thereby increasing potential for learning.
You have several opportunities to work with Linda and other experienced TTEAM practitioners. Every training has its own special flavor, and in the Middleburg horse country you will find yourself surrounded by like-minded horse lovers in a spectacular and historic setting.
You will also begin to see your equine companion with new eyes. Innovative opportunities for working with your horse will begin to crystallize. You will be empowered with the “gift of possibility.” With an open mind and an open heart, you will come away from every training enriched with new and marvelous tools.
A Tellington Training is a gift for both you and your horse. Why miss this opportunity? Trainings fill quickly so register soon.
Questions? Email or call 866-4-TTouch (866-488-8624). TTEAM USA can help you develop the relationship with your horse that you’ve always dreamed of.
For further information, call the TTEAM USA Office:
P.O. Box 3793
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Price: $950.00. Early bird price is $855 if paid in full prior to March 16.
Contact: TTEAM Office 800-854-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more or Register for this training.