Saturday, July 17, 2010

Driving Guinness

I was recently inspired by this quote from Keri's blog:

"I particularly wanted to play with Figure eights, another thing Mrs. Parelli talked about. She said that there are two ways to do Figure eights, as a driving game and as a circle game. Doing them as a circle game gives the horse more responsibility and causes the horse to fall in love with you being in neutral. Doing Figure eights as a driving game you are micro managing the horse to much."
I'm starting to consider the over-use of the driving game as though the horse is a passenger riding in a car being driven by someone else - he probably doesn't have his brain engaged enough to be able to repeat the task by himself, since he is being directed each step of the way. However, if he were in the proverbial driver's seat (ie; had the responsibility) he would have to think his way through the process.

Guinness strongly resists being driven. He will accept a cue to move away, but is only happy when he voluntarily moves. If I push him too much, he responds with "you can't make me move my feet" - just like he does with the other horses in the field. Then it turns into a dominance game and he has very thick skin. When I rely on driving him through a task, I think that his brain is too occupied with "how can I get out of this" for him to be really learning, even with lots of repetition.

I need to find types of Phase 4s other than getting more physical or big with him. Upping my intensity? Maybe little annoying things? Or perhaps even the idea of a "phase 4" (forcing him) is going the wrong way with him? Maybe I just need to give him enough space to solve each puzzle for himself (in order to earn a reward) without me pushing him? When he asks a question, I could give him some guidance.

Light Bulb Moment: This works with kids too. And with anyone needing to learn a task. When a student is in charge of finding their way, they learn more. I'd bet that is why the PNH instructors have changed their teaching approach from taking over from the student and showing them how to do things, and more to acting as a resource for students as they explore new skills. How interesting..

Isn't this also the way that the best old-time horse trainers passed information on to their students? Allowing them to learn from their mistakes and to find their own answers? Maybe they were using the same techniques on both horses and humans?

I'm not talking about "defending my space" here. Just methods for teaching a task and/or getting results. I guess those can be two different things..

Please feel free to comment. I'm trying to sort this out!


inchwormwv said...

What a provocative topic! Laura has been highly influenced by Cavalia and Frederic Pinon's book. She has been talking a lot to me about "the relationship", dignity, Liberty, and always being a safe place for your horse. My insight is more about the person than the horse - and make vs. want. Just let me ramble on here...perhaps I will develop something useful (for me or you)LOL

You are getting to a place where Guiness is testing your leadership, and you need to find the best way to ensure his cooperation as a PARTNER. I wish I had a solid example of me and Augie solving this, but really what I am finding is how strong a reaction I have to "disobedience".

I suspect the solution, for me at least, is in letting go of my ego's desire for praise, recognition and success.

But I have a thought on driving as well - think of Mark Rashid circling a horse - he walks in a small circle and uses his changing speed to influence the speed of the horse. He is playing the driving game on a circle, but it does not look/feel like a predatory move - more like a partnership. Harmony not micromanagement.

And don't forget "don't make me pick up the stick" and a long phase 1 and quick 2-3-4 - with an attitude of justice.

I hate seeing Augie's opposition reflex come up. But I think -- what if I needed him to move NOW to avoid some danger? At that point my focus would indicate how important was the request to move.

So perhaps the natural power of focus, and making sure that what you are asking is really important, and remembering that you are playing a GAME?

Naturally Gaited said...

The game part is really important. Especially the win-win part. But some horses would walk thru fire if their human partner asked them too. They willingly (?) put their lives into their partners hands as their leaders. Do LBIs (or LBEs for that matter) ever do this? They don't seem to be looking for leadership much.. Does Linda ever *force* Remmer?

My horse Smokey is the boss around here, but you'd never know it until something happens that he really cares about (ie; a new horse on the property)then he exerts himself. Then it is so clear to the other horses that it is important to Smokey that they do what he tells them to do.

We are constantly "managing" our LB horses. Does this come across to them as annoying static? Do most of them obey out of a lingering sense of fear of humans?

I sense this turning into a much longer post in the near future!

PeterC said...

Wow, how timely I was just thinking on how to get the games to be games and not work. It always seems I have to force the issue to get movement no matter how much chance to time I give.

Looking forward to more of your thoughts!


Parelli Central said...

For your LBI you have to become a provocative leader. Somebody who's providing lots of puzzles and is therefore engaging their always busy mind. Love, Language, Leadership in equal dosis is the key!

Petra Christensen
1Star Parelli Junior Instructor
Parelli Central

Laura said...

AmigaWV here....had to chime in...
wowzaa...what a great topic!
I am blown away at the depth of your thinking process!

Being the owner of a LBE I am more than familiar with this psychological discussion that rattles around in my brain every day of my life! HAHA and I have come to a few basic conclusions...
We all know the heirchary of needs as you stated, safety, comfort play and food...
From my own experience, it has come over time with a very steep learning curve and much study. I am often successful and sometimes unsuccessful. I do believe that with a LB horse it must be a 51/49 agreement and preserving the horses 49% is where the savvy lies. Pat says "if it ain't light it ain't right". In my recent delves into Frederic Pignon and Klaus Hempfling's books I have come to understand that the LB horse has a TREMENDOUS play drive. I have been experimenting with letting that out of the bag more so than in the past as it is not intimidating to me any longer. Once the safety is established, there's where I can start to make some progress in getting my 51%. It is my goal to FOCUS and constantly read her. I play dominance games and do this by yeilding the FQ, HQ, sideways, backing up and by playing the porcupine game to see just how light I can be. In all the games, I try to be as subtle as I can in every regard to get the intended response. I think when I do these things, with lightness as my goal but willing to go to a P4 if necessary....I start working on my 51%...I can see that in her. She starts to appreciate me as a leader who is "just and fair". The attitude of justice will be understood. I have also been working on being a little more particular without being critical in hopes of keeping her playful busy little mind going. I have been paying particular attention to what it takes to get her attention and to not be ignored while we are playing at liberty in the polytape round pen. I think I am making progress. I have finally come to a place of understanding that I have a horse with a HUGE play drive and through game playing I can get compliance. Its fun for her and me. It has not always been that way in past....I think I have victomized her with the 7 jobs...oh well....I work really hard with finding out what her ideas are and trying to make them my ideas...the LB/confidence/dominance is a tightrope...full of deep authentic primal energy...I've got to have excellent timing in calling the shots or it will be offending to her. Wheewww...I just said a lot of something or a lot of nothing...not sure which!!!!! I have come to accept that I will fail sometimes at the guessing game...I am, after all, a humble student of the horse!