Is it a mental or a physical brace?


Resistance can either be physical or mental. I can refuse to do something because I am too weak: „No, I won‘t push the wheelbarrow up that hill. Don‘t you know that I wrenched my wrist the other day?“ Or I refuse because of other reasons: „Me again? I‘ve emptied it three times in the last week already! Now it‘s definitely your turn!“ 

Same thing with horses. If something doesn‘t work and you are pretty sure the reason is not physical try to find a mental brace. Yesterday I came into the arena with Paledo - not overly ambitious. We walked for a while, me testing how responsive he was to my cues when I wanted him to stop, step quicker, halt or go back. That wasn‘t too bad. I let him come to a halt, hooked my finger into his rope halter and asked him to give to it (I wanted him to bend the neck and the poll). I gave some millimeters with the speed of a snail. I spent some minutes asking for the bend - with modest success
Then I realized that the brace was not a muscular thing in his neck or poll - it was a brace in his brain. He just said „no.“ So I changed the game from „If you don‘t yield I will keep up the pressure“ (which did not impress him at all) to „If you don‘t yield I will have you run for a round and ask again.“
Finger hooked in, asked again for a subtle response and a smooth bend, he didn‘t react, so I send him out backward and on a circle with some energy. When I had him come in after a lap his ears were pricked and his face attentive. Finger hooked in again, asked for the yield - and there it came, a subtle smooth willing response and yield to the pressure with the perfect flexion in neck and poll, in less than a second. 

The solution to a problem is often not to be found directly next to it (asking to yield did not work) but it lies somewhere on the way you were traveling when the problem appeared (he does not yield because he lacks respect and a reason to do it).

I've just found an article that covers the same topic more in depth: http://learnhorses.blogspot.de/2011/09/dont-embrace-brace.html

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