This is a series of posts on a discussion forum. There was not enough activity on it to have a conversation with anyone, so if I am going to write to myself, I might as well put it in this space so you can find it. The first one is lower down or on the next page.
Go onto YouTube and search. There are a couple of interesting things.
I sent away to Australia for three Jeffery related DVDs last week. I recently got paid for a bunch of horses so I was feeling flush. I will tell you if they amount to anything. The other DVDs I sent away for were one from Allen Pogue on trick training and Ryan’s DVD on bolting. I sure wish Ryan had actually demo’ed with a bolting horse instead of Dylan. A friend of mine wanted to watch the Allen Pogue DVD and loaned me “In a Whisper” in return. That was fun to watch… a colt starting competition between Parelli, Craig Cameron, and Josh Lyons. Craig should have won, but they gave the prize to Josh. Tonight we are going to check out Karen Scholl. Lucky for all of us, horse clinicians exist. We would get so bored otherwise. I might save up some $ for Ryans series… hmmm.
I’ve got to whine about something…. hmmmm. Well my co-trainers… KC has the swine flu and Bob went to Texas for the weekend. Can’t complain about them if they are gone. Hmmm.. the mustang facility seems to be the Starbucks of the local equine scene. Everyone wants to hang out here. It makes it hard to get my work done. Got two more ‘stangs adopted this morning and I have adopters starting to show up to help gentle their own mustangs before they leave the facility. Right now they get a laundry basket full of hay and a chair outside of their horses pen.
I’m hand feeding the new bands. I have a good trick when they are super wild. I get one of my personal riding horses and I let it eat along the fence where I want to feed the mustangs. I am with the riding horse in the alley. It’s feeding along the bottom of the fence and I keep shoving hay under the rails to the mustangs on the other side. They come up and eat because another horse is eating. They ignore me at first and then they get accustomed to being hand fed despite their ambivalence toward humans. I expect that tomorrow I will be able to feed about half of them without having to hide under a tame horse. You need to use a REALLY TAME horse since you will be sitting under it. Of course I don’t let the adopters get under my horse, but I have tied domesting horses near by their chairs with good effects. The main thing is to remove any suspicion that we are predators.
Dan, the mustang trapper, brought another nine horses in this evening. It was one band and they let the stud go because he is black and beautiful. They will return one of the mares also because she has very distinctive markings. They PZP the distinctive mares (birth control for 2 years). If they used PZP on the plain bays they could never study what happens to them.
So we are up to 18 new mustangs on top of our resident 7. This is when I start hating life because we don’t have pens to keep them as individuals. Have you ever tried training a herd? The behavior of the herd sinks to the level of the most fearful horse. You have to isolate them for them to act like an individual. I had isolated the ones that arrived yesterday but there is absolutely not the pens to isolate many more. I also put my domestic horses in some of the pens with the most bothered horses.. It seems to keep the horses from feeling too sorry for the way their freedom was ripped from them. I do think they suffer from emotional shock.
I just came in from negotiating the fight. I get all the mares and foals to work with. When we separate them, Bob will take his horses to the roundpen with this long rope. If by chance the horses are already separated, well, he wouldn’t need to take mine. I think its time to open some gates and let the animals roam around.
Bob is one heck of a cowboy really. He is 84 years old and trains mustangs everyday for fun. We are able to talk about our philosophical differences but he just doesn’t get the physiology of learning. He gets hung up in mans responsibility to be a leader which I have no problem with but I just think we can be a smarter leader.
The other trainer is 19 years old. He is a Navajo who is interested in vaquero style horsemanship. He did a summer on the King Ranch breaking horses when he was 17. He is a good vaquero style cowboy. His mustangs stay hard to approach but its not a problem if you throw a 60 ft riata good enough. I would say his horses are good for cowboy adopters.
We get a lot of cowboys wanting studs to fix the weak part of their quarterhorse stock. We adopted two studs yesterday just for that purpose. Lucky dudes.
Tomorrow the big fight starts. We let the mustangs just hang out on the first day. Training starts on Day 2. We each are supposed to have our own animals, but ol’ Bob likes to run them under the rope on the first day while they are still in their bands.
In all honesty, running them under the rope is a very brilliant training protocol. You hang a 50 ft rope on the side of a 60 ft pen and you start very slowly pushing them back and forth under the rope until they realize that you just stand when they are under the rope, so they figure out that being under the rope takes all the pressure off. Having a rope across their neck, back, etc. becomes a source of comfort to them.
I don’t want to do it because it requires “chasing” them however mildly and I am totally focused on decreasing flight distance. I want to hand feed them instead and get them to touch me. I think if we get them to start approaching us its better than using their flight distance to habituate them to the rope. I would rather let them go under a rope because I indicated to them I wanted them to go under the rope after the bond of trust is solid.
But Bob cannot understand why I would object. And if I was to say, “okay,” then he would take that as a green light to do what ever he pleased to my horses. One day he went into the pen of recently gelded horses, of which about half were horses I was working with and he started tossing his ropes on them. I was furious. Finally I just went and opened the gates on the pen he was in and let all the horses escape into the alley, saying I was taking my horses out. He was left with one pitiful looking old gelding that I had clicker trained to put his head in a rope loop. Bob kept tossing his rope on the old horse for a minute not knowing quite how to respond to such a bold move on my part. The horse did not seem to mind.
We are each allowed to take five horses at a time. I am here 24/7 and I put the most time into my horses. Bob is here about 3 hrs a day, and KC is here about 1 hr a day, so when we don’t have enough horses I think they should be mine. We have to decide how to handle that tomorrow. The problem is that the horses can get adopted out from under you before you get them to pass inspection so you can get paid. I was going to try to take five of the new horses and let the others divide up the other four, but adopters showed up and took three of the ones I was looking at. It’s better to train the old ugly ones in a way as you can really make a difference in how adoptable they are.
I wish the contract specified an at-liberty flight distance rather than pettable on a lead rope.
Women are at a disadvantage in upper body strength making some kind of pull back consequences attractive, but if such is necessary I would rather use a stud chain than use a rope halter with knots on the pressure points simply because a rope halter looks so innocuous — why not just honestly admit we are training with pain? The point blank existence of a stud chain will put the communication problem to where it is staring you in the face and force you to keep looking for a better way.
I like using the squeeze halter when I start out. I make it with a thick cotton rope. Then I end up mostly just using a rope around the neck.
The mustangs we have left from the last adoption are getting some special training now. They are getting led from what ever pen they happen to be in at feeding time to another pen waiting for them with hay. This means they have to be caught and led before each feeding. They are coming around fast to the idea. I just have to be careful when catching them that I don’t let them practice running away. I put the rope on with a stick that can reach over their backs. Some of them will follow the feel in the rope with it just draped over their necks, not even made into a loop. I like giving them a reason they understand to get caught and go with me.
The mustang trapper caught two bands last night so we are awaiting the arrival of our next 10 mustangs this afternoon. We are going to get them on YouTube right from the start.
Your acquaintance who chased her mustangs around gave them plenty of opportunity to practice the flight response. One of our trainers here uses round-penning methods and you can’t catch his horses when he is done. The other trainer is more likely to put them in the chute, or a tiny pen, and just let them get over the fact that he is going to touch them. It gets a little western sometimes and he doesn’t make any equine friends that way, but at least they don’t get practice running away.
If Ryan and Andrew are right, the less they practice the flight response, the better equine companions they will be. I’m betting with them.
I figured it was something like that, but no amount of refreshing brought back the post… sigh…
Anyway I catch a lot of flack for not using typical western horse methods of training. No one thinks what I am doing with the horse at the time they walk up is really training because the horse isn’t mad, angry, frightened, or exasperated. The other trainers specialize in Learned Helplessness around here saying that the horse is a master of accepting the inevitable. They see me and think if you aren’t using a rope halter, how could you possibly train a mustang??? They put rope halters on the horses in the chute and leave them and I take them off as soon as I can get my hands on the mustang in a pen. No one came around today when I was here so I have nothing specific to rant about (but someone dumped a pair of old white ponies on me while I was doing laundry.) I am sure to have something to complain about soon as this place is like Grand Central Station.
I am studying Kel Jeffreys and Billy Linfoot. I would like to know if Dr. Linfoot could catch his horse the next day. My current quest is for approachability.
wanted to journal about resisting peer pressure to train with “Natural Horsemanship” or other such methods. I wrote a long post about it the other day, venting really, but then the forum program just said I needed to log in and it lost my posting. I am wondering if that kind of behavior from the forum program is why people don’t post to this forum. It’s extremely discouraging at any rate. It also did it to me when writing about pasture dynamics. If I wasn’t like a bulldog, I would have already given up.
This one was a reply to the only comment I got about my introduction.
Thanks for your great reply.
I tried teaching the Behaviorist-style “Go Forward” to a sweet-tempered mustang this afternoon and noticed that the horse was a little bit claustrophobic when I had him against the rail… he did better in the center of the pen. I had to stand out to the side much further than with a domestic horse because me just being in that space made him unlikely to step into it. He doesn’t want to violate the boundaries of my energy bubble and when I pressured him to do so, he jumped over it. He backup up perfectly right from the beginning. This was a horse with very little experience of leading. If you tried this style of go-forward, you could be giving your mustang conflicting signals if its flight distance was greater than zero.
The funny thing is that our mustangs are very mannerly compared to most horses on Ryan’s television program!!! None of them strike, rear, kick, or bite unless you do something truly horrid to them.
I tried a little range into Ryan Gingerich’s discussion forum called the Connection Club. You get a 30 day membership when you order one of his DVDs. Well, I was about the only one posting anything. I wasn’t connected to anyone anywhere, so I decided to just put them over here where they belong.
Greetings from New Mexico at the Mustang Facitlity
I work as a horse trainer at the USFS mustang facility in Farmington NM. We do pre-adoption gentling to help get our horses adopted and get the horses started on successful paths into domestication. I am always looking for new techniques to facilitate this transformation. I have been a big fan of Andrew McLean for years and so was really excited to find out about Ryan. We need some science in the crazy world of horsetraining!!!!
There are two other trainers at the mustang facility and we do not all share the same training philosophy. I have to constantly defend my position on not chasing or adrenalizing these animals, so it was really helpful for me to go watch Ryan at the Horse Expo in Ignacio, CO a few weeks ago. It reminded me why I have to stand my ground on these issues. One would think that the results would speak for themselves, but the fact that my animals can be managed on a lead rope rather than herded is dismissed by them saying categorically that I “spoil” the horses.
The areas that I feel like I need improvement are helping the animal stay calm under duress and more yielding to pressure cues (since I use positive reinforcement so much, response to pressure cues are something they don’t automatically understand). In watching the Behaviorist TV segments, the go forward cue is probably where I need to focus. Of course this has to be done in a manner that will not send the mustang into flight. To this date, I usually start them turning in response to lead rope pressure and hope that it will generalize to go forward. Hmmm… seems obvious… something to work on!
There are recently made videos on our pre-adoption gentling program: