Monday, January 15, 2007

Lesson 3 Harvey Jacobs & Arabian Horses

Introduction to Harvey Jacobs
Lesson One
Lesson Two

To this point Harvey has the horse paying close attention to him, working both ways of the round pen at the gait requested and stopping on cue. These things are all usually accomplished with a light cue. Harvey asks the horse with the lightest pressure possible and only increases pressure if the horse is not responding. Remember the horse decides how much pressure. The lightest pressure at this point would be looking at the horse’s hind quarters to make it move off, looking at it’s shoulder to slow up, looking in front of the horse to stop and turn towards Harvey. The horse is working in a relaxed manner with a soft eye. When he stops he drops his head relaxed waiting for the next cue. The horse is developing trust in this new relationship.

I would like to add here that I like a verbal cue for coming down in gait so I tell my horses, “Whoop” to slow up and “Whoa” to stop. But it’s important to remember you must never tell the horse “Whoa” if you are not in a position to get it. You are only re-enforcing the horse not listening to your requests. So if you want to use verbal cues, it’s important to introduce them when you can see the horse is in the process of doing what you are asking. Example: The horse is being to stop from your manual cue and it’s clear it’s going to stop completely, so you say “Whoa.” You repeat moving the horse, manually applying the cue and the verbally applying the “Whoa” once you see the horse is stopping. Eventually you will reach the point you can use the verbal cue by itself and get the desired result. If at any time the horse moves through the cue (does not respond) you must add more pressure until you get the stop.

We are to the point in the training that Harvey is ready to take a step toward the horse. He will slowly take a small step forward, if the horse immediately raises its head, the horse is feeling pressured. Chances are it will move off if another step is taken. Harvey will stop and praise the horse, maybe even back up depending on the horse’s response. If the horse is continuing to show signs of discomfort, Harvey might back up to take the pressure off; otherwise he will stand his ground. He wants the horse to tolerate his forward advance. In this instance the release from pressure for the horse would come by not moving forward. But if maintaining the position were causing pressure then Harvey would step back to relieve the pressure. What he wants to accomplish here is to have the horse stand while Harvey approaches. Even if he has to back up a step so the horse doesn’t move, he still has successfully taken a step towards the horse without the horse leaving.

Its important what the horse thinks here. He saw Harvey get closer and it knows it stayed in place when that happened. In the horse’s eyes it did not feel the need to flee from the step forward. The horse is learning it can accept Harvey stepping towards it without moving off. Harvey gives the horse lots of praise here and a break from any pressure.

If the horse has felt too much pressure and tries to leave, Harvey adds pressure to the departing horse. He wants to make the horse think leaving was Harvey’s idea. It’s also important to note if during a break the horse decides to move off, pressure would immediately be applied for the same reason. The only time the horse can anything on it’s terms is if Harvey has left the round pen. (Working to keep the horse’s attention on Harvey is one of the long term goals. He wants a horse that is saying “What do you want from me” whenever he approaches or is in the presence of that horse.. A horse that has been trained this way will always come up to be caught. Nice, right?)

Harvey will continue to approach the horse, one step at a time but only approaching within the horse’s comfort level. He will add the pressure and take the pressure off over and over building up the horse’s confidence that the only thing Harvey wants is to approach within the horse’s comfort level. The horse is learning Harvey is not trying to hurt it. He will advance from one step to two when the horse is totally comfortable and unconcerned about that step and not before. At any point the horse becomes uncomfortable and begins to move off, Harvey will send the horse off for three or 4 strides and then ask it to stop again. Then he will try to approach again. Gradually he will shorten the distance one step or so at a time between he and the horse until finally he is next to the horse. Even once he has walked up to the horse, he will repeat leaving the horse and returning several times making sure the horse is totally comfortable with his approach. Then he will move on to the next goal, which is to touch the horse.

We will pick up with here tomorrow. Whether you have been to a clinic with

John Lyons or Clinton Anderson keep in mind that the principal used by all these horsemen is the same. They may describe it a little differently and, of course, each horse will respond a little differently so adjustments will need to made for that, but they are all based on pressure and release and building a trusing relationship with the horse.

The horsein the picture is a great example for reading the expression on a horse. The height of his head and the look in his eye tell that he is feeling pressure and thinking about running away. His name is Scandalous Persuit. He is sired by Scandalous Legacy. For more information about my horses, see my website.

To be continued...
Lesson Four

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