Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Motivation!

You know, it's really interesting, studying horses, Parelli, etc, for years, knowing horsenality front to back, and having a seemingly excellent grasp on even the most obscure little pieces of information on how to play with different horses in different situations, and yet, the variations of strategies are so great that you don't realize you've missed something until...well...you find what you missed.

Now, if you were able to follow that obnoxiously long run-on, congrats. What I'm getting at is that there are SO MANY WAYS to motivate an LBI, and if you think you've tried them all, chances are, you really haven't. I had one such experience today with Prin. Now you would think, after having this horse for 6 years, KNOWING she's an LBI, KNOWING she likes food and scratches and slowness, you might get it, and get creative.

I've played a lot with incentives recently, especially now that we're getting more into things that require a greater level of athletecism, that Prin, little miss LBI that she is, doesn't necessarily WANT to do. I've found that there's REALLY nothing Prin won't do for a Winnies cookie, but often times, especially if she's farther out on the line, etc, the moment passes before I can reel her in to give her a cookie, and then we kind of lose all sense of goodness.

So, anyway, today, I happened upon something that actually worked really well, and I found it completely by accident. I had been playing on the 45' line a bit, which had gone okay. We were playing with relaxing and stretching down in the canter, which actually did come together, Prin was blowing and extending out a bit (as opposed to lifting her neck and getting "crunched up")and looked a bit more comfortable. But, as usual, there was a lack of try, and a big "Why am I DOING this? I'm BORED! I HATE circles!" and when she DID try, no way could I get her attention quick enough to get her to associate the reward with the behavior.

After finishing up on a fairly decent note, I left the line and halter on Prin and went and got her feed pan with her grain, and as I was climbing the fence, a thought struck me. I don't know WHY the synapses connected, but for some reason, I thought of how much Prin liked her grain, and just how tangible and OBVIOUS a feed pan was, and how if I placed it strategically enough in the center of the circle, let Prin know I had it, and then set the situation up, my horse would literally create her own motivation. The very best way I can put this is in one word: SUCCESS!

I sent Prin out on the circle, and INSTANTLY encountered a new thing: I actually had trouble getting her to TAKE the rope! usually, on the 45' she goes "Hey, rope, cool! Bye!" and goes to the end. Today, it was a consistant, comfortable 35-40 feet, with slack, belly of the rope dragging, and a WHOLE NEW HORSE out there. She was stretched and moving round, carrying her body arched with the circle, and with NO DRAG AT ALL on her halter. WOW. I couldn't BELIEVE it! She wasn't offering anything spectacularly athletic, but I wasn't expecting that, but the change in mental/physical alone was enough to boggle my mind. I did eventually GET her to canter a couple laps in each direction (using her shoulders correctly, btw) and also got a whole new level of close range circling (WOW let's talk flexibility!).


All in all, a very interesting experience. We'll have to see how this pans out, and whether or not there is a situational thing here, or I've really figured out WHY Farrah actually plays with her horses before they eat ;)

Pix to come tomorrow, lets hope!

Savvy on, and hey look, it's only 10:30! I might get some good sleep tonight!

1 comment:

savvydesign said...

I've used grain with Charmer and OMG she's a totally different horse.
She perks up like a hot blooded arab! It's like she'll do anything I ask! Kinda like me with coffee and chocolate. ;)