By Lana Mitchell
I was visiting a friend yesterday who has horses and we were using assist technology with the animals.
There was one specific horse – a stunning animal, worth a vast amount of money, who my friend described as “mouthy” as she dislikes the bit in her mouth being used to steer her, when ridden.
We started with Reach and Withdraw on the bit itself, having her reach for the bit (holding it close to her mouth) and then withdraw from it (moving it away).We kept in all parts of the communication formula, and watching for her acknowledgement of each command.
There was a significant change in her response to the bit, and we saw her relax and actually start to reach for the bit herself. She was very much interested in the session and the object being used.
With that completed, we then did a Body Comm, focusing around her mouth (where the bit will pull). We did this by placing the hands on both sides of her mouth and then taking them away, again, using the full communication cycle and watching for her acknowledgement of each command.
What was fascinating was the communication level of the horse came right up. Once the assists were finished she kept nuzzling and pushing against me, wanting more. As our conversation continued for the next 15 minutes, she kept pushing me, touching me, trying to get close to me, and wanting to continue the communication. My friend is going to continue the assists over the next several days which she will love, but it was clear that there is already a change in her response to a bit.
Afterwards we were talking about the power of the communication cycle – and how the directing of attention to an area or object or body part where there is a non-confront or problem, can resolve so easily – even with animals.
He gave me examples of having a horse shy from a jump – and has resolved this by getting the horse to stand and simply confront the jump (TR 0) and then try it again, and the horse will then be able to do the jump.
I have an example with my large dog, who when younger would want to chase cows. I used to put her on a lead and just have her sit and do TR0 on cows. After doing this a number of times, she stopped running at them when off the lead. Her confront came up on cows (an important step, as you don’t want dogs living on farms chasing the livestock),
I am sure there must be hundreds of examples of using these basic techniques with animals.
If you have examples, please do feel free to share them.