Taser needs to be comfortable with being touched all over and relaxed before working with him in the playground for higher learning. Linda Tellington-Jones discovered the TTouch method we are using here. According to her, just a few minutes to TTouches a day will result in a much calmer horse and put him in the learning state of his brain.
Today Taser learns how to self load into the trailer. I want to be able to stand outside of the trailer and send him in.
In the video, you see that Taser starts off not so sure of going in. Just like in the “Driving Game”, I lead with the rope hand, lift the wand and then swing it. These are cues that Taser knows very well and here they are being used to communicate to him as he gets over his fear of going into the trailer.
When the commands are given, note that I do not escalate to the next phase as long as he is moving or offering some kind of answer. The phases are always done in the same order; lead, lift, swing and touch. In this case, you will not see me moving to the touch phase because Taser was offering movement towards the correct answer during the swinging phase.
Another aspect needs to be revealed here about the release. As soon as Taser gives me any level of movement towards the right answer, I release the pressure. The more timely this is done, the better he understands that he did the right thing. Once Taser is in the trailer, I let him stand there not being bothered as a reward. This way he knows he gave the correct answer.
After a few times of going in and out of the trailer, closing the door is introduced along with opening it. The point here is that Taser should remain in the trailer when the door opens. He should not feel the need to blast out of the trailer and to only come out when asked.
By the end of the video, after repeating this scenario several times, he is able to load directly in the trailer with very little asking. Bravo Taser!
This is the first time that Taser, A.W.H.A.‘s project mustang, has taken a venture out into the neighborhood without any equine companions by his side to comfort him. The moments of truth.
Upon recent walks with his mustang friend, Juno, he moved along smoothly stopping occasionally to investigate curious objects. However, this time, it was a real test to see how comfortable he is on his own.
Notice that I am not just dragging Taser along by the lead rope. Instead I am making him think, driving him forward, using the vocabulary that we established between us during the past several months back at home in the secure environment. Driving him from the ground simulates the feeling of riding him; riding him from the ground, so to speak.
When I do this, Taser is not following me and has to overcome the obstacles along the path on his own accord, such as, walking on different surfaces, past to “scary” objects without spooking and not react to vehicles driving by. By being on his own in this way, everything seems new to him and he sure takes his time about it. Watch how carefully he takes a step on a new surface and investigates unfamiliar objects.
A lot of the time, Taser wanted to walk into my space for safety. This caused him to somewhat circle around ahead of me. I consistently encourage him to stand on his own and walk forward, so that he is listening to what is being asked of him.
The goal is to be able to ride Taser through these kinds of situations. So, he must be okay with new terrain and moving forward just by be asked to do so.
Watch the video of Taser’s first solo walk and let us how you think he did.
In this video I ride Taser for the first time without anyone leading him or assisting in anyway.
First, you will see how Taser has mostly mastered the command for picking me up at the fence. I only ask him once to come to me and he moves right up to the fence. Only a few more signals brought him to the perfect position to mount him.
When mounting Taser, it is done very softly and carefully so that he is not startled and takes off, which is my ultimate fear, since it has happened before and this is the first time riding him without any assistance.
I work with him one rein, one side at a time. Notice how I release the pressure as soon as he takes one step in the right direction. This gets him to walk forward.
Then I test his breaks by pulling back on the reins. As soon as he gives me the right answer, which is to stop moving, I release. The release is the reward for doing the right behavior. Taser understands the halt signal very well as calm as he is.
When I ask Taser to turn, the communication between us is almost identical to the way it is discussed on the ground during the “Porcupine Game,” where there are four phases. First phase is touch, second is pressure, third is lift rein, forth is pull rein. Eventually, we want Taser to respond to the first phase without moving all the way to the fourth.
However, for the sake that Taser is a somewhat flighty mustang, I am taking it very slow with him and making my signals very clear. This makes him appear very calm, just the way I like it.
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This is the first time I have gotten on Taser’s back for a ride since he had gotten frightened at the beginning of May 2012 and had scared me tremendously. He is so strong and fast that, at that time, I decided to grab onto the fence and pull myself off as we went zooming around the pen. I didn’t want to stay on to find out how he would get me off.
So since then, I have been working with him on the ground with various “Friendly Game” exercises to get him to relax around people and the saddle and such. Taking the time to do this must have worked because I felt ready to ride him today and get over my fear of doing so, and Taser is getting over his fear of people and objects that go on his back.
He is accepting of the the plastic bag on his back, which made me, the human, not appear so frightening to Taser. With this accomplishment, I felt that if he can handle that, then I would be safe up there as well. Here is the video of our progress today.
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Now that we are all done with the plastic bag, Taser is still afraid of the items, such as the saddle and saddle pad, that he was wearing once they were taken off of him.
I put the saddle on the ground and the pad next to it. If a horse accepts something in his environment, he would have no trouble walking on it. So that is the game we played. Walk on the blanket.
You will see that once he gets his front feet onto the blanket, he has trouble following up with his hind feet stepping on it. He actually very carefully steps to the side of it or way over it.
To help him with this, I used a guide such as the poles laid on the ground next to it. This must have helped him visually step in line and on the blanket. We were not having much success without the poles and as soon as I incorporated them, Taser stepped on the blanket will both front and back legs.
Good job Taser! You pass all the tests! Congratulations!
In this video, I am playing the “Yo-Yo Game” with Taser, which is the fourth of the seven games introduced by Parelli. This teaches the horse to go backwards and forwards and develops straightness.
Taser already knows the “Yo-Yo Game”, but for the sake of him getting used to focusing while having a plastic bag on his back, I chose to engage in it.
This version of the “Yo-Yo Game”, has four possible phases that I escalate through to get Taser to respond by moving backwards. First phase is that I wiggle my finger. If he doesn’t move, then I move to second phase, which is I wiggle my wrist. If he still isn’t moving, I go to third phase and wiggle my forearm. Last if he still doesn’t move, I wave my whole arm. Once he moves, I release and start over until he has backed up so far that I am holding the end of the rope stretched out.
To bring him back to me, I slide my hands across the rope closed around it if he is not moving, and open hands if he is.
We repeat this a few times, backwards and forwards. You notice that the second time shown that he is responding to me just waving my finger. That is the goal, well done Taser!
Here Taser is bolting as a result of me putting the plastic bag on his saddle. What was not shown is that I was playing all the seven games with him while I was wearing a plastic bag around my neck. He was okay with this up until this point.
It was my ultimate goal to work to the point where Taser could tolerate having the plastic bag on his back in place of me. A month back, I was on Taser’s back and he got frightened by something and he bolted with me same as in the video. This scared me tremendously to the point that I grabbed onto the railing so I could get off before I found out how he could get me off.
It was relieving to see him work through this fear without someone on his back and with instead a horses worst nightmare, the plastic bag, attached to him on the saddle. After allowing him to run around a few times so he could understand that he could not escape his fear and would have to eventually face it, I chose to help him by bringing him to a stop.
From there, I brought in more stimuli such as the plastic bag on the end of the wand to play the “Catching Game”. It was my thought that by bringing his attention to something else, he would somewhat forget about the “danger” on his back. This worked. He took the step forward that was asked of him, then I proceeded to pet him bringing the plastic bag wand with me.
Now that I was able to approach him, I went back to the “Friendly Game” exercise bringing him back to comfort. He was now tolerating both being touched by a moving plastic bag on various parts of his body while wearing a stationary one on his back. Awesome work Taser! Progress every step.
If you are a horse owner or know anything about horses and plastic bags, then you know that it is quite the accomplishment when you can get your horse to accept it near, touching or on him.
In this video, I am introducing Taser to the plastic bag tied onto the wand with a short lash. He is quite scared and unsure of it and especially with the wind animating it.
At first I approach him with the bag-less “not so scary” end and work it up along his face. The goal here is to get the plastic bag to touch his face where he is accepting of it. Once we accomplish this, then I work to introduce it to touching the rest of his body.
You will notice that our other resident mustang, Juno, who confidently comes up to Taser’s side investigating the plastic bag as she associate’s it with having possible food contained within it. This interference from Juno could have possibly gave Taser some confidence in accepting the touch of the plastic bag, you decide.
Generally, it is not a good idea to work with the horse stuck in the corner because this cuts off any opportunity to leave and feel more safe. However, Taser seemed to feel safe there at the time. So when I felt confident he would not run away immediately I moved him away from being completely stuck in the corner allowing room on each side so that he could escape if he wanted to.
Taser is such an amazing horse that I was able to put the plastic bag on his face, over and under his body, behind, and weave through his legs on the ground.
This is not the first time Taser has worn the saddle. However, he is still initially fearful of any objects that approach him that has nothing to do with food. In this video, you will see me playing Catching Game with the saddle pad followed by the Friendly Game. I want to play lots of Friendly Game with Taser to help him overcome his initial flight responses to human interactions before riding him.
The Catching Game, according to Robin Shen of Enlightened Horsemanship, “is a process whereby a horse is taught that the cue to move forward without a lead rope, the safest place is near the rider, and that the whip means hurry up;” which in this case I am using the saddle pad.
Watch how Taser progresses and accepts wearing the saddle as I play the two games individually with the saddle pad and then the saddle. The saddle used is an old Western that we don’t mind getting beat up during the trainings.
Since Taser does so well with this exercise, we are going to anpt it up a bit in our next video by do all the same exercises but with the escalation of adding a plastic bag to everything we do. Stay tuned.