Groundwork

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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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...la la land
I know a few of you have done groundwork training and following certain training methods like parrelli, straightness training or clicker training. Is anyone registered with the connection training club. I've seen some of the video snippets they put out some are informative but others just show the end result rather than training but wonder whether it's worth joining and does show more of the teaching method if you join. It's about £25 a month. Which is a lot for me.

I'd like to feel like I'm doing my best for chunky in his latter years. I'm also thinking of alternative training for Billy over the winter as he's not going to be getting ridden as much with his lameness, and if he's going to be retired young I want to be able to have some future with him on the ground without fearing I will be kicked in the head when I'm in the field with him. He's lashed out for fun a few times when he's had a week off and its scared the hell out of me. And of course he's done a couple if mallis kick outs, one of which crippled me for several months. I've never felt threaten with chunky but Billy is a different ballgame.
I just wonder whether I'd learn and use it enough. I feel like maybe I need to learn to change my ways and how I approach things with Billy to be able to understand and give him a future with me.
 

newforest

Somewhere in the solar system
Mar 15, 2008
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Personally for me I would have an instructor out.
They can show you, are in front of you, you can get the feel you are looking fir and they will give you things to work on in between.

The only time I have watched videos is with an instructor alongside.

Groundwork starts the second you lay eyes on each other. You can have an alternative instructor out or traditional. Mine visits as and when.
This is a good thread because I have an area of the field that's not being eaten down. I could use as an area we "work".
Remind me what Billy looks like again. I think he's a cob?
 
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Trewsers

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I wouldn't pay unless I was convinced it would really help me. I wouldn't want an instructor either - I'm not good with people so a one-to-one is no good for me. I've been reading and watching clips of various trainers, and I'm finding a few ideas from those. I think if I had a specific problem it might be different or something I really wanted to work on. I'm really just keeping Zi ticking over until OH can get on board again. I'm trying to keep his brain occupied and in the zone rather than him thinking he's retired. I don't want it to be a shock to him doing a bit again.
I must google that training club though, I'm curious. £25 isn't a lot compared to having an instructor I don't think? But appreciate it's a lump every month to have to find. Still could be worth it?
 

Pete's Mum

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I joined it briefly and the quality of instruction and support was absolutely great, but ultimately clicker training wasn't for me.

So I cancelled my subscription and now subscribe to two others instead.

Personally, I love virtual/online training and find it a great tools it works well to supplement a physical instructor visit.
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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I joined it briefly and the quality of instruction and support was absolutely great, but ultimately clicker training wasn't for me.

So I cancelled my subscription and now subscribe to two others instead.

Personally, I love virtual/online training and find it a great tools it works well to supplement a physical instructor visit.
Do you think it could / would work alone? I'm curious because it's something I have considered. I don't / can't have someone out. (for various reasons I can't go into on here).
 

carthorse

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Like @newforest I'd want an instructor out, particularly with the sort of problems you describe with Billy - get that wrong and you could make a dangerous situation even worse. I think so much with horses is too subtle to pick up properly from books or videos, you may get enough to muddle through with a straightforward horse but that's all. Plus somebody on the ground will see what you do as well as the horse, and it may not be what you think.
 

Pete's Mum

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Do you mean without following an online course as a minimum @Trewsers ? Based on my experience, no. But I think there are other people with different experiences :)

There was lot more to it than just 'ask, click and treat' and ultimately, I found it caused a lot of stress to Pete and I wouldn't have felt confident in beginning to try and tackle some of the side effect behaviours without guidance - either physically or online help :)

If you mean without an instructor, then it's definitely possible - but you may make slower progress. There was a lot of self viewing involved which may/may not be an issue. The videoing definitely helped as you can rewatch with their guidance and see where you went wrong or need to change something in your body language/set up.
 
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Trewsers

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Do you mean without following an online course as a minimum @Trewsers ? Based on my experience, no. But I think there are other people with different experiences :)

There was lot more to it than just 'ask, click and treat' and ultimately, I found it caused a lot of stress to Pete and I wouldn't have felt confident in beginning to try and tackle some of the side effect behaviours without guidance - either physically or online help :)

If you mean without an instructor, then it's definitely possible - but you may make slower progress. There was a lot of self viewing involved which may/may not be an issue. The videoing definitely helped as you can rewatch with their guidance and see where you went wrong or need to change something in your body language/set up.

I was meaning following an online course without an instructor actually in person. For me it's really only to give some ideas / explore different methods in hand and on the ground. I don't have a specific issue with any of Zi's behaviour. Sorry I'm thread hi-jacking here🤐😄
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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The guidance i was given a couple of weeks ago when someone came to help me with the riding is whats got me thinking groundwork and the clarification that he is still lame has got me thinking about his future. Something they said about how i was with him and you lot saying to various people who have joined nr with there problem horses start from the ground to build the foundation. Its made me want to work from the ground and improve our relationship.

Not sure i could cope with an instructor. I dont take in all what there saying and am slow on the uptake. I get flustered and get stressed out to easily in front of people. My riding lesson proved that to me the other week.

Im open minded about training methods. I dont think theres any one method thats completely right. Every animal is individual. I want to take ideas and try them before i rule them out. Ive never been 100% sure that clicker training was going to work for billy and i was right it led to additional unwanted behaviour. I want to work on his quirks and those unwanted behaviours and model them into good things.

The way i make Billy sound in things i write about him makes him out to be a terrible horse. Hes not all bad. Id have never brought him if he was that bad. The horse i had on loan had behaviours far worse, thats why i sent it back. Ive always said that theres some nice qualities in Billy and i am pretty certain theres even more niceties in him, i just need to enhance them. I think he could be a lot more fun if we took our time to bond.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I pretty much agree with everything you say. And think ground work is very important.
I never joined any organisation.
But I did go to a lot of demos and learned by mimicking. If I were you and you are short of money, I would try without paying. I will write you a long post about what I watched.

The first thing that Peace and Rashid do with a new horse is simply to lead it forward. They walk beside it, at its shoulder, walk a few steps and then halt. The horse is expected to halt too. If it does not stop when the person leading stops (and that is likely the first time) then they move to the front of the horse and use a hand to back it up to the place where it ought to have halted.
They then repeat. Usually it takes about 3 times for the horse to learn.

They may then continue to lead in walk, halt and back up, while going through and round obstacles. Going between oil drums or over tarpaulins.
I did have VHS tapes while I was earning. But these days You tube will very likely have ideas for you.

In the Intelligent Horsemanship demos ground work is eventually taken further by controlling each foot of the horse from the ground. One exercise is leading the horse through an S shape pattern of poles lying in the ground, so that no foot goes over the poles. I have done this both in a demo day and in a lesson, but when helping on a RS and livery yard, I didnt have access to a school.
After a few sessions, a horse should walk nicely with you on a loose rope.
The punishment for a horse that does not observe your requests e.g. barges across you to reach grass, are to walk in a small circle and also to back it up.

Rashid's premise is that horses want to co-operate. There are situations though where a horse is heading home for feed where the desire of the horse to reach home is a bit much. If I were teaching a horse to lead nicely for me, I would start its lessons on neutral ground, in the field or leaving the stable rather than heading home for a meal.

But as with riding, there may be a bit of toughness involved. I could always tell the livery horses whose owners let them get away with bad manners. The circling has always been important to me, but Rashid has recently changed his mind and said that it only teaches horses to circle. My view is that I am an older woman and circling with back up has worked for me. So I will go on doing it.
However, when I met my new share for the first time last year, and was ready to put her away, she towed me back to her box to get at her food. I forced her out of the box again, circled her once in the yard and led her back in. She never did anything wrong with me ever again. I cant explain this,

My feeling is that the food has something significant to do with it. My old share was a horror for biting and I was told never to come between her and her food. I disregarded this. I expected to lead her briskly into her box and untack her before she touched her hard feed waiting.
Obviously it is not sensible to get between an aggressive horse and its food. That final step only comes after you have done the ground work with leading, halting and backing up.

But how quickly and with how much intention one does something, has a major effect.

I am unsure about having an expert to help. The expert often leaves the owner feeling inadequate or less skilled. I read John Lyons and my view was that I was far cleverer than any horse. I would start by leading your cob for 6 steps forward in walk . Then stopping. Then more steps in walk etc. And build it up from there. Grooming is a ground work activity (though it may not strike you as such). One handles the horse all over to check its skin (Parelli) One lifts its feet. One gets it to lower its head and moves it about.

A lot of it is bluffing the horse. I was leading the mare home and an RI who was passing asked me to trot up the mare. As if for a vet. I turned the old mare back and trotted her up and the RI was astonished because I had turned her away from home and from her dinner, yet she trotted. But I guess the truth is that once a horse recognises that another person is in command, one can ask just about anything. It is a con really, as all horses are physically stronger than any human.

Kit Maynard does interesting work with no rope (or, if near other people with an almost invisible spider line) and a length of rope attached to a schooling whip (like a Parelli carrot stick but cheaper) You can see him on line.

My experience was with a horse that bit. I dont have experience of one that kicks. But I did use John Lyons a lot (a friends gave me his books) and this I think is a article on Lyons handling a horse that kicks.

At our RS going to lessons involved leading the horse quite a distance on public roads from the yard to the arena. When I came to share the horse and to ride her solo, our RI said the reason the mare behaved for me when I was riding was that she behave well for me on the ground. I dont know how this can be as riding is so totally different. But I was educated on NR by people who felt groundwork was important and it is certainly one way of increasing one's safety with horses.
 

Pete's Mum

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Jun 4, 2014
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One thing I'd raise is the OP posted specifically about The Connection Training Club which is very different to other forms of Natural Horsemahip or groundwork trainers that have been mentioned.

Connection Training is based on clicker training which is positive reinforcement, none of other mentioned trainers in Skib's post above use positive reinforcement in it's truest form.

That's not necessarily a bad thing but ultimately the original question was about positive reinforcement training group. I think its important to differentiate between that and Natural Horsemanship trainers that have been mentioned.

I don't think the OP will experience too much trouble if she looks at Parelli for example and then checks out Monty Robert's, Warwick Schiller or Mark Rashid as all are based on pressure and release to some extent and there are lots of similarities.

But the OP might experience issues trying to learn positive reinforcement from scratch with no online or physical help. I'd also caution against trying to check out some of the afore mentioned natural horsemanship trainers at the same time as trying to learn positive reinforcement if that's what she chooses to do. You can blend elements of the two, but IMHO it's not easy to do at the start if you are looking to overcome specific issues.

But, ultimately the choice is yours OP and there is a lot to love about an owner that is continually doing what they can to improve their relationship with their horse. Well done you:)
 
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