Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exploding boxes

(I call this photo: My Hay!)

When Kate suggested reading a bit of Harry Whitney, this particular area of the website really caught my imagination.

The exploding box.

First Harry explains how to recognize confusion:

How do you know a horse is confused?

A confused, resentful, or anxious horse may pin his ears, brace his neck, tense his back and his topline, and swish his tail. Those emotions may also manifest themselves in something as subtle as a peaked eyebrow, distorted nostril, or a flattened chin.

A horse who is feeling those emotions will also show mental symptoms. He'll take his thoughts elsewhere so he doesn't have to deal with the question that he has not been able to answer right no matter what response he gave. Some horses will escape their lack of understanding by pretending that the question was never asked; they do nothing. Other horses make extremely large escapes. They run off, or buck, do whatever it takes to get the person asking the questions to shut up!

I see this in Lilly a great deal. Somewhere in her life she got a great deal of mixed signals. She's always worried that she's not responding correctly. I'm working on relaxing a great deal around her, being very consistent because when it gets confusing for her you can see the panic rise.

I'm not saying she's eager to please. It's more like she's eager not to displease. Which is something to unravel if we're going to get that connection. Which is why I'm interested in trying the exploding box exercise with her - and with Cibolo too, actually. Whitney explains the steps in the article, and I found it fascinating. I always have to understand the why of what I do (yes, i was an annoying child), and he takes the time to do that.

What I hope to achieve with both horses is a sense that with me, there is peace.

I wonder how many explosions it'll take to get there.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Reading that quote I realized that is exactly what happened with Bombay and I yesterday. He was evading my questions in hopes that I would shut up, and he succeeded. Each time he did a really big spook, ran sideways, or bucked, I changed the agenda to something simpler. It's not that he didn't understand what I was originally asking him to do. It was that he was too worried about all the activity around us to be willing to listen.

allhorsestuff said...

Very precise and accurate descriptions here! I have been dealing with this too..and it is as NM said for my mare...she is so over stimulated that I become so loud she want the noise to stop!
I am finding praise more often gets her to refocus and also, being much much softer...she can read my mind!

( my sister, who is my best teacher ever-always told me to "just think" what I want to do next and works...she is there with me!)

allhorsestuff said...

PS what program are you using for the "watercolor" effects? Lovely truly!

d2cmom said...

You know, that describes a lot of my students at school! Amazing how many things I do with my horse that I can relate to my classroom.

Laughing Orca Ranch said... might be surprised. I enjoyed the article. Makes complete sense.


Breathe said...

I use photoshop for all the effects. It's a nice way to make something out of sub par photos (so many great photographers, I'm always embarrassed to put my pix up).