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Respect on the Ground...

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  • Respect on the Ground...

    I thought this was a good place to ask my question...

    If you have a horse "hooked on" for lack of better wording...he is following you, backing, turning nicely on fore and haunches with ears for the most part forward, but no licks, chews and sighs, is he truly "hooked on" or should I ask for a little more to see if I can get the lick and chew? This horse is the herd leader of my 3, I can tell he respects me, but a lot of times it is the Ok--I will do it if I have to...attitude. Not sure if the lick and chew thing actually constitute full attention?

  • #2
    Good question.

    There have been lately several studies that addressed the licking and chewing and it was found to be situational, not really meaning what so many clinician say it means when they give that too much importance.

    If we want to generalize, licking and chewing is at times, in young or insecure horses, a sign of anxiety in a situation where he is with others that are of higher standing in the horse hierarchy.
    You can see that when foals to young ones, especially colts, meet older horses.
    There is really no reason we want our horses to greet us humans with that kind of submissive gesture.

    At other times, a stressed horse, if you keep asking one to roundpen without stop, when you let them rest, the horse will lick and chew, then that is releasing pent up stress.
    I don't think you want to work a horse to the point of stressing it so much it shows you that kind of licking and chewing.
    That is the kind so many clinicians look for and, honestly, you don't have to work a horse to that point to make a point.
    You can teach a horse what you want without stressing it.

    So, if your horse is working right for you and it is comfortable, not showing stress of any kind, including licking and chewing, that is really good, although if some horses, at times, do lick and chew, that doesn't always meant it is bad either.
    Some horses are more easily stressed by work and that stress is not always bad.

    Each horse is a bit different, good to watch all a horse does, but not necessarily look for things others may say to try for, if it doesn't make sense or doesn't fit with what your horse does.

    Comment


    • #3
      Is your horse doing what you ask of him?
      Does he push you around?
      Do you feel he could push you around given the right circumstances?
      Do you feel the need to have him "hooked up" more?
      Why do you need him to be hooked up?

      These are all questions that I would ask you if I was watching you working with your horse and you asked your question. If you think you have him under control, what are you worried about? Get on and ride or work him whatever way you want to.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mr.GMan View Post
        I thought this was a good place to ask my question...

        If you have a horse "hooked on" for lack of better wording...he is following you, backing, turning nicely on fore and haunches with ears for the most part forward, but no licks, chews and sighs, is he truly "hooked on" or should I ask for a little more to see if I can get the lick and chew? This horse is the herd leader of my 3, I can tell he respects me, but a lot of times it is the Ok--I will do it if I have to...attitude. Not sure if the lick and chew thing actually constitute full attention?
        Lick and chew does not constitute full attention imo. What I have found it to represent (within the realm of training) is a release of stress/tension. I look for it especially in horses who tend to be tense and anxious - horses I am trying to teach to relax and be confident. They will lick and chew as they demonstrate other signs of relaxation (blowing out, neck dropping, ears relaxing, eye softening, deep expiration, etc). I also notice it sometimes when I introduce say a new exercise or the horse experiences something new and potentially stressful (such as a trail ride for the first time perhaps, with new sights, smells, and sounds), that may stress them (albeit perhaps just a little). It does not take a high level of stress for a horse to release said stress and lick and chew. I do not find it is a sign of stress itself, but rather the release of said stress. Some further evidence of this - you will notice it when a horse is adjusted or massaged: they will lick and chew as tension is released in their body (again, not even a high level of stress that is being released). I do not feel it is the same as a foal submissively mouthing to other horses. It's a different gesture (release of stress vs. submissiveness) with different intent (personal release vs. externally directed toward other horses) and different accompanying body language.

        Continue with the 'hooking up' - develop and build your relationship with him and increasingly challenge the two of you. See if you can't get him hooked on and jogging and cantering next to you, changing direction with you (increase the speed of your changes in direction), going over jumps with you, and working in increasingly larger areas (ie, roundpen vs. arena) - all at liberty of course (though you can start and return to on-line where necessary). Take lots of time to relax and rub, spend undemanding time with him (ie, hand-grazing, etc), and use treats if he responds to them.
        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by phoebetrainer View Post
          Why do you need him to be hooked up?
          'Hooking up' can have substantial benefit. It develops a great deal of trust in the horse, further teaches them to look to you for guidance, and has them paying attention to you - all of which positively influences your control over them.
          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

          Comment


          • #6
            "Hooked on" is one thing. But "hooking up" with a horse? Holy Catherine the Great!
            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

            Comment


            • #7
              Tex will know the answer

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRmxc...VsXLCw&index=9

              I love this guy! He addresses the lickin' and a chewin'
              www.facebook.com/doggonegoodgoodies
              http://doggonebakedgoods.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                I kind of see the lick/chew as an expression similar to a learner/student/person saying, OH, so THAT's what you meant, ok, wow!
                In other words, a person can get it, and say only, oh, all right...(and indeed get it)
                or alternatively, they can have a hard time understanding what is going on, so when they DO finally get it, there is a larger expression (or release of stress, as outlined above).

                So, if the horse does get what you are asking, and is has not had a hard time figuring it out, and is doing fine, then I wouldn't worry about that.

                What I would worry about is the ,"OK, I'll do it if I have to" attitude.
                If so, no, he does not really think of you as the leader. (Though it seems he does understand, and have no big problem with, what you are asking him to do.) If he did think of you as his leader, he would WANT to be with you and would look for what he could do for you.

                I would read Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt or Mark Rashid on this.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                  "Hooked on" is one thing. But "hooking up" with a horse? Holy Catherine the Great!




                  I agree with the licking and chewing being an expression of 'digestion' of information, also. I think it actually ties in with a release of stress, imo.
                  ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                  ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                    "Hooked on" is one thing. But "hooking up" with a horse? Holy Catherine the Great!
                    Needed that laugh.

                    The horse doesn't always have the attitude of I will do it if I have to, it just isn't consistent (then again, neither am I....)

                    So, if he isn't stressed about things and knows what is going on, being asked of him, then there probably is no real need to lick and chew. But if I threw something new in the mix, and he wasn't sure, I have upped the ante, so there might be somewhat of that stress release response then. It may take one rep or the proverbial 10,000 for him to be comfortable and not lick/chew. So, I guess the lick and chew not happening can be considered a good thing in some respects.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mr.GMan View Post
                      I can tell he respects me, but a lot of times it is the Ok--I will do it if I have to...attitude. Not sure if the lick and chew thing actually constitute full attention?
                      I am not sure that the horse will give you his full attention if his willingness is not given freely. If he "has" to do what you want that is different than if he WANTS to do it. It is a subtle but important difference.

                      What do you do if he doesn't do what you want?

                      I agree with the other posters who say the lick and chew are more a release of tension. My horses do this as a result of the body work I do. In fact, if they don't lick and chew it is a bit of a signal to me that I need to do more.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mr.GMan View Post
                        Needed that laugh.

                        The horse doesn't always have the attitude of I will do it if I have to, it just isn't consistent (then again, neither am I....)

                        So, if he isn't stressed about things and knows what is going on, being asked of him, then there probably is no real need to lick and chew. But if I threw something new in the mix, and he wasn't sure, I have upped the ante, so there might be somewhat of that stress release response then. It may take one rep or the proverbial 10,000 for him to be comfortable and not lick/chew. So, I guess the lick and chew not happening can be considered a good thing in some respects.
                        That has been my impression all along, that if you train without needing to stress the horse, the horse just goes along because you are so good at explaining what you want, most horses just will work with you, won't need to stress or be releasing tension.

                        If you work horses to the point they are stressed and need to continuously be releasing tension, then you may want to try a different way to train.
                        I think that is what so many clinicians miss when they tell people to watch for the licking and chewing.
                        Their followers focus on trying to get the horse to lick and chew and keep working a horse into the ground some times, looking for that.

                        In a clinic, horses are already stressed, so they come to stress and release quickly, you can get that licking and chewing after a bit of work.
                        The clinicians should explain that at home, if you can train without stress, you and your horse are better off, not to make a point to work a horse until stressed just to prove some strange point.

                        As the poster here did, when you hear any one someone tells you what to do or look for, ask, give it much thought, see if it really makes sense, watch your horse.
                        Above all, don't take someone's word for anything without questioning it, especially if it is something that is not fitting with your horse or what you are doing, as with this horse here just not showing that behavior.

                        Comment

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