Monday, October 19, 2009

Tappa tappa tappa

Sincere's time with May is drawing to a close.

Actually, it has for the most part. I can separate the two for a length of time without the other going off and in the field, they graze on opposite corners, unless he needs a snack.

Working with him has progressed from in the field to outside on his own. Working him alone presents a few challenges.

 Since he draws a lot of his strength on his herd, the challenge there is to get him used to the idea that working alone is not a scary or upsetting thing. It's also kind of an advantage to have a buddy along when the going gets tough. But nine times out of ten, I don't have that.

I also discovered he emotionally eats worse than a teenage girl. Every time he's stressed out, he goes for a drink, or in my case, he goes for the box of sugar cubes. He loves working for food and will do anything for a bite. God love the food motivated horse.

He's also incredibly fidgety. Ants in the pants variety of fidgety. Mentally he needs to slow down and just chill out and I've got a plan for that.

But recapping the weekend:

 Saturday's experience was less than positive. The whole thing was rife with going backwards mentally and physically (he would literally back up ten feet) and probably set me back a few sessions with the wee guy. I feel incredibly bad about the entire matter still, even though Sunday, he regained his training wheel status and a little more faith in me we just went for the basic walk in a figure eight.

 Honestly, it was a classic case of doing too much. I introduced the trailer, we went for a walk, we groomed, we worked through puddles, we did, what was later told to me eight sessions in one day. Go stupid me.

What caused him to get back on the path? I would like to think sheer training ability, but in reality, it was his ability to forgive and my addressing the root cause of relaxation through Endo Tapping.

Endo Tapping is a systematic conditioned response through rhythmical tapping on the horse through stimuli (e.g. whip, hand, strapping rag) to produce endorphins to relax the horse. Think of it as an application of percussive massage. It was discovered in part by Giacomini and a few of his associates and since then has found it's way into a number of hands.

 I started doing this because I want relaxed horses and I saw what it has done for those who have been regularly tapped. I think it's partially the reason why Sinari has come back the way she has (she's tapped on every day prior to work), and I have begun to see a difference in the way May carries herself.

 In this case I use a whip with a small ball at the end and produced some nice initial results after the first session. Sincere, while more clearly relaxed, less agitated, he still wouldn't allow himself to fully mellow out. The first two minutes of starting to mellow out, he would pick himself up again and be on alert. It was like watching an insomniac wake themselves up out of REM cycles. But physically he was better, more chilled than the dancing thing on the end of the rope on Saturday.

I'll continue to tap on him.

Today he had his first shots with glowing reviews from the vet. Hopefully not too sore tomorrow.

So training plans for October:

Endo Tap him until he gets a consistent reaction.
Leading, and no resistance while leading.
Learning to go forward.
Bonus: get in the trailer.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Do you know of any online videos that demonstrate the tapping technique? All I can find is the "endo tap" trick where people make their horse's lie down.