Sunday, February 19, 2012

Educating Yalla! Down time

Today, I saw Yalla! laying down in the dirt, enjoying the warm sun and I went out to see her, hoping that she wouldn't get up.

She didn't.

She let me walk right up to her.

She was in a three quarter position as I squatted down at her chest. I had a few crazy fleeting thoughts of just climbing onto her back right then. lol. She's never even had a rider before! Instead, I pushed down on her head and neck and made her lay down all the way back. She struggled a little and then relaxed.

I talked to her and stroked her head and neck. Then I rubbed her shoulder, chest, and around her face, mouth, and ears. She lipped a little and I could see her relax. We stayed like that about ten to fifteen minutes and she only tried to get up twice during that time. A few times she tilted her nose up into the air, very strangely, like she does when she's running.

I was thrilled that I was able to get her laying flat out for me. I've been wanting to lay her down. I still intend to at another time, from the standing position. I've got her kneeling down on one leg now so all I need to do is push her over and lay her down. It sounds easy but she's got several hundred pounds on me and she has a very forceful personality. I've been thinking that laying her down will help me in training her. Has anybody used "laying down" as part of their training process? I would love to be able to teach her to "settle" and climb on her back routinely, once she's been trained to be ridden.

I was hoping that she'd go to sleep but I guess having her eyes half-closed will have to do. I let her get up and she took off running and kicked out with her hind legs, as she hightailed it around to the other side of the fence. She stopped and stood, looking at me, with the fence between us, as if to say, what was that all about?

She licked and chewed a little and then casually strolled back around the fence towards me. She stopped, took a few steps, and stopped again. Eventually, she was at my side. I gave her a head hug and then turned away from her and took a couple of steps away, looking back over my shoulder at her. Slowly, she took the few steps to stand next to me. She is one of the friendliest horses I've ever owned. Every morning, when I walk Skyy, she'll come down to the front arena gate, far away from the rest of the herd, to see us. I don't even give her treats. She just wants to be near. Sometimes, Annie will join us for a short while before turning and galloping back. Just to clarify, Scout and Nadia are in the barn runs, so they cannot come over, even if they wanted to. Yalla! never turns away; it is I, who walks away from her. Then, she'll run back down the arena to join the others.

When I am working outside, it is Yalla! who will stand and watch. Randomly, she will call out to me if she sees me or anyone else nearby. She has stood with me in the dark of night, at the furthest point from the barn, as coyotes howl just outside the fence.

And yet, she is a very dominant horse. She herds the other horses around and thinks nothing of kicking out at them as she has at me on occasion. I am extremely cautious around her and I've warned my kids to be wary of her. Everybody gets bullied by her, even Sandy the dog, and her own mother, Annie. That is why I was so thrilled to keep her laying down until I let her get up. However, that little cocky kick as she ran off bothers me. Does this mean that she didn't feel dominated by me during the lay down?


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

I don't have any experience in laying a horse down. Our horses, when they're laying down on their own, are fine with us being with them, petting them, etc. A few times they've lain completely down while we're with them. I'm not sure what that means from their perspective, but we enjoy it.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Usually, they get up when they see me coming but sometimes I can go over to them and pet them. I've never forced any of them all the way down before.

With Yalla!, because she was already laying down, maybe it doesn't "count" as forcing her to lay down for training/dominance purposes? I guess it only matters with what she thinks, right?

Dreaming said...

My horses have always gotten up when they see me, except one time. Pippin was down, well, he was on his elbows, and I got to walk up and pet him. I love seeing them lie down and to do what you were able to do with Yalla is so very cool!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I have used 'laying down' in training. The last place I worked for professionally laid everything down when we were starting them, but to be honest, I never noticed any difference between laying one down or not in terms of establishing 'dominance' , respect or gentleness in an already gentle horse. We did have a couple of rank/spoiled horses that I think it was more effective on. But these were horses that had learned some pretty nasty stuff and it was more of a way to gain control and make them realize that a human could TAKE control back.

After having met Yalla!, I would say that she is just comfortable enough with you that she didn't feel dominated by you and was willing to allow you to do what you wanted without too much fuss.

I can tell you that laying a horse down does not take the 'kick out' out of them. It's kind of an inherent trait in most youngsters and we are dealing with it on both Shooter and Gunner at the moment. I am always careful around youngsters because so many of them are prone to tipping that hip in and kicking out. It's an aggressive action, but from the youngsters point of view it can also be a defense mechanism. They don't want you in their space and are telling you to stay back.

If Yalla! got up and just kind of took off and kicked out randomly, I wouldn't be worried about it. If she kicked out AT YOU, she still needs to learn that is inappropriate. I use the lunge line and a buggy whip to teach youngsters that tipping the hip in and kicking out is unacceptable. I just start working them in a small circle (at most about 1/2 the lunge line or you lose the ability to control them effectively). If they try to rush over me with their shoulder or tip the hip in, I pull their heads toward me and poke or pop them with the whip in either the shoulder or hip (whatever is coming at me) to make them realize THAT part has to go away. Only their 'face' is allowed to approach me. Most of them learn that pretty quick because they know that is how they have to approach a more dominant horse. Yalla! might take a bit more work and reinforcement because she IS the dominant horse.

Jocelyn said...

Youngsters are naughty !

Sounds like her Mamma Annie needs to put her in time out :)

achieve1dream said...

Yeah, I really don't see making them lay down as a dominance thing as being helpful at all.... dunno, just never was my cup of tea (it's different if you teach it slowly and the horse cooperates out of trust and willingness). Chrome let me approach him once laying down, but now that he's on the thirty acres I just don't see him sleeping much. When I have him tied up and he dozes off asleep (standing up) he lets me move all around him without a problem. I think it's a sign of trust. :)

For dominance I think moving their feet is the more important thing. Whenever Chrome does anything naughty I make him trot circles around me. Sometimes I pop him on the rear with the rope depending on how bad his misbehavior was (he really doesn't do much bad around me though). It only takes about two circles and he's good. I do it when he gets too excited or starts balking. He quickly realizes it's easier to just go with me. He's lazy though so I'm lucky there lol. He's not a kicker at all though, thank goodness!! I really don't like dealing with kicking. I agree with the above though that if it wasn't aimed at you it was probably just playing. Chrome kicks out and bucks while playing all the time. :)