Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Team training

 Relaxing with Nick Sanders, and my body is recovering most of its normal functions. My brain is also returning to something approaching normal, which allows to me to learn from what I have gone through. For those  of you who are wondering what became of Winston, he is chilling out with Adele back in Devon. When I left him he had come on loads, pretty trustworthy in the heaviest traffic, starting to accept the Saddlechariot, in fact a pretty reasonable animal with a fear of strangers. Still really sharp, but a great character, and definite potential, but a massive challenge for a novice to take to London.
The alternative was to turn the novice loose with a prototype threewheeler, already overloaded, to which I had just attached the standard Mark 10 saddlechariot on a peculiar tow hitch giving an articulated five wheeler. So we swapped horses, or mules in mid stream and got Tiki in as a substitute. Tiki is almost in the saddlechariot but has persuaded me to make one thing absolutely clear.
Before putting an animal in the Saddlechariot, it must accept the vehicle and be prepared to stand without restraint in the vehicle. This means standing still, at most groundhitched while the shafts are brought up to the driving position. Then repeat with the harness on, and only then, if all is calm do you think about connecting the animal.
And when you connect said animal, remember, the unique feature of the Saddlechariot is the instant release, and it is there for a reason, so you can instantly release the animal. The Saddlechariot doesn't feature a fart catcher because I don't consider catching farts is important, therefore the existence of the instant release, suggests the idea that I think it is IMORTANT.
On that basis, when you finally hitch everything up, clutch the rip cord like your life depends on it, and at the first sign that the animal is even mildly worried, LET IT GO.
Then it will learn that it IS NOT TRAPPED.
The reverse, when you teach it that it is trapped takes a lot to unlearn.
How you get the animal to relax to accept the saddlechariot when it is not being held is up to you. One hint, whips won't help.
Once you put it in, you are applying pressure, the rip cord means you can release the pressure. Pressure release is the buzzword of most natural horsemen. The saddlechariot provides the release. Please, please use it.
But I digress, and back on the subject of Winston the Mule, who we left with Adele as a sharp, and tricky animal with potential. When I returned to pick up my gear, eat a superb meal, and sleep on a real bed, I ambled out to talk to Winston and hardly recognised him. Same shape, ears to big, (sorry Jenny), but he was calm. The sharp tricky little monster I had left, was a relaxed, chilled out adult.
Adele works to a different agenda, and wasn't exposing Winston to a weird array of new experiences, and all the areas where I was making no progress, are sorted. Sure we will find new problems, new difficulties, and i think Winston may sharpen up if I get him out on the roads again, but I know he can be calmed down.
The answer is not for me to try and learn Adele's methods, or copy them, but for me to let Adele share the training. I am good, modest, but good, and I can get animals working in traffic, and can handle seriously thuggish behaviour, and can put saddlechariots on without concentrating, but I tend to hype them up a bit, and there is a fairly constant argy bargy between me and the animals I work, because that is the way I like to work them.
But as herd animals they can cope with a wide variety of inputs, from all the herd members, all with different characters, and it doesn't bug them at all. So by sharing the training, I believe all animal, and especially horse trainers can massively increase their effectiveness, if they can find someone else to work with.
Adele Lee and I can really make something of Winston. Nick is going to have a go with Tiki tomorrow. Nick uses different methods, not as good as mine, but whose are, but it is definitely possible that I have gone as far as I can with my methods, and tiki is massively improved in the saddlechariot, but a fresh approach, may sort it all out much faster, and with the added benefit that I don't want to teach Tiki to let me put on a saddlechariot, I want him to learn to let anyone put on a saddlechariot.
But paired training could be a major step forward, for animals, for people, for trainers.  I think my way is brilliant, and if I didn't I would use someone elses way, but however arrogant I am, I know lots of ways work. By letting the animal experience two teachers, I believe we more than double the learning process.
Obviously I will work with trainers and people I like, but Nick, Adele and I, all have different methods, and attitudes, and possibly most important, different aims. Lets let the animals choose who they learn what from. And with that lovely example of elegant grammar, good night.

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

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