The following is a series of videos of the very first dance lessons with my young Morgan filly, Dawn. I hope it will illustrate not only some of the technical aspects of teaching a horse to respond to you body language, and to work away from you, offline, and still be connected and focussed on responding to dance step cues, but also how the work can help build relationship, shape character, and help you explore different ways of leadership.
In this series, you might note that Dawn is particularly focussed on “doing the right thing” — she seems to be a nervous perfectionist about everything. So I want her to know that she can play around, and offer up some ideas of her own. She also needs a tremendous amount of positive feedback. If there is too much pressure on correcting her, she would not engage off line. Yet she is also willful, so there has to be clear motivation to “do the right thing.” Oftentimes a horse like this can be motivated with feeding treats. But Dawn “Her Excellence” refuses treats — she considers them a bribe. In fact, I have to be careful with Dawn, because if i treat her to do something, she begins to associate the treat — which is supposed to be a positive reinforcement with the employment. No, Dawn wants to be courted as all high priestesses of Morgans require. That’s what it all looks like on the surface. In the depths there is a warrior-friend who would go to any lengths to do the right thing… once it was agreed upon, and the relationship was signed in blood, bone and body. Here then is a 7 part series of our dance — not so much a physical one at this point, but of a inner dance between two energy bodies, two spirits. Enjoy!
In this video you will see Dawn saying “no” to my cues several times — if you miss it on the first viewing, play it again and watch for when she tosses her head. This is where she has recognized my cue, but says “no, I’d rather not!” … and after she serves up the final “no” — I just leave. Dawn is left to sort that out by herself. She stayed there in the middle of the ring, thinking through it all, wondering if she liked being alone after all. Then in the 4th video you can see how much more willing and engaged she was — by allowing her to say “no” she came back with a slightly bigger “yes”.
(parts 4-7 forthcoming)