Thursday, September 21, 2017

Training the Not-Hot Horse: Part the Second

As a person who's spent all of my time around horses with animals that were 50% or more thoroughbred, I had a lot of illusions about draft crosses. I think the biggest one for me was that because they weren't super reactive, they also weren't very intelligent.

And as a reasonably intelligent person, I didn't want to deal with a "dumb" animal.

Enter Zoe.
SMOOSH
Training her is fascinating for me. Remember when she started putting on the (literal) brakes out of the blue?

Well except it wasn't out of the blue. What preempted that was me realizing that my goofy brain was going U GONE GIT RUNNED OFF WIT BECAUSE U GOT NO BRAKES, which is clearly ridiculous on a horse that stops when you stop kicking. But brains will do what brains will do, so I taught Zoe a one-rein stop to appease my brain. We literally did it three times one day.

Annnnnnd the next time she was ridden, she started doing the STOP AND FREEZE response.

Huh.

So she not only learned it, but was also willing to show it off to me to prove that she understood.

That's actually pretty smart.

Another thing we've been working diligently on are our turn on the forehand/haunches. We do them on the ground, pre-ride, and then at the end of each ride. Except the other day I mixed it up and did them in the saddle at the beginning on the ride. Zoe was a champ, like usual, but then every time I asked her to halt (normally, not one rein haha), then put my legs on to ask her to go again...

...she started going sideways.

Like I'd asked her to earlier.
smartie. pants.
When I finally started to put it all together, I laughed. Here I was concerned that somehow the little lady wouldn't be "smart enough" for me and instead she's the smartest horse with the most try that I've probably ever worked with.

41 comments:

  1. ZB is a smart cookie. Clearly she deserves a bonnet

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  2. i love me a thinking horse! yay ZB! tho i've also had really really really wonderful riding partnerships with horses who.... didn't have too much going on between their ears but had hearts of gold. and some terrible experiences with horses that were too clever for their own good haha. in my experience tho there's no correlation between hotness/reactivity and intelligence. i'v known some reeeeeal dumb hot and flighty horses, and some very smart, very quiet horses too. it's awesome all the same when they can surprise us with picking up skills so quickly!

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  3. Huge smile. Smart girl, smart mommy got realizing what was happening too. That's fun!

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  4. You two are gunna have so much fun together!

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  5. I am the opposite of you. I have had not-hot horses for the last 10 or so years, so when I meet a hot horse I assume they are just dumb and flighty --- which is also wrong of course haha

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    1. Love it. So funny when we actually say our assumptions out loud.

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  6. She just seems like so much freakin' fun.

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  7. I've always thought drafties were super smart! They're so much fun to work with, I'm glad you're having fun with her! I just wanna kiss her little smooshy nosey <3

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  8. I can see that she's going to keep you on your toes. :D

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  9. She's so smart. It's adorable. Also potentially evil in the future, but I'm sticking to adorable. She's not a pony, so hopefully no evil happens.

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    1. Thus far, she is 0% evil.

      Unless you count her penchant for relocating her feeder when she thinks meals are late.

      BO counts it. I don't.

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  10. You've hit the nail on the head here! "Breeds" are kind of a ridiculous construct. Yes, there are some requirements for parentage and stuff, but intelligence is a crap shoot, even with "purebreds". I'm currently training the dumbest horse I've ever encountered in my life, and he's a very well bred TB. My total mutt POA is a rocket scientist compared to him, as is my Quarter Horse and my other TB. Bloodlines don't mean much.

    Can you imagine if we tried to say some humans were more intelligent because of their parentage or their breed? Why do we do this with horses? Intelligence is the ability to solve a problem, and that's the only metric we should be using.

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    1. Ehhhhhh I agree with you to a certain extent. There are individuals of varying IQ within all breeds, as it were. That said, IQ is genetic and thus consistently high IQ bloodlines are going to more-consistently reproduce high IQ offspring. Certainly there is plenty of room for variation and outliers and a genetic tendency is by no means a fixed 100% THIS IS HOW IT IS prophecy.

      So agree there are varying degrees of intelligence within all breeds. Disagree that genetics are unimportant in evaluating/reproducing intelligence in a controlled population.

      And my essential point is that I held a dumb view point and I'm happy I was wrong. ;-)

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    2. Tell the poor Irish Setter that certain breeds aren't as smart as others. Poor thing had the intelligence bred right out of it for looks and other qualities. I think same can be said for horses, when bred for a body type etc over quality of mind. I've always found draft horse mixes smart, just exceedingly tolerant (giggling girls riding 3 wide bareback tolerant).

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  11. hahaha! Oh boy she will be fun to teach flying changes to! How whip smart!

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  12. LOL love this!! I love when my pre-conceived notions about a certain breed/discipline/training method etc end up being totally wrong!Zoe does sound super smart and willing!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHanoverian

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    1. What's that Jane Austen quote? "I'm happy to be wrong." :-)

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  13. It's so hard to not ride so much šŸ˜‚

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  14. Willing is just as important was smart. It sounds like Zoe is the complete package.

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  15. A thinking horse and a thoughtful trainer are a dynamite pair -- you guys are so fun to watch!

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  16. I love it when the horse is super thoughtful

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  17. Obviously Zoebird is a genius. She's probably really glad you finally realize that ;)

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