Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is harder than it looks

He is such a handsome boy, also what a trooper. He cooporated as I tried to take photos of him free lunging myself....

Man it is hard! Here are a few photos but they suck...

Bodhi was super hyped up and spent the first five minutes I went to get him from his pasture running-- tail like a flag, snorting and stretching out. He came up like a good boy afterward but I thought it was a good time to let him jump over some fences... Very apprehensive and we started veeeery slowly. over ground poles then 12 inch then 1 ft.... Bodhi was energised, engaged and flew over the obstacles with knees tucked! (he usually is happy to hop over things but shows neither grace nor vigor) We only went up to about 2'3 but that is a big thing for Bodhi to show that much enthusiasm and. agility. He was at liberty of course and he got a click treat after each fence. He would stop and watch me raise it and then trot off before I could even ask for it. He was on a mission. The pictures above are us goofing around after this session. I was trying to take photos of him. He happily would trot around be but I sucked at taking photos of him from inside our circle. You would think that taking photos of a horse at liberty would be easier than on a line but I match Bodhi's talent for coordination.

On a completely different topic I found an article on licking and chewing. You have to sign up to read it but it is free, and has been a hassle free site so far. They have free videos and lots of medical info.. i though the author had a really interesting perspective. what do you think?

Maybe licking and chewing is more of a stress relief signal then a signal of "learning" (Like a dog yawning). Bodhi rarely exhibits the lick and chew though he is obviously a quick study. Bodhi does yawn sometimes and I always begin to wrap it up if I see that. I figure it means he is tired. If not physically then emotionally or mentally. I never really saw the lick and chew until I did extensive round pen work with some pretty nasty characters. They would often exhibit it after really tense or strenuous situations. I read it as a break through but looking back at the big picture I really don't think it was.

Oh! check out the hair! It was reeeeally hard to not make a matching pony. He is a perfect canvas with his naturally platinum locks....


  1. He's very cute - nice that he enjoys jumping. I believe (although I may be wrong) that the lick/chew is just a reaction to the removal of stress and doesn't really signal much more than that - I don't think it's a sign of submission, or of learning.

  2. Cute blog! Enjoyed my visit.


  3. Julie-- thanks for the visit!
    Kate--I never really thought about it before the article. I always just bought the explanation of "chewing=thinking". Now I agree with you! Just another misidentified behavior sold by trainers that make waaay to much money for what they do.

  4. Hi- I'm new here :)

    I've actually read that about licking and chewing too, that's is less of a sign of comfort and relaxation and more about the horse feeling stress. I personally like to hear a big, deep sigh when I'm working with my horses. To me that's a much better indication of relaxation.

    BTW, I'm a convert to clicker training too!

  5. Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear about your clicker experiences. I see we have very similar tastes in music. I also LOVE Tori, Ritter, and Neko

  6. There are many studies that also show horse yawning as a sign of coming off adrenaline.

    Many trainers that believe the licking behavior is a sign of submission get the idea from the foal chewing behavior. They assume that because a foal does a similar 'mouthy' behavior as a expression of submission then an adult doing a similar looking behavior must be expressing the same behavior.
    Just another example of assumptions not based on fact.

    But I do take everything with a grain of salt. I have worked with many top notch animal researchers and their studies are bull crap. Their statistics are done improperly, their sample size is too small, data is fudged, even the way the variables are measured is inaccurate. And yet this stuff gets published in international journals.

    Despite what studies show, I like to keep an open mind and do what feels right, avoiding punishment and having a good time. =)

  7. Always take things with a grain of salt! Open minded skepticism is they key. I take yawing as a sign of stress too. That is why I end a session if I see it. I think this post really got me thinking about licking and chewing, so I am excited to "lick and chew" about it a bit. :)

    Yeah the peer reviewed process is not perfect. Like you said you really need to go through the methods and results of a paper as you know. Some journals are better than others. If you want to geek out sometime I will tell you my favorites.

  8. I think it depends on what type of chewing and licking is happening. Sometimes it seems very relaxed and soft, other times it's clearly stressed (especially if accompanied by grinding). I personally like to watch the horse's eye, I think you can pick up a lot of cues from that. Once again, so impressed with your liberty work! (p.s. -- I'm a big Josh Ritter fan too! What do you think of the new album?)

  9. I like it so far, I have only listened to it once. How about you?

  10. Bodhi is just too cute. He's such a sweet guy. I'm sort of with Kate on the licking and chewing.

    Your hair is ... different. It makes a statement.