Sunday, December 4, 2011

Watching the Thought Turn Into Action: Individual Frames From the Video

I thought it would be interesting to see if I could take individual frames from the video (see last two posts) of my lungeing work with Drifter and look for the thought of turning in beginning to form in his mind, and where the thought turns into action, and how and when I reacted.  Here's what I found - I thought it was pretty interesting and hope you do too - there are only fractions of a second between each still frame and the next.  If you haven't read/viewed the prior two posts, I'd recommend that you do that now as it will help things make sense:

Post one - video of our work
Post two - getting ahead of the thought

The thought forms - his head has come up and his ear is on me - he wants to come in but is checking to see if I'm going to say something about it or not - this is the "ask":

One stride later - he's still traveling straight but the head is tipping to the inside - he's decided to turn in but if I'd moved him forward at this point I still could have redirected his thought:

One more stride - the head is starting to come up and the inside hind is stepping to the outside and the outside front is getting ready to move to the inside - it's almost too late at this point to easily redirect the thought as it's starting to turn into an action:

But I say something to him - I'm swinging the rope at his hindquarters - and although he's cut in towards me - note the excess slack in the line - this is enough to keep him moving forwards - my response would have been more effective if I'd acted to move him forward at the time of the first picture:

But he accepts my direction and continues on, but I haven't really interrupted the thought yet:

He's already moved in on me, and here the thought is starting to turn into action again - note the head and ears, and his momentum is slowing in preparation for the inside turn I didn't ask for:

Here the inside hind has stepped to the outside and the outside front has stepped to the inside, and he's focussed on me to see what I'll do - note that I'm out of position to be effective as I'm in line with his shoulders instead of his hindquarters:

And now the action is occurring - his hindquarters are coming to the outside and his shoulders to the inside - I'm reacting but far too late:

I get the job done - he doesn't manage to complete the turn to the inside - but it's pretty ugly:

Here's the next time the thought of turning in is beginning to form:

Once again, I'm late and out of position, and he's got the thought firmly in mind as he takes action, so we get this:

And then this - he completes the turn after this point - since he's facing me by now I have little ability to influence him:

But I get him turned around and we get this - but look at all the energy we're both using:

The good thing about Drifter is he is a horse who will tell you if you're not leading him with your thoughts - he's ready and able to have his own thoughts and carry them through, and unless I catch the thought he's forming as it's coming into his mind before he starts to take action, he's going to get ahead of me.

But sometimes I get there in time - here's an example where my timing is much better - I say something to him as soon as the thought forms and he keeps moving forward:

But he's still holding on to the thought - it shows in his body language but the action hasn't fully started yet - note that his body is still travelling straight even though his head is tipping and his ears and eyes are on me and also note that I'm already saying something to him - I'm swinging the tail end of the lead and making sure I'm further back towards his hindquarters:

And although I was a little late, here's the result - he keeps on moving forward although he's showing his irritation at not being about to carry out his thought - if I'd caught the thought as it was just forming I think my direction could have been softer and he would have accepted my direction more easily:

The next step for me is to be more active in my lungeing - not necessarily bigger but giving him more direction so he doesn't start to form thoughts in gaps I leave - and also being sure I'm in a better position with respect to his body so that if a thought forms I'm in a position to say something effectively to him.   And my timing needs to be better - I need to catch the thought before it forms fully and then things will go more smoothly.

This video stuff can be pretty useful!


  1. Great explanation and examples, Kate!

    I find with both Bar and Lena, staying that step ahead (when I can and I certainly don't succeed all the time) is so important.

  2. This is so cool! Now I want to video my next lunge or ride and watch for those moments. It also sure seems like the answer to most problems we have with horses is "forward".

  3. I finally had a chance to watch the videos, but these stills are great too. Videoing is a great way to assess your training because it's not often we get to watch ourselves doing these things.

    A lot of what Drifter is doing is similar to what Lilly was doing when we first started longeing too. Another interesting and informative post, Kate!

  4. Good stuff, Kate. Thanks for sharing. It's been a helpful learning experience. It's true we usually learn far more from our mistakes than the things we do right.


  5. Kate, this is exactly the reason I promote your blog to people who want to understand horses.

    That you went to the trouble of breaking down that video, I am so impressed. You'll have to start charging us $ soon: )


  6. Good analysis!

    Driving your body into his shoulder might help as well. That way, you kind of soften the line so he has no excuse to bring his head in, and push your body energy out to his shoulder to push it back out.

    My Chance was really good at doing this to me when I first started lungeing him. I could not always move fast enough to correct it because of my bad knees, so I know where you're coming from here. It is a real challenge.

    Again, long lining gives you the outside rein to straighten him if he tries to turn in. I use a surcingle and run the lines through the upper rings so the lines do not go around the horse's rump for most of the work I do. It's more like double lungeing that way.

    But still, as you are noting here, you have to catch the disobedience as the horse's thought forms, not much later, if you are going to be effective.

    I think Drifter's ear is telling you a lot in this case. Very perceptive.

  7. VERY cool to see the body language in action.

  8. That was great! In some ways the stills are even more helpful than the video. I really enjoyed your analysis and point-by-point.

  9. I really liked this post, it was easy to see exactly what you two were working on, and how to better pinpoint a thought before it turns into an action. I will be keeping this post in mind.

  10. When you asked what we see in the last post, I thought Drifter brought his head up and looked at you a stride or two before he started to turn in. great explanation and helpful photos, thanks for going to all the time and trouble to do this, it's very helpful.

  11. I love working with video. It's much cheaper then attending a clinic LOL!

    These freeze frame shots are going to really help you with Drifter.

  12. very insightful.I love that you look at both you and him for where things go right or wron. Not assuming it is willful misbehavior

  13. We have been working and working on lunging... and ground work. I have a video of my daughter doing cutbacks and I might post another one with our QH that I will be posting in the next few days. It amazes me how tuned in to OUR bodies the horses are! Keep working and posting about this. I find it fascinating.


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