Monday, January 31, 2011

Laying Horses Down

Recently I spotted the below video, which initiated between an acquaintance and I a conversation about the benefits versus the possible detriments of laying a horse down. Said acquaintance felt that laying a horse down would trigger a dissociative response in said horse, that it would cause a horse to "shut down". While the below video showed actually very little of the actual process, I like the man's thinking and overall way of working with horses, which leads me to believe the way in which he laid down the horse in the video to be beneficial and not harmful to the horse in question. I particularly like the following statement by the man in the video: ‎"...and what I'm doing with a horse is just to change what he thinks, to listen to me, what I get control, in a nice way. And in the horse's language too." Personally I do not feel the horse would be apt to shut down if handled appropriately - overall, whether that include laying the horse down or any other work one might do with the horse. Laying a horse down I feel might be equated to an extent to laying a dog down - something I have done, with success, and without the dog shutting down. It is not the action itself that causes the animal to shut down, but how the action is performed. That said, laying a horse down on the ground places the horse in a very submissive and vulnerable position. While it requires trust of the horse, it will also initiate a lot of trust in the horse, when done correctly. It places the horse in situation where he is gently "forced" to trust his handler and as such, the horse is able to relax and build further trust in his handler as he learns and the handler earns said trust. Personally, I think laying down a horse could be a very valuable tool, though I have yet to use it myself (though I definitely have intentions of doing so!). I think the proof is in the pudding: doing so (correctly) with many horses seems to greatly benefit training and development of the horse in question, and I have yet to meet a horse who "shut down" or who did not respond positively overall, when it was done (again, correctly). A trainer has to be careful in their approach however, as laying a horse down incorrectly - ie, roughly and in a manner where the horse is scared and distrustful, will only undo a horse's training and development as opposed to further it.

Check out the video below and research the method further, then draw your own conclusions:


Lisa said...

I don't care how nice you are to the horse once he's down, tying up his leg and using a gag bit to unbalance him and force him down does nothing to preserve his dignity.

There's a local trainer who employs the technique - not much different than this video. I'm not impressed with his results. I know Buck Brannaman is a big fan of laying a horse down.

For me, the compromise to the horse's dignity - eliminating any choice he as in the matter - is not worth the possible results. There are other ways to gain a horse's trust. They take longer, they take more commitment but the horse always has a choice.

Leslie said...

Well right their you don't understand what it is to laying a horse down. When you lay a horse down, you are not, well should not, force him down. You ask him. When it is done correctly it does not destroy his dignity. It gives him more confidence and more trust in you. I only use a rope halter, lead rope, and a rope. Also, you are supposed to be nice to the horse from start to finish, as you are trying to get a horses confidence. In training horses, it's not about the pressure you put on them but about the release at the right time. I have laid plenty of my horses down. It has taken me less than 10 minutes on each horse to get them down. That is because of my timing and the trust I already had with them. In my opinion, you need to re-read the above passage and gain a little more knowledge on a horses mind. That will help you understand why laying a horse down is so helpful.

SarahEsen said...

I don't like how the guy laid the horse down in this video. Just my opinion. I see fear in that horse's eyes, fear which I don't think should ever be created when working with a horse. I would create deep trust with a horse long before asking it to ever lay down. And not by tying its leg up either. I would personally shower the horse and create a drive for the horse to want to lie down/roll next to me in the first place and work from there. It would be like his natural want and I would be encouraging it. Beautiful horses in this video though!