Life would be very dull if you had all the answers. And without answers to search for, what would we do with ourselves? Still, it can be infuriating (in a wonderful way) to get into a topic, learn something tantalising, puzzle over a question, and then discover that no-one yet has a definitive answer for you. Being “new” to science, you kind of assume that your beginner-level questions will have solutions out there. Not always the case.
And yet, there are some exciting possibilities, and structurally things seem to overlap again and again.
Of course, I’m an artist. So a lot of the structural patterns and overlap I see may be largely metaphorical. But, one of the benefits of being an artist (of being a human being), is that you can let yourself follow these ideas and see where they lead. And they always lead somewhere interesting.
The structure I’m thinking about at the moment could be described perhaps as “principles versus rules.” Though that’s not the best way to put it, since I’m using those words casually and scientists seem to use “rule” in a specific way. I hope I’ll be forgiven for hopping between the two uses! Terrible thing to do, I know.
I remember Sara Wyche (of equine anatomy science) talking about how one can either learn a few principles or learn hundreds of instructions, the former obviously being the more effective solution to understanding a subject. A global view, more than a local one. Which isn’t to say that the local details don’t matter, they absolutely do… but in trying to explain/understand something it is better to see the principles which inform the rules, rather than follow the rules without knowing where they come from.
I once wrote an article on the six (I think it was six) rules of good corsetry. I should have said “principles”, but hey ho, that’s just nitpicking. I opened (actually, I filled) the article with endless caveats about how this was about a general overview, how “good” is subjective, how “good” depends upon the intended function of the piece, how the “rules” are there for breaking, etc. etc. But essentially, the article was about overarching principles, and I remember a friend at the time saying it was wonderful because no-one else had framed things in this way. There had been lots of rules in corsetmaking, but not many guiding principles. Principles can lead you in different directions to rules.
At that point, contemporary corsetmaking was rediscovering much that had been lost when corsetry gave way to the bra industry, especially during WWI and WWII when the cultural implications of corsetry changed such a lot.
In rediscovering, we over-engineered. In making expensive items for clients, we hysterically overdid the safety measures. We had to make corsets from multiple layers of sturdy coutil fabrics else they would fall apart and we’d fall from favour and bring the whole industry into disrepute! Or so it seemed.
When I wrote this article, I hadn’t moved entirely away from coutil, but I still framed it as being about overall function. The rule had been “you must use coutil!” then I and others said “your corset must be strong enough for it’s intended job.” A guiding principle, not a fixed rule. I talked about the fabric (and number of layers) being “strong enough” and “fit for purpose”, and not being over-the-top relative to these factors as then you move away from elegance. To paraphrase William Morris, if it isn’t beautiful or functional don’t have it. We tiptoe a balancing act between beauty and function when we make couture items. And my feeling was that it was better to understand why so many people had this rule about coutil (that it came from a global view that the corset needs to be “strong enough”) so that one could break that rule if appropriate. If we focus on the rules more than the global principles behind them, we can lose sight of the thing that is most relevant.
In horses (in our Western countries, at any rate) the big scandal of the moment is “roundness”. Hundreds of thousands of pounds (or more) is spent on impeccably bred horses for dressage competition, and most of them are then pulled into damaging postures as these shapes result in flashy movement (no doubt fear and pain give a kick of adrenalin, which looks flashy too) from the age of three. I have a friend who has seen inside the biggest “factories” for young dressage horses and it is essentially systematic abuse of disposable animals.
All the experts call it “false roundness” and campaign against it, and yet it has filtered down into ordinary leisure horse life with sales listings showing horses falsely “on the bit”, sometimes with dramatic pain faces, always moving poorly. We emulate what we see as being successful.
But all is not lost and there are lots of wonderful people out there promoting healthier shapes/movement. And essentially it comes down to having a global view more than a local one.
If we look to the local signs of good posture, the things that we’re told matter, we look for the inside hind foot matching up with the footprint of the fore foot. We look for a head which is somewhere near or on the vertical, because we know that a head in the air is bad longterm.
When a horse is moving well and safely under saddle, these two things do happen in a general way. But…
…they happen as a consequence of something else more important.
The spine appears to lengthen as it goes into a global sort of flexion. The vertebrae somewhat straighten out in the neck and begin to lift between the shoulders. The pelvis tucks under a touch.
When the pelvis tucks under the hind foot tracks up with the front (conformation/gait allowing).
When the spine straightens out and lifts, the poll automatically flexes lightly and the head drops a touch, putting it closer to the vertical.
If fact, the more “up” the withers are, the more horses are inclined to come a touch behind the vertical when showing off, and I think this is part of why there’s a confusion about what it’s safe to ask horses to do with their head position. But the crucial point is that we should sometimes almost not even look at the head and the nose. It’s the wrong place to focus. It doesn’t matter what the head is doing if the withers are down.
A good global posture gives some of the local markers that we look for. The local markers do not automatically give the good global posture. Quite the opposite.
If the head is put into position with the bit (even if in front of the vertical), this generally makes the horse cautious of reaching out and so the spine doesn’t straighten and lift. The head can look good, whilst the spine is dropped between the front legs (just as it was when the head was in the air, but now even more of the cervical spine is kinked into a weird shape). Bring the head back even further (approaching rollkur) and the back braces so it feels supported but is in fact now in danger. Think of a brittle structure versus a bridge that is designed to sway slightly. The braced back does not protect itself against concussion. Rollkur horses can have very flat looking backs, but they’re generally angled downhill with their hind legs trailing as the lumbosacral joint can’t tuck under. Everything is “locked” in place. It’s so unhealthy.
If the horse’s spine is very low slung between those front legs, but it moves with sufficient energy, it can rattle along leaving its forelegs hanging back more than ideal. Now, the hind foot does indeed land where the front one was, but not because of healthy movement. The hind isn’t coming more forward, the fore is hanging back.
Local markers are important, but not as much as the global picture.
- Uphill, not downhill.
- Lengthened spine, not shortened spine.
- A long frame (a collected frame is less about being “short” and more about being “up”).
- More horse in front of the saddle than behind.
These things are vastly more useful than, “is its head on the vertical?” or “has it yielded to the bit?” or “is it tracking up?” The bigger picture. And underneath it all the one guiding principle (which isn’t an opinion or theory of mine, but which is acknowledged by the entire equine science industry)… avoid kinks in the spine. Kinks = risk to the spinal cord.
Structures/principles to guide us, rather than lots of smaller rules to confuse us.
A couple of the Sapolsky/Stanford lectures that I’ve just watched have been on Chaos Theory and Emergence. The overall notion being that if you code for a growing scale-free pattern (eg: a length which is five times long as it is wide before it bifurcates), then the structure can grow endlessly without each new unit/part requiring its own separate instructions. This could explain how it is that we have such biological complexity, despite not having enough neurons to each individually explain the complexity. Infinite complexity from a simple structural rule.
He talked about how fractal geometry cannot exist. It’s impossible. And yet, it kind of does. Apparently every cell in our body is no more than five cells away from a blood vessel. How can we fit all those blood vessels? Fractal geometry. Taking up barely any space, whilst simultaneously being everywhere.
The reason I found this part of the Sapolsky lecturers fascinating is because of Body Worlds. I went to the animal exhibition in Newcastle a couple of years ago, and one of the things that struck me was the blood vessels of a horse’s head. I’m sure it probably didn’t even show every single vessel. And yet, it was like a solid object made of thin red branches twisting through one another. The impression you had was of fullness and I remember being surprised and thinking, “but how can anything else fit?!” The blood seemed to take up all the space, and yet it obviously doesn’t. Fractal geometry might be part of the answer.
Sapolsky showed how this fractal structure creates outcomes that we cannot predict, but that sometimes things emerge which seem identical or similar in response to the environmental constraints upon them. No coding required, just automatic physical responses. Emergence. This explains how two entirely different plants could evolve with an almost identical appearance, in different parts of the world.
It can also describe the distribution of buildings in town-planning. Simple rules about how to relate to your “neighbours” (swarm intelligence) will create town plans which look the same as those which have been agonised over by experts, but with far less effort.
There are potentially broader, even political, implications. Sapolsky predicts that future revolutions will occur without violence as people will have understood the power of bottom-up influence. That we won’t need “an authority” to make decisions and that the new generations are going to be the first to truly understand this. He didn’t get this far, but it sounds like he’s describing a certain vision of an anarchist society, everyone adhering to a very simple set of rules and thus not needing rules applied from above. It reminded me of Lucy Rees describing feral horses as anarchists. That they don’t have dominant leaders, they don’t even have democratic leaders, they simply co-habit and share duties and share “leadership”, in the way that you do with your friends or co-workers (if lucky enough to have that sort of working environment), taking it in turns to suggest things, to nurture, to support, to stand back, to spend time together and apart.
FRAMES OF THINKING
All of this also put me in mind of the “frames” that describe political leaning in America. I can’t remember the author, but it essentially came down to this: your notion of an ideal family generally informs your political bent. And beyond.
- If your ideal family has an authority figure who keeps everyone on the straight and narrow (sounds like much religion, too), who teaches those lower down right from wrong, then you’re more likely to be right wing. More likely to be in favour of punishment, more likely to see anything except strict parenting as dangerously lax, more likely to fear outside influence. This is the Strict Father frame. This is people outraged by strangers hundreds of miles away having abortions. Hierarchy is a needed part of society.
- If your ideal family has no authority figure, is about guidance rather than control, and about discovering empathetic principles which let you decide (for yourself) what right and wrong is, you are more likely to be left wing. More likely to favour rehabilitation and understanding over punishment, more likely to see strict parenting as harmful, more likely to feel at ease with shades of grey. This is the Nurturant Family frame. This is people saying, “live and let live.” Hierarchy is secondary (if needed at all) to equity and co-operation.
Many people can code-switch, of course, but for those who are firmly of one view or the other it can be hard to find (or even understand) middle ground. The two perspectives are so opposite to one another. I always quip that us very leftie sorts can tolerate anything except a lack of tolerance.
People who could vote Labour then vote Conservative next time confuse me. I was definitely brought up within a nurturant model and I had such a happy childhood (and consider myself moral enough) that it’s a model I’m happy to see repeated. It’s how I try to interact with people and animals. Guidance rather than control. Picking your battles (if battles there must be). Trusting that your peers, family, friends, and animals can come to their own moral, empathetic, and intelligent conclusions. It’s not always that easy, and when I really lose patience I sometimes want to fall into the “do as you’re told!” Strict Father model… Especially with people I’m close to, people I’m largely on the same page with, as you think, “you should know better!” I’ve often found, the more you have in common the harder it is to accept differences of opinion. But, you must.
Still, it’s hard to always live by the codes of the nurturant family model. If someone is spouting racist or homophobic opinions, how do you avoid confrontation (which convinces no-one), remain passive, and also keep a supportive and forgiving mindset for the possibility of a day when they’ll be willing to explore other belief systems? That day may never come. Especially as people get older. Oh well, they do say that children are the future, ha.
The author noted that, hard though it may be, the important thing about these “frames” is that the language used is different in each and if you use the language of one you “activate” that framework. If you’re trying to reach people who are pro the death penalty, you can’t use their own language when discussing it. “Evil” etc. You need to use language from the other frame, nurturant empathetic language, to have any chance of getting them to see your point of view.
There have been brain scan studies on them/us thinking in which you can change which areas of the brain fire (ie: parts connected to fear or parts connected to thinking), simply by asking certain questions prior to showing pictures of human faces. If you ask the subject something like, “do you think these people like the theatre?” then all of a sudden they’re engaging the thinking brain rather than the fearful brain. As easily as that. One simple question. Language can shape our reality.
Back to Sapolsky, in one lecture he was talking about the genetics of political leaning. Are there genes which control this? Apparently the closest they’ve found, thus far, is genes which code for dis/comfort with ambiguity. Isn’t that interesting, given the ideas of family structures noted above…
Those who are genetically predisposed to find ambiguity uncomfortable are more likely to be right-wing.
Those who are genetically predisposed to find ambiguity comfortable are more likely to be left-wing.
But of course, it isn’t that reductive, your genes aren’t your destiny. Even so, worth thinking about. Especially, again, as I think we lose patience with ambiguity as we get older.
Ambiguity (nuance) around right and wrong is a key feature of the nurturant social model. It’s a harder one to navigate as there are few (if any) set answers. Few (if any) absolutes. And certainly we leftie sorts can tie ourselves up in knots, trying to grapple with nuance. This is definitely true in the clicker world. And it is worthwhile to explore these fine details, of course, but it can cause its own problems. In-fighting, squabbling about details, and all the while the people from the Strict Father model have no problem cracking on with their dramatic assertions and truisms. Sometimes, perhaps, we nurturant sorts need to be less nuanced and just say, “this is generally good and this is generally bad, and sometimes it’s okay to operate in generalities.”
A friend and I have many talks about empathy. How to encourage and nurture it. But perhaps this was only a preliminary question. Perhaps the bigger one is how to encourage and nurture comfort with ambiguity.
DETAILS FROM THE WEEK
So that was me last week, thinking about structures/principles. I also had a lovely day volunteering (more tiny clicker sessions with the beasties that might benefit from it), some lovely moments with Skye, and new doggo Luna continues to settle in. She’s started now to sometimes curl up right next to me in the bed, with her head resting on my thigh. Sweet girl. I may jinx it, but she’s good sleeping through the night now, knows the routine, and has a healthy appetite. Starting to feel more sleek and healthy, and shows good enthusiasm for hopping in the car and going exploring.
We took her to Sutton Park last week and again last night (ah, I love that place, we saw the Exmoors and they just make me so happy) and she was golden. A bit shell-shocked at the various dogs who came up to sniff her (Luna’s fear response is tonic immobility), especially the entire male who quite liked her (sorry bonnie lad, she’s been “fixed”!), but very good and even had some more practice time off the lead. Well, with the lead dropped and dragging behind her. What’s funny is if she steps on it herself she jars herself, stops walking, and looks back at us like, “you said stop?”
I’m one of those clicker people who doesn’t worry about light pressure/release training. I understand the wish to do everything with +R, and I’m careful because to be honest most of us aren’t very good at -R anyway. People ask too much, or too harshly, or don’t release pressure at the right moment, or don’t know what they’re asking, or use it on scared animals, or escalate to punishment, or use it without considering alternatives, or treat it like a physical power thing rather than an educational thing… But lightly done, more like guiding than insisting, I think it’s fine. And so Luna has learned that if we stop walking and she reaches the end of her lead, she needs to stand and wait and after the line has softened for a while we’ll begin walking again.
But, therein is one of the limitations of -R, this doesn’t teach her how to stop or wait or come back when the lead isn’t there. It certainly doesn’t give her a motivation to do any of those things. But she’s becoming more and more part of the family, knows that the boat is home, looks for us if we disappear from view, all those good things from which to build.
There’s a distance learning course I want to do (have wanted to do for two years now) and, if everything pans out, I’ll hopefully be able to purchase it next month. Finally! I’ve had something like three or more instances of thinking, “cash flow, hurray, I can do that course!” only for something to throw a spanner in the works. It’s not even an expensive course, I’ve just been utterly skint since taking my corsetmaking part-time. Well, and now I’ve somewhat officially said that the corsetry is no longer my focus. I might still embellish stuff every so often, but I’m not going to be viewing it as either a source of income or my driving passion in life, as it hasn’t been either of those things for nearly two years.
Practically, making an announcement hasn’t changed much. I’m not doing a closing sale, and I downsized most of my equipment when I left the studio in 2016. But I feel better for having said it. People seemed to expect that I’d begin taking orders again soon, things like that, and it felt like an ever-present pressure that I didn’t want. And if you don’t want a pressure, and it’s in your life for no valid reason, and it’s eating up cognitive and emotional resources which would be better spent elsewhere, why not let it go? So I have.
I’ve got a couple of things to finish up (which will no doubt take longer than it should) and I have to edit the website (maybe make it an archive of sorts, or maybe kill it entirely, who knows), and I’m sure that once I’ve done that and washed my hands of it all I’ll want to finish something for a photoshoot, haha.
Anyway. I shan’t say any more about this course incase something else happens to prevent me from doing it. But fingers crossed. The Intrinzen project, which I was very fortunate to be part of, is coming to a close soon and whilst I intend to work my way through it all again (let more ideas and information on movement seep into my brain), I would like something else new to sink my teeth into. The couple of CPDs I did at the beginning of the year seem a faint memory, but I do recall that they were very good for my sense of having a handle on the topics as they were so easy (animal behaviour, learning theory, welfare)… so I’d like to go deeper. And whilst you don’t need qualifications to be knowledgable or skilled or to function/contribute at even the highest levels (example: corsetry), it certainly doesn’t hurt. That said, I’m picky. And the subject matter of this course isn’t currently taught as part of most equine science diplomas or degrees. Indeed, those university courses seem (for the most part) to teach very outdate information on learning theory and behaviour. And yet they generally cost more than ten or twenty times what this little course does. Such is the establishment.
Anyway, fingers crossed. I need to have a purpose, opportunities for flow. Something to learn.
Which brings me back to Sapolsky again. He was talking about neural networks, categorisation, parallel processing, all those clever things the brain can do. And he posited that individual differences in network could be what accounts for creativity and originality. No two people will have the same networks. No two people will access those networks in the same way. And so when we talk about “making connections” when learning or creating, we perhaps literally do mean “connections” in the sense that it’s all about how neurons interact.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought? The scientific method is there to test hypotheses, and brilliant and useful it is for keeping us on track. The earth isn’t flat, after all. My iPad let’s me type things because of science, not pixie dust or my intuition. Scientific method let’s us find “truth”, as far as we are able to see it. But the clever people like Sapolsky and Goodall and Rees and Panksepp, and the artists too, they’re making unique connections which spark the ideas worth study.
Making intuitive connections and links and overlaps between things makes me very happy. And perhaps sometimes those connections are metaphor more than equivalence. But that’s an inherent part of being human and a wonderful route into further understanding.
I want more opportunities to make connections, to push what I know, and to contribute something new (if possible). I probably will never again accomplish the latter in anything accept corsetry (unless if I fall in love with another niche craft-based topic that’s waiting for a new wave of makers)… but even if all I do is create ideas that are new to *me* I’ll still feel fulfilled, I think.
My hopes for Skye are very modest by most people’s standards, I’m sure. And I’m positive that her ambitions for herself (could a horse be even said to have any) extend as far as “living a natural life” and that’s all. A horse just wants to be a horse. Eat, keep good company, express their natural horse behaviours, prance sometimes. Being in domestic life she can’t express all of them, of course. Her herd structure changes in ways that it wouldn’t in “the wild”, she doesn’t have a stallion or two, doesn’t have a baby each year, doesn’t have as much freedom to roam. But the fundamentals… grazing, browsing, allogrooming, moving, playing… they’re all there. She is excellent at being a horse.
For her benefit, that (plus routine healthcare and handling) is all I really want for her. Anything else is a bonus.
For my benefit, I’d love if she got as far as hacking as it’s the most fun. And I’d love to continue playing around with clicker to see what else we can learn together. But her wellbeing and willingness have to come before that. And they are coming along, beautifully.
But even I have days where my ambition is not matched up with her interest or confidence or willingness. Yesterday it was our interest levels which were mismatched. She’d been dozing when I got her and just wanted to graze. So in the end we just did targeting with the plastic bag still attached. Continued practicing foot lifting. Tiny things. And days like this, where nothing dramatically new or exciting happens, are the days where I need to remember the value of a high reinforcement history… the value of a higher rate of reinforcement but also (conversely) a variable rate of reinforcement (because with the targeting, this is now what she responds best to and needs for further development)… the value of piggybacking other experiences onto something she’s confident with (targeting)… the value of just being around horses and enjoying their company.
At any rate, we took some small steps yesterday. I had my livery owner on the mounting block, fussing Skye, moving around, stepping up and down, reaching over her back, and Skye was cautious of the block but a little bit improved. And what helped was targeting. Asking her to step forward for the target as opposed to making it about the block (which she has bad associations with). She did well. Lots more of that required. It may well be that we get her happy and confident with saddling and mounting and she still tells us that riding is not for her, that there’s a physical reason or more emotional trauma to deal with. And that would be fine. But we’ll never know if we don’t go the slow route and get her happy with each step.
Dossing around on the grass, I decided to touch and rub her body with the plastic bag/target-stick. This is something that, in isolation, doesn’t tell you much. How has it been achieved, that’s the part that matters.
EMOTIONS AND RESPONSES
Most desensitisation in horseworld relies on strong -R. A scary thing is presented or applied and when the horse responds in the desired way the aversive is removed. So for de-spooking, it generally goes that people present something a bit new/scary, the horse is mildly alarmed, it fidgets or tries to get away, and when it stops fidgeting and goes still the human removes the scary thing. The process is repeated many times. The horse learns through operant conditioning that stillness makes the scary thing stop.
Flooding is a next level version, in which even when the horse goes still the scary thing is not removed. This is common in certain “horsemanship” demos. They say, “he’s accepted it now.” What’s actually happening is tonic immobility. Flight, fight or freeze. Women can freeze when they’re attacked. Some small animals freeze if you grab them or flip them over onto their backs. My mum used to freeze if she panicked when trying to learn to swim. It’s arguably the least useful way of dealing with a threat. Freezing and hoping you’ll stop warranting the predator’s attention. I suppose it works quite well for mice, if a cat gets them, since cats lose interest when their prey doesn’t struggle or run away.
Perhaps some animals figure out, “oh, it didn’t kill me, that’s fine then…” But for the most part I’m not convinced flooding or forced desensitisation is ever a suitable approach for a species without shared language. At least with humans you could say, “okay, you’re scared of spiders, but if we lock you in this room of spiders you might come out as a survivor and thus you’ll know what you can deal with.” The human can the decide whether to consent or not. It’s a dodgy strategy, even then, but at least there’s that baseline understanding.
Anyway, the point is that a lack of visible response to something does not necessarily mean the individual is confident or happy with that thing. They may just be suppressing their feelings. Horses are, sadly, excellent at suppression. Until it’s no longer possible, of course, and they explode “out of nowhere.”
The +R way of dealing with a scary stimulus is to use SD (systematic desensitisation) or CC (counter-conditioning). Ie: pairing the scary thing with food, starting at levels where the scary thing isn’t actually scary at all (eg: it’s on the other side of the yard, gradually coming closer, done over many sessions).
The “neutral” way of dealing with scary things would be habituation, and this is actually my favourite approach. Let the horse do it for itself. Chuck the scary thing in a field (if safe) and let the horse investigate in their own sweet time. Their flight distance will lessen, they’ll realise the thing is no threat and not worth expending energy on. They might even play with it a bit. We seem to expect horses to lose their shit over all sorts of things, but pop them in a field next to a railway and they quickly realise noisy trains booming past are no problem. Habituation. Often, well-meant human intervention creates more of a fear response than just leaving the animal to it. We see a bit of a spook and come out with things like, “he’s not scared, he needs to learn!” before forcibly dragging the animal over to the scary thing and making the situation ten times worse. What could have been a non-issue, something the horse would habituate to of their own accord, is now something that will take work to fix.
In rubbing Skye with the plastic bag (something that would have been unthinkable a year ago), the only prep she’d had was seeing it loose in the field (the wind had blown it in), investigating it herself, and then incorporating it into 5mins of nose targeting. Last year she would spook if you put a bag onto the floor, nevermind touch her with it. And what’s changed?
I didn’t force her to interact with scary things. I didn’t do that until she froze (flooding). I didn’t CC plastic bags. Or SD them. I just took a chance as I thought she’d be comfortable with it and she was. And that’s thanks to clicker, once again.
In clicker, things generally turn out well. They pretty much always turn out well. There isn’t really anything to fear.
The human is always looking for things to mark/reinforce. They are avoiding situations/environments where things could go badly wrong. They never apply +P. The worst that happens is stuff isn’t working and you drop back a step to do some easy confidence-boosting stuff.
In a clicker session, the outcome should always be good for the learner. And when outcomes are always good, one becomes more optimistic.
I’m not one for errorless learning, though I understand the reasoning behind it. I think that sometimes taking chances and trying for things that don’t work out allows the learner to build resilience. To learn how to bounce back. But say perhaps 90% of your interactions have beautifully good outcomes and 10% go a bit squiffy but only in small ways… that’s enough for me. Pony gets over the squiffy stuff, builds resilience, becomes/stays optimistic.
So it’s telling that, in coming to believe life is safe and interesting rather than unpredictable and frightening, Skye has developed a general acceptance of new and novel experiences. I can present her with almost anything and she views it as, “oh, another funny human thing, click please?” The objects where that newfound confidence doesn’t apply, are the objects that she’s got history with… the saddle, the mounting block, the bit… I’m sure trailers would be the same. And those things will take more in the way of CC to heal.
It would be kind of nice to have a blank canvas. An untouched horse who has never learned to fear all our funny human things. People think of untouched horses as difficult, but when you meet them they’re the most confident and curious and mannerly. They have their herd education, so they appreciate personal space. They have energy and spritely-ness, so you don’t need to harass them to move. They have a nosey thirst for new experiences, so they enjoy the learning opportunities you offer.
But, I love Skye. To be fair, I love them all. I love every step towards softness and self-confidence that she takes. It’s a big deal to her and there’s no way she’d have improved without some very gentle and appetitive education to redress the balance. Filling up that “trust account”, slowly slowly, and so the days where I think nothing has happened are just as important as the days when we have noticeable steps forwards.