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Hanover

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PostSubject: Problem.............   Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:19 pm

Not sure if this is the place to post this but will give it a try.

I have a problem developing with my horse in that he is not listening to me.

This is what is happening:

First of all, he is a retired Standardbred who has been with me for two years.
I feel very comfortble with him having taken those two years to get my "horse handling" skills in better order. He has taken to the saddle well and we just take leisurely walks down our road. No problem with vehicles, dogs, partridge flying out of the trees, train whistle and said train rumbling down the track, etc.

I usually work with him a bit in the paddock area before heading out to the road. Circles, changing directions, halting, backing.

What has developed is that he is not listening to me when it is time to turn for home. He listens when I ask for a halt but when I try to turn him, he fights doing it. (Not so much throwing his head up in the air but actually taking steps backward). If he turns, he will plant his feet. He definitely wants to keep going in that one direction. I am happy that he is finally able to walk down a gravel road without hesitation (thrush issues prevented that for a long time) but I know this behavior is dangerous to say the least.

I would like any suggestions on correcting this behaviour/attitude.
What I have done (the three times he has pulled this stunt) is used my legs, voice, and crop to get him moving.

I feel rather stupid posting this as I know it is a dangerous situation in that he is not respecting me and wonder how much I have contributed to this. I try hard not to let him get away with things and do not regard him as a "human" who just wants to "go exploring" and enjoy his walk his way.

Soooo fire away. I am ready for constructive criticism, suggestions, etc. Hey......you can even come ride him yourself! :-)




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Becca

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:56 pm

I would get Him Moving off pressure if you can't do this it makes it allot harder to teach the other things, but they also help reinforce the meaning of moving off of pressure. (one rein stops, yielding hind end, etc)

Do you lunge him? What do you do when lunging him? Do you have a round pen to work with? When lunging are you constantly asking him to move forward (constant clucking, cracking of whip, etc) when you are leading him will he drag behind you when you ask him to jog or does he move off fairly easy?

If you are having issues on the ground with these types of things, it usually (not always) will transfer to having issues undersaddle as well.

I would teach him 3 things.
Moving off pressure
Ground work example : if you don't go when I point- I cluck, if you don't move when I cluck- I spank, if you don't move when I spank- I'll increase pressure till you move
Riding example : if you don't move when I squeeze- I'll cluck, If you don't move when I cluck- I spank , if you don't move when I spank I'll increase pressure till you move.

Point cluck spank
Squeeze cluck spank.

The biggest thing about moving off pressure is you release all pressure when they give you what you want. Example: if you want your horse to lope do not worry about how pretty that lope is Or the speed of it, if he lopes he lopes the second he does release that pressure and soon enough he will learn when you squeeze it means I better move my feet or else she is going to start spanking me again! Do not be a nagging mother (constantly clucking, whip cracking etc) all it does is desensitize them to it and makes them "dull"

Yielding hind end helps because you get their back feet moving. If you can get them moving you can usually start to slowly spiral out to get forward motion with the front feet, and he won't even realize it. Start with a one rein stop, slide your inside leg back and ask for a yeild of his hind quarters. Same concept with moving off pressure. Squeeze cluck spank till he gets the job done. Only ask for a step at a time till he figures it out and ask for 2, then 3, 4, etc.

One rein stop is your go to move in emergencies. Plus when you have their head bent around they can't go anywheres. You do this by only using one rein. So let's say you want to bend left. You will only ask him to bend his neck around with your left rein (same concept for moving off pressure. Ask with a little squeeze Of the rein if he doesn't respond ask for more, then more till he gives) do not let go till his feet stop moving and he releases to the rein pressure (nose should be bent to your toe / knee) second he gives to you give to him.

I feel your pain with the Standardbreds. They are so different to train. With prince it was 10 times harder asking for a one rein stop then it did for cowboy. I find them allot stiffer but don't give up! It all helps in the long run.

Hope I was some help. Sorry for the book!
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willowsfriend

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PostSubject: just my opinion!   Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:26 pm

I'm no expert, at all, but Willow did something a bit similar. It was our first solo trail ride on a woods road she travelled many times with her buddies and this time we were alone. She stopped when we got to the tree line, refused to go forward when I asked, but spun until her butt was in the woods standing sideways, halfway on the road. Nice.
I kept consistent contact on her left rein (the direction I wanted her to go) and waited. Waited probably 3 or 4 minutes... As soon as she took a step, I released the contact, pushed her a bit with my left leg to move her butt over and asked for forward. She sighed and she went! It seemed like a really long time. While I waited, I talked to her in just my regular voice & played with her mane a bit with my other hand. Maybe this is weird, but I didn't want her to think that I thought she was scared - so no reassuring, "it's Ok" talk. Just normal, pass the time of day, I have all the time in the world talk!
And I had the feeling that if I pushed her - she'd pop up and the whole thing would escalate ridiculously. She really didn't want to go forward, but it seemed like once she realized I was happy enough just standing there she got bored and moved on. She did this two more times, once going so far into the woods with her butt that she was into and out of a ditch. I picked bits of leaves out of her mane & forelock while I waited for her to move on. We stood in the woods for less time each time she stopped & parked her butt!
I don't know if this is close enough to what your guy is doing (especially since the intention of the horses are opposite!), but thought I'd contribute my two cents on how we worked out moving forward. Good luck and please post what ends up working for your guy!
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:32 pm

I do not have a round pen per se........but a paddock area.

I have worked with having him move off when I squeeze my legs and he has done well. Also stops when I block my hands....(I ride English, by the way :-) )

He does not lunge well and to be honest, I am probably not the best at doing it so don't want to mess him up by doing it wrong. I have lunged when taking lessons but this was horses who would lunge if you even "looked" at the lunge line hanging on the wall .... I exaggerate but you know what I mean.

I do work with a long lead line though.........backing him up, walking with me, halting.

Perhaps I need to be doing a lot more preparation before heading out on the road. I don't feel threatened by him but this determination of his has got to be "reined in"..........see I can talk Western sometimes lol!

One thing about him is that he is content to walk which I enjoy.......getting a tad long in the tooth myself so walk is good.

Thanks so much for your advice. I need all the help I can get.......he is one smart old rascal.

Okay.....since writing that last sentence, company came and after they left I decided to have a little ride.

This time I stayed out in front of my house....on the road. We worked on him moving forward. He thought he was going to go for his nice looooooong walk so was not so pleased when asked to change directions but we persevered and the session ended on a good note. We still have a long way to go but at least we are still "friends". :-)


Oh.......hello willowsfriend......just was directed to your post. Thanks very much.
Yes, the situation is similar to what I experienced. It is scarey having that butt getting so close to the ditch, eh? On our walk we pass a beaver dam ....... too cold for swimming right now.

I like the idea of holding the rein and keeping the pressure on until a step is taken and then releasing. Staying calm is appealing to me. I do understand the pressure/release and having your description in my mind is helpful.

Thanks again for the answers you guys have given.......very much appreciated.



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Barefoot_Horsegirl

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:33 pm

You're not working him hard enough Hanover! Shane has gone from being in very poor condition, skinny, covered in rain rot, just poor all over to one big ball of health. Hanover has done an amazing job of rehabbing him. He was an STB that was ready to be disposed of. He's some lucky that he found you. He's feeling GOOD now and he's telling you that. Push him harder and I'm sure he won't give you a hard time when you turn for home. He wants more :).

He's gone from this (and this picture doesn't show just how bad he was):



to this:



I've never had an issue turning my horses for home. They know when we turn, and they are ready to go home (and usually find their gas pedal the moment we turn). I wish we had a horse trailer, Jason and I would love to come and ride your hilly road with you. Tell Gary to follow along in the car when you ride. :)
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:49 pm

Awwww.....you have me blushing now..........but I will try to take your advice :-)
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Tango



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:10 am

Don't apologize for asking for advice. I know there are some people out there who think you shouldn't own a horse, or a dog or a pet worm unless you are an absolute expert and already know everything lol. Sadly most of us mere mortals are learning as we go. If more people asked for help when they perceive a problem starting there would likely be far fewer "problem" horses out there.

How did you clear up the thrush? I've been looking for white lightening locally but haven't had any luck. Coppersept just doesn't seem to work. He was starting another, poor bugger.

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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:21 am

IME there are two issues.

One - as you said he is not listening to you - not respecting you as the leader - testing his boundaries. This is not a 'bad' thing. For horses in a herd situation it is normal, often done daily. So here you are in a new location and he is asking, "Who's leading today?"
Riding out with a friend is maybe a safer way to go until you two are more consistently a team.

Two - he also has a reason not to want to go home and this must be considered. Hitting him is simple abuse IMO. Punishment increases adrenaline and studies prove that no learning occurs when the brain in under the influence of these increased levels. So that is why calmness and patience wins. But it is also darn hard to be calm when you don't know what to do next ;-)
If you dismounted and led him farther up the route, would he follow?
Ask yourself some questions and see if you can find out what he's thinking.
Is he living alone? Does he want to go visit? Is there a nice green field in the direction you are going? MOST horses are all too happy to go home so there must be something going on in his brain. Horse don't just make up 'problems'.
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willowsfriend

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PostSubject: agree!   Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:02 am

I agree with Tango - I'm always eager to hear how others manage their horses. I don't think I will ever stop learning!
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:00 pm

Thanks for all the input. Your answers and questions are getting my thought processes going!

Tango.......I will PM you regarding the thrush but would just like to mention one point here. I had tremendous help and support from Barefoot Horsegirl. Her trimming technique did much to get rid of the deep sulcus cleft in his frogs which is major in fighting thrush as far as I have learned.

Hug a Horse....I like that thought about testing his boundaries........not a "bad" thing. I believe this is something to be reminded of regularly. It is too easy to slip into putting our human feelings and reactions onto the horse and forgetting that he IS a HORSE.

Unfortunately, I do not have a riding partner and the other thing is one that I shudder to admit.........he is alone. We are here 24/7 and have two dogs who go over to the paddock to visit him everyday but I know that is not the same as having another horse here. So wish I could but not possible at present.

Funny you asked about dismounting because that is what I eventually did.....just didn't admit it on my post. We walked for a bit and then I mounted. He walked on reluctantly for a few steps and then simply stopped and tried to turn (that is.....backing and turning his butt) I dismounted again and walked further. The reason for this was mainly that there is a huge drop off on the side of the road(heading home) and if he ever swung his butt over the edge of that, we would not be found for a loooooooong time! Have no idea why the Highway Dept doesn't put up a guard rail there....but I digress......

Looking back, I think my walking actually helped me to calm down a bit and that in turn helped my riding "skills" to kick in........less frustration, less tension, rewarding the small steps. Once we got going, he settled down and walked the rest of the way home without incident.

We walk past a small graveyard.........green grass........no problem there. If he tried to grab a bite, I urged him on and there was no resistance on his part.

Wanting to go for a visit...........possibly. Poor guy has not seen another horse for a long time. Maybe he thought he was going somewhere? His "attitude" and the feeling of his body could be described as "happy" for want of a better word.

After riding, I always try to make it a good experience. Water and hay always waiting for him, a carrot or apple, clean out hooves, I even pull his tail! Seriously, he seems to like it too.

Soooooooo here I am.....trying to fight the panicky feeling that I know will build in me if I dwell on this for too long. That is why I truly do appreciate positive comments and even seeing his "before and after" pictures helps me to realize that we have come a long way......for the good.

Okay everybody..........saddle up and get your hosses over here................my boy and I need company!





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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:29 pm

Quote :
Maybe he thought he was going somewhere? His "attitude" and the feeling of his body could be described as "happy" for want of a better word.

I really likehow you eventually handled your ride out.
But OMG your horse sounds SO much like my Prince. For the first THREE years of riding out, he would hurry off 'somewhere', all happy about the excursion and then get quite unhappy about going the way I wanted him to go - enough so at times that he might bolt or buck. I am an experienced rider and controlled him well (and I DID dwell on it a LOT) (unfortunately I will admit I used a whip at times - not a tool I will ever use again)

Essentially I realized as I learned more about the horse brain and herd behavior, that he was bonded with the horse he used to live with and he wanted to 'go home' to his friend for a very very long time. Quite sad really. Eventually he settled in but he still prefers the company of boy horses and seeks it out if he has the opportunity. Even 6 years on, if we trailered to a trail ride, he would not want to load and come home.

His herd mate is a mare - he is good with her but not bonded.

This pas t year I have have done some bonding exercises with him - between him and me. This is changing his life. He now communicates with me, telling me what he wants because he now knows how to do that and, most importantly, knows I will listen.

I'm sure you and Nicole have discussed the importance of a 'herd'. Are you sure you have ruled out all options?
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:53 pm

I guess the saying: "Never say never" is often quoted for a reason, eh?

Right now, the option of having another horse here is pretty minimal. I did have a mare here for awhile but that eventually did not work............

Yes, Nicole has talked to me about it but I have to bow to being realistic as to what I can handle physically, etc.

Ahhhhhhhhh......don't get me going. Nicole can testify as to how many horse ads I look at in the run of a week and which horse I want her to buy for me

I am interested in the bonding exercises you speak of as long as they do not involve "communicating" with them on a "spiritual" level. Sorry, do not want to step on toes here or open any debates .........just my personal preference. Do these exercises involve interpreting physical movements?

Pretty interesting too about Prince........"he would hurry off 'somewhere', all happy about the excursion". I laughed right out loud when I read that because that really does describe what Shanie is doing.
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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:47 pm

Hanover wrote:
I guess the saying: "Never say never" is often quoted for a reason, eh?

Right now, the option of having another horse here is pretty minimal. I did have a mare here for awhile but that eventually did not work............

Yes, Nicole has talked to me about it but I have to bow to being realistic as to what I can handle physically, etc.

Ahhhhhhhhh......don't get me going. Nicole can testify as to how many horse ads I look at in the run of a week and which horse I want her to buy for me

I understand. I started with one horse at home and thought it was all I (and the property and my wallet) could handle. Seems I was wrong ;-)
Maybe a med/small pony gelding - retired and needing a place to 'stay'? - less hay, less poo, still a 'horse' in behavior and interactions. Or a boarder witha gelding who could be a riding companion and share the work?
You may notice I always say gelding. Bachelor boys just want to be together most.

Hanover wrote:
I am interested in the bonding exercises you speak of as long as they do not involve "communicating" with them on a "spiritual" level. Sorry, do not want to step on toes here or open any debates .........just my personal preference. Do these exercises involve interpreting physical movements?

Yes, the course I studied was VERY science based. I had to read several books on horse ethology first before doing any live horse exercises. And though I learned all horses have a language of body movements ad sounds, the teaching program was a one on one mentorship because every horse reacts a bit different depending on background AND the owner. All done by email and video. I'll pm you the link if you want.

Interestingly, I vividly remember asking many a professional 'why does my horse do that?' and so often got an un-answer like , that's just his way, my horse does that, just ignore it, push him through it, etc etc. It always made me unhappy that after 40 years in horses I still didn't understand some of what my horses did. Now I can honestly say I do. It's a pretty nice feeling. Does it make me a better rider? Maybe. Does it make me a happier rider. YES! Does it make my horses happier. YES!

Hanover wrote:
Pretty interesting too about Prince........"he would hurry off 'somewhere', all happy about the excursion". I laughed right out loud when I read that because that really does describe what Shanie is doing.
Yup, studies show that some horse forget their friends in as little as 8 months. Some NEVER do.
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:04 pm

"I had to read several books on horse ethology first before doing any live horse exercises."


LOL.....and I had to search to see what horse "ethology" is!

So much to learn.......so little time but from the very little that I read last night, it appears to be very rewarding.

I managed a short saddle-up and ride today.........again, just in front of our place. Not too bad but he is definitely showing his determination.........putting his head way down and tucking it in to his chest (like rolkur)......to avoid the bit I assume.

We ended on a good note though and I didn't use the crop through the whole ride. He gave me a nice little trot which I was able to sit to and then when we came back to the paddock area, he gave me a couple of strides of trot a couple of times. It's a smallish area so I was satisfied with his willingness to try. Seems like small things but I am happy with it. I mean, of course, I would enjoy just being able to go out and have a wonderful ride on a completely re-trained horse but this whole journey with him is exciting and rewarding for me in many other ways as well.
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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:25 am

sorry, I should have defined that word . Not in common usage. Ethology is the evolution of the behavior of an animal. The LONG term 'why' of their actions and how they became that way for survival of the species ... and the individual.

Understanding more here helps avoid judgments that are too human oriented. Putting ulterior human emotional motives on the horse. NOT that horse dont' have emotions! But they are also not planning life like we are. Being in the moment is their forte.

And never discount the small good moments. they all add up. Your horse will not forget. Better to get something right and quit, than try to repeat and fail and end up stressed. Then the horse only remembers the stress (a survival mechanism), and NOT that he did it 'right' before. You don't have to repeat in the same session for learning to occur. But it does require more self control and patience from the human.

Also breaks are amazingly good. If you do some 'brain' stuff (new training ) one day and all goes well, do something totally different the next day. Maybe only lead out, or brush like crazy. There are lots of strategies that I have learned that take into account how the horse is thinking and feeling and though the path seems slower, the results are far more solid and secure.

"he is definitely showing his determination"
He is doing what nature built into his brain ...seeking the safely and companionship of other horses. He may to know what direction they are in, but he knows he came in your driveway and left them behind.
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:41 am

"he knows he came in your driveway and left them behind."

Oh my.........a nice companion horse is sounding better and better all the time. Seeing that I have a few "little" friends and young grandsons, a pony would seem to be a good way to go.

My little friends have been on my "Seabiscuit" and love him but he is a fairly tall horse for them........
hmmmmmmmmm............gotta go talk to hubby :-)
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:12 pm

Ahhhh some sweet success today.

We took our "walk down the road" but instead of just keeping on going forward, I circled him every so often. The circles were about half the road width. He listened (a few hesitations but not bad) and I was happy with that and we kept going in the direction away from home.

When it came time to turn for home, I circled him the width of the road but straightened out before completing the circle so that he was heading for home. Good as could be. I am happy.

HOWEVER! :-) ................... there is always an "however" ........

When I tried to get him ready (saddling up) there was no way on earth that he was going to stand still. He was going back to the barn and that was that. (I tack up outside) I decided not to fight him as this was not usual behavior so took off his lead to see what he wanted to do. Seems like he just HAD to wait for the school bus which turns in our driveway, then a good dump, and THEN to the barn for a good pee. Then he was ready to go. Silly boy. I love him.

Please don't be too hard on me.............I am still the alpha mare......right????
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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:12 pm

you did GOOD! You had a good plan and executed it very well! Taking a moment to think things through before you ride always pays off.

And I'm so proud of you for listening to him. If the behavior seemed unusual, then it meant something ... and it did! Some horses just can't pee when tacked up. I wonder if he knew you were paying attention to him and he gave you more respect and attention later in return.

My mare ALWAYS goes to the corner of the ring to have a dump before we do anything 'active' (tack or no tack) She gets this very subtle look in her eye and I say "go have a poo" and off she goes, poops, and comes back. People think it's a neat trick, but I'm the one who learned to listen to her - not the other way around.

Oh, and you are not an alpha mare. You are a human. Don't try to act like a horse. It can get you into trouble. And no matter what, you horse knows the difference LOL

Just continue to be a confident and kind human and your horse will be happy.
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Hanover

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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:52 pm

Re: "Oh, and you are not an alpha mare. You are a human. Don't try to act like a horse."

I am sooooooo glad to hear those words. This is something I have had trouble getting my mind around for a long, long, time. I much rather like being a confident and kind human. Thanks!
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~TC~



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PostSubject: Re: Problem.............   Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:06 pm

Really good info here... I enjoyed reading it and got a lot out of it... : )

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