Friday, April 8, 2011

Into the great unknown

I have had some uneventful trail rides. Monday, it was raining too hard to take Cruiser out. I just led him in the arena. Wednesday, it stopped raining, but the river was too high. We just went up and down the hill 3 times with Starry. It rained all night, so that will probably be the case tonight and tomorrow.

I worked Cole in the arena. I have started to teach him to leg yield. I never had a horse I could teach leg yielding. Cruiser is a straight line horse. He wants to get from A to B in the most efficient way possible. He just didn’t get lateral moves at all. Eventually, I gave up.

I did try it with Mingo the last summer I rode him. It seemed like he was understanding it a little with the help of the clicker, but one day, he quit cooperating with me, and we struggled with everything from then on. Looking back, I know now that that is when he started feeling sick.

Cole, well he seemed to get it right away—as long as I cued him precisely. Now, I really don’t know what I am doing—just using what I have read in books. I never had a lesson—never could afford it. I have always had one too many horse to afford any sort of luxury. I never rode a proper lateral movement in my life—making it all doubly hard.

It seems that timing is everything. When I figured out that I needed to cue him at precisely at the right moment—that moment when I would ask a horse to move over on the trail and actually get a smooth and seamless response. I knew how to do this, but I just needed to take it one step further. With the help of clicker, when I got it right, so did he—and he got clicked. If I think about it too much, my timing is off. It reminds me of when I used to play foosball in high school. I was really quite good, but I couldn’t say what I was doing. I had to duplicate the feeling of the last successful angle shot. If I thought too hard about it, I failed. I just keep trying to duplicate the feeling of success.

We worked on it for 2 consecutive rides. We are now taking one lateral step in each direction at a walk. I can tell he is trying very hard to understand what I want. When we are learning it, he doesn’t notice anything else going on. He is completely focused on me. I think that is the clicker training. He has something to gain by learning.

The other night, one of the boarders came up to tell me that Cole is the most beautiful moving horse she has ever seen, and then she told me something I never thought about, but I believe is true. She said that Cole seems to enjoy working with me. I modestly told her that it was the clicker, not me. I suppose I should get some credit, though. I am the one who chose to go the clicker route.


Carol said...

Hi Judi, Thanks for following my blog! I'm so glad you introduced yourself because now I've found oyurs and it is very interesting. I love this post on leg yielding. I find it one of the hardest things to teach Rogo (my horse), but we are slowly getting it. I'm going to come back and read when I have more time so I can see how you give treats from the saddle. I use a clicker for ground work and it is amazing.
Morabs are beautiful and so versatile. I'm looking forward to reading more and checking out your books.

achieve1dream said...

If I remember right from my lessons years ago when asking for the leg yield, if you're going left you cue when his right hind is in the air. It's easiest to do at the trot because it's easy to tell which hind leg is in the air by posting. :) I'm not explaining this well. Too tired. Basically you cue when the hind leg that is stepping under is in the air. That's the best I have lol. It sounds like you're doing a great job. :D

I definitely think you deserve credit. You're doing an amazing job with him. :)

Judi said...

Yes, that sounds right, since I push him over when that side goes down.

I'm glad to know that it is easier at a trot. I have only done it at a walk, so far. I am getting better at it. I can't believe it is working! I'm sure a big part of it is the clicker.