Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Leg Yield

Leg Yield

The other night, I was riding Cole in the indoor arena, and I spontaneously decided to try to teach him leg yield at the trot, again. I was working on it about a month ago, and he seemed to be a little confused. He used to do leg yield at the walk, but that morphed into a really nice side pass. Well, when I would ask for leg yield at the trot, he would try stop and try to side pass at the walk. He was getting frustrated that he wasn’t getting it right (no clicks) so he started going sideways all over the place.

I had to back pedal and teach him to go straight, again. I then decided to put it on hold. I’d rather get forward than sideways, any day. So when it popped into my mind, I decided I would try it, and if there was any confusion, I would just stop right away.

Wouldn’t you know; the little guy got it right away! In clicker training, you click for the smallest try. On the first attempt, we were getting one step. I was clicking him for that, and of course, he would stop to get his carrot and then we would try again.

When we switched to his favorite direction, I was getting 2 steps right off the bat!

Another thing with clicker training is the more you reward in the beginning, the stronger and faster the behavior gets ingrained. I decided we would do lots of little leg yields so he would know what I wanted next time. Now, I have learned that getting that first step or two in anything with Cole is the most important. Once you get those, the rest comes easy. There was no reason to push beyond his initial attempt. I just kept rewarding his little attempts.

Oh, we both started to have so much fun. He was really getting into this game. We would power around the corner, head for the straight away and I could feel him just waiting. I would touch my leg to his side and right away, he would take his couple steps. I would click, treat, walk a couple steps and start up to do it on the next side. His trot became bigger and faster with the excitement. I had to hold in the laughter. In the end, we were doing 2-3 steps his favorite direction and 1-2 in his less favorite direction. He didn’t get as excited that way, either. I think it is because he didn’t have the coordination, so wasn’t as confident.

Then came the real test. I figured I’d better make sure he could go straight. We went his favorite way, got to the long side and I sat as still as I could—and he went straight. I clicked him for it. We repeated it a few times without clicks, but with verbal praise. I rested a bit and then decided to just do a few laps. We managed 3 laps of a gorgeous trot—all straight. By then, I was exhausted. (His trot takes a lot of energy to sit.) We went to reviewing backing up (not his favorite exercise regardless of carrots) and then I led him outside in the dark to relax. It was a fun ride for both of us.

Since then, we have slowly improved by adding a step or two. I don’t work on it all the time because he is just “so into it.” I make sure I don’t click him unless I ask first, and I also click him for going straight.

I have never met a horse so enthusiastic about learning new things.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

That is so fantastic!!! You need to get your sister to take a video and post it on FB. :D I would love to see that!

Chrome doesn't like to back up either. Hmm . . .