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I remember when go was a challenge. The new challenge is "go straight".

Problem: I have been having difficulty with going on a straight line. When I tell Aslan to go, he walks for 5 feet and then decides to become a tourist. If I correct, he might "over correct", slow down or do his wiggle walking (The drunk walk! LOL). I have been using a cluck and a small crop to remind him to walk forward. He is getting better, but the progress is pretty slow. I was reading on-line and this is a common problem with many horses, but especially with green ones. Regardless, "straight" is not in our vocabulary yet.

So I asked a friend for help and he worked with me, but he had me correct every little movement. If Aslan stepped to the right, I had to stop and ask him to step to the left, then go again. When we got to the wall, I had to put his nose right on the wall. You can only imagine how wiggly this last part was. I would have to move his butt or shoulders or barrel and he would get heavily confused and we would end up in a completely different direction, sometimes worse off. And because my friend wasn't clicker friendly, I was doing a lot of this without treats. You can only imagine Aslan's frustration when he was getting 2 treats out of 90 clicks. By the end of the lesson his anxiety was maxed and he was practically prancing. I'm going to avoid repeating that and I have some other ideas.

Solution: I'm going to dumb it down even more. I'm going to do what I should have done to begin with. Click for straight. And watch his head like a hawk - when he goes to turn his head, make the AH-AH sound when he gets it wrong (he is starting to realize this is the "wrong buzzer") and correct him. Until he is less confused about leg commands, I'm going to have to keep it very simple when asking for straight.

I'm also going to teach him the word "straight". He loves to bend his head toward me anyway, and this is a bad habit. So while working on a bad habit, I can teach him the cue and then use it in the saddle.

I will also use some of Clinton Anderson's games, such as stay on the wall and point to point. I kept trying it at a walk and it is terrible, but I noticed that Clinton never did it at a walk. Always a trot! Less wiggles.

Lateral: The lateral work is coming along great. I have been having to show him the difference between shoulders, barrel and hindquarters on both sides, and he confuses the 6 different buttons a bit. There is only an inch difference between each! I can get him to side pass away from the wall, but towards the wall is a bit awkward, because if I turn his head to bend to the inside, he wants to turn to the inside and go away from the wall. He is going to need a lot of practice. Side pass does not work at a trot yet either.

Backup: I finally decided to work on this. I was hesitant because I figured he would get less responsive to go forward. Essentially the backup cue becomes my "whoa" cue as well as a later cue to get into vertical flexion. Because I'm working on lateral stuff, it is time to start teaching him carry himself.

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