Lateral Work

For a month we've been working on go and steer - this is usually pretty good, he just doesn't go straight. It's like riding a drunk horse, especially if I do yield of the shoulders or hindquarters. He then really wiggles when he walks, and tries to offer those behaviors or walk like a tourist, gawking and following wherever his head turns. I'm not quite sure what to do on this one, I've always had horses that more or less, walked straight.

Laterals: I've been asking him for more yielding of the hindquarters and shoulders. He is improving but does get a bit confused. So lets add more challenge to this: I taught him how to leg yield.

Initially it went horribly. We were in a busy arena one afternoon and I tried to "show" him what I wanted by really pushing on his side and getting him to step over. He wasn't getting it. I was being a bit too firm and insistent, even though I tried clicking him for anything that looked like a sideways movement. Finally he got pissed and bucked out his rear feet. Not at me, just in frustration. I really got after him for that behavior because it was still disrespectful, but it was totally my fault for pushing him that far. I stopped after I disciplined him and paused, trying to think. I eventually moved to other stuff so I could end the training on a good note, but that really bothered me.

I came back the next day, planning to do it the traditional way, but decided to just experiment and ask how I was asking before (only gently this time). He got it. *laughs*All that fuss and overnight he was chewing hay and a light bulb flashed....OOOOH, I GET IT. Yay for latent learning. Butthead knows how to leg yield. Time to get both sides up to snuff. Naturally, one side is good, the other is not. He will amusingly offer me his better side because it's easier for him to earn treats.

I finally added this to the saddle. He does find the 3 buttons on each side a bit baffling. If you do a bunch of shoulder yields and then ask for a side pass, he will probably just try to yield the shoulders. If you ask for a bunch of hindquarter yields and ask for the others, again, he might give it to you or might just give you the hindquarters. I really need to help him separate the three.

Leading: I got really fed up with Aslan lagging behind me and finally decided to deal with it. First I taught him to target my fist and I hold it out if he lags behind and he will touch it. Second, I taught him how to walk beside me in the arena, at a walk, a trot and also a halt and backup - all using my stick and string. No more lagging. If he didn't keep up with me, he got a tap. He learned it all pretty quick. When he did keep up he got rewarded. He is actually pretty good at this now and after a few weeks, has become a little bit too enthusiastic. I've had to ask him to slow the heck down a few times. At least we are ready for his GVHA evaluation - he will need to be able to trot beside me. I remember a time when this was scary for him!

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