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Working on "other" stuff

True to my word, today we worked on “other” stuff.

Walk beside me –he’s pretty good at this one. He was trying to watch carefully what I was doing and didn’t lag behind if I started to go faster. His stop is the worst, but I think I might be stopping to fast with no warning. I tried to make it more obvious. Turns are ok, but he doesn’t relish me walking into his face, so I reinforced for good responses on those exercises. His backup is also ok, but very slow. I would like him to hustle more. I also want him to be able to from trot to backup, by watching my body language. This one is going to take a while.

Forward momentum – per Shawna Karrasch’s video, I am now reinforcing most instances of “move forward”. Regardless of where it happens or when, (leadrope or saddle) anything with good forward momentum gets reinforced. She says this worked for another laid back horse; it took a couple of weeks but then the student started having to teach slow down! I’m glad she said it would take a couple of weeks, because this doesn’t appear to be an instant change and it’s so easy to get frustrated. A lot of clicker training has pretty quick feedback, so when you don’t receive that, you start to wonder if you are not communicating effectively. I just hope he can generalize and do this in the saddle as well.

Smile – The arena was taken over by a lesson with three people, so we got stuck waiting at the gate. I stood behind the barrier and asked him for some smiles. Getting there. I am switching to a verbal cue now so that I can phase out the physical for a while – he insists on touching my hand.

Contact – now in the French link snaffle, and we worked on contact. Looks ok for now, nothing revolutionary. He did try leaning, so I rewarded softer contact and a nicer head set (other than nose out/up). Also showed him how to differentiate between contact and a back up.

Backup – still pretty slow, I would love more energy. Made my cues obvious so he could differentiate between contact and backup. Tried to be lighter as well, it is so easy to just leadback, put leg on and PULL. I’d rather that be softer. Also noted that he kind of got tired of this really quickly. Let out a big sigh and pawed. Noted, don’t spend too much time on this.

Go forward – did a tiny bit on this, going back to basics. I reinforced forward momentum from the saddle. Again he tried to back up, go sideways and so on. I avoided using negative reinforcement and reinforced him for the correct answer. Sadly his forward momentum is almost as slow as his backup. And he always wants to turn instead of walking straight off. But if I take contact to keep his head straight, he then thinks backup because he isn’t clear on the cues.

Timing – ended on a good note and didn’t drag the session on. I think we worked for 1/2hr.

Treats – forgot to bring apple/potato, but I had some carrots in my box. Used these a lot, plus his regular feed treats. Because I kept the session short, I didn’t run out and only ended up using one bag.

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