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Head up and being nappy

August 11, 2016

 

Hanna says he is looking much more supple and engaged and forward.  But I told her that after I would click/treat, we would struggle with "walk on".  He will just stand there and ignore cues for the longest time, or start backing up and backing up and backing up.  She said that yes there could be variability in his behaviors such as being forward sometimes and not so forward the next, but that will become less and less as his training progresses.  I started carrying a little whip to gently tap tap tap.  I'm not sure what his deal is.

 

As for him being "slow" in the walk and trot, she said that I should also consider that when he gets more balanced, his trot will seem to be much slower, so pay more attention to him leaning on the forehand and being heavy or unbalanced than how forward he is moving.  He will become more forward as his muscles and balance improve.

 

Shoulder in and the trot look really good otherwise. 

 

Vertical flexion - he is still showing some confusion on the headup, but mostly it is all there.  If anything he needs more refinement.  He doesn't have to exaggerate it so much.   Because of his confirmation, it will never be super high like we see on some of the athletic horses.  (In fact she said some of them have a hands width difference between back to front!) Be careful that he doesn't lower his head and curl, because he definitely likes to do that.  Ask for a head up but be happy with slightly higher than horizontal.  We want to reward him as long as he isn't heavy.

 

In the trot, don't focus too heavily on the bouncy version. (I've noticed sometimes his trot can be super bouncing and other times super smooth). Otherwise it will start to become VERY collected.  It is somewhere in the middle of stretch out/smooth and round up/bounce so we still need to reward both until he can get the lovely trot that sits between the two.  Then we can start to ask for more extension or more collection later. 

 

Reinforcement

Be very careful about reinforcing his half hearted tries.  Otherwise that is what he will start giving you, half hearted movements.  Don't ignore good tries and go on and on and on but then reward a half hearted try when he is being nappy.  Be picky and only reinforce very good tries, randomly as he gives them.  If he starts being nappy, work on it but only reinforce the very best offer.   Keep asking until you get a really good one if you have to.  Just be aware of his moods and take what you can get.  Some days his tries won't be as enthusiastic as others. (He is definitely opinionated)

 

Even if you are only working on 2-3 things, if he offers an amazing try on something you are not working on, heavily reward that.  So randomly reinforce his very good halt - walk transitions.  Not the crappy ones!

 

Backup

He did get stuck in the backup, but he was getting really round and curled up and it looked great considering that was what we were trying to get. Maybe try to capture that!  It will also help you feel what it should feel like. 

If he gets stuck in a backup when you are going forward, ask for a turn.  

 

Turning

Hanna did notice that I was leaning right while trying to turn to the left (I said it was probably me pushing on the left leg).  This makes me look like a banana and he will try to even force my weight that way to avoid turning.  Instead remember to put the weight in the left stirrup in order to turn left.   In terms of the leg cue, think of pushing the leg under the bellybutton instead of pushing. 

 

Cues

Ask for cues in rhythm with his movement/stride.  Don't just PULL or he will PULL back.  

 

Things you can work on in a session, separately:

 

Accuracy  (Go deep into the corner)

Rhythm (Trot along the short side in rhythm)

Softness (Turn softly)

Position of his body or body parts (round, bend, flexion, etc)