Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Training Vid Tuesday

Lately I've been having some trouble with Starbuck getting all worked up and squirrelly, especially around the tying posts and the "scary" side of the arena.  For instance, for two days in a row she's gone completely crazy when I was grooming her and then the walk from the tying posts to wherever we'll be working in the arena is adventurous to say the least.  She no longer barges into me or tries to run over me (yay!!!) but she still prances around in a circle and won't stay in leading position at all, getting ahead of me and swinging her hindquarters around and whatnot.  So I've been rereading everything from my Resources page on teaching your green horse to lead and looking for new tactics.

My mentor Marina (and John Lyons for that matter) say that this is normal for a young horse, that they'll do well for a few weeks or months, then get worse, then get better, then go not so bad and only after all that will they finally internalize a skill or cue 100%.  So I guess she's just on the downside of her overall learning curve-- that and we've had a lovely, windy, sunny and crisp winter so far-- just the kind of weather which makes even the retired 30 year old lesson horses kick up their heels.  

Anyhow I found this video from reining trainer Jodi Wilson which I liked due to its somewhat novel premise: you teach your horse to lead backwards with her head down and in line with the human's shoulder, then start taking a few steps forward.  I especially like it because of the importance it places on your horse's posture when it backs up so that it doesn't turn into a flight response or cause your horse to hollow out his back which can lead to soreness and bad habits under saddle.  Hope you enjoy it, I'm going to give it a try by working around the arena towards the scary side!


Anonymous said...

Something that might help with Starbuck standing still is something I learned from my dad. We both train the natural horsemanship way. This may sound simple but works miracles. Tie your horse to a tree either around the trunk or a tree branch with your arm length of lead line. Make sure this area is free of anything that could put the horse in danger and just let him stand. This simple excersise will teach him to get in the right mind set. Let him stand for just a couple of hours with you keeping an eye on him. We have trained wild young ones this way and when they realized that can't win with the tree, we come back to a change horse.

Starbuck's Human said...

Thanks, I think I'll try that out! I've been meaning to practice tying her for longer and longer periods to get her used to when I take her out on the trail and we stop for lunch and whatnot. I'll let you know how it goes :D

Reining Trainer said...

I would strongly suggest you spend a good deal of time teaching the horse the proper response to the pressure of the halter by dropping the head and moving forward before snubbing. I have a horse in training right now that a trainer keep tied for hours that successfully learned how to break lead ropes and halters to end the snubbing lesson. Also, if you tie so the knot is at least above the shoulders it will not be able to use it's entire body strength should it decide to pull back.

Starbuck's Human said...

Hi Reining Trainer,
Thanks for the advice, she yields very well to halter pressure 95% of the time- it's just during the spooks that I really have to hold firm. She even knows to drop her head when she steps on the lead rope. I'll remember the tying from above thing though; I had heard it was safer but didn't know exactly why.

The freaking out while standing tied thing seems to have magically resolved itself, I had Friday off so I decided to leave her tied while I cleaned my tack just to see what happened. All in all she was there for about 2 hours while I was puttering around and she didn't once struggle or freak. And since then she hasn't repeated the behaviour-- who knows why she did it or why she stopped, but I'm not complaining :)

In other news, we're using your technique to work on perfecting our leading and it's going great- thanks so much for your advice!